We were on our way home, after finally crying ourselves out. My eyes still felt somewhat raw, like they always did after I cried.
To have something to do, I picked up the green leaflet the doctor gave my mum and I started browsing through it.
"Don't bother with that crap," my mother stated. I turned around to see her looking at the leaflet pointedly.
"This actually looks interesting," I insisted.
She scoffed. "I don't need a… support group. I have my experience and I have very helpful friends, and I have a great sister and most of all, I have you."
"But mum, that's not the point. None of the people listed there are currently single and pregnant."
She didn't reply and stared straight at the road.
"And anyways," I continued when I was sure she wouldn't say anything more, "how much can I help you with anyway?"
"I don't need to go out and spill out my worries to a bunch of strangers while we sit around in a circle holding hands," she retorted.
I rolled my eyes at her.
"I don't think that's what they do here mum," I looked back down at the leaflet. "It's more like just making friends, eating and like doing fun… pregnant woman stuff."
"Well, doesn't that sound absolutely delightful," she drawled sarcastically.
"It does," I said persisting at the topic. "Just give it a try. It won't hurt."
"If you like it so much, how about you go?"
"I'm not pregnant," I said in a matter-of-fact tone.
"Well, the pregnant lady doesn't want to go," she said triumphantly as she stopped at a traffic light.
"Mum," I whined, dragging out the word. "Stop being so stubborn."
"I'm not being stubborn," she said as the light turned green. "I just simply have my mind set."
"That's the same thing!"
"Give it up Tay," she frowned. I stayed quiet for a while, my mind working furiously, trying to come up with some sort of way to get her to go.
"Just go tomorrow and see," I said and she groaned, I continued on nonetheless, "If you don't like it, you never have to go again."
I knew now that the only option I had left was a bargain.
"If you go and give it a chance tomorrow… I will do the dishes today, tomorrow and Saturday, even though tomorrow and Saturday is your turn," I said. My mum turned to look at me, a doubtful look on her face.
"Mother," I snapped, "Eyes on the road."
She immediately turned back towards the road. I smiled.
"Why the hell are you so… desperate to get me to go to this… cult?"
"Cult? Really mum?" I laughed.
"Whatever," she said rolling her eyes. "So you're actually, really, willing to take not one, but two of my dish days?"
"Yup," I nodded.
"You, my daughter, are crazy," she said shaking her head.
"Is that a yes?"
"It's a great deal really, and it'll get you to stop nagging me, so yes," she said as she turned into our street.
"Yes!" I crowed triumphantly.
"It's for your own good mother," I said grinning at my win.
"There are no promises that I'll like it," she warned as we drove past Sam's house and started pulling into our own driveway.
"But you have to promise me that you will go in with an open mind, giving it a chance," I warned her.
"Sure," she said as the garage gate rolled open.
"Also mum," I started, the thought having entered my mind. "Is it alright if I tell Sam? It's killing me to not be able to talk to her."
"Oh. I haven't told anyone yet…" she said, biting her lip and mulling the thought over. "Well alright. God knows you can't keep a secret from her anyways. Half the time you can't even keep your present to her a secret." She smiled at this fondly as she shook her head.
"So yeah I can tell her?"
"Sure, but tell her to keep it to herself. I'll tell Christine and Frank myself," she said as she rolled her car in beside my own.
"Okay then. I'm gonna go over there now," I said as I climbed out of the car. "You should rest or something."
My mum laughed as she shut the door behind her. "If resting means going over some details from the photo-shoot, then yes, I will be resting."
I contemplated that for a bit, and then shrugged. "Eh, whatever, you're not that pregnant yet, so."
With that, is started making my way towards the hedge that Sam jumped over earlier on today.
"Be back in time for dinner," my mum called out after me.
"Sure," I said and was greeted by the loud groaning noise of the garage gate starting to descend.
