Outside the bedroom window Kate can hear the men talking. She can see some of their shadows on the shade that’s drawn. They are laughing, talking over one another, and there is the hiss of meat hitting the hot metal of the grill, the sweet smells of chicken roasting, the sounds of beer cans popping.
She hears one of the men say, “Fuck you, Maggie!” and Kate thinks that this is done only half in jest, thinks, The kids.
But then there is no verbal retort. There is only a chorus of men reacting, their voices rising simultaneously: “Wo-oah!”
Beside her, Kate can feel Heather’s nerves. She moves her hand to Heather’s stomach, runs her fingers down and, at her belly button, lingers.
Heather is smoking, exhaling, loudly. “Okay, we need to stop doing this.” There is her nervous laugh, more smoke moving over Kate’s head.
Heather says this every time, so Kate smiles, moves closer to her body, her lips and nose against Heather’s ribs.
“We’re not kids anymore,” Heather says.
And Kate, “I know.”
Outside they can hear Chris talking to one of the children. He calls, “It’s all right. Just watch out for splinters!” Then one of their friends, Eric, with the whiskey bluesman voice, saying, “Right in the nut sack.” The men laugh.
Heather is up, out of bed, the sheet thrown over in a double layer on Kate. Kate pulls Heather’s pillow on top of her own, propping up her head to watch Heather search the floor for clothes. Her skin is brown from sun, all the way to the tops of her feet where it fades to her toes. Her shoulders are the darkest, the skin there looking and feeling the thickest, but the pale of her breasts and ass, the thin white outlines left behind from the bikini’s straps, its top and bottom, are the most lovely, Kate thinks.
Heather is tossing Kate’s underwear, bra, then cut-offs on to the mattress. She says, “How can this be all yours?”
Kate rolls over on to her back, stretches her arms over her head. She feels the cool air on her chest, her nipples hardening. She says, “Check by the closet,” and then watches as Heather walks, stomach muscles tight again after only four months since delivery, her breasts bouncing, full with milk. Outside near the grill, Heather had raised her shirt over her stomach and pinched a chunk that rested on the waist of her jeans. She said, “I can’t get rid of this!” Kate found that clever, blaming that small but still unwanted extra flesh on the baby, when she knew it had been there since high school, Heather’s “Corona roll.” But the rest of her was perfect: her thighs, her ass still somehow miraculously tight (“Squats,” Heather said. “Squats like there’s nothing else”), and the new muscles in her upper arms, forearms, and back. “I got a trainer at the gym,” Heather said, “She’s amazing.” And at the over-emphasis of this last word, Kate smiled secretly at her, smiled until she caught her eye. But Heather only looked at her blankly, furrowed her eyebrows in a way that said, “What’s your problem?” Kate closed her mouth and watched Chris’s eyes drop, unblinking, to Heather’s stomach as she exposed her only soft spot, a hand up to scratch at his newly buzzed head.