Normal? What’s that again?

life-upside-down

This is an excerpty thingy from something I’m writing at the moment.  After her sister Anita dies unexpectedly, Carla gains custody of her young nephew, Riley.  All of this happens at the same time Andy – her soulmate – enters her life.

Life as she knows it disappears and she tries to get used to the new normal… until an innocent conversation with her best friend, and Andy’s sister leads her to a realisation that will turn her life upside down again.

—————————–

Work dragged and by the time she finished at 1pm, Carla felt as if she’d been there for 18 hours instead of five; then again, that had been her life lately. Being a parent to Riley was a lot more draining that she cared to admit. It felt as if she was always on the go and didn’t get a chance to sit down and relax properly.

She needed to catch up on sleep and start taking better care of herself. She hadn’t been near the gym since Riley came into her care, and had had no desire to eat healthy. Fried food held more appeal to her than it ever had and she hated having to set a good example for Riley, when all she wanted was a big ass cheeseburger, or fries with mayonnaise for dinner.

Andy told her she was getting sexier by the day, but Carla felt frumpy. Bloated and frumpy. It was definitely time to do something about it, she owed it to Andy and Riley, but more than that she owed it to herself.

She picked up Cassie and Riley and they went straight to the mall, where Ava was waiting for them on a bench outside the big department store.

“Oh my god your belly is getting so cute!” Carla grinned at her best friend and gave her belly a rub.
“I can’t wait until I look pregnant, not just fat,” Ava rolled her eyes.
“Oh trust me, you look pregnant, not fat,” Carla reassured her.
“I’ll swap with you,” Cassie joked and Ava nodded in agreement.
“Yes! Perfect, I want a belly just like yours.”
“What about the baby girl that won’t let you sleep more than an hour at night because she thinks your bladder is a play thing.”
“Oh I have a feeling I’m not too far away from that stage myself,” Ava replied and the two pregnant women laughed.
“Gotta be worth it at the end, right?” Cassie said, absentmindedly rubbing her belly.
“I’m sure it will be,” Ava replied.

Cassie looked unsure about it and Carla’s heart went out to her. She couldn’t imagine how hard it would be, being pregnant at such a young age. Regardless of the support Cassie had, it still had to be an extremely daunting prospect for her, to be bringing up a baby – on her own – when she should have been enjoying some of the most carefree days of her life.

The three women and Riley walked in the direction of the closest of the two baby shops in the mall, and as they entered, Carla knew she’d have to be very restrained with her debit card; there were so many cute little outfits, especially for girls!

“Jackson told me not to go too crazy because he wants us to shop together, so please stop me if I get too carried away,” Ava sighed.
“I think I’ll probably go crazy enough for the three of us,” Carla replied and Cassie laughed.
“Andy told me to make sure you don’t buy out the store.”
“Like he can talk! Remember that bag of clothes he bought for bubba girl last week?” Carla scoffed and Cassie laughed.
“Yeah, I told him you’re a grown woman and you can do what you want.”

Sometimes Carla forgot Cassie was only 16, she seemed far more mature than Carla remembered being at that age. Then again, at that age Carla wasn’t dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, and her father hadn’t died. She knew Andy worried about his sister, but Carla could tell Cassie had it together, and that she was the type of woman who would admit if things were tough and she needed support.

“Oooooh, I neeeeeeeeed this,” Ava exclaimed, holding up a little onesie that had a tutu attached it. It was very cute.
“I think you do,” Carla agreed.
“And this!” Ava continued, holding up a pretty pink onesie with glittery stars all over it, complete with matching headband.
“That is adorable,” Cassie commented and Carla took a purple one off the rack.
“Oops, it accidentally fell in my basket,” Carla winked at her.
“No, you don’t have to do that,” Cassie said shyly and Carla put her hand lightly on Cassie’s arm.
“Please, let me buy this stuff for you, you helped out a lot with Riley and it is the least I can do.”
“Thank you,” Cassie replied, blushing.

The next fifteen minutes were spent looking at the numerous racks of clothes and by the time they were done Carla had a feeling she’d be using her Visa, not her debit card. It was impossible to say no to such adorable little clothes, especially when she had developed such a soft spot for Cassie!

Looking at the carseats and bassinets, Cassie automatically picked the cheapest of each to purchase. Carla knew she was being polite and while she appreciated it, she also knew there was a specific bassinet she’d fallen in love with, and refused to buy any bassinet but that one. She didn’t expect Cassie to start crying right there in the store, but that was what happened.

