The year 1999 was full of promise, despite the famous lyrics. And while most folks were scurrying around trying to predict any fallout from the "Y2K problem," Margie was busy trying to make her dreams come true. Her job in advertising sales was quite fun, though not lucrative, thanking the Universe for the child support she received from her son's father. The local station was owned by a major broadcasting corporation, and seemed to be drowning in cash - a far cry from the tiny station she had begun working at in Portland. She had just landed a sales position, and used that experience to make the move back to Michigan so she and Ben could raise the children together.
Once back in her hometown, Margie began dating a Jewish comedian she’d gotten to know while taking improv classes years earlier. Coincidentally, these were the very same classes that Tom had recommended to her. Going out with Gabriel was fun. He would take her on long rides on his motorcycle, and she learned the basics of fellatio with an uncircumsized penis. She was beginning to really like him, it ended; when she found out he was seriously dating someone else. Someone he felt more comfortable having around his friends, someone he felt he could be "seen" with. She remembered Gabriel introducing her to the rest of the comedy team.
"Hey everyone, this is my girlfriend, Ann - say "Hi!"
The whole thing made her feel small. Like she wasn’t even there. You might say that he was the one who opened her eyes about the difference between what it means to be marriage material, and what it means to be girl-on-the-side material.
Margie definitely did not like being the "girl-on-the-side,” and told him so. They agreed to keep their relationship strictly professional. She had met him at his house so they could talk about possible projects they could work on together, when he asked her to come upstairs to his room.
“I’m going to take a shower.”
“Okay,” Margie shrugged, smiling, “you go ahead and do that. I’ll wait for you.”
Margie waited only a few minutes. His intentions were made quite obvious when he walked out naked and stood in front of her, completely erect. Margie gathered her papers, and declared, “this isn’t going to happen,” and left.
That was also the end of their “project.”
How utterly striking. The memory of being treated like that flashed before her, and suddenly she became quite aware of a particular memory – a glimpse of Phil walking out of Gabriel’s studio right after she started taking classes there. Margie thought it was her imagination – seeing Phil again several years after their breakup. Still, it had rattled her. She had an anxiety attack in the driver’s seat of her car. Not able to move, not able to drive. She called her therapist the next day and requested an emergency appointment.
“He’s just a bully, Margaret, remember that.” Dr. Laurent seemed perturbed that they were rehashing this again. Margaret breathed a sigh of relief and told Laurent she’d wait to discuss it until her scheduled appointment. Progress, Margie thought to herself.
Margie started talking to Tom again, soon after that. They went biking around the lakes and he took her out for drinks and dinner when she had the free time.
"No commitment, and no sleepovers" Margie voiced. Tom had just asked her about renewing their relationship, and so she took the opportunity to lay down some ground rules. Afterall, she didn't want to confuse her children anymore than they already were. For the next six months or so, Margie felt empowered. She didn't care that her advertisers (mostly gentleman's clubs and sex toy shops) cancelled their ad orders, she didn't care that once her Guarantee ran out, she had no income - she arranged to start teaching exercise classes again and work part-time at her fitness club. By the time Summer came around, she was back in a groove. It was wonderful spending more time with the kids, and she felt in the best shape of her life. Maybe she wasn't climbing the typical "career ladder," but she was doing what she loved, and that made her happy.
Tom had been acting strangely, brooding around her kids more than usual; asking her about her past relationships, asking about the abortions she had.
One night, they had gotten particularly tipsy and made love on the couch at his place. Right before her orgasm, she could swear he whispered in her ear:
"Do you want to have my baby?"
"Mmm, yes….babies." She whispered back, in the height of passion.
When she asked him about it the next day, he denied it. It took him two weeks to call and ask her out again.
"What are you doing on the 16th?" He asked. Margie checked her calendar.
"Ahm, I have a roomie interview that night."
"Well, ask her if she wants to come with." He said.
And so she did.
The three of them went to a fancy restaurant for cocktails and then to dinner at a restaurant near the hotel her new roommate, Jenny, was staying at temporarily with her daughter, Olivia. While the two girls were in the bathroom, Jenny had felt tipsy enough to reveal more about her situation. Her husband, as it turned out, did not know where she was staying, and she wanted to keep it that way. He had become abusive and jealous, demanding to know where she was every hour of the day. Margie opened up as well, and described her similar experiences as a young adult. The both of them felt a good, friendly connection and there were high hopes that they could help each other through difficult times.
Once they got back to their table, Tom had ordered a new round of drinks. Margie had another glass of wine and started feeling very nice and warm from the effects. She smiled warmly at Tom, and thanked him again for taking them all out.
"To a mutually beneficial partnership!" Margie toasted. And they all raised their glasses.
It wasn't long before Jenny got extremely tired and wanted to head back to her hotel. Tom and Margie walked her up to her room, as she had obviously had too much to drink. Tom and Margie giggled as they maneuvered Jenny into the room.
