When the doorbell rang, tiny brown hairs on the back of Steve’s neck stood at full attention. He didn’t get up to answer. Instead, he remained on the couch, watching a muted informercial on the television with concerned eyes.
“No. Please, no,” he prays. “Things are good here. We’re going on vacation…”
Steve’s eyes follow the sound of footsteps above from the bedroom.
“Who’s there?” his wife, Debra, asked from upstairs.
Turning fast to her voice, Steve felt like his neck snapped in half. “Uh. No one, Deb. Just go back to bed, okay?” he winced, massaging his neck. “Big day tomorrow.”
The bell rang again. Andi, their yorkie, ran to the door, scratching and barking at it.
Rising quick, Steve sprints to the bottom of the staircase where Debra stood, waiting at the top. She put her hair away in rollers, wrapped in a flowery, satin scarf to keep her look for tomorrow.
She’s dressed in Steve’s old concert t-shirt and a thin, plain oatmeal-colored robe. She crossed her arms tight, tapping an impatient bare foot.
“Who the heck is that? It’s eleven at night. Someone must be outta their mind coming to the door this late, or in trouble,” she said, agitated. She came down the stairs with narrow, suspicious eyes, each step slower than the last.
This is it, it must be here, Steve thought, studying her icy expression. “No one… Just go back to bed, okay?”
The bell rang a third time. Andi kept at the door, barking like mad.
“You’re acting weird. I’m gonna answer. What if someone needs help?”
“They don’t need us. Everybody has a phone.”
She breezed past him.
“Debra, don’t!” Steve cries, reaching for her. He takes her face in his hands, kissing her lovingly on the lips. Andi barks at them, then scurries off through the doggy door.
Moments later, Andi came back inside, dropping a ruby from her mouth. It tumbled across the floor. Steve broke from the kiss, looking at the ruby. “I knew she was here. The master of inconvenient timing.”
“No, she is here,” Debra said, pointing beneath Andi where tiny crimson drops splash on the wood floor.
“Aw, man. We should’ve got her fixed sooner,” he said. “Poor girl. I’ll go get the—wait, where’d we put the dog diapers last time? I don’t remember…”
Debra didn’t respond. She froze in place when her hand brushed against her pocket.
“Babe?” Steve said, watching and knew. Goodbye, chocolate. Hello mood swings, he joked to himself.
“Uh, check the laundry room, I think. I gotta go to the bathroom,” Debra said, sprinting up the staircase.
Seconds later, she walked into Native American flute music playing. Music no one turned on.
Her urge for the bathroom vanished as a brisk wind blew the door to the patio open, and remained open, as if a ghost stormed inside, welcoming her to come out. Curious, Debra went outside and discovers a woman, dressed in red from head-to-toe leaned against the balcony railing, staring back at her.
“Ah, there you are,” she began, “Hello.”
“Don’t hello me, Flo! Why do you do this to women? Little girls even,” Debra shouts, fueled by years of frustration. “What did we do to deserve this bloody curse?” She digs in her pocket, retrieving the stone. “I don’t want this! I’m getting on a plane tomorrow for my long-awaited romantic vacation and CANNOT be on moon time!”
“It‘s not a curse. It’s power,” Flo said. “But you’re right, you don’t need yours. That’s why I was at your door to tell you and deliver Andi’s ruby. Besides, you don’t even have it, look in your hand.”
Debra looked and found black tourmaline, a tumbled stone she put in her pocket earlier to ease her anxiety of flying. “I didn’t get the ruby?” she asked.
“Not this time. Enjoy. The rest of us women will continue to eat the demons of this world and expel them through our moon times every month to keep this world safe, to keep it going,” Flo said. She shook her head, smiling, “And men get upset with us for our mood swings, HA! If they only knew what we were up against. No one cares…”
“If it’s a power, why don’t I have mine this month?”
“That’s not important. You have other, growing concerns…” Flo looked at Debra, a tender grin crept across her face.
“I’m pregnant,” Debra gasped. She ran her hands across her belly.
Steve approached from behind, slipping his arms around her waist. He hugs her.
“You okay? Who were you talking to?”
“Just my aunt…” she turns, smiling. “I got news!”