Carla hugged her and Cassie explained it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her, especially someone who had only known her about six weeks. It must have been hard, Carla realised, for Cassie to hear Ava talking about all the plans she and Jackson had made for their baby. Cassie didn’t have that. She didn’t have her baby daddy wanting to go shopping with her, wanting to plan the nursery with her, wanting to go to every appointment with her, spending his final minutes awake each night rubbing her belly, kissing her belly every morning upon waking.

They were in the shop for over an hour and when they finally left they had two trolleys between them. Riley was ‘so, so, so, so, so, so bored‘, and to thank him for being such a patient shopping buddy, Carla took him to one of the cafetarias in the foodcourt and bought him a huge slice of chocolate cake. The three women ordered hot drinks and all sighed happily after the first sip of caffeiney goodness.

“I’ve only just started drinking coffee again,” Cassie commented. “Couldn’t stomach it up until about two weeks ago.”
“See, I’m the opposite, usually I don’t like coffee but it is all I want at the moment,” Ava said and Cassie laughed.
“Funny what pregnancy does to you.”
“I know, looking back my appetite totally changed. I blamed it on all the travel me and Jackson were doing, but now it is so obvious what the cause was.”
“I was always hungry,” Cassie said, “I would wake up at 3am and be starving. It was actually that that made Andy ask me if there was any chance I was pregnant.”
“Then there was the stupid fatigue, I figured it was just because work was stressful, and then that we were travelling, but once again… totally obvious now I know I’m pregnant!”
“If this was me a year ago, I’d be having a Big Mac right now, but I haven’t been able to stand fast food at all since I got pregnant, I’m totally hanging out for a burger, at the same time the thought makes me nauseous,” Cassie rolled her eyes.
“Did you have much morning sickness?” Ava asked.
“I haven’t had vomitty morning sickness, but the nausea has come and gone. It kind of went away after 15 weeks but the last week or so I’ve started feeling horrible again.”

Carla suddenly felt odd. Why was it that so many things Cassie and Ava were talking about, were things she could sympathise with? The appetite changes, the constant tiredness, the nausea, the feeling crappy. She wouldn’t have thought that the side effects of being pregnant and experiencing the loss of a loved one would be the same.

That was all it was, right? She was physically suffering because of the mental and emotional toll of coping with her sister’s death? Right?

Right?

It had to be. She was on the injection and-

Oh fuck. Her injection. Surely she wasn’t overdue for her next one? No, she couldn’t be. She’d had it the week of her mum’s birthday, because she’d had it the day she left for the weekend. Her mum’s birthday was-

Eighteen weeks ago. She was six weeks overdue for her shot. For six weeks – the entirety of her and Andy’s relationship, they’d unwittingly been having unprotected sex.

Now she really felt sick to the stomach. Her heart was thumping in her chest, her palms were sweaty, her mouth was dry and she was very close to going into panic mode, something that couldn’t happen in public.

“Guys, I’m getting a migraine, I need to head home before it hits and I can’t drive,” Carla managed an apologetic tone.
“I can take Cassie home, if you want,” Ava offered and Carla nodded. She felt awful for lying about getting a migraine, but she needed to get home so she could freak out in private.
“That would be good,” Carla said gratefully. “Come on Ri, say goodbye to Ava and Cass.”
“No, no, leave Ri with us, just get yourself home and into bed,” Ava insisted, knowing how much a migraine knocked her around.

This ‘migraine’ might knock her around more than any other, Carla had a feeling. She had to be wrong. Had to.

She almost ran to the mall carpark and it was like she was on auto-pilot as she drove from the carpark and headed home. In fairness she probably shouldn’t have been driving, but she made it home safely.

As had Andy, it seemed. What the hell was he doing home?

She was met at the front door by Andy, holding a glass of water and two of the pills she took for her migraines.

“Cassie rang me and I came home to take care of you,” Andy informed her. Carla began laughing and had no idea why.
Andy looked confused. “You been drinking?” he asked, and fair enough.
“No, not drinking,” Carla replied.
“Want me to take you to bed?” Andy asked, still looking confused.
“You have no idea,” Carla commented and Andy winked at her.
“Any evidence that sex is a cure for a migraine?”
“Apparently it’s the cause of migraines,” Carla mumbled and Andy looked even more confused.
“You’ve had this since you woke me up this morning with my very special treat?” Andy asked with a twinkle in his eye. Ahhh yes, she forgot he’d woken to the feeling of her lips wrapping around the tip of his cock.
“Thing is, I don’t actually have a migraine,” Carla admitted.
“What’s going on then? Because something is clearly up.”

The fact she didn’t have a naughty remark for his comment about something being up was probably enough proof for him that he was right.

“Something might be, or it might not be.”