"Come in, come in my new friends!" Jenny declared, suddenly reviving. Tom excused himself to the restroom, immediately upon entering the room. Margie sat on one of the double beds, and began laughing hysterically when Jenny began stripping down to her underclothes.
"Okay, okay okay," Jenny chanted jumping on the bed. After the third jump, her leg slipped and she bounced onto the floor.
"Oh my God, are you okay?" Margie lept to Jenny's aid, she was a bit quiet and upon looking at her, Margie could tell that Jenny might be ill. She ran to open up the bathroom to grab the wastebasket, interrupting Tom doing…something. She closed the door, and then seeing that Jenny had laid down in one of the beds, opened the door again.
"What are you doing, Tom?"
"What do you mean?
"What's in your hand?"
"Nothing." Margie reached behind him and grabbed the bottle of pills he was trying to open. Margie shook the bottle, and smiled.
"What are these, nothing? What do they do, keep you awake? I want one!" Margie began opening the bottle, and noticed a couple blue pills inside before Tom grabbed the bottle out of her hands.
"Oh no, you've had enough. How is Jenny?" Margie walked out of the bathroom and looked at Jenny who was trying to sit up.
"She seems okay."
"Why don't you try and kiss her," Tom said.
"Sure, try it, see what she says…" Margie walked over to Jenny and smiled at her, sweeping her bangs out of her eyes. Margie leaned over, and just before touching her lips to Jenny's almost unconscious face, looked up and shook her head.
"No, Tom. I want to go - she's not well."
So Tom and Margie covered her up and left the room. Tom drove the forty minutes back to Margie's place, while she passed out next to him.
He revived her enough to get her into her bedroom, and then proceeded to take off her clothes.
His manhood was already fully erect by the time they had reached her house. He wasn't sure how long the Viagra would stay effective, but so far, it seemed to be working just as he had researched. Tom gently tried to revive Margie, but she was nearly fast asleep as he entered her, albeit groaning soft protests. He made sure to keep talking to her in a gentle voice, telling her he loved her and he wanted her to have his child. Afterall, it was the best solution for both of them.
The next morning, Margie had little recall of getting home the night before, even though she figured out that she and Tom had made love, she didn't remember much of it. However, when she received Jenny's panicked call, it took her a full ten minutes to calm her down and figure out why she was so distraught.
"How well do you know that 'Tom'?" she asked between sobs.
"I've known him for eight years, I trust him with my life," Margie was annoyed at her question.
Jenny went on to explain that she had woken up naked and demanded to know how she got that way. Margie explained that when she and Tom dropped her off, Jenny invited them in, and she proceeded to take her clothes off - but only down to her underwear. She explained that nothing happened and that she and Tom left shortly thereafter.
Jenny didn't believe her, citing that she felt they had drugged her and they were both probably in on it.
Margie couldn't hear anymore after that, and hung up to call Tom.
"You need to tell me Tom, when we had sex last night, you did use a condom, didn't you?"
"Condom…sex? You did use a condom, yes, because it would be really, really bad if you didn't. Not a good time of the month to go without a raincoat."
"Yes, Yeah, we did…don't worry. You don't have to worry."
"But I do worry, Tom. Jenny called me up and was all upset about last night. Of course, she's not going to move in now. I don't know what I'm going to do about next months rent."
"Don’t worry, I can loan you some money," Tom said.
But she did worry, she didn't want to be dependent upon a man that didn't love her, or that she didn't love. It went against every screaming fiber of her being.
Weeks later, Margie and Emma would run into Jenny and her daughter at a local dance studio. They both pretended not to notice each other, but Margie did see that she was back together with her husband.
It was another three weeks before Margie realized she hadn't had her period in two months. The last time she had sex was mid-June, and it was nearly the end of August. Strangely, she’d had no symptoms, other than being more tired than usual – and she just chalked that up to working so much.
Callum was in San Diego, staying with his father for the Summer, and Emma was at her father’s house when Margie brought home the pregnancy test. It turned Positive.
Margie couldn’t move after seeing the results. And when she did finally release her grip from the testing stick, it was only to roll up into a ball upon the couch. Her thoughts tracking every moment with Tom since she’d returned from Oregon. The discussions about her sexlife, past abortions and several ethics discussions. How he would mention things right before she’d nod off to sleep, or while he thought she was sleeping. And that night, the one he “pre-scheduled,” which was odd itself, ending up right in the middle of her ovulation period. It seemed he knew her cycle better than she did. She hadn’t taken contraceptives since she’d gotten pregnant with Callum. And the fresh glasses of wine at the restaurant when she and Jenny came back from the bathroom…to get them drunker…or…what? Margie shuddered to think. And those pills!
Margie got online and searched “blue pills,” spotting “Viagra” which was all the rage that year.
So he lied. He lied all along. No one would believe her, of course. Especially the friends they had together. And her family knew about Margie wanting a commitment from him for years before she married someone else.
It was a devastation she couldn’t pull out of for days, even weeks. She set up camp in her basement, watching old movies over and over. Eating popcorn all day long and drinking every drop of liquor in the house.
