Willow thinks of the hundreds of different people who have predicted pain for her in the coming months. Book authors, magazine writers, relatives, website owners and friends. They spoke of nausea, the loss of control over your body and its impulses, and the ache brought on by growth.
Willow, however, feels better than ever before in her life. Lazier, yes, but her growing stomach brings her energy that she realizes was missing before.
When she tells this to her friend, Jim, he is jealous. "When we were pregnant with our first, Marie couldn't function. She complained endlessly, suffered every medical condition in the book, and was constantly depressed. Tara's lucky."
Willow's smile disappears. Tara hasn't been doing so well through all of this. She debates telling her friend but decides against it. It's their business and they can handle it.
"She sure is. My sex drive has gone through the roof."
"Okay, that was an overshare." He pauses. "Really? Why didn't Marie have that?"
Her smile returns; it seems she's having the dream pregnancy. "I guess the gods and goddesses are smiling upon lesbianity."
"Someone's got to, I guess."
They finish their conversation and Willow listens to Tara getting ready. She puts a pillow behind her back and leans against it, eyes closed. Her nose enjoys the scent of Tara's perfume. "Baby, I want to see you before you leave. I bet you look gorgeous."
She listens to zips being pulled, buttons being clicked together, Tara singing softly as she brushes her hair, and finally footsteps in the hallway.
Tara steps into the room, looking coy. She waits for her wife's reaction.
"Very nice," Willow breathes. Her wife's hair is lightly curled and hangs low on her back. She's wearing a long, fitted jacket and a pair of jeans, which - Willow can't help noticing - shapes her butt perfectly. She checks and yes, Tara's nails are painted and she's wearing her wedding ring.
"Like I wouldn't wear it," Tara laughs, watching her wife's eyes take inventory of her body.
"Just checking," Willow retorts. "You're going to a concert, you look really sexy and I need to make sure you have your hands-off symbol on you. And you do," she says, satisfied. "So you can go now. Just make sure you come back afterwards, because I have plans for you."
Tara sees the look in Willow's eyes and takes a step back. "You behave. I'll be back at 11."
"Tara, you look great!"
Lisa ran towards me. She was wearing glow-in-the-dark crucifix earrings, a 'Make Cookies Not War' t-shirt and flared corduroy jeans.
"So do you!" I grinned. One thing I admired about Lisa was that nothing took away her crazy streak. When I was growing up I always hid myself and tried to keep camouflaged as much as possible. I wore pastel clothing, my eyes were pale, my hair was such a faint shade of blonde it was almost white, and I tried not to speak whenever possible. Lisa, on the other hand, was loud and colourful, almost demanding attention. She was a breath of fresh air and made my once repressed inner teen stand up and applaud.
We were going to a concert held at a university campus, and we were both excited. It was a band Willow had no interest in, and Lisa needed a guardian in order to get in, so we were the perfect duo.
We arrived at the venue early and stood by the merchandise table drinking soda and watching people buy expensive t-shirts.
"This is cool," Lisa was saying, gazing at a jacket emblazoned with the band's name, when a group of teenagers approached us.
"Lisa! I didn't expect to see you here," said a girl with orange hair. She looked curiously at me. I waited for Lisa to cringe and make forced, polite conversation, the way I would have at her age, but she was excited to see them.
"Bec! Tam!" She gave each girl a hug. "This is my friend Tara. Tara, meet Bec and Tam from school. And Bec's sister and her friends." She grinned at the older girls.
They smiled at me. "I saw the bass guitarist out the back," one of the girls whispered. "He is so hot."
"Totally," I agreed, feeling like I was ten years younger, an over-excited teen. "Musicians are always hot, though."
We stood around making conversation and when the concert started we went in together. Our tickets were for the standing area. After about half the play list was through I was flushed and tired from dancing and singing along. I went to get a drink and one of Lisa's friends followed me.
"So you were the one writing the article about Lisa," she said, waiting to pay for the bottles of water she'd ordered.
"Yeah, not any more," I replied.
"Because of her mom." She rolled her eyes. "She's such a bitch."
This caught my attention. "What did her mom do?"
She looked down. "I don't want to say anything if Lisa hasn't told you. It's kind of personal."
