Dirty Red (Love Me With Lies)
Author:Fisher, Tarryn

When he leaves for home to take a shower, I pull my phone from underneath my pillow and Google ‘Estella’ from Great Expectations.

 

One website calls her an enchanting beauty, says she has a cold-hearted personality and a superiority complex. Another says she was the physical representation of everything Pip wanted and could not have. I put the phone away and peer into the bassinet beside me. Caleb does everything with purpose. I wonder how long he’s wanted a girl. I wonder if the nine months I planned on having a son, Caleb was planning on having a daughter.

 

I do not feel anything — none of the gushing, maternal things my friends relayed to me about their own children. They had used words like: unconditional, all encompassing, love of my life. I had smiled and nodded, storing the words away for reference when I had my own child. And, now here I am, emotionless. Those words mean nothing to me. Would I have felt differently if she were a boy? The baby starts to wail, and I jab at the nurse’s call button.

 

“Need some help?” a mid-fifties nurse wearing Care Bear scrubs walks briskly into the room. I eye her gappy smile and nod.

 

“Can you take her to the nursery? I need to get some sleep.”

 

Estella is wheeled out of my room, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

 

I am not going to be good at this. What was I thinking? I breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth like I do in Yoga.

 

I want a cigarette. I want a cigarette. I want to kill the woman my husband loves. This is all her fault. I got pregnant to secure the man that I had already married. A woman shouldn’t have to do that. She should feel safe in her marriage. That’s why you got married — to feel safe from all the men who were trying to siphon your soul. I’d yielded my soul to Caleb willingly. Offered it up like a sacrificial lamb. Now, I was not only going to have to compete with the memory of another woman, but a shriveled up baby. He was already staring into her eyes like he could see the Grand Canyon tucked away in her irises.

 

I sigh and curl into a ball, tucking my knees under my chin and gripping my ankles.

 

I have done a number of things to keep this man. I have lied and cheated. I have been sexy and meek, fierce and vulnerable. I have been everything but myself.

 

He is mine right now, but I am never enough for him. I can feel it — see it in the way he looks at me. His eyes are always probing, searching for something. I don’t know what he’s looking for. I wish I did. I cannot compete against a baby — my baby.

 

I am who I am.

 

My name is Leah, and I will do anything to keep my husband.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

After forty-eight hours, I am discharged from the hospital. Caleb is with me while I wait to be discharged. He holds Estella, and I am almost jealous, except he touches me constantly — a hand on my arm, his thumb rubbing circles on the back of my hand, his lips on my temple. Caleb’s mother came earlier with his stepfather. They stayed for an hour, taking turns holding the baby before sweeping off to lunch with friends. I was relieved when they left. People hovering over me while my breasts slowly leaked made me squirm in discomfort. They brought a bottle of Bruichladdich for Caleb, a Tiffany’s piggy bank for the baby and a Gucci sweat set for me. Despite her uppitiness, the woman has excellent taste. I am wearing the set. I rub the material between my fingers as I wait to be wheeled downstairs.

 

“I can’t believe we did this,” Caleb says for the millionth time, looking down at her. “We made this.”

 

Technically, I made this. It's convenient how men get to sign their names to these little creations without doing much more than having an orgasm and assembling a crib. He reaches out a hand and tugs on my hair playfully. I smile weakly. I can’t stay mad at him. He’s perfect.

 

“She has red hair,” he says as if to establish her credibility as my child. She’s a Ginger all right. Poor kid will have her work cut out for her. It’s not easy to pull off red.

 

“What? That fluff? That’s not hair,” I tease.

 

He brought a plush lavender blanket with him. I have no idea where he got it since most of our baby things are green or white. I watch him swaddle her in it, like the nurses taught him.

 

“Did you call the nanny agency?” I ask timidly. This is a sore subject between us, along with breastfeeding, which Caleb strongly promotes and I couldn’t care less about. Our compromise consists of me pumping for a few months and then getting an augmentation.

 

He frowns. I don’t know if it’s because of what I’ve said or because the blanket is giving him problems.

 

“We’re not getting a nanny, Leah.”

 

I hate this. Caleb has all of these ideas about how things are supposed to be. You’d swear he was raised by Betty Fucking Crocker herself.

 

“You said yourself that you’re not going back to work."

 

“My friends — “ I begin, but he cuts me off.