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Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Normality. Is that so much to ask for? I was so desperate for something normal, for something I was accustomed to, that I had decided to go to work.
There I sat in my three by four foot cubicle, trying not to think about how I was going to fit into this place when I was huge. I was reading over a cookbook.
It wasn’t a bad cookbook, but some of the pictures of food were making me nauseous, the turkey recipes especially.
I took out my red marker and jotted down some things on the right side of the page, and then someone knocked on the side of my cubicle. We don’t actually have doors on these things, but it’s just nice to knock.
“Gus! Hi!” I said, excitedly. He instantly began to look scared. “You have my coffee! Great!”
Gus gave me a concerned look and hesitantly passed me one of those disposable paper coffee cups that I knew would contain my usual morning cup of warm coffee.
However, when I looked down into the cup, all I saw was something that seemed to resemble gray swamp water.
“Gus,” I said quizzically, still staring into the cup. “I think you gave me Alice’s tea. I normally have coffee.”
“Not anymore, you don’t, Gus answered in a matter-a-fact tone. “I talked to my wife, and she said that coffee was on the do-not-eat list.”
Now he decides to become a caring co-worker.
“I asked Alice, and she said you could use her tea until you get your own,” Gus continued, ignoring my look of disbelief.
“You didn’t tell her, did you?” I asked carefully, looking behind him to make sure none of my co-workers were standing behind him.
“Oh, don’t worry, Auds,” said a voice from the cubicle on my right. I jumped in my chair. “I won’t tell anyone.”
Auds. How juvenile.
I looked up to see Alice’s face over the top of my cubicle. Well, it was more like half of her face, just the nose and up. She’s not a very tall person.
Alice is a forty-something woman who normally edits all the do-it-yourself spell books. Our boss is very skeptical about her, chiefly because she’s a squib and can’t test the spells to make sure they work right. He’s tried giving others the do-it-yourself books, but no one likes them.
“Please don’t, Alice,” I said, my tone of voice sounding too much like begging for my liking. “I want this place to be the one place unaffected with my whole”—I made random circular hand gestures—“situation.”
“Well, it won’t be for long,” scoffed Alice. “How do you think you’re going to fit into that cubicle when you get huge?”
I groaned and put my face in my hands, my elbows resting on my desk. Gus patted me awkwardly on the arm and moved the cup of tea towards me.
I don’t even like tea.
“Honestly,” Alice continued. “You might as well just tell everyone now. I know Karen already knows.”
Because you told her.
“I mean, I may have told her, but it’s not like anyone was surprised.”
“And then apparently Karen told one of her friends and—I’m sorry, what was your question?”
“Can you sign this?” the healer asked me, calmly holding a clipboard out toward me. Evidently, I wasn’t the first hysterical woman she’d seen.
“Sure.” I took the clipboard and quill and returned to my seat, which coincidently was right beside a magazine rack displaying a bunch of parenting magazines.
The gaze from eyes of the chubby babies on the cover bore into my mind.
I’m a private person. It’s not like I’m ashamed of being pregnant, but I hate the idea of my entire workplace yelling congratulations to my face and then behind my back discussing whether or not I was a wayward girl because they had nothing else to do.
Ignoring the magazines covered with cute children, I instead took out one of the manuscripts I had been assigned. This one was more of a vampire-horror novel. I was rather lucky to be suggested for this book. The author was an unknown, but very interesting.
Actually the writing was so good I didn’t notice that Percy had come in and sat down next to me until he cleared his throat.
I looked up, and the first thing I noticed was that he was still wearing those bloody bow-ties. Then sanity took over.
“What are you doing over here?” I asked, neatly marking the manuscript with a paperclip.
“Mum told me you’d be here for your appointment,” Percy replied. He leaned forward, and his hands melded together. “Look, I wanted to ask you something.”
“Go ahead,” I said hesitantly, hoping he wasn’t going to ask me for a paternity test or something completely insane because he was denial that he was, in fact, a parent.
“I know that you can’t be happy about this,” Percy started saying.
He can never cut to the quaffle; he always has to warm up before he gets to the point. I patiently waited.
“And personally, I feel it would be best for the child if we—”
I nodded. Here came the paternity test question.
“—got married,” finished Percy.
I could feel my eyes widening and felt a giant relief. I wanted to yell yes. After all, I’d at least have someone to help me out with everything, and I might even be able to continue my work.
But then I remembered there was a reason why we had broken up. And did I really want to bring a child into the mess that would be our relationship?
“No, Percy,” I said as I shook my head, my eyes stared at my hands. “It’s not right.”
