In This Skin

In This Skin by Simon Clark

Book: In This Skin by Simon Clark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Simon Clark
Tags: v1.5
tidy at least a little of the mess his father and brothers made. For the last half hour Ellery had ghosted through the place, silently washing the dishes, straightening drapes, wiping away dust and grease spills on work tops, emptying ashtrays. He'd lived here twelve years. It seemed no more like home now than the day he walked through the door.
        In elementary school his teacher had asked the class to draw a picture of home. Ellery had turned in a detailed and precocious drawing of a vast structure that lay in ruins beneath clinging shrouds of moss, vines, spindly bamboo canes, and olive trees whose thick limbs were somehow apelike. Beneath the growth and the decay his pencils had sketched an uncanny trace of domes, towers and bizarre external staircases that climbed across the face of ancient walls. In Ellery's mind's eye that was the place he saw when he thought the word: HOME.
        Robyn stood in Gillian's bathroom staring at her own reflection. Her eyes looked back at her. It's strange; even though you've had the biggest shock of your life and your mind's in turmoil, you can look calm. Untroubled, even. It was so weird. She should be screaming or beating her head with her hands.
        But look at that, she thought, not a flicker of emotion.
        The sound of fingernails clicking on wood reached her. Robyn realized that Gillian had tapped before, trying to attract her attention.
        ”Come in”Robyn told her in a voice that sounded strangely flat to her ears. ”It's not locked.”
        Gillian slid her head around the edge of the door as if uneasy about walking into the bathroom. ”Everything OK?”
        ”I guess it must be. At least it explains why I felt so weird.”She forced a smile. ”And it proves I'm not dying.”Then Robyn held up the pen-sized cylinder of plastic from the pregnancy test kit for Gillian to see.
        Her friend took one look, then put her hand to her mouth and cried, ”Oh my God! I don't believe it!”

        Robyn Vincent was in no state to take the train home. Instead, Gillian drove her.
        Robyn knew the question would sound idiotic beyond belief, but she found she had to voice it. ”Pregnant? How on earth can I be pregnant?”
        Gillian glanced at her but said nothing. The answer was blisteringly obvious.
        ”I-I know how…”Robyn shook her head in disbelief. ”But pregnant! It doesn't make sense.”
        ”Don't beat yourself up over it, Robyn. These things happen.”
        ”You don't have to drive so slowly you know? My condition isn't that delicate.”
        ”Sorry ”This can't have happened. It can't have. You know me, Gillian. I'm so damn careful about everything. I don't cross the road unless I've looked both ways a zillion times.”
        Robyn shook her head. ”Birth control pill.”
        ”You might have missed taking one.”
        ”Aw, please, Gillian, that's the oldest excuse in the book. Sorry, dear, I forgot to swallow the pill one night. I'd have thought anyone with a scrap of sense…” She pushed her knuckle against her lips. She realized she was pouring scorn on herself now, not on some wide-eyed high-school student who insisted she was pregnant because of industrial sabotage in the condom factory or the pill she took must have come from a dud batch. ”Shit, how can I have got into such a mess, Gillian?”
        Her friend gave her a sympathetic glance.
        ”You know this is just crazy… absolutely crazy…”Robyn stared out the side window. Suddenly sidewalks seemed to be full of pregnant women or young couples with strollers that contained screaming babies. ”We were careful. I never missed a single pill.”
        ”I'm sorry Robyn. You shouldn't be going through this.”
        ”Sheesh, it all happened so quickly. I'm on the pill and I take a pregnancy test and I get a positive

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