"Really need to get that fixed," I heard my mum mutter as I lifted myself over the hedge. I dropped down a careful distance from Mr and Mrs Watson's joint flowerbed and started making my way across the lawn to the front porch, completely ignoring the stone pathway.
I climbed the three steps and pushed open the front door. The habit of knocking had been abandoned a long time ago.
I pulled off my shoes, left them beside the door and followed the delicious scent to the kitchen where I knew Mrs Watson would be.
"Hey there Tay," Mrs Watson said in her ever-friendly voice.
"Hi Mrs Watson," I smiled at her as she wiped her hands on her pink apron.
"Will you stay for dinner?" she asked gesturing to the pot in front of her, "I'm making spaghetti. I can put some sauce away for you before I add the meat." Mrs Watson never forgot the fact that I was a vegetarian.
"As much as I love your cooking, my mum wants me home for dinner," I said regretfully.
"Well, she's welcome to join us too! It's been too long since I've had a proper conversation with Nat. It's been nearly three days since we talked properly!" she reported as she added some salt into the pot.
"Oh, I'm sure you guys will have a nice talk soon," I said barely holding back my laughter. "Is Sam upstairs?"
"Yeah, she's in her room," she answered as she stirred the pot.
"Thanks Mrs Watson," I added as I exited the kitchen. She gave me another smile over the pot and started humming while she stirred.
As I entered the living room, where the stairs were, I noticed a pair of feet dangling off one end of the long couch in the living room. I looked at the other side, and I saw ginger hair peeking out.
"Hey Owen," I sang as I walked towards him. He turned his head and looked at me from the side of the couch.
"Oh, hey Tay," he said turning his head back to the TV. I stopped behind the couch and peered at him over the top of the couch.
"I heard about you and Veronica," I said leaning against the back of the couch. He rolled his head around and looked at me, his head on the armrest.
"Of course you did," he remarked, "Sam can't ever shut up."
"So, how are you handling the break up?"
"I'm fine," he said his light brown eyes looking weary. "Honestly, it was about time. I was getting just about sick with all the fights."
"Yeah," I said, "I never liked her anyways. You deserve someone… more fun."
"Not some high maintenance bitch," he said. And I nodded.
"Well then, good luck finding her," I said shooting him a smile. "Gotta go talk to Sam."
"See ya," Owen called turning his head back towards the TV. I turned away from him and headed towards the staircase climbing. At the landing on the second floor I came across Tony, Sam's dog, a Beagle just like mine, Toby.
I smiled as I remembered the day that we bought them together, after a lot of begging.
"Hey there Tony," I said enthusiastically, bending down and patting him on the head. He wagged his tail and licked my hand happily. After I gave the dog some love, I straightened up and made my way down the hall to Sam's room as Tony made his way down the stairs.
"Hey! Look who finally decided to come over," Sam greeted me as I pushed open her bedroom door and walked in. She was sitting on her bed, her laptop in front of her.
"Hey," I replied as I closed the door behind me.
I loved Sam's room. I loved how it changed with her as she grew up and it basically reflected who she was.
Her bedroom, for the last five years, was painted red. But the paint could be barely seen as every inch of the walls were covered in posters of bands and actors.
She had a bean bag in a violent shade of green in a corner of her bedroom near a shelf full of books and CDs. And her bed had a bright yellow bedspread with a giant smiley on it. Her room was full of mismatched bits and bobs of random bright colours.
It was bright and unique and fun, just like Sam.
"So, I went over to your house before, to present you with some chocolate to help cheer you up," Sam said as she closed her laptop and sat up straighter, he grey eyes fixed on me. "And no one was home."
She frowned at me. I cringed; she looked a bit ticked off.
"Yeah…" I said sitting down on the bright red, wheeled chair beside her desk.
"Did I just get ditched so you can go somewhere else?" Sam asked a look of hurt passing across her face for a second. She tried sounding aloof, her automatic mechanism to hide her hurt.
