[Click here for part two]

After we got over the initial surprise of finding out Amanda was pregnant we settled into something of a normal routine.  It wasn’t quite the same as before of course because now what was and was not good for the baby became a factor in a lot of things.

The first thing Amanda did starting the next Monday was spend three days after work in the public library.  She read everything she could find about pregnancy, delivery and the general care and feeding of babies.

She found out that, contrary to the popular belief at the time, she didn’t have to act like an invalid and stay home doing as little as possible and that a certain amount of exercise & walking was actually a good idea as long as she didn’t overdo it.

She also did some counting.  We’d found out she was pregnant on May 15th, 1980.  The doctor said that she was about three weeks along which meant conception had been around April 17th.  Counting nine months from that date gave her an expected delivery date sometime in the middle of January 1981.

During that time I spent at least a half an hour every day going through the employment section of the classifieds looking for a job that paid better.  The time was coming soon that we would need a lot more money.

Not only to pay for Amanda’s monthly doctor visits (which she had grudgingly agreed were necessary), there was also the hospital time involved for delivery and in a few months we would have to compensate for her not being able to work anymore.  Last but certainly not least was the expense of things we’d need for the baby.

We started saving money. We cut back on almost everything, putting every cent we didn’t absolutely need to spend into the bank.  I also started doing some saving of my own.  I cut back on what I spent for lunches at work and saved the money.  Amanda’s birthday wasn’t until July 13th but roses were expensive and this year of all years I was determined to make sure she had a full dozen of them.

The job search wasn’t going anywhere.  Times were tough all over.  Unemployment was at all time highs and it seemed like every day you heard about another company either closing it’s doors or laying off most of their employees.  Job security was rare and to many people “Reganomics” was a curse word.

Amanda was happier than I’d seen her in years (which is really saying something, she was almost always happy).  She’d determined that she was going to be the best mother that she could.  One of the things she did to that end was to spend more time talking to her older sister.  She had been in the habit of calling her once a month or so but she started calling once a week.

As I said before we didn’t have a phone nor did any of our neighbors.  Making a phone call meant using the payphone outside the grocery store.  We didn’t make many calls during winter.

Amanda’s sister Patricia (who didn’t like that name and insisted everybody call her “Trish”) was three years older than her and had two kids of her own.  Every Saturday (payday was Friday for both of us) she would call Trish.  They’d talk about her pregnancy, comparing Amanda’s with Trish’s two times, experiences with babies in general and newborns in particular and so on.

Amanda dutifully kept her June appointment with the doctor who pronounced her perfectly healthy and said that everything was going as expected.  The only problem she had were occasional bouts of morning sickness.

I’ve never understood why they call it that because more than half the time it could start at any time and easily last all day and even well into the night.  It varied in severity from mild nausea to “don’t even mention food or physical activity”.

I woke up on my birthday and found her in the bathroom throwing up.  Obviously that this wasn’t one of the milder days.  Not only was she throwing up, she was crying.  The roll of red ribbon on the sink gave me a pretty good idea why and I was right.

[Flashback]

It was 1974.  On the morning of my 15th birthday Amanda called me and asked me to come over.  “my folks and Trish are spending the day at the flea market so when you get here just come in.  I’ll be in my room. Oh, and be sure to lock the door.”

She only lived a few blocks away so I was there a few minutes later.  I cautiously opened the door and looked around.  I’ve never been comfortable just walking into somebody else’s house without knocking but as she’d said, nobody else was home.  I locked the door and headed for Amanda’s room.

I walked into her room and froze.  She was stretched out on her bed, wearing nothing but a bright red ribbon with a bow on it.  I had seen her naked a few times before (with her consent I should add) but this . . . All I could do was stare.

“Well silly, aren’t you going to unwrap your present?” she asked with a giggle in her voice.

Being physically normal teenagers with the usual load of hormones driving us we had a healthy curiousity about sex.  We talked about it a lot and had agreed that it was obvious that our first time would be with each other (niether of us could imagine being with anyone else).  The only thing we hadn’t figured out ahead of time was when.  Amanda had decided that it would make a perfect birthday gift.

