“Why? Why me?” Elizabeth Susan Cooper lay in her bed, staring up at the ceiling as she held tight to the cover over her. She sighed, closing her eyes before pulling the blanket over her head. She turned over onto her side, straining to plug her ears. She wished so hard for a house that had soundproof rooms throughout it. Trying to drown out the noises coming from down the hall, she prayed to quickly fall asleep so she wouldn’t have to hear it anymore. This was awkward. This was just so so awkward and painful to her ears as well as her emotional stability.
Betty kicked herself for forgetting to plug in her iPod when she left the house today. It was too dead now to even turn on so she couldn’t listen to her music, pretending she was not hearing what she heard. Growing up, she was always so grateful when she’d be at school and her classmates would share embarrassing stories about hearing their parents going at it down the halls in their houses and she would never have a story to tell. Frankly, she’d never heard her mother and father. Not once. A part of her was given the capability to believe that they had only slept together to conceive her and her siblings and that was it. They never again had sex. Ever. Growing older, Betty realized that was probably untrue and maybe Hal and Alice Cooper were smart and efficient and only planned intimate moments when the kids were not home or when they were on lunch break at work or something. She didn’t care. She didn’t want to think about her parents. EVER.
But now...her goal in never thinking about it had been compromised.
She remembered dinner that night. Just her, her mother, and Chic. They spoke of Polly and wondering how the twins were doing. They enjoyed their food with light smiles plastered upon their faces. But wait….There was still another empty chair at the dining room table. Betty had soon begun to notice her father’s absence and she couldn’t help but miss him and his terrible ‘dad jokes.’ But things were for the best. She had never seen her mother smile so much in all of her marriage to Hal as she had seen since they filed for divorce. After dinner, Betty and Chic did the dishes together while Alice headed out the door to meet Hal at Pop’s with their divorce lawyers to discuss paperwork and the kids.
As Betty curled up into a ball underneath her covers, she couldn’t help but wish for Hal’s absence again. She had begun to miss him, yes. But she preferred silent nights and simpler times when she’d never heard sex noises coming from the master bedroom down the hall. “Great.” She thought to herself. “My parents are having divorce sex the night before my early morning driver’s test. Even if they stop...I still won’t be able to sleep knowing what just happened and fearing that I may have nightmares about it.”
Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a knock on her bedroom door. She cringed, unplugging her ears as the uncomfortable sounds grew louder once again. Slowly standing from her bed, she put her hands in her hair, giving it a mighty tug before heading to open her door.
“Betty.” Chic quietly whispered when his little sister opened the door. “Are you-”
“Incredibly disturbed??? Yes!” She interrupted before her older brother laughed.
“Here.” He offered her a pair of his noise-cancelling headphones. “I had a feeling you would be.”
“Awww. Thanks, Chic. But my iPod’s dead.” They both continued to whisper, hoping neither person from the other room would come out into the hall if they heard their children’s voices.
“You can use mine. Hold on.” He handed her the headphones, basically forcing them into her hands before heading back to his room and quickly returning. “Here.”
Betty stared down at the devices in her hands. “What about you?” She courteously asked.
“I’ll be fine. Living in that motel for the passed year has really helped me train myself to drown out noises from other rooms.” He chuckled. “The walls in that place are a lot thinner than the walls in here, believe it or not.”
“Oh god!” Betty gave a look of disgust and Chic awkwardly nodded with confirmation. “Alright. Well, thank you, Chic.”
“Goodnight, Betty.” Her big brother said before going back to his room.
Betty quietly shut her door and, without hesitation, placed the big headphones over her ears. She quickly plugged them into the iPod, turned it on and set the volume to full blast. When, finally, all she could hear was the music, she deeply sighed with relief and headed back to her bed, doing her best to forget what just happened and attempting to fall asleep.
The next morning, Elizabeth awoke to the vibrations of her phone’s alarm clock, which she had set to about an hour early so she could quickly get ready for her driver’s ed test. With one big stretch of her arms, she sat up and pulled the headphones off of her head, content to hear nothing but silence and the wind blowing outside her bedroom window. She stood, turning to look out of it at Archie’s bedroom window across from hers. She sighed, seeing that it was empty and she got to changing out of her pajamas.
When she put her hand on the doorknob to leave her bedroom, she hesitated, unsure if she could face her parents after the *commotion* the night before. Her stomach growled and she frustratedly sighed, knowing she couldn’t avoid her parents for the rest of her life, so she might as well get it over with immediately. With a shake of her head, Betty opened her door and headed down the first few steps.
She took each step with caution, afraid to face whomever it was she could hear in the kitchen on the first floor. She hoped to God it was Chic. Maybe he would give her a ride to her driver’s test and she’d pass the test, get her license, and take his car far far away from Riverdale and her parents. When she made her way to the last few steps, she held her breath to slowly turn on the balls of her feet, seeing the man that stood over the stove in the kitchen.
The breath she had been holding in harshly escaped her lips and she turned to run back up the stairs. She stopped just outside her mother’s bedroom with her fist in the air, ready to knock. But she stopped. She stared at the white door with hesitation and slowly lowered her hand. With a sigh, she turned and headed down to Chic’s room, knocking on his door instead. “Chic? Chic wake up. Are you in there?” She quietly said through the door.
“Oh….Betty.” Jumping at the sound of the voice, Elizabeth abruptly turned to see the man at the top of the stairs. “Good morning.” He smiled, carrying the tray of food in his hands as he headed to pass her. “Just bringing your mother some breakfast in bed.”
Just as he made his way around her, her mother’s bedroom door opened, revealing Alice Cooper in nothing but a flannel shirt that barely covered her thighs and was obviously, very lazily buttoned. Her hair was disheveled and she held onto the door knob as she leaned her head against it lovingly. “Good morning, Elizabeth.” She suddenly seemed embarrassed, looking at her daughter down the hall. “Chic said he would take you to your driver’s test today. Is that okay?” When her youngest barely nodded, she felt her cheeks growing red as she clearly noticed Betty’s uncomfortable and shocked state. “Good luck, sweetie. I know you’re gonna ace it.” When Betty did nothing but continue to stare at her mother and the man that finally made his way to the master bedroom door, Alice averted her eyes from her teenage daughter and she smiled up at FP. Looking down at the tray of food, she blushed. “So, that’s where you were.” She tried to mumble, hoping not to make Betty anymore uneasy. “No one’s made me breakfast in bed, since….well, since you.” She reached onto the tray for a strawberry and happily took a bite before moving aside so FP could walk in with a large grin. She looked down the hall once more, to see Betty’s eyes widen even more in the realization that this was not the first time FP and Alice have been together and she nervously gulped before closing her door and joining FP inside.