My little brother had messaged me the night before to tell me he was depressed and tired of life, but did not want to admit that and sound ungrateful, being the recepient of a recent heart transplant. He was a reanimated corpse, he said, and the shine was gone. The episode of Golden Girls on the television became blurry as my eyes filled with tears and I formed little fists of rage. Fists that had been fingers that had been pulling at my hair all the last week.
Back in my cubicle, I reached to cover the bald spots on my head as I slipped my headphones down around my neck. I wanted to call my brother, but knew I couldn't do it fast enough before they dragged me into the conversation.
"Colleen! Charlotte's pregnant!" Bettie beamed at me and they all stopped and looked at me. Briefly the smiles drained from their faces as I turned the corner of my lip up slightly and nodded. It was all I could muster. They reformed their circle and I grabbed the phone, knowing no one would care to hear me any longer as their volume rose back to shreiking.
"Are you hopeless?" I verbally diarrhead one I got him on the phone. "Do you feel like you'll never have your own family or marriage and that your life is meaningless?" It was my greatest fear for him, second to the fear I'd felt when his life was hanging in the balance.
"Hell no, I don't want fucking kids," he said and laughed. His laughter filled me with relief. He explained he was worried he'd lose his disability, be unable to work, and have to send his cat packing to go live with our mom and her 18 other cats. He'd gladly live in a van down by the river, he said, but was fashioning a little cat noose for the cat in order for it to avoid that fate.
I wiped the tears off my face taking most of my makeup with it and smiled. I told him I would take his cat if it came to that, but that it wouldn't. I said every day that he woke up, he was meant to be here and that the Universe would take care of him. He told me he didn't subscribe to that horseshit, but thanks.
Charlotte had hauled her pregnant ass back to her own cubicle by that point. I know you wanted me to end this story by getting up and congratulating her or something, but I just don't subscribe to that horseshit. Thanks.