"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)



I sit on the lid of the toilet.  I reread the instructions on the box in my hand.  With a deep breath, I open the cardboard and pull out the smaller aluminum wrapped package.  I pull at the edge, but it crinkles and refuses to give.  I start again on the opposite corner.  It tears smoothly this time.  I remove the long, thin plastic stick that has such potential to change everything.

A small dip, a shake, and I set it on the paper towel on the counter.  I read the instructions again for the fourth?  fifth?  time.  Wait five minutes; a pink line means positive.  I glance at the plastic stick on the paper towel.  No more than a minute has passed, but a bright magenta bar is visible.  I wait the remaining four minutes and check again, wondering if the line would magically disappear.  It does not.

My husband doesn’t know, but he will soon.  I hear him pacing just outside the door.  I don't want to see him just yet.  We are so young!  We promised ourselves we would wait just one more year, giving ourselves a little more time to squirrel away some savings, to prepare.  I don't know what he will say.  I can't bear it if he is upset, or worse, sad.

I wait alone, but it suddenly dawns on me I'm not really alone.  I hold onto this moment, stretching it out as long as I can.  I put my hand on my still flat, deceptive stomach.  I caress that tiny glob of cells in small, gentle circles through layers of skin and muscle.  I don't have to be brave until I open that door.

There's a small, timid knock.

"Honey?  Are you all right?"

I stand up, pick up the stick, straighten my back, and turn toward the door.  I turn the knob slowly.  I hand it to him, but I don't look him in the eye.  Silence.  I hazard a quick peek.  He looks back at me, a strange, forced smile on his face and panic in his eyes.

"That's great," he says, stiffly.  "Really, it's great.  I swear."

Somehow, I know that everything is going to be all right.  He folds me into his arms.  Realization takes hold.  The smile on his face requires less effort as the man I married surfaces.  Once again, he is strong and capable and only worried about me.

"Are you happy?" I ask.

"Yeah," he says, rubbing my back briskly in that unthinking, nervous way of his.  "I'm happy."

He pulls back so he can see me better.  The smile is real this time.

"I'm going to be a dad."


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Donna Hole said...

Cool. Love that anticipation and anxiety.


The Lynd Family said...

LOVE IT!!!! Such skill! Such Talent!!! I can't wait for your book!

Adam Byatt said...

There is a beautiful flow to this piece which creates a good tension. The husband's final line is fantastic; it is so spot on, capturing the moment brialliantly

Anonymous said...

Yup. Your best one yet. How many times have I lived that moment. So intense. You captured it perfectly.

Shelli said...

Thank you! I was mining the possibilities with this last prompt, because I want to think beyond the obvious. But, then, I came back to "write what you know." I think it helped me in capturing the emotion of it.

Walt said...

Great job with the prompt. Having been through a very similar scenario a little more than 7 months ago, I think you nailed the male perspective.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is: "It is a beautiful story. It has suspense, fear, understanding, and LOVE!!

Shelli said...

Walt -- that is a high compliment, indeed. Capturing the male perspective is NOT an easy thing! Congratulations on your pending daddyhood.

hopeandme -- Thank you so much! I'm happy you were able to feel those emotions.

Shelli said...

Danya -- I'm going to have to make you a Beta reader to keep you happy, aren't I? ;)