Ugh. That was the only thing Alex could think. Ugh.
It had been two whole months since her last period and that spelled o-l-d to her. At first she just thought it was ‘one of those things’ and then it happened again. She ignored it with determination. She and Matt were just settled, living together and happy at last now the press firestorm had blown over - this was not the time for him to be smacked in the face with the near 20 year age gap.
Twice though, she couldn’t ignore that.
Sighing at the prospect of telling him, she pictured a life of shrivelled-old-ladyness from here on out. About to go pick up the phone to make an appointment with her doctor she heard a clatter behind her and was shaken from her thoughts.
“Shit- ah,” Matt hopped backwards from the pile of scripts now on his foot, his head shot up as he ran his hand through his hair and looked at her, “I’ll pick it all up! Promise!”
Alex chuckled, murmuring a comment about giraffes and uncoordinated limbs. Sniffling a little and adding cold remedies to her mental list of things to sort.
“Hey! I hear that. Just because you mutter doesn’t mean I don’t hear it Kingston!” Matt’s pointing his finger at her waggling his eyebrows, “I won’t be having it - offending me and your beautiful self. You should know better.”
She smiles at his adorable little way of berating her, feigning innocence, “What did I do now?”
“‘Shrivelled-old-lady?!” His brow raised, looking at her pointedly.
Shit. She’d said that out loud. “Oh that was out loud was it? Anyway, you still look like a giraffe-“
Trying to distract Matt with another insult doesn’t work however, “You don’t think that do you?” He sounds hurt and seriously concerned as he moves towards her and takes her hands, “I know you doubt yourself and.. our age gap, sometimes. But I can tell you now- everytime I look at you I just see a radiant, beautiful woman whose every whim I wish to fulfill.”
Alex smiles at that, knowing that he’s starting to prat about again, “Don’t worry darling, you’ll never be out of work; I have plenty of whims.”
He grins back at her, “I know.” And with that Matt puts his arm around her waist, twirling her towards the kitchen, “Let’s get you some hot soup, sniffles.”
Pacing up and down at the end of the bed in their bedroom she was thinking who she could call. It was nothing really, she supposed, an eventuality all women face. Matt was out with some mates and although she knew he didn’t mind the age gap - she was still sure that something like this, when they’d only just cooled off from the press and moving and stress… well it would send him running wouldn’t it?
Pulling out her phone, mind set on who to call, she dials.
“Hi Karen,” it was insane really. But after everything with her and Matt’s relationship, the younger woman had become a close friend. Karen had found out about them a while ago and kept their secret.
In fact she’d been more than supportive - even covering for them a couple of times when people skirted close to discovering them. She was still young but Alex wanted an opinion from that perspective. As well as a girl to talk to. God knows her and Karen had shared more than a few intimate details of their lives over wine before, this wouldn’t be entirely out of the ordinary she guessed.
“Hey Alex,” she could feel Karen beaming down the line, chirpy as ever.
“How’re you doing? Just thought I’d call for a chat seeing as you haven’t been in the country lately for drinks!”
“I’m good, yeah. I’m sorry about that, I do miss you all. New York is sort of amazing though.” Karen always had loved the bright lights and busy streets, “You sound a little stuffy - is he not taking care of you?”
“Just a bit of a cold is all. I know you love it there, Matt’s moped in jealousy over it-” she hears a faint giggle on the other end, “But as soon as we’ve both got some time free we’re going to try and take Salome away somewhere so.. looking forward to it!”
“God yeah, that’d be so cool. You three are always so cute together,” Karen coos.
“Thanks,” Alex finds herself smiling at memories of Matt and Salome trampolining together the previous week, “It’s sometimes like having two kids - which I try not to think about too much.”
“Haha! Don’t be silly. Badger-boy’s gonna be a child when he’s eighty. Sometimes I think you focus farrr,” she rolls the arrr with a deep Scottish brogue, “Too much on the whole age thing. Honestly. No daughter of mine should concern herself with such trivial things - especially not when she looks like you!” Before Alex can say another word, Karen quickly adds, “You get that from me by the way, not Darvill. Ugh.”
Alex imagines the way Karen is no doubt screwing her face up right now at the mention of his name. “Actually, I wanted to talk to you- you know - properly. Do you have the time?”
“I always have the time for my baby!”
“Karen are you drunk?”
“No. God, just ‘cause I’m Scottish..”
Alex is chuckling again, she does love Karens’ madness, “Alright, sorry. You’re just laying the daughter thing on a bit thick today.”
“That’s because I haven’t seen you in years.”
“Depends on your point of view,” Alex emphasises the next word sweetly, “Mummy.”
“Oi. Enough cheek you.” There’s some background noise that Alex can’t quite distinguish before she speaks again, “So, I’m all alone in my nice swanky hotel room. Spill!”
“What?” Alex mumbles.
“You wanted to talk properly. Sounds like something’s burdening you, so tell me. I’m all ears!”
