Still dressed as her cat, Esthie is standing at the front door of the apartment that Dominick and Skimbleshanks are currently sharing in her absence. Her smartphone is out of battery, so she wasn’t able to text Dominick that she was coming and she is debating whether to use her key or to knock.
Esthie feels that if she’s secure in her relationship, she should feel free to open with her key, but she also feels funny about just barging in on him. She decides to knock while opening with her key to expedite the process of getting into the apartment and initiating her conversation with Dominick.
“Knock knock,” she says as she peaks her head in, regretting it immediately after remembering she’s still dressed up as Skimbleshanks. Luckily Dominick is as she hoped he would be, lying back on the couch wearing black boxer briefs and playing a video game. A momentary sense of relief rushes over her, followed by the awkwardness she usually feels when she’s back in the apartment.
Dominick jumps up and greets Esthie with a tender kiss on her neck. “To what do I owe this surprise? I thought you’d be out with Lindsay and them after I didn’t hear back from you earlier.”
Esthie rolls her eyes, annoyed at how he sees right through her. “Well, surprise! I’m here,” she says, looking around for her cat.
“Skimbleshanks, you remember this crazy girl?” Dominick asks, walking to the bedroom to open the door for him. Perturbed by the noise, the cat peeks out, stares blankly at Esthie for a few seconds and bolts back into the bedroom.
“Well, he hasn’t changed much,” Esthie says, suddenly feeling insecure about being the only one in a costume. “Hey, can I borrow a t-shirt?”
“Sure,” he says before going into the bedroom at returning with two t-shirts. Esthie is sitting on the couch looking out the window, hoping the find the right words to say to him. She chooses the baby blue band t-shirt, her favorite of his shirts, and he puts on a plain white t-shirt.
Esthie takes a breath. “So, I wanna talk about us and what happened this summer and, like, where we’re at now. I feel like some weeks we’re together and then some weeks I go back to my sister’s house and don’t hear from you and that has me a little confused.”
Dominick remembers what Xavier told him in the morning about taking the hit, but he resists. “Come on. The phone works both ways. When you leave to your sister’s house I assume it’s because you want your space, so I give it to you.”
Esthie sighs. “When I go back to my sisters and stop reaching out it’s because I’ve given up.”
“Given up on what? On us?” Dominick asks, his eyebrows raised like a child that is hoping he has misunderstood.
Esthie’s eyes well up. She realizes that she needs to take her sister’s advice and tell him how she really feels in this instance. It may be her last chance to tell him what she really needs from him before their relationship takes on an entirely new dynamic. “No,” she responds, taking the cat ears off her head and stretching the t-shirt over her knees to get more comfortable. “Not on us. On trying to get you to notice me.” Esthie tries to find the right words. “I know you don’t see it, but sometimes you just get sucked into your work life and it’s like I become your roommate not girlfriend anymore. This past month you’ve been focused on Haiti and before that it was protesting the pesticide spraying South Beach.”
Dominick interrupts her. “But come on, that’s my job. If there were more people willing to help then maybe I wouldn’t need to work so much, but you know what I have to deal with.”
“I know and I don’t want to get between you and your career goals, Dominick,” she says, wiping a tear from her cheek. “I just wanna be seen. That’s really it. I want you to make me feel sexy like you used to. Like you actually want me around.” Another tear falls from her eye and she immediately turns away from him so he won’t see her cry. Esthie feels like her emotions are betraying her with every tear that falls. “Do you know how awful it feels to be lonely when you’re sleeping next to someone every night?”
Without saying a word, Dominick leans in and gently pulls her face toward him, placing his forehead against hers and looking deep into her eyes. He had always assumed that Esthie was willing to make the sacrifices required of their relationship for him to be able to follow his dreams, but he is now aware that hasn’t shown his appreciation to her for it. He finally feels like he knows what he has to do to make things right with her again. “I see you, okay? I see you. I’m sorry.”
Esthie is so happy to hear those words that she lets herself cry on his shoulder for a few seconds. She finally feels like she was able to get through to him. It makes her wish that she could end the conversation there. “There’s something else,” she says, reaching for a cocktail napkin on the side table to wipe away her tears.
Dominick looks surprised. A second ago he was the road to getting his relationship back on track and now there’s something else. “What happened?” he asks.
“So… earlier,” she begins, “I kinda realized that I was, uhh, late.”
“Okay…” Dominick says, hoping she means she’s late in another other way but the way he’s thinking. His mind immediately goes back to their hookup at the end of the summer and he tenses up.
“So my sister took me to the pharmacy to get a test…”
“Uh-huh,” he repeats, leaving his mouth open in anticipation.
Esthie can’t get herself to say the words to him. As soon as she says it out loud it will become real, and she isn’t ready to let go of her current reality just yet. She figures the only thing she can do is show him, so she pulls the pregnancy test out of her bra and hands it to Dominick.