She didn’t go to work. She didn't answer phone calls either, but did call Ben to ask him to keep Emma for a couple weeks so she could sort out some personal things.
She was calm, cool, collected – until she was on the phone with Callum’s father, then the tears would not be stopped.
“Margie. Listen. Just talk to me when you can, okay? Whatever it is we’ll figure it out,” Michael waited on the other side while she cried, one moment quietly, one moment not so quiet, until she was able to speak.
“I can’t…I can’t do this anymore, Michael. I need you to keep Callum for a while.”
He made her promise that if he kept Callum there, he would need to stay through to high school graduation. In desperation, she agreed.
It took all of the strength she could muster, in her mind and in her hands, to keep herself from retaliating against Tom. She hadn’t said a word to him about the pregnancy, however, after she lost her jobs, and had to move out of the home she was renting, Margie knew she had to make a decision soon. So she asked if she could stay with him for awhile, until she was able to figure out what she wanted to do. He agreed, however reluctantly, it seemed to Margie. And so she spent weeks there, contemplating whether or not she should tell Tom about her pregnancy. Agonizing over whether or not she somehow invited his actions, even subconsciously; and missing her children desperately. Knowing that no matter what she found out, she had to make a choice, stay and confess, knowing he’d want to keep the baby – or keep it a secret, and get an abortion - in favor of continuing the journey toward making something of herself; in favor of understanding that relationships always change – but parenthood does not. In favor of understanding that she neither had the resources to care for another child should Tom drop out of the picture, nor did she have the heart to give up another child for someone else to raise. Still, it was a decision that had to be made, even in the face of waking each morning to guilt and remorse, and the feeling that all was not right in the Universe. She desperately wanted to forget. So each night that Tom was there, she washed it all away with mindless television, an endless supply of wine and a seemingly insatiable amount of sex.
Margie spent a lot of time alone at his house while he flew off to various parts of the continent. As a pilot, his hours were erratic and would often require overnight stays, so she took advantage of her free time to do some thinking, and a little snooping around his house.
Margie poured the hot water into her cup and steeped the teabag a few minutes before walking into Tom’s office. He had a computer there, and Margie loved exploring all of the information on the Internet. But today was different, she had a specific purpose for being on his computer. She first opened his Netscape browser and opened up its History, just to see if there was anything interesting.
"So he liked his porn." Margie thought, as she clicked into an image forum. "Oh!" she gasped aloud at the image slowly opening in front of her. Guys. All guys. Guys on guys. She was embarrassed at how turned on she was…and then after thinking about where she was, and the situation she was in, she became angry.
As she continued to look into his browsing history, noting his obsession with airplanes, of course, and NASA, and the search for extraterrestrial life, she realized there was an entire side to this man that she did not know. And then she came across the protein shakes. He had apparently been searching for some kind of shake containing "GHB." Margie searched for GHB, and came up with its chemical name: gamma-Hydroxbutyric acid - otherwise known as Liquid X.
Margie calmly logged off the computer and got up to search his house. She didn't get sick until after she found his entire stash - 8 full canisters of the protein powder hidden away under the stairway storage compartment - she fell onto her hands an knees then, expelling the contents of her stomach as a rush of memories flooded to her brain. He had asked her about GHB once. He asked her if she knew what it was, and if she had ever been drugged before. Margie hadn't. Margie would never have thought it would happen, especially not from someone she'd known for nearly a decade.
She made it to the bathroom upstairs before she got sick again, then hurried to clean up every trace of herself before Tom got home. When he did arrive, Margie was so happy and eager to make him dinner that he never suspected that anything was wrong. Margie ought to have won an Academy Award that night, as she her imagination worked overtime, lucidly bringing to life all of the nasty accidents that could happen to that man, to that lying scum of the Earth, while he noisily chewed his polska kielbasa.
It looked like a trip to the abortion clinic would become a reality, and the sooner the better, as she didn't know how much longer she'd be able to keep up this charade.
"You have a very nice vulva, the lips are nicely proportioned and aren’t as stretched and hanging out like some of the mom's I've seen." The clinic doctor didn't even look up as he spoke, gently prying apart Margie's knees whenever they collapsed together, whenever she felt a wince or a pinch from the D & C he was performing. "Yes, very nice. Indeed."
Margie could not respond. She was too flabbergasted to respond. The doctor stood and withdrew the suctioning wand as he smiled cheerfully at her. Her gut told her he only wanted to see if he was going to get some kind of reaction. She gave him none.
The entire procedure was just another surreal event, added to a series of surreal events that had been occurring of late. Events that made her question her life's fate, the design of things. Why would she now fight against something she's wanted for so long? A family, a home, a loving relationship. Ideas that had been sold to her all her life. They are all supposed to go together, aren't they? They seemed so out of reach now, because she certainly wasn't ready to give up a loving relationship for the family and the home. She'd never be able to do it. Live that lie.