Meg could do mostly anything she wanted. Except for two things.
She couldn’t keep a boyfriend. And she couldn’t keep a baby.
We’ve been friends literally since we were crawling, one of those ‘moms were friends so we were friends’ too. But unlike most times when these friendships tend to grow apart, Meg and I were inseparable. As children we were around the same clothing size so our closets were spread between our houses. My mom couldn’t even remember what was mine and what was Meg’s but it didn’t matter. We shared everything from clothes to toys. She was the only one I trusted with Leon the Lion and Meg would go to sleep if she knew that her Hector the Hippo was in my bed safe and sound.
As teens, things did change, but nothing that changed our friendship. I stayed at a solid five feet tall, gained a lot of weight, and was officially diagnosed with dyslexia. School was hard. I turned into a wallflower.
On the other hand, Meg blossomed to be tall, almost modelesque in stature. She aced all her classes, loved the drama club. And everyone loved her.
However, this didn’t change the fact we were best friends. Meg never got a big head, never got upset with me as she tutored me through English and Algebra. Turned down a guy asking her out because he called me a ‘fat pig’. We were still thick as thieves.
Which is why she told me first that she was pregnant.
It was in the school bathroom, right after third period, right before lunch. Our sophomore year. I was trying to clean my glasses while Meg was leaned over the sink, taking several deep breaths as she was trying not to puke. “Still have that flu bug?” I joked.
“No. It’s, um…. it’s morning sickness. I’m pregnant.”
I dropped my glasses and I’m lucky that they didn’t crack. I spun around, eyes wide. “What?” I asked, wondering if she’d gotten a lousy sense of humor over the past twenty four hours.
Meg nodded. “Y-yeah.” She stood up straight. “I’m having a baby, Lynne.”
Those words were the most terrifying I’d ever heard. She opened up after that.
The baby belonged to David, another member of the drama club. I knew they’d gone on a few dates, but I didn’t know things had gone that far. They’d only done it once, after that they agreed it just wasn’t going to work out. Sex was no hurrah, according to her.
But Meg had gone to the doctor’s yesterday and they confirmed what the five pregnancy tests said.
“Are your parents upset?” I remember blurting out.
Meg shrugged. “I mean, a little? Because we didn’t use protection and I didn’t tell them I was interested in becoming sexually active… I don’t know what to tell David. I think though… no, I know I’m going to keep it. Like. No abortion. I’m gonna find a mom and a dad for this baby, and they’ll be happy. I don’t give a shit what people think anyway. My parents are totally in support too… are you, Lynne?”
I hugged Meg tightly. That was my answer. I’d always support my best friend.
We didn’t have time to find a new mommy and daddy though. Just the next week, Meg miscarried.
Meg was shattered. I was too. We cried together for months.
But Meg was strong. Meg grew stronger. And by her senior year she had a new boyfriend, and a new baby inside of her when she graduated. But things went to shit once again. She miscarried, and he took off. Dickhead.
This became a cycle that was painful to witness. Meg would find a guy, get pregnant despite whatever measures were taken, and they’d break it off as she miscarried. I suppose that’s why she got used to it, I don’t know how many times she got pregnant and lost the child. I was always there though, even as we grew into adulthood. I became a cashier at the fish market, saving up for college. Meg got a job at the insurance company one of her exes worked at, a job nice enough to buy her childhood house as her parents had moved to Florida. No use for a three bedroom house when it’s just you and your partner after all.
Then when she was twenty five she told me she was engaged.
I liked her new dude, I suppose, Craig- he had a good job at the bank. Really solid. Of course I had to ask though.
“Meg, are you pregnant this time?”
“Not yet. Come over next week- I want you to try on your dress. You’re going to be beautiful.”
I squealed and jumped up and down. I was going to be Meg’s maid of honor. I’d always dreamed of that day. To be standing next to her while she was at the altar. I practically danced around the market while I waited for her to call me and tell me when I could come over.
I went over on Friday after I showered, I didn’t want to smell like fish while trying on my new dress. For hours I stressed over what color would it be? It wouldn’t be pink, Meg wasn’t that crazy about pink. Maybe a deep red, or a rich plum. If it was a spring wedding, I wouldn’t put it past her to pick pastel green.
Meg answered the door in a fluffy green bathrobe. Her hair was all done up and she was grinning. “Get in here!” She said before pulling me inside.
I hadn’t been in this house for a long time, if I’m honest. Normally when Meg and I hung out it was at my apartment or someplace in public. It hadn’t changed much, minus modernizing of the furniture. I walked to the corner where Meg and I used to measure ourselves as kids. Meg’s dad would make a mark over our heads on each birthday and we’d see how much we’d grown over the past year.