I tried to figure it out. "She did tell me about it. But she said it was her father who was the problem."
The girl sighed. "Yes, it is. But her mom is the one who found out about the interview and made her drop the article. She said it was unfair of Lisa and that it would be bad for the family."
"Why's that? I think Lisa's work is admirable." I frowned.
"Yes, you and I think that. But see it from her perspective. Lisa talks about women who are stuck in desperate situations; how they need to find the courage to get out. Her mom is one of those women." She opened her bottle of water and drank nearly the whole thing in one gulp. "So is Lisa, really."
"Except her mother has the ability to leave, and she doesn't," I finished, mostly speaking to myself. The girl was eager to get back to the concert.
As soon as we were inside, Lisa rushed over to me. "Oh, my god," she said dramatically. "The lead singer smiled at me."
"Bullshit, Lise, it was at me." Her friend pushed her, laughing.
The yellow lights lit Lisa's hair and face. She looked so happy and for some reason that upset me more than anything else.
She was a great dancer; her body seemed to predict the beats and it moved simultaneously with the bass. By the time we left she was panting.
There were many cars waiting to leave the parking lot, so we waited in a queue and listened to the CD of the band we had just seen.
"How's Willow doing?" she asked while we waited.
"Great, actually. She's really enjoying having a belly, I think, and likes to show it to people." We laughed.
"I'd like to meet her sometime."
"I'm sure she'd like to meet you. Why don't you come over for dinner one night? You can bring someone, if you want. I'll cook something with lots of iron for Willow and you."
"Great. I love spinach," she joked. "I'm free this Saturday."
I tried to remember if we were free and couldn't think of a reason why not. Besides, she looked so hopeful. "Sure."
When we reached her house, I noticed there were no lights on or sign of life inside. I was about to comment when she spoke.
"Thanks for coming with me, Tara. It was a great night."
I just smiled and kept quiet as she got out of the car. She reached the front steps, waved at me, took out her keys and pretended to unlock the door. I drove off slowly and saw her tiptoe around the side of the house. From experience I knew that she was climbing through the window.
"What would you say if I told you that Lisa didn't have permission to come with me tonight?"
"I'd say that you didn't know any better, she lied to you, and it isn't really your fault."
"Well," the blonde says slowly, "what if I did know better? I figured her parents wouldn't have encouraged her to go, but I accepted anyway."
"Then," the redhead answers, "I would remind you that you're Lisa's friend, not parent, and that you joined her tonight because you wanted to and because she asked you to."
The blonde looks away. "I don't know if having another friend is what she needs. Don't we always say that kids today are messed up because their parents are more interested in being their friends than in parenting them?"
"Yes, but we're usually talking about ten-year-old slutbombs with streaked hair, thong and fuck-me stiletto boots. Or a bratty kid being given yet another toy because his parents can't say no." Willow changes tactic. "Anyway, Tare, listen to me: I repeat, you're not her parent. Maybe her parents are terrible but it isn't your job to discipline her and decide what she can and can't do. Okay, so maybe it was bad judgement to go tonight." Her voice softens. "But sweetie, you had fun. You needed it. And, even after reading the million parenting books I've been reading lately, I think you did the right thing. I bet Lisa had an amazing night. She likes you a lot. And she deserves one amazing night once in a while."
Tara nods. "Thanks, honey." She sits on the bed to take off her shoes. "It was a lot of fun. A guy asked me to dance."
Willow narrows her eyes in mock anger. "I hope you told him that you had a suffering, overly pregnant wife sitting alone at home waiting for you, so no, you couldn't dance."
Tara shakes her head. "Actually, I danced with him."
"Hey, you said I needed to relax. And I did." She stiffles a laugh at Willow's indignant facial expression. "Anyway, I thought you wanted me to rush home to satisfy your cravings." She arches an eyebrow. "Here I am. Quit interrogating and start making use of me."
"Oh, right," Willow banters, "so I'm supposed to pretend I'm pleased with tonight's events?"
"Nope. You're supposed to be pleasured by the next few hours' events."
"Is that a threat, Tara?"
"You betcha, Willow."
She undoes her shirt, removes her jeans, grins at the quick widening of her wife's eyes, and then shows Willow just how glad she is to be home.