Admitting to Andy that something could potentially be wrong was all it took for the tears to start rolling down her cheeks, and as Andy led her through to the bedroom, they only got worse. Without thinking about it she stripped off and climbed into bed, caught between being relieved she wasn’t alone and wishing Andy wasn’t there to see her in such a state.

“Is it your sister?” Andy asked quietly and Carla shook her head.
“No,” she told him. “Well, I guess it kind of is, in a way,” she corrected herself.
“Riley?” he asked and Carla shook her head.
“No.”
“Is it something you want to talk about, or do you just need snuggle time?”
“I think it’s a talk about situation,” Carla told him, feeling completely unprepared for the conversation they were about to have.
“Uh, is it something I’ve done?” Andy asked nervously.
“No, it’s not that type of talk,” Carla said and Andy looked relieved. Possibly wouldn’t look so relieved soon, she thought to herself.
“So, pretty lady, what’s up?”

Carla had no idea what to say in response. How much detail should she go into? A long winded answer to slowly work him into it, or just say it and get it over and done with? She would usually go for the long winded option, but she needed someone else to be party to her secret, so she wouldn’t have to face it alone, and go stark raving mad in the process.

“I was talking to Cass and Ava and realised I am overdue for my injection.”

There. It was out.

“Uh, you don’t mean you’re overdue for your tetanus booster, do you?” Andy’s voice was quiet, but the element of shock came through loud and clear.
“No, not my tetanus booster.”
“When you say you are overdue…. exactly how overdue are we talking?”
“Six weeks.” Carla felt ashamed when she told him, six weeks was a huge amount of time when it came to birth control.
“Oh.”
“I vaguely remember a letter arriving, and I thought about it on the Saturday, that I needed to make an appointment, and I figured we could just use condoms until I got my shot, and then, well, the Sunday happened and it completely skipped my mind.”

‘The Saturday’, ‘the Sunday’, the terms used in place of ‘the day Anita overdosed’ and ‘the day Anita died’. She wondered if she’d ever be able to say those words aloud.

“Do you think…?” Andy left the sentence unfinished, but Carla knew what he was asking.
“I really don’t know,” Carla admitted.
“One way to find out.”
“All I know is that for the past month I’ve not been myself physically, which could be down to the whole Anita thing, or it could be something else.”

‘The whole Anita thing’, because it was still impossible for her to say ‘Anita dying’.

“What exactly have you been feeling?” Andy asked.
“Tired, my appetite has been weird, I feel nauseous on and off, and generally just feel… not normal.”
“Can’t say I imagined coming home to this when Cass rang me!”
“It’s not like I imagined coming home to this today either. I was quite happy to shop for Cassie’s bubba, the last thing I expected, or wanted, was to get home having absolutely no idea whether my body is being weird because of grief, or because there is a baby in there.” Carla winced. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you, I guess what I mean is that it is a major shock to me as well.”
“I know it is, and I am sorry you had to deal with it for even a second on your own.”
“I didn’t mean for this to happen.” Carla’s voice cracked and she began crying into Andy’s chest.
“I know you didn’t,” Andy said quietly, stroking her hair in an attempt to soothe her.
“Would you mind if we got an answer today?” Carla asked when she’d stopped crying enough to talk. “I cannot handle the idea of waiting longer, it’s already driving me insane.”
“Do a test today?” Andy asked and Carla nodded.
“Do you mind?”
“I want what you want,” Andy replied.
“I want to just hide in bed for the rest of the day, but I also wish I was at the supermarket already,” Carla told him and he chuckled.
“How about we get to the supermarket then? At least when we know, well, we’ll know.”

And you can decide whether to leave or not,‘ Carla thought to herself. Would he be so adamant he wanted to be around to support her if she was pregnant?

They drove to and from the supermarket in almost complete silence, both caught in their thoughts. No doubt like her, his thoughts were along the lines of ‘please don’t be pregnant, please don’t be pregnant‘, but with each passing minute Carla became more convinced her physical symptoms weren’t related to losing her sister.

It came as no small relief when, just as they were pulling into her street, Ava rang and offered to have Riley for the night, an offer Carla felt terrible about accepting. It was for the best though.

She tried to exhibit patience in getting from the car to the house, but she wasn’t fooling anyone; all she could think of was getting the stupid test out of the way. The journey through the house to her bedroom was a bit of a blur, and it wasn’t until she was sitting on the edge of the bed with the pregnancy test in her hand that the world came back into focus.