I ran my finger over the mark that was still the same height as I was now. Good times. So long ago. Then I looked at the opposing corner to see dozens of more marks. I frowned. We hadn’t ever measured ourselves over there, had Meg’s brother been measured there instead?
When I knelt beside the marks, I started making out the names.
“Hey, did someone live here after your parents?” I asked before I turned around.
Meg was holding up the dress bag. “Go, try it on, I think I got your measurements right. You lost like five pounds right?” She asked.
“Eh, seven, but I put three back on,” I took the bag and peered in. I frowned. “… Meg? This is your dress.”
“Nope! Mine’s in the other room.” She grinned and bounced from her heels to her toes, something she always did while excited.
“Then the shop must’ve screwed up, this can’t be my dress,” I said, trying to push it back into her hands.
She pushed it back and shook her head.
“No. I know it’s yours. I already checked.”
In a trance, I walked into the bathroom and put on the dress.
The white, lace dress.
It was perfect. One I’d want to wear at my wedding, a fact Meg knew. We’d been shopping for wedding dresses since we were twelve.
Feeling the victim of a cruel joke, I walked out, ready to tear Meg a new one.
The living room was empty, but I could hear music playing from the basement. ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Again, the exact wedding march I’d confided in Meg that I would want. I balled up my fists and prepared to march right out the door. This wasn’t funny. Meg could go to hell if she thought it was.
I looked down the hall, the door to the basement.
A little boy, probably nine or ten, was peering from the door. His amber eyes were almost glowing in the dark.
“Come on! Momma’s ready! Momma’s ready!”
The door slammed shut.
Momma? Now someone had put too much effort into this prank. I was ready to punch Meg when I saw her next. I went to the door, opened it back up, and walked down the stairs. I pulled up the skirt to make sure I wouldn’t trip.
The lights wouldn’t turn on, a fact that didn’t surprise me. The switch at the top of the stairs was always finicky. I didn’t have my phone for light either since this dress didn’t have pockets. So I just had to step very, very carefully.
I set my hand on one of the Halloween decorations to steady myself when lights on the floor snapped on, fairy lights for Christmas.
I was standing at the beginning of the aisle, and at the end was Meg, in her own perfect wedding gown. She looked so stunning, the sight took my breath away.
“Can you take your hand off of me, please?”
I gasped as my hand tore away, ready to apologize.
The gargoyle had spoken. At least I think it looked like a gargoyle. Twisted features, sharp chin, demonic eyes. I went pale. I nearly screamed.
But I heard Meg giggle quietly.
“Emery, don’t scare her.”
Emery shuffled his clawed feet and mumbled an apology. This jerked me into walking to the front in quite a hurry. As my eyes adjusted to the low light, I could make out more. Children with horns, children with fangs, all sorts of monstrous children.
I was shaking by the time I reached the end, now feeling safer by Meg. “Who… who are all…” I stammered. I couldn’t make it out.
“They’re my children, Lynne.”
I looked around the room in shock. I spotted the amber eyed boy, he waved a scaled hand and blinked with clear eyelids. “But you’ve never had kids, Meg! You’ve always miscarried!” I blurted out.
Meg shook her head no. “Not exactly. I’m not quite sure why it’s worked out this way. But by the first or second month, they’re usually ready to be born. It’s not really a miscarriage, it’s labor. At first my parents let me believe my first child was miscarried, I’d passed out. But then I heard him crying.” She looked at the amber eyed child with such a smile, and I realized they did have the same eyes. “My parents called him Dennis, I just call him my lil Denny. They were debating on what to do with him, my lil scaly boy. But I made sure I kept him. People wouldn’t look past the scales when it came to adoption.”
Denny’s slitted tongue zipped out as he waved. I awkwardly waved back. I looked around the room. “So, all of these are yours?” I asked. I knew she’d been pregnant quite a bit but I didn’t know the extent.
“Yup!” Meg looked proud. “They’re pretty independent by a few months in. Their fathers don’t understand though. I don’t love them either… not how I love you.”
That was a punch to the gut. My head slowly shook no. “Meg, you don’t love me. You… you would’ve said something!” My voice cracked.
Meg rested her hand on my own. “I wanted to be sure. But it’s always been you Lynne. Always. Every time I gave birth, I always thought how you’d be a good mother to them all. You’d read them bedtime stories, play pretend, feed them… it’d be my dream!” I saw tears forming in her eyes and she clutched my hand so hard it nearly hurt.
This was insane. I’d never even bothered to tell Meg I was a lesbian, I figured it just never needed to be officially said. I looked around. “What about Craig?” I asked. They’d been pretty serious.
Meg’s grip on my hand loosened before she rested it on her belly. “… He did his part. I’m pregnant again, Lynne. He’s already out of the picture. The children need to be fed, after all. What should we name this one? I think it’ll be a girl.”
The name slipped out before I could stop it.
“Lenore. We… we should name her Lenore.”