Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: See (07/22/10)
TITLE: What About France?
By Sarah Heywood
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Two pink lines. I stared at the stick in my hand. I grabbed the box sitting on the bathroom counter and fumbled for the insert. Maybe two lines didn’t mean what it meant decades ago when I had my boys. Maybe now, two lines meant not pregnant! No such luck - right there, alongside handy illustrations, in words that a first grader could pick out, read the indisputable truth. I was pregnant -- and forty -five years old.
This was not possible! Old women and babies did not go together! I was a grandmother already -- albeit, a young, semi-attractive, and hip grandmother… Having a baby younger than one’s grandchild violated the very laws of nature! I sank to the bathroom floor, my head resting my hands. I just couldn’t do this again! I couldn’t bear the thought of labor at my age, interrupted sleep, cracked nipples, and dirty diapers. Everyone would think that my child was being raised by her grandparents. I’d be the one hobbling into his kindergarten play using a walker. I’d finally get her settled into freshman dorm and then I’d check myself into the nursing home! This wasn’t happening!
But worst of all, what about France? I was so close to France! Dan’s goal was to retire in five years and then we’d play. Oh, I couldn’t wait! Dan and I had married when I was twenty and he was twenty-five. Between us we had $150.00, the old couch from my parents’ basement, and an apartment on the wrong side of town. Dan’s father had dropped dead from a heart attack the night of his retirement party and Dan always swore that wouldn’t happen to him. He was going to work really hard so that he could retire early. He had promised me France - land of eternal romance, berets, and the Leaning Tower. Already I could feel the cobblestones beneath my feet and smell the scent of fresh baguettes!
We married young and had our boys early. I had loved everything about being a mother! Well, almost everything, anyway. The dirt and puberty had about done me in for awhile there, but we were past that now and I was so proud of the men my boys had become. Our oldest was married, working for his dad, and last year had given me the most precious little grandbaby to love on! And just last week we had driven our youngest back to the university for his sophomore year.
Finally, I could see the future that Dan and I had dreamed about all those years ago as newlyweds. True to his word, Dan had worked harder than one man probably should. He took his plumbing abilities and managed to build a decent sized company. For the past decade or so, I’d been managing his office, but I planned to step out of there just as soon as Dan did. We were going to waltz into the sunset, hand in hand, without a care in the world, and with eyes only for each other. Do I have to mention that a baby was not part of our future?
I wasn’t sure how to let Dan in on the news. How does one tell their spouse that their entire, well-planned out future has now been scrambled? I was no closer to an answer by the time Dan walked in the door that night. So, with my delicate sense of timing, I blurted it out the second his foot hit the threshold.
His face blanched. “Are you sure?” he asked. No -- I’d been lamenting my short-changed future for hours based on a suspicion!
“Of course I’m sure!” I snapped, whipping out the offending pregnancy test as proof. A smile tugged at the corner of Dan’s mouth.
“What about France?” I wailed, hurtling myself into his arms. And for a solid fifteen minutes I expressed why I thought this was the most horrible thing that could have happened. “Our future is gone!” I cried. Spent, I stepped back, only to see that Dan was grinning from ear to ear.
“ Well,” Dan began slowly, “I would disagree. I think now we can see our future as it was always meant to be, not as we thought it should be.” He laced his fingers together with mine. “Besides, I hear that France now allows visits from children, too!”
I couldn’t help it. I had to smile. Maybe I was starting to see our future, too.
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