"No, no," I said rolling the chair closer to the bed. "It was nothing like that…"
"Explain," she demanded. But before I could even begin to talk, she continued, "You've been acting weird all day, and I want an explanation. I know it's not PMS, 'cause I got thinking after I got back home and ate the chocolate, I remember you got your period last week. You were complaining about it in gym."
"Yeah…" I said feebly, letting my voice trail off, a barely hidden guilty look on my face.
"Explain Tay." Her eyes were steel.
"Okay fine," I said sighing. "I didn't wanna tell you this before, 'cause it wasn't confirmed or anything, I didn't want to worry you with it if it wasn't even true."
"Okay…" she said, waiting for me to go on.
"So, my mum told me something yesterday, and I was a bit worried about it… But she wasn't extremely sure about it, she didn't even want to tell me before it was confirmed, but I got it out of her. And well, like I said before, I didn't want to worry you with it unless you actually needed to be. So we went to the doctor today to get a confirmation. That's where we were when you came over I guess."
"Is your mum sick or something?" Sam said her eyes widening, worry etched across her face.
"No, no," I said shaking my head instantly, "nothing like that. She's perfectly healthy."
"Then?" Sam insisted, looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to go on.
"Well, uh… My mum's kinda pregnant," I said. Sam stared at me incredulously.
"What do you mean by 'kinda pregnant'?"
"Uh, that she's pregnant," I said sheepishly.
"Are you fucking serious?" she screeched. I waved my arms around somewhat madly.
"Quiet down," I hissed.
"She's actually pregnant?" she persisted, her voice shrill, but quieter now. I silently confirmed this with a nod and Sam's eyes grew even wider.
"Yes, this was my basic reaction too," I said rolling the chair closer to the bed. "Sam, you can't tell anyone okay? My mum hasn't told anyone other than me about this."
Sam nodded quietly. I leaned back against the plastic chair as I gave her time to wrap her mind around this.
"So," she finally said, "is it Kyle's?"
"That was my first guess too," I shook my head denying it.
"Then whose is it?"
"Prepare yourself," I paused for a moment. Sam looked like she might explode. "Mr Matthews's."
It took a couple of seconds for Sam to place the name, then her jaw dropped open.
"Once again, my basic reaction too," I remarked out loud.
"Mr Mathews?" she exclaimed.
"Quiet," I repeated.
"Sorry, sorry," Sam said. "So the chemistry finally got the better of them?"
"Chemistry and total vulnerability," I added.
"Mr Mathews," she said quieter this time, as she leaned against her headboard. "Crazy."
"Tell me about it."
We were quiet again for a while and then Sam looked at me again. And her expression turned to one of shock.
"Oh my God," she said sitting up straighter and looking at me. "Here I am just wallowing in my own… disbelief, and I haven't even asked you how you feel about this. I'm such a horrible friend."
"What?" I said taken aback. "No. It's totally acceptable to be shocked by this news. I don't think there will be anyone who won't be surprised."
"That's true. But, this must be pretty odd for you. How do you feel about this?" She asked and I shrugged.
"I don't know," I muttered. "I guess I was pretty shocked at first, and then I was angry at my mother's irresponsibility."
"Totally legit feelings," Sam nodded her head vigorously, her red hair flailing around.
"And then, of course I was worried."
"Of course you were," she agreed. "I'm sorry I gave you a hard time about that." I gave a short laugh.
"That's fine. I know I was probably irritating you by not paying attention to what you were saying."
"Still, that was totally unfair of me. I didn't know that you had such a legit reason to be distracted." I shrugged. "So, how do you feel about it now? Still angry?"
"I'm actually somewhat excited," I said.
"Well, I was excited when I heard my mum was pregnant with the twins," she said.
"I was happy before. But now, well I don't know, I also… I feel… I also feel like I don't know what to feel…" I said, wording my thoughts to Sam. "Does that make sense?"