Deep breath. It was Alex’s choice to call her on this matter - she hoped it wouldn’t be too awkward but she was about to admit something deeply personal and aging to Karen. Here goes nothing.
“The thing is.. Well, you’re young-“
“So are you.”
“Right,” Alex rolls her eyes, “See, I have this friend-“
“And she’s going through… you know… the change,” she nearly whispers the last two words, “But she doesn’t want her… lover to see her as an old woman.”
“Riiight- so you should just tell him.”
Alex is blushing bright red. She knew it was transparent but she’d still appreciate if Karen at least pretended to go along with the ruse.
“Matt won’t care. He loves you, Alex. Won’t he have figured it out anyways? Y’know the hot flushes, the moodiness the err… uninterrupted sex life.” Karen clearly doesn’t wish to imagine Matt in such a situation. “Have you been to the doctors? I mean are you sure? ‘Cause my mum was pretty horrendous to be around at that time and you’re still lovely..”
“Cheers Karen. I just.. we’re just sorted, after the last upheaval and I’m not ready to give him that wake up call. I thought you might be able to.. give me some insight. Or something. I’m not quite sure actually. I just needed to talk.” Alex has her hand on her head like it will protect her from the embarrassment she feels, even if her conversational partner is a few thousand miles away.
“Yeah, I get that. Like that time I called you up to tell you about Serge the man-“
“From the hotel who gave you full room service. Can’t forget that tale in a hurry dear.”
“Anyways, are you really sure? I mean - how’d you know?”
Waiting for the ground to swallow her up clearly isn’t going to work, and now she’s shared it with Karen, Karen isn’t going to spare details. In for a penny in for a pound, “I’m late. By two months. Think that says it all really.”
There’s a contemplative hum from Karen, “Well - yeah, forget me, see your doctor. I mean, whether you go or not, something’s still going to happen, so not seeing him won’t de-”
“Something? Like it could be something actually wrong? I’d never even thought of that, Karen.” Alex tangles her hand in her hair, worrying it between her fingers as a form of stress relief.
With a flustered voice full of guilt, “No! God, noo! Sorry, didn’t mean to worry you. No, I’m just saying whether you go see a doctor or not, things aren’t gonna stop, so - honestly, quit worrying, Matt’s totally ready for this. It’s nothing.”
Getting the feeling that she’s banging her head against a brick wall and that Karen may be less than sober (and a liar), Alex persists, “I just don’t want to scare him this quick. We’re settled- for the first time.”
“Stop bloody panicking. Seerious-ly Alexandra. He’s... oh god I’m dead-”
“Karen? What is it?” Alex asks, getting a little worried.
“I never told you this okay, in fact, never mention it because he’ll know where you got it from-”
“What did he say Karen?” Chewing on her thumbnail now.
“I was worried... about you. That he wasn’t thinking it all through. About a year ago, I sorta confronted him-”
“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, before I had chance to ask too many questions he pretty much silenced me and went on a rant. He said a lot of things and I can’t remember it all, but I do remember, clearly, that he said he had thought it through. That he wanted to be there when you were ill and stuff and for Salome too and he was sort of exasperated, and blew up at me; which was totally justified, not that I’ll admit it.”
“That’s lovely but, it’s not quite-”
“He said that he had thought about the age gap and he still didn’t care, even if you were flipping out at him and menopausal, he’d still wanna come home to you, and I quote, ‘I’d fetch her bloody hormones if she wanted me to’. Not entirely sure what that meant but the sentiment’s kinda there right?” The words tumble out in a chain and Alex is stunned.
“You’re making it up-”
“Honest to god, Alex, he said that. Even I was surprised he’d thought that far.”
“I-” she swallows, sitting on the edge of the bed, before rolling onto her stomach to clutch at a pillow, “I don’t know what to say.”
“Well, I say see a doctor.” Karen apparently thinks again, “And don’t worry about talking to stupid face, he’ll be fine.”
“Yes, I - I suppose. Thanks Karen.”
“No problemo. Now, now that you’re over your little hiccup-” Alex rolls her eyes, little hiccup indeed, “Do you want to hear about these shoes I just bought, because they hurt like bloody hell but they are so beautiful.”
“Go ahead then, dear.”
So Alex spends the next twenty minutes listening to Karen’s gossip on shoes and then debating which types of shoes are best and how much is too much to spend on them, before sharing a few jokes and their goodbyes and hanging up. Now laid on the bed she rolls over, oddly uncomfortable, to lie on her back - hand resting on her stomach - Alex stares at the ceiling and sighs. What was she going to do?
Her hand strokes mindlessly at her stomach and she is spurred into action by the soft roundness of her abdomen, she contemplates the extra time she’ll have to put in at the gym to keep herself how she likes. How Matt had started to like her, when they began their relationship. Reaching over for the phone, she refuses to get up in her moody state and makes a call to her doctor for an appointment. One way or another, she will sort things.