Plus One(8)

By: Aleatha Romig

It’s a little scary how much detail I’ve added in my head.

All in all, getting hit by a moving vehicle in Manhattan is more believable than plummeting to your death from a busy tourist landmark. My parents have been to New York twice to visit, but with that limited experience, they aren’t aware that traffic is more often at a standstill than it is whizzing around city curbs.

The truth is that I wouldn’t mind if Timothy actually had an accident. With all the talk of him at Scarlett’s wedding, I can’t help but recall New Year’s Eve, searching for him at the party, opening that door, and finding him with Carla from accounting. When that memory comes to life, it really isn’t that hard to envision him maimed or at the very least, missing a few key body parts.

As I emerge from the subway tunnel onto the bustling street, my phone’s chirp fills my ears via my Bluetooth. A quick glance at my watch and I know it’s my mom. Taking a deep breath, I decide it’s time to bite the bullet. In my defense, for the last week I haven’t only been avoiding my mom’s calls; I’ve been helping Shana pack and get ready for her move. It may be a defense mechanism, but I figure if I keep denying that I have to tell my mom the truth, I’ll come up with a fail-safe plan.

I haven’t, and other than making Shana my plus-one, I’m out of options.

“Mom,” I say, pressing my Bluetooth closer to my ear. The morning sunlight causes me to squint as I concentrate on her voice.

“What time do you get in?”

“Get in?” I ask, guilt filling me as I decide how best to break her heart.

As I play dumb to her twenty questions, I realize that I never made airplane reservations. Shit, it’s Monday. The big day that the entire family—minus me—has prepared for is Saturday. Five days away.

To say I’m unprepared is a gross understatement. I don’t have transportation. I don’t have a dress…

“Thursday, dear. Your dad has that appointment. We tried to make it for another time, but the doctor is well-known for his work with those kinds of problems. We didn’t want to wait longer, and we want to be sure we can pick you up at the airport. If we can’t, Susan said—”

“Thursday?” I say, interrupting more conversation of my sister-in-law. “Mom, the wedding isn’t until Saturday.” I try again to deny the time has arrived to come clean. “Which appointment does Dad have?”

“The urologist. Oh, I’ve told you. Remember, it used to be with stress, but now—”

Okay, that isn’t where I wanted to go. “Sorry to interrupt, but I need to get to work. You were saying Thursday. I figured Friday…” Or Saturday, ten minutes before the ceremony. I don’t say that, because I know it won’t fly.

Speaking of flying, why didn’t I book a flight before now? A last-minute flight will cost a fortune and will probably take me to Indiana via Texas. I’ll chalk that one up to denial too.

“Just tell me what time your flight arrives,” Mom says. “You know it’s race weekend. I told you not to book a hotel, and if you listened, there’s not one available for miles. Besides, we have plenty of room. I have a surprise for you.”

“You do?” I ask sheepishly.

“Yes,” her voice brims with excitement. “I’ve talked with your father and even he agrees: Timothy can stay with you in your room.”

“What?” I choke.

“Yes, you’re a grown woman and we want him to know that if it’ll get your man to propose, he can stay in your room.”

“M-Mom…” I struggle to find appropriate words. How on God’s green earth does she think that sleeping with someone in my parents’ house is going to be romantic?

“It’s all right. You know, despite this issue that we’re seeing the doctor about, your dad and I are still quite active—”

My body shakes in denial as I interrupt. “The race. Crap. How did I forget about the race?”

“Well, I don’t know, dear. It’s only the biggest spectacle in racing. Your dad and brother aren’t too happy about missing it. They were hoping to take Timothy. But there’s the big family pig roast on Sunday. Dad had to give the tickets away. He gave them to Scott McKinney. You know, Darrin’s father. By the way, your dad said Scott seemed disappointed that you are bringing a plus-one from New York. Apparently, Darrin was hoping…” she rambles.

My stomach twists. Darrin?

No. “Mom?”

“Oh! Did you get Timothy’s measurements? I need those today. Besides filling in for his friend from California, Kurt wants Timothy at the bachelor party. You know, I’m not a big fan of parties the night before the wedding. Remember that incident with Jimmy…”