"Weirdly, yeah it does," Sam sympathized with me. "But you know, you're finally getting the chance to a sister. Remember how you always talked about wanting one when we were little?"
"Yeah, but I have you," I responded. And then added, "And Izzie too. Also, there are no promises that it would be a sister. It might be a brother."
"Huh," Sam said. She ran a hand through her hair. "Brothers are kind of okay too," she said somewhat unsurely.
"I mean, they might be annoying as hell, and smelly. But having brothers is great. Guys don't try anything funny on you when they know you have brothers."
"Yeah, that's 'cause you've got older brothers. This would be a little brother; I'll have to be taking care of him all the time."
"Well, little brothers are cute as hell," Sam said smiling. I shrugged.
"I'm sure it'll be fine," she said scooting over closer to me. "Happy, is the right feeling Tay." She leaned over and hugged me.
It was Thursday and I was splayed out on the living room floor with Toby on my chest asleep, after tiring himself out playing with me.
My mum left for the meeting a couple of hours ago, quite reluctantly, complaining all the while. It was nearly eight o'clock now and she should have been home about an hour ago. She was late.
I was impatient to hear her verdict of the place. I didn't want my sacrifice of dish days to go to a waste. I would have called her, but my phone was on the coffee table and any movement from my part would wake Toby up.
I gazed at Toby's wet nose, just inches from my face as I got lost in my own thoughts.
I was pulled out of my oblivion when I heard the back kitchen door open and slam shut, followed by the jingling of keys being thrown on the counter.
Toby's head lifted up immediately as well and without a second glance at me, he hopped off my chest and trotted away from me, towards the direction of the noise.
"Fine, just abandon me," I muttered as I pushed myself off the ground and stretched my cramped limbs.
"Mum?" I called out as I started making my own way towards the kitchen.
"No, it's a crazy axe murderer," her voice called back. She was joking, that meant that it couldn't have been that bad. Hopefully, I walked into the kitchen to see her drinking a glass of water, a large pizza box on the kitchen table.
"I brought pizza," she reported, grinning at me. I was taken aback by her mood; I didn't have high hopes about her being happy after this meeting.
"Never mind the pizza," I said impatiently. "How was the meeting?"
"Actually, it was really good," she enthused as she placed the empty glass of water on the table.
"Really?" I asked incredulously.
"Really, really," she said as she walked to the sink and turned on the tap.
"So I didn't waste my sacrifice in doing your dish days?" I asked as she squeezed some liquid soap onto her hands.
"Yup," she agreed as she rubbed her hands together.
"Wow," I said disbelievingly, "So you're not even trying to deny it or anything?"
"There's no point trying to deny it I guess," she shrugged. "I'll be going every week anyways."
"Huh," I said still dubious as I walked over to a cabinet and pulled out two plates. "So basically, I was right and you were wrong?" I was teasing now.
"I wouldn't put it that way," she said defensively as she dried her hands on the towel hanging beside the sink.
"Really?" I said a grin stretching across my face. "Then how would you put it?" She narrowed her eyes at me as I sat at the table, setting one plate in front of me and the other on top of the pizza box.
"You're a horrible winner," she said defeated as she picked up the plate on top of the pizza box and sat across from me. I laughed as I opened the pizza box.
"Let me just say one more thing," I grinned, "I told you so," I sang.
"I have raised you better than this," she glared at me as she picked up a slice of cheesy pizza. I snickered as I took a slice of pizza too.
"So what's so great about it anyways?" I inquired through a mouthful of pizza.
"I don't know really," she shrugged and took a bite of pizza. "All the women there are so nice and the advisors are just women who've done this before and they're super nice too. And Doctor Green was right; it's quite nice to talk to other women currently going through the same thing."
"I said that too."
"Anyways," she pressed on ignoring me. "I was actually kind of awkward when all the other ladies started talking about their worries, like it was all of their first times. I didn't think that there would be anyone else who'd make the same mistake twice."