“You sure you want to stay for this?” Carla asked Andy, giving him an out.
“What type of asshole would I be if I left?” Andy replied and she knew he felt offended.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said it.”
“I want to be here for this – for you – for us. Haven’t you realised by now that I’m not the type of guy that is going to run off at the first hint of anything serious?”
“I guess it just seems to good to be true – well, you seem too good to be true – and I keep waiting for something to fuck it up.”
“I’m not like your exes, I know that life gets real sometimes and it is all part and parcel of a relationship, of having a life together,” Andy told her with conviction, taking her hand in his. “Please believe me when I say I’m not going anywhere.”

What choice did she have but to believe him? Mostly.

Carla inhaled deeply and her breath shook nervously as she exhaled. Her life was potentially about to change forever – for the second time in a month – and she didn’t know if she was ready for it. But ready or not, she knew what had to be done; a potential baby wasn’t something she could put in the ‘too hard‘ basket for a few more months.

“You want me to come in with you?” Andy asked and Carla shook her head.
“I guess I can pee by myself.”
“I would hope that by this stage of your life you could,” Andy joked and Carla laughed as she stood up off the bed.
“You’ve got approximately a minute to escape,” she sighed and Andy rolled his eyes.
“I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.”
“I was mostly joking,” Carla replied, winking at him.

She gave him a kiss then turned and walked into her ensuite, closing the door behind her. The damn test stick seemed to be burning in her hand, burning with a big neon sign above it screaming ‘Bitch, why are you testing? You know you’re pregnant‘.

Fuck up, stupid piece of plastic that would determine the rest of her life!

Before driving herself insane, she sat on the toilet, took the cap off the test and did what she had to do. Peeing on the test, it occurred to Carla she’d been using the toilet more than usual lately. Great, another pregnancy symptom.

With the task completed Carla put the plastic cap back on the test, washed her hands and went through to the bedroom. As promised, Andy was still there and under other circumstances, the sight that greeted her probably would have resulted in her taking advantage of him.

He was lying back on the bed with his arms stretched out above his head, causing his t-shirt to ride up his tummy, putting a delicious amount of skin on display. His jeans were riding low around his hips, the waistband of his boxers peeking out teasingly. Perhaps she could just cast the test aside, undo his pants and give him his second surprise blowjob of the day? If the test was positive it wasn’t exactly going anywhere, what would an extra half hour or so make?

Who was she kidding? It was time to man up – or woman up as it were – and find out whether she was joining the knocked-up club.

“I will have it noted that rather than giving you a blowjob right now, I am being mature and looking at this damn test,” Carla informed Andy and he looked amused.
“That must be hard for you,” he winked at her and Carla instinctively looked at his crotch, wishing again she could free him from his boxers and go to town on his cock.
“I think it would be hard for you, actually,” Carla retorted and Andy raised an eyebrow.
“If I was hard it would be all for you,” Andy smirked and Carla laughed.
“Touché.”

To be laughing at such a time struck her as being extremely immature. She could’t help it though, it was how she dealt with nervous situations.

She took her place beside him on the bed and smiled nervously. “You ready for this?”
“I don’t think either of us are really ready, but yeah, I think it is time to look at that test.”
“On three?” Carla suggested.
“On three,” Andy agreed.
“One, two, three,” they chanted in unison and with a deep breath Carla finally turned the test over.

She drew in another deep breath and finally looked down at the test.

“Uhhhh.” The sound was the only thing close to a word that came out of her mouth. “You okay?” Andy whispered as she leaned against him.
“I’m uhhhh, I’m-” she couldn’t finish the sentence.
“Uh huh.” Apparently Andy wasn’t up to making sentences either.
“Pr- I’m pregnant,” she spoke in hushed tones, not sure whether to really believe it.
“Yeah.” Andy’s voice shook.
“H- how did this h- happen?” Carla stammered
“I- I don’t know,” Andy replied, sounding just as dazed as she felt.
“I mean, I know how this happened, but how did this happen to me? To us? Now? I can’t be pregnant, I mean, it’s me, I’m not the pregnant one, I’m the friend that buys stuff for her friends who are pregnant, I’m the one that is the odd one out, I’m- I’m me, I’m not meant to be pregnant, I’m just me.” Apparently she’d gone from not being able to say a proper word, to not having a filter and being unable to shut the hell up.

“Maybe the test is wrong!” Carla decided, picking up the pregnancy test box from the bed and taking out the second test. “I’m going to do the other test, I bet it will be negative!”

She was off the bed and almost in the ensuite before Andy replied and she had no idea what he’d said. All she knew was that the test must have been wrong and she was certain that if she did another test it would prove that. It would be negative, she could breathe again, life could go on as normal.

Normal. She used that word loosely because in reality, she had no idea what ‘normal’ was anymore.

original

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