Sunday, February 27, 2011

according to plan?

This story is one I wrote during the summer (last summer or the one before that one...can't remember). I had made a pact with myself to write one story per week. This is from week #3.

Bobbie realized a second too late that the hurried gulp had been a mistake. A sip would have been just right. Of course, if she had heeded the warning flashing before her eyes, she wouldn’t have a burned tongue right now: “Caution. Liquid is VERY hot.” Bobbie wasn’t stressing the word “very” either. It really was capitalized. But who ever paid any attention to those warning labels?

She put the paper cup down and absentmindedly rubbed her burning tongue with one finger. Glancing around the coffeehouse, she saw an older man staring at her, a look of disgust on his face. Bobbie quickly popped her finger out of her mouth. “I’ll bet he’s never burned his tongue before,” she thought, taking in the dark suit and conservative navy bow tie.

Feeling rumpled, she tugged down her pale pink top, which insisted on riding up hips she meaning to slim down. Bobbie wanted to shed a few pounds, had been meaning to since the day she became engaged to Ethan, but life kept getting in the way. The eleven-month engagement had flown by, while her treadmill had collected dust in the basement. It had been a colorful blur of dress fittings, bridal registries, showers, her ever-present job, and house hunting. Before Bobbie had time to flip the “on” switch and run a few laps, she and Ethan were on a plane headed for the Bahamas. After that, life had settled into a new routine, albeit a very busy one.

And besides, Ethan liked her curvy hips. No one would ever catch her paying thousands of dollars for implants. And weren’t girls everywhere complaining about non-existent butts? She’d never complained about her glutinous surplus, as she liked to call it, a day in her life.

It was then that Bobbie noticed the coffee stain, stark against the white linen pants. She grimaced. Coffee, Bobbie decided, was her nemesis. No matter what she wore – satin, cotton, or birthday suit – she always managed to spill coffee. She scrubbed at the offending stain with a napkin. Seeing the nubby little grains of recycled napkin that littered her pants a minute later, Bobbie moaned. Throwing the napkin on the table, she gave up the pants as a lost cause.

Maybe if she didn’t move – didn’t drink her coffee, didn’t clean her pants – no more bad incidents would plague her day. Bobbie sighed softly and rubbed the paper cup with her thumbs. She was pregnant. How it had happened, she hadn’t the darndest idea. Well, Bobbie knew how it had happened. But she didn’t know why it had happened. She and Ethan were using birth control, for Pete’s sake. They had been since day one. She took a drink of coffee, forgetting yet again to make it small sip. The left side of her tongue joined the right in stinging pain.

Slamming the cup back down the table, Bobbie turned to stare out the window. Hot tears were forming behind her eyelids. She sniffed. Ethan didn’t know yet. But when he found out, he wouldn’t be happy. They were only on Year Two of the Five-Year Plan. Only hours after getting home from the Bahamas, Ethan had sat her down and they had discussed how to implement the Five-Year Plan. It was a complicated one involving many columns, goals, and one anticipated pay raise.

She had taken the test this morning after he had left for work. She honestly hadn’t believed it would be positive, buying one only because she had felt achy recently. When the tiny letters in the oval had popped up “Pregnant,” Bobbie had dropped the digital pregnancy test in disbelief. “No way,” she had said quietly, sitting down on the bathroom floor, “…no way.”

She knew Ethan would be shocked. Then he would be upset. Not at her, but at the company that made their birth control. “It’s defective,” he’d insist.

“It’s ninety-nine point nine percent accurate,” she imagined herself saying.

“That might as well be one hundred!” he’d shout.

“Well, it’s not,” she’d retort. “There still is that lone point oh-one of a percentage floating around out there.”

“Recall!” Ethan would yell.

“Dork,” she’d smile and they would hug each other, laughing at the conversation, themselves, and the fact that they were only pretending to be pregnant.

But this wasn’t pretend, Bobbie thought. This was for real. Ethan had always dreamed of having three children. He had been an only and Bobbie was one of two, so three kids sounded like the perfect plan to both of them.

“Built-in friends,” Ethan had said.

“No spoiled ‘only’ child,” Bobbie had teased.

And what about her? Ever since this morning, when the plus sign had flashed before her, Bobbie had thought only of Ethan, of his reaction to the news. She wasn’t sure what she thought. They didn’t have much in savings – maybe a couple of thousand dollars at best? Ethan’s Five-Year Plan was a combination of saving and spending. They put money into savings every month, but Ethan had also started a “Necessities” account for the sole purpose of purchasing big tickets items. These were things he thought they needed before starting a family: new furniture that hadn’t been handed down five times before making its way to them, a reliable car for her, pots and pans to replace the ancient ones willed to her by Grandma Jonesy.

A baby. Would he have curly hair like hers or straight strands like Ethan? Would her skin be dark like Ethan’s, or a light brown like her own? Would he be tall? Would she be well-endowed, like her happy mother?

Five-year plan aside, Bobbie felt excitement welling up inside of her.

She dug into her purse for the cell phone. Pressing the familiar keys, she listened to the phone ring once…twice…then -“Hey Bobbie, what’s up?”

“Ethan, honey? I’ve got some awesome news for you…”


  1. Love it! Nothing ever goes according to plan...