A Short Story.
"I'm pregnant." Lillian had told him. He'd hugged her of course, as was expected, but felt his stomach twist and sink violently.
"Congratulations." He said, then smiled and wrapped an arm around her stomach. "We're going to be parents."
She had laughed and the sound had been so easy. He tried to mimic it, but his own version possessed a harsher, less convincing quality. She was too preoccupied to notice.
He feared telling his parents.
Her parents had been delighted. They had come over with home-made brownies and expensive champagne (juice for Lillian, of course). They had gushed over her still flat stomach (How far along? You're practically glowing) and debated over the sex.
'My very own granddaughter!' Lillian's mother had been convinced.
'I'll teach him the proper way to kick a football.' Swore her father.
He wasn't too certain his parents would be the same.
They sat on the floral couch in his parent's lounge room. They drank tea with two sugars and ate biscuits from a packet.
"We're going to have a baby." Lillian had broken the news, her hand gripping his.
His parents has smiled and congratulated them. Lillian had been relieved. She hadn't caught onto the curious looks they sent their son and the disapproving looks they gave to her.
"How could you do this?" His mother asked him. Lillian was in the bedroom changing. He spoke with hushed whispers into the phone.
"I can't talk about this, mum."
"Why not? I'm your mother. I know you better than anyone."
"I love her." He told her, because it was true.
His mother was silent for a moment.
"That doesn't excuse anything." She said at last.
He apologized and hung up the phone.
"Who was that?" Lillian asked. Her damp brown hair curled at her shoulders. He thought her adorable in her thick blue winter pyjamas.
"Wrong number." He told her before placing a kiss on her lips.
The months were counted by Lillian's swelling abdomen. Her breasts became tender and her eyes brighter.
His parents looked at Lillian's stomach with melancholic disdain every time they visited.
"You don't have to stay with her." His mother consistently assured him.
Instead he proposed. Lillian said yes.
"After the baby we'll get married." He told her.
"Of course." She agreed with a smile.
"After the baby." He repeated, possibly to himself, "I'm not marrying you because of the baby."
She wasn't too sure how to interpret the words. They were sweet she supposed, so she smiled.
The delivery day came before they were ready. They had spent so much time waiting and planning that they had not conceived of the possibility of the day finally arriving.
It did, and the baby was born.
The doctors placed the baby in Lillian's arms. She smiled at the small bundle with exhausted affection. Her brushed the hair out of Lillian's eyes and rubbed her back.
Lillian's parents waited outside. They came in quickly upon the doctor's approval. Lillian's father was ecstatic to hold his very first granddaughter.
"She'll be able to kick a football better than any bloke." He declared proudly, nuzzling his granddaughter's foot.
His own parents arrived next. They leant over the baby with morbidly curious eyes.
They were slightly disappointed to see the blotchy skin, bald head and swollen eyes of every other baby in the hospital.
True to his word he married Lillian.
She wore a white dress and a bright smile. He smiled back at her.
Lillian's mother held the baby who was miraculously silent throughout the ceremony. Lillian's mother was the one who cried.
His own mother sat stoically in the front row, a forced smile on her face.
He told Lillian he loved her in front of all those people. Because, after all, it was still true.
Years went by.
The baby grew tall, Lillian and he grew wrinkles.
His mother still came over occasionally. She would look at her dark haired son with compassion. A thin blonde eight year old clung to his side; she was always shy before her grandmother.
"Sweetie," He smiled at the little girl, "You can go play in the garden if you'd like."
"She looks nothing like you." His mother told him once the girl was gone.
"I know." He said, slightly defensive, "I can't have children."
His mother's lips tightened; she knew this already. "Then why do you do this to yourself?"
"I love her." He said simply, about Lillian and her daughter.
And it was true.