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happened next so I’ll skip the details.  Suffice it to say that we “celebrated” my birthday four times that morning.  Two weeks later on her birthday we “celebrated” several more times.

After that it became an annual tradition that means a lot to both of us.  Regardless of how “active” we are the rest of the time, Birthdays are always extra special.

[End Flashback]

She told me she wasn’t going to be able to give me my birthday present this year and that she hated herself for being so sick on this of all days (We had not missed a birthday since we were 15).  I told her that while it meant a lot, her not feeling good couldn’t be helped and that we could make up for it when she felt better.

She protested that it wouldn’t be the same but her stomach was turning in too many circles for her to argue any more than that.  She let me help her back to bed and ended up sleeping most of the day.  The next several days were varying degrees of bad and worse.  That Saturday however she was feeling good enough to make the trip to the pay phone and call Trish and that helped a little.

It seemed like the closer her birthday was, the slower time passed.  Finally it was the 11th, the last workday before the 13th.  It was also payday.  I was so anxious to get the day over with and get those roses I’d been saving for that I actually showed up at work ten minutes early. 

The day dragged on like few before it had.  In the late afternoon, about half an hour before quitting time the foreman made the rounds delivering pay envelopes.  I stuck it in my pocked and started trying to get ahead on cleanup so that I could leave the instant it was 5pm.  When it was finally time to go I wasted no time getting out of there.

The flower shop was on the way home about a block from the grocery store.  I went in and got a dozen long stem roses.  For the last several days I had skipped buying lunch entirely and added that to the money I had saved.  It was a good thing I’d done so because that dozen roses cost all but a dollar of what I had saved.

I went from there straight to the grocery store to get a box.  Yeah, the roses came in a box but it’s the kind of thing that you can tell by looking at the package what’s in it.  I didn’t want her to know what it was until she opened it.

The large box that had originally held laundry soap was perfect.  I also bought a couple of newspapers and some tape.  I wadded up the pages to line the box.  First filling it halfway with newspaper, then adding the roses, then filling it the rest of the way.  Then all I had to do was tape it shut and wrap it with the few pages of newspaper I’d saved for that.

It was perfect.  The box was big enough that if I carried it right I could make it look like it was really heavy even though it didn’t weigh very much at all.

Normally I would stop at the bank and drop my check in the night deposit on the way home but I decided I’d deposit it the next morning (our bank was open Saturday morning until noon) while Amanda called Trish.

When I got home and Amanda saw the box and the way I carried it like it was really heavy she said that I shouldn’t have gotten something so big.  At the same time her curiousity was running in overdrive.  Especialy after I asked her not to touch it until Sunday morning.

The next morning while she was talking to Trish I went to the bank to deposit my paycheck.  When I opened the envelope I saw that the check wasn’t the only thing in it.  I got out the second item and my heart dropped into my stomach, which immediately fell into my bowels and threatened to dribble down my legs.

It was actually typed on pink paper.  It started out “We regret to inform you”.  It was a form letter, the essense of which was I had been laid off for an indefinite period of time and that they’d call me when they could afford to have me back.

This was, to say the least, a disaster.  The last thing we needed right now was for either of us to be out of work.  I deposited the check and put that cursed pink page in my wallet.  Normally I don’t keep anything from Mandy but her birthday was the next day and I didn’t want anything to ruin it.  I would tell her Monday.

I did my best to act like nothing was wrong, hoping that if she noticed anything out of sorts that she would think it was because I was worried she might not feel good Sunday (which I was).

Fortunately Sunday morning she felt great.  I forgot all about troubles for the rest of the day, concentrating instead on celebrating her birthday.

For that one day, nothing in the world was wrong anywhere.

The next morning I was up at six as usual out of habit.  Around seven Mandy came out, got some coffee and sat down at the table with me.

I got out my wallet and retrieved that pink note.  “I didn’t want it to spoil your birthday but I got this along with my paycheck Friday.” I told her as I put it on the table in front of her.  “I’ve been laid off.”

[To be continued . . .]

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • Google Reader
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Tagged with:

Filed under: Dreams, A True Love StoryEntertainmentNon FictionShort StoriesWriting

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!