When my alarm went off, I slapped it into silence and rolled to sit on the side of the bed. Loralee, long since grown used to my alarm, simply made a soft murmur and kept on sleeping.
After a quick trip to the bathroom, I padded barefoot out of the bedroom. At ten now, it was Logan’s responsibility to get himself up in the morning for school, but Jasper was only six, so I always woke him up. I opened the door to his room and stuck my head inside.
“Jasper, time to get up.” He pulled the blankets over his head and whined, so I walked over to the bed and pulled the covers back. “Come on, Jaz – up. Or you won’t get French toast.”
That seemed to get his attention. A mess of blond hair and sleepy green eyes peeked at me from under the covers. Chuckling softly, I turned and left the room, calling over my shoulder for him to get a move on.
Keeping one eye on the clock, I went to the fridge and started making breakfast. Such had been our morning routine since Logan started pre-K. Since Loralee worked evenings at the restaurant, she slept in while I made breakfast and got the boys off to school. Then, on the weekends, she got up and made breakfast. Sometimes, I even got lucky enough to be off on those days so I could enjoy a sleep-in myself.