I was very proud of myself. Why? Because I thought of Percy before I thought of myself. Here he was trying to do the right thing, and I alleviated him of that responsibility. He could be free to marry someone who hadn’t treated him like dirt.
Although if he thinks he’s getting out of child support, he is dead wrong.
“No, it is,” Percy insisted. “I got you into this…err…delicate situation, so I’m going to get you out.”
I sighed and patted his shoulder. “That’s very nice of you, Percy, but I’m declining.”
“If it’s about your family, Percy, I’ll explain everything to them.” It was the least I could do.
Percy muttered, “Yeah, like that will help with Mum,” sarcastically. I leaned back and was re-opening my book when he spoke again.
“So that’s it then?”
“No, because if you think you’re off limits with the bills and everything, then you are a stupid man,” I said, looking up from the page.
“No,” said Percy hurriedly as he turned red. “Of course not.”
I went back to reading my book, my face also red, while Percy wrung his hands nervously.
“So,” Percy began uncomfortably. “What are you reading?”
I lifted the manuscript up so he could see the words Night Massacre written on it. He coughed uncomfortably.
“That’s very anti-vampire,” he said uncomfortably.
“It’s actually pro-vampire but anti-government. It’s really good, actually,” I said without looking up.
I’m pretty sure that’s what killed the conversation for the rest of the time that we were there. That was a stupid thing to say, Pond.
“Congratulations, Ms. Pond, you are having a healthy baby. He was a tall chubby man with a walrus mustache, a deep voice and a warm demeanor.
“How is it growing?” I asked.
“Quite normal for one month. As I said, the child is healthy,” said the healer, marking some things on the clipboard. “I’ll need to see you month by month for a while.”
I nodded again. “So, do I just leave?”
“In a minute,” said the healer. “I just need to write you a prescription for prenatal vitamins and everything else you’ll need. You haven’t had any weird symptoms have you? Nothing out of the ordinary?”
I shook my head.
“All right.” He finished writing on his clipboard and passed me the some sheets of paper. “These are for you.”
I looked at the sheets. One had notes for prescriptions, and the other had two lists on it. The first was a relatively short list of books. The other was a much longer list of foods.
The books list was easy; it was obvious they were books for a pregnant mother. One of them read ‘So You’re Having a Baby.’ Another one said, ‘You and Your Magic Child.’ The only one that made me nervous was one titled ‘Magic Symptoms and Muggles.’
“What’s the last one mean?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing much. When the magic starts developing in the child, the mother might experience some weird things, such as strange colored vomit and blood, fire breathing, floating—”
“In mid-air?” I asked, horrified.
“Where else would one float?” asked the healer mildly. He could be calm about this; he wasn’t the one who would be defying gravity in front of Muggles. “However, it doesn’t normally kick in until the sixth month, so I wouldn’t worry.”
Of course you wouldn’t worry. It wasn’t happening to you.
“Have my assistant give you the list of foods you can eat when you go out,” said the Healer.
“You mean,” I looked down at the long list of foods on the side of the paper, “I can’t eat any of this stuff?”
“Nope, and there’s more on the back,” said the Healer. “Owl me if you ever need help.”
I left the room and read over the list of foods I couldn’t eat while his assistant composed a list of foods that were the healthiest for me.
As I went toward the waiting room I read over that list. Here’s what it said.
1. Two to four servings of protein (meat, fish, poultry, cheese, tofu, eggs, or nut-grain-bean-dairy mixtures).
2. One quart of milk (whole, skim or buttermilk) or milk equivalents (yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese).
3. One to two vitamin C rich foods: whole potatoes, grapefruit, orange, melon, green pepper, cabbage, strawberries, fruit, and orange juice.
4. A yellow or orange fruit or vegetable.
5. Four to five slices of whole-grain bread, pancakes, tortillas, cornbread, or a serving of whole grain pasta or cereal. Use wheat germ or brewers’ yeast to fortify other foods.
6. Butter, fortified margarine, or vegetable oil.
7. Six to seven glasses of liquid: either fruit or vegetable juice, also water and herbal teas. Avoid sugar-sweetened juices, sodas, caffeine, and alcohol.
8. For snack: dried fruits, nuts, pumpkin seeds (or sunflowers), and popcorn.
I am so not going for this. Not unless I can cover it all in hot sauce is there any way I will eat something called germ. Also, I live on coffee and sugar. How the hell am I supposed to get any work done without it?
As I entered the waiting room, I saw Percy was still sitting there. He looked nervous as hell. He was even slouching, and his head was in hands.
“Percy?” I said.
He looked up guiltily, and I realized why. His entire family was sitting around him.