She looked at herself for a long time, trying not to notice how thin she was. She knew she needed to eat something. She turned and went downstairs. She went into the kitchen, intending to make some soup; a light meal to help her get back to eating normally, instead of once every couple of days as she had been doing.
She wasn’t particularly sure what had sparked the change; she would have thought the information Isabella had brought would make her worse. Robert had been in the Dimension for nearly a year, so surely she would feel worse after hearing that? She sighed, still not understanding.
When Beth entered the kitchen, her mother was writing things on the calendar. She looked up.
“Oh, Beth. You’re dressed,” Mum said, unable to hide the incredulity from her voice. “And showered.”
“I want to get back to normal,” she said quietly, tugging at a loosening thread on the sleeve of her t-shirt.
“Sitting around, feeling sorry for myself, isn’t going to get Robert back,” she whispered.
“Are you hungry? Thirsty? Anything?”
“Both,” she admitted. When her mother started to stand, she said, “I can do it.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Mum sat down again. Beth went to the cupboard and got out a can of tomato soup. She opened it and tipped it into a cooking pan, placing it on the stove and turning the gas on.
“Beth, what’s this little mark on the calendar?” Mum asked, glancing up.
She went over, looking at it. The little star in the corner of the slot was on every day for the past three days and the next two. Beth thought for a moment before freezing where she stood.
That little star was important. Very important. So important, in fact, that her knees shook and became weak, only just able to hold her up.
“Beth?” her mother encouraged. She wasn’t able to respond; her throat had constricted to the point where she wasn’t able to make any sound whatsoever, let alone any words. “It was there last month, as well as the month before, and I was just wondering—”
“I’m late,” she whispered. “My period’s late. And it never came last month. Nor the month before.”
Her mother just stared at her. She opened and closed her mouth over and over again, seemingly trying to think of her next words.
“Beth, did you and Robert...?” Mum eventually asked, obviously unable to say the word.
Beth just went back to the stove to stir her soup. She didn’t respond, and she didn’t plan to. Mum had clearly already worked out that she and Robert had slept together, but she wanted confirmation.
“Beth, answer me.”
She didn’t respond at all, just stirring the contents of the pan.
“Did you, or didn’t you?” Again, she made no response. “Beth! Did you have sex with Robert?”
“Maybe,” she said emotionlessly, trying not to let memories of her time with Robert flood her mind.