I made a noise to show her that I was listening while I took another huge bite of the delicious pizza.
"So there I was, sitting quietly thinking about how stupid and irresponsible I was to get into this again, when Marion asked who the newcomers were. Oh, Marion is one of the advisors and she like leads the meetings," she added at my look of confusion, I nodded and she continued. "So there was this other lady and me, we were the only newcomers and Marion let the other lady introduce herself first."
She paused to take a bite of her pizza.
"And?" I inquired, pressing her to go on. She made an impatient face at me while she chewed and swallowed.
"So anyways," she finally resumed her story. "This lady, her name is Rebecca by the way. She was like this was her second time in this situation and I nearly choked on my doughnut. I was incredibly surprised that there was someone else in this group who got themselves into this again. I mean, what were the chances right?"
"Wow, that's cool."
"Yes it is. And then I talked to Rebecca after the meeting and she's really nice! She's a great person."
"How so?" I asked as I pulled out a second slice of pizza.
"Well, we have a lot of things alike. She's only a couple of years older than me, and she has a son your age!"
"Interesting," I said only half listening, the pizza having more of my attention.
"Yeah," she continued, my lack of attention not putting her off. "She didn't want to come to this meeting either! She was going to discard the leaflet her doctor gave her, but then her son made her come." She laughed.
"Yeah," I mumbled through a mouthful of pizza. "Twinsies."
"Stop pigging out and pay more attention," she mock scolded me. I rolled my eyes and sat back in my chair, making a big show of paying attention to her.
It was my mum's turn to roll her eyes at me this time. "Anyways, so I stayed back and talked to her for a while after the meeting. That's why I got late."
"And here you were, trying to not go to the meeting," I teased. She silently took a bite of her pizza and said nothing. "Now say, 'thank you Tay, you're an amazing daughter'."
She chewed her pizza wordlessly and narrowed her eyes at me. I beamed.
"So, do I still have to do the dishes?"
"Of course you do. A deal's a deal."
"But you liked the meeting," I protested.
"Hey, that's not my fault. You made the deal, you didn't say anything like 'If you enjoy it, then I don't need to follow through with the deal'," she cackled.
"That's just mean."
"That's life my darling daughter," she simpered as she grabbed another slice of pizza. "God am I hungry. I had two doughnuts at the meeting as well!"
"You're gonna get fat as hell," I said clucking my tongue.
"Oh shut up," she snapped. I laughed, rose from the table, and walked towards the fridge.
"By the way, we're going to dinner at Rebecca's house on Saturday?"
"What?" I asked turning around to look at her with the fridge open.
"Yes," she said as she finished off her pizza slice.
"But you just met her. What if she's kind of psycho and she kills one of us and feeds the other person the carcass."
"Tay," my mum snapped, making a disturbed face. "You've been watching too much Hannibal."
"What if I say I have plans on Saturday?" I asked as I pulled out a can of Coke.
"Well," I said as I shut the fridge. "No."
"Well, there we go," she picked up yet another slice of pizza.
"Mum," I whined as I cracked the can open. "It'll be boring hanging out with two pregnant women. What're you guys gonna do? Measure baby bumps?"
She glared at me. "You're not funny," she said. "Anyways, you can probably hang out with her son. I'm sure you two will get along."
"And how would you know that?" I raised my eyebrows.
"I don't know, don't all teenagers just get along?"
"No mum," I said wearily as I sat back down at the table.
"So dinner on Saturday?" she pressed.
"Fine, whatever," I said taking a gulp of Coke. "You know, soon you're gonna be really, really fat."
"Shut up Tay," she retorted.
"You're gonna be like… a whale," I said teasingly. "Look at how much you're eating."
"Shut up Tay," she snapped. "You wait till you're pregnant. I'll make fun of you so much."
"Oh Natalia, you're such a great mother," I laughed. She shrugged, smiled and ate another slice of pizza.