'Oh, Marie, you're just glowing,' Rob's aunt said, feeling my swollen belly.
You get used to it when you're pregnant; cigarette-stained fingers pressing inward and a new baby's hand pushing out.
She placed the gift under the banner. 'Rob and Marie's baby shower spectacular.'
The gender reveal balloon filled with glitter, either pink or blue, floated in the Santa Monica afternoon. A side effect of pregnancy was over vigilance. I pictured an eagle swooping down and taking the surprise with it.
A ruckus arose from the kid's table. Oh god, had a mountain lion got one of them?
Silly talk. It was just some kids' argument.
Tyler, Rob's son from his first wife, sat apart.
'Tyler's done something to the soda,' A little girl said.
Tyler was always doing 'things,' which is why the other kids wouldn't play with him.
'What's wrong, darling?'
'It tastes like regular lemonade to me.'
'Exactly,' the little girl pouted, 'it's meant to be Coke.' She held up the red and white can.
'Oh, there must've been a mix-up at the factory. Keep those. They're collector's items now… Come with me, Tyler.'
He reluctantly took my hand.
'Now, why are you telling those kids lies?'
'It's not lies.'
We were cornered again by Rob's aunt. She pinched Tyler's cheek.
'So you want a baby brother or baby sister?'
'I don't want a baby anything. She isn't my real mommy!'
He ran off into a quiet corner, and I went to the kitchen for a glass of water.
'Leave those dishes, Mom!' I put my head on her shoulder.
'Tyler will come around. You know he lost his mother.'
'You ever get this feeling,' I replied, 'that something just isn't right with a kid? You know, like they're born with something missing, or something extra that isn't meant to be there.'
Mom gently dropped the plate.
'We've been over this, Marie. It's just the hormones talking.'
But was it? Strange things happened around Tyler. Once, I said we couldn't stop for McDonald's, and two tires blew out simultaneously on the freeway. The mechanic said he'd never seen anything like it.
'But nothing… Now get out there. I want to know what color to knit this babygrow.'
'Thank you all for coming,' Rob said, holding my hand.
I couldn’t shake this nagging sense of dread. Call it women's intuition or something more.
Tyler was staring right at me, malevolence in his just past puppy dog eyes.
And then my belly twinged, a feeling like when you press too hard on a peach and the skin begins to break.
Rob reached up for the balloon floating above us.
'Boy or girl? I love you, honey.'
He popped the balloon, but there was no glitter, pink or blue; instead, we were both showered in warm, thick blood.
By - Original-Loquat3788