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Monique grabbed a sugar cube from the tin and drowned it in her cup of tea. Tears trickled down her face as her mother, and two best friends sat beside her, comforting her. “Does he know about the baby," her friend Trish asked.
“I don’t even know who the father is yet, Trish. God this can’t be happening to me. Not now.”
“It will be okay Nini. I promise you,” her mom reassured her.
“ I am almost completely sure it’s his. Ronald is the main one who pays more to… to not use protection.”
“ Nini… we know better than that. You know that’s not what we do. But, what’s done is done. You need to tell him. He deserves to at least know he could be a father.”
“Okay. I guess. Next time we meet, I’ll tell him.”
Monique wiped the tears from her eyes and shot up out of her seat. He solemn face seemed to melt away, exposing an emotionless shell underneath. She turned to face her bedroom and stood there, unmoving. Her mouth opened as if she had something to say, but she closed it and proceeded to walk to her bedroom. Before she shut the door, she peeked back through the doorway and said “Thank you all for comforting me in my time of need. I shall be going to sleep now” in the same monotone drone that you would expect out of a robot. Monique’s mom and Trish sat on the ruby red couch, not saying a word. As if the silence had commanded Trish to disturb its unsettling presence, she looked at the mother said “We need to protect her. You know how she gets when things like this happen. It’s up to us to look after her right now.”
The next morning, Monique woke up to the sweet smell of coffee and chocolate buttermilk pancakes. The smell possessed her and by the time she was able to open her eyes, she was already in her seat, with fork and knife in hand. “Good morning Trish. Good morning mom. How are the two of you doing today?” Monique said in her same computerized voice.
“We are doing fine honey. How are you? Are you doing better today?” Her mom asked
“Well yes. I am doing quite well. That sleep really helped me. I really did need it. Thank you for asking. And Trish, how are you today?” Monique asked
“I am doing okay, thanks. Is there anything I can do for you?” Trish asked.
“No. Thank you. I appreciate the interest into my well being, but I would like to eat now. If that is okay with you.”
And with those words, Trish plated the pancakes, eggs, and bacon, and poured Monique a cup of coffee. “Here you go Nini. I hope you enjoy. You have a big day today.” Trish said.
“I do? What do I have planned for today?” Monique inquired.
“Today you meet with Ronald! You get to break the news to him.”
“Oh how…” Monique looked up from her plate and stared blankly in front of her, “interesting. I hope it goes well. For all of us.”
Monique cut each of her pancakes into 8 symmetrical pieces. She poured exactly two creamers and packets of sugar into her coffee. She lined up 3 pieces of bacon on a napkin next to her plate. When everything was in its place, Monique started her process of 2 bites of pancakes, a sip of coffee, another bite of of her pancakes, a bite of her eggs, a finally bite of bacon. She repeated this process until all of her food had vanished from her plate. Trish and Monique’s mom watched her eat, meeting eyes with each other every once in awhile. Even though nothing was said, they both knew what the other was thinking, Monique is losing herself. They knew it was best to sit back and just help her when need be, but it was difficult for either of them to sit back and do nothing. When Monique had finished, she placed her fork and knife in the centre of her plate and folded her napkin and placed it on the edge of her plate. She then stood up, pivoted to face her bedroom, and glided away.
Monique stepped through the doorway and out of her house 2 hours later. Her spring yellow dress glistened, almost as much as her flawless skin, in the sunlight. Her mom and Trish stood by the car, astonished by the princess that had just walked through the doors. “This is it”, they thought, “She’s finally back to normal. Our Monique is finally back”. They exuberance was halted the moment Monique opened her mouth and in the same monotone voice, she uttered, “Mother. Trish. You look well. Shall we go and tell this man about the baby?” Their smiles sagged into frowns and the bleak, bitter feeling that they were so happy to have finally escaped crept back into their souls.
Monique sat quietly in the back seat. Her hands placed neatly on her thighs and an eerie smirk plastered on her face. She did not move the entire car ride. No stop, no turn, no start seemed to change her position. The air rushing in her face, from the open window, did not make her blink. If someone had opened the car door at any point and peered in, they would have mistaken Monique for a lifeless corpse held up perfectly by strings.
As they pulled up to a 3 story, lavish, american craftsman house, with a champagne colored aston martin sitting in the driveway, a tall, round man with red hair came out to greet us. “Hello ladies, I’m Ronald” he said leaning up against the car, speaking into an open window. “You must be Ms. Daphney”. Monique’s mom shook her head in approval. “Great. Soo.. uhhh.. That must make you.. Of course. That must make you the famous Trish. I’ve heard so much about you.” Trish began to blush as Ronald’s blinding smile shined in her direction. “Now where’s my favorite lady. Moni are you back there? Come on out.” The door creaked open and Monique began to make her way out of the car. Her right leg swung out first and the left was not far behind. She stepped out of the car with the same emotionless face she had the entire car trip over. Ronald’s jaw dropped at the sight of her beauty. He had only called her over in the middle of the night when her full body was always shrouded in a shadows and secrecy. Never had he witnessed her full beauty until now. He walked up to her, grabbed her by the hand and sat there, looking deeply into her ocean emerald green eyes. He could not conjure the words to express what he felt in this moment. Instead, he led her inside the house.
After all of the pleasantries were finished, Daphney and Trish left Ronald’s house and allowed Monique and him to do whatever they needed to do. They knew that this was their moment and they wanted to respect that. Before they left, they turned to Monique and told her, “You must stay here with him until we get back. Do not leave. We want to know where you are at all times.” Monique nodded her head, turned around and headed back to Ronald. They decided to drive around the town, admiring the city they hadn’t seen much of during the day. They stopped at a diner for lunch. The stopped at the store to do some shopping. They sat in a park to people watch for a couple hours. They went to see a movie. They explored parts of the city they’ve never seen before. As they were sitting in the park, watching the sun set, they decided that it was time to get back to Monique. “Whatever they would talk about must be done by now” they thought.
They pulled up to Ronald’s house for the second time, except this time something was different. The tan sportscar was no longer in the driveway. “Maybe he just went out to get food.” Trish said to Daphney, praying to God that was the truth. Trish took the keys out of the ignition, shoved the keys in her pocket and opened the door. Each step she took, the gravel crackling and shifting under her feet, made her heart beat faster and faster. What if he’d taken off and left her there to fend for herself? What if they had run off together? What if he’d done something to her? Millions of questions ran through her mind as she made her way up to the door. BANG BANG BANG!!!......... Nobody answers. Again Trish pounds on the door, BANG BANG BANG! And again, no response. Trish turns and sprints back to the car. She grabs the door handle and hurls the door open. She opens the glove box and grabs her phone. She can barely press the buttons on the phone on account of her shaking hands. The phone rings. It seems like an eternity between each ring. An eternity where something could be happening to Monique. Finally somebody picks up, “911, what’s your emergency.”
“MY FRIEND HAS BEEN TAKEN AND I DON’T KNOW WHERE SHE IS. PLEASE! YOU NEED TO HELP ME!” Trish screams into the phone.
“Ma’am please calm down. What can you tell me about the incident”
As Trish explained the events to the dispatch, Daphne stepped out of the car. She took a few steps and looked solemnly up at the stars. She slowly reached into her pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. She opened the lid. She fiddled with one in her hand, which was surprisingly still. She was surprisingly still. She pulled a lighter out of her pocket and proceeded to light her cigarette. She blew out clouds of smoke. She watched as they mixed with the night air. They mixed with the muffled shouting coming from the car. They mixed into an especially soothing blend then dissipated into the night sky.
Four days had passed since anyone had seen either Monique or Ronald. Everyone had assumed the worst. Police had been in and out of the house since Monique departed. On that day, the police came across something big. They knocked on the door. Trish, on edge ever since Monique disappeared, answered the door. “Hello Officer, how may I help you?”
“We came across a note that Monique wrote. Apparently she had a meeting with somebody named “Sugar Cube” the day she went missing. Do you have any idea who this might be?”
“Sugar cube? Yeah, that’s just a name she called Ronald. I don’t know, it was cute. But, it’s only Ronald, the guy we told you about earlier.”
“Okay, thank you. Sorry to bother you.”
“It’s quite al…,” before Trish was able to finish, the Police officer was getting a call from dispatch. She heard over the walkie-talkie “There was a man found floating in the lake. We need all units to respond. Possible I.D, a Ronald Michaelson” The police officer ran away, slid into his police cruiser and drove off. Trish turned and sprinted into the living room where Daphne was sitting, drinking her tea. “DAPHNE! DID YOU HEAR THAT?!?! WE NEED TO GO!” Trish yelled to Daphne, who was sitting just inches away from her. Daphne did not flinch. She sat on the couch and continued to sip at her tea. “DID YOU NOT HEAR ME?!?! Ronald was found dead. We need to go. Maybe Monique could be close behind.” Again, Daphne sat, unphased, sipping at her tea. “What is wrong with you Daphne. She's been missing since Friday and you're not worried?!” Daphne put her tea down. Added another sugar cube. Stirred it around in the cup. Looked up at Trish and said, with a slight sinister grin on her face, “I’m sure Nini is alright. She can take care of herself,” then continued to sip on her tea.