"Mark? Roger? Anyone there? Pick up, please! Can't you fucking pick up the fucking phone for once in your fucking—"
"Maureen?" Mark said groggily, hefting the phone in one hand. He checked the cheap plastic digital clock that sat next to the phone. The luminous numbers read 1:30 am. It wasn't surprising that Maureen was calling in the middle of the night. But what was surprising was the urgent, frightened sound of her usually fun, energetic voice.
"Mark! Thank God! Listen, can I come over there? There's something that I—I just need to talk to someone other than Joanne about something. Please, Mark?"
"Uh…Maureen, are you okay?" Mark rubbed his eyes, desperately trying to wake up.
"Yeah, but please can I come over? I'm begging you, please, Ma—"
"Yeah, fine, fine. Just calm down and come on over."
"Thank you so much, Mark, you have no idea—wait, is Roger there?"
"Thank God, I'll be there soon, bye!"
"O—" there was a click as she hung up. "—kay." Mark shook his head and ran a hand through his blonde hair. Was Maureen fighting with Joanne again? That would make sense, but the urgency in her voice wasn't "I'm-fighting-with-my-girlfriend-damn-her-eyes" unhappy, but more like "I-don't-have-anyone-else-to-turn-to-help-me" unhappy. He suddenly felt a little more worried. Blinking rapidly, Mark started to change into some jeans and a sweater.
Barely five minutes after her call, Mark heard thundering footsteps racing up the stairs. Moments later, Maureen burst into the loft, her eyes wild. Without pausing, she rushed over to Mark and threw her arms around him. Mark stumbled backwards and almost fell, stunned by her actions. But then he felt her cheek against his. It was wet. She had been crying.
Tentatively, Mark wrapped his arms around her torso, hugging her back. She clung to him, feeling strangely small. When they pulled apart, he saw that her hair was a complete mess and her clothes looked like they had been accidentally selected from Joanne's closet. This was serious.
"God, Mark, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to just bang in and do all that," Maureen said quietly. She seemed suddenly subdued, frighteningly quiet. He shook his head and put his hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, just calm down. Here, c'mon over to the couch." She walked zombie-like towards the sofa, while Mark rummaged through the old fridge, searching for something that wasn't rancid or furry.
"Here," he finally said, handing her a diet soda and sitting on the armrest opposite her. It suddenly struck him how weird this was: his ex-girlfriend, who had a) lived in this loft for months, b) dumped him for a woman, and c) never been this quiet or upset since Collins told them all that he had HIV, was sitting on his couch drinking a Diet Coke at 1:30 in the morning. This had to be a dream. But then again, his dreams about Maureen were usually more…different.
"Mark, I am so screwed right now," Maureen said softly. Her eyes were vacant and empty. She raised the can to her lips and chugged it all in one go, her throat practically vibrating.
"Wait, what do you mean? Maureen, what happened to you?" Mark sounded more urgent than he meant to. This was getting really strange.
"I have absolutely no fucking idea how it happened, but…shit, Mark, I'm pregnant." Maureen threw her empty can to the floor and drew her knees up to her chin, wrapping her arms around her legs.
Mark felt like a sledgehammer had delivered a hardy blow to his brain. Wait. This couldn't be true. Maureen? Pregnant? No way. No freaking way. Babies weren't part of her life. Of any of their lives. They didn't wait babies! And then a worse thought hit Mark, and he had to swallow twice before voicing it hoarsely.
"Um…Maureen…aren't you a lesbian?"
"Damn it, Mark, yes! That's why this is so messed up. I mean I haven't done anything like…you know…that with a guy since I broke up with you!" Maureen had stood and was pacing now, her head staring at the ground. That was why she didn't notice Mark gulp and turn bright red, and she didn't seem to understand what she had just said either. Whatever she knew and didn't know, she went on.
"How could this happen? I'm not supposed to be pregnant, damn it! Oh shit, I bet it was that party like a month ago, when I got so frickin' drunk that I passed out…" Maureen stopped pacing and turned to face Mark, horrified. "Oh God, what if I didn't pass out, and I got down with some random guy who I didn't even know and then…fuck it all, I don't even know who I really did actually fuck, and now, hey, guess what, I'm pregnant!" She sat down on the couch again and buried her face in her hands, shaking.
Mark, surprising even him, slid off the couch and sat next to her, putting an arm around her shoulders. She looked up, startled.
"Hey, Maureen, don't worry, it's okay. Yeah, this is a pretty screwed up situation, but me and everyone else is here for you, you know that. We're not going to abandon you, so take it easy. We're gonna help you through this." Mark didn't know where the words he was saying were coming from, but they were obviously the right ones, because Maureen threw her arms around him for the second time that night and started to sob. He held her close, still really numb. His ex-girlfriend, who happened to be a lesbian, was pregnant and sobbing into his shoulder in the middle of the night. If Roger had paraded into the loft dressed as a clown and juggling Mimi, Angel's heels, and a gummi worm, Mark wouldn't have been more surprised.
"Thanks, Pookie," sniffed Maureen, pulling away and smiling shakily. He managed a small smile himself. "Maureen, do you want to stay here tonight? I mean, if you don't wan to go to Joanne's or anything…wait, have you told her yet?"
"Of course not, do you think I would be alive if a had? You're the first person to know." Mark felt funny, like something wet and electrical was climbing up his spine.
"Oh, Angel and Collins get twenty times worse than cranky if you wake them up in the middle of the night, and Mimi wasn't answering her phone. Probably making out with Roger or something." Maureen waved the prospect away with her hand. "Anyway, I knew you would listen." Mark felt a little better.
"Still, I think I should get back to Joanne. She'll start World War Three if she finds out that I'm gone." Maureen stood and stretched, obviously feeling a lot better after telling someone her secret. "Thanks, Marky-poo." She kissed his cheek and flounced out, exiting just as suddenly as she had entered. Mark was left staring after her, not sure if that had been a truly bizarre dream or actually real. In fact, the only clues that he found which proved it had been real were the crumpled Diet Coke can and mascara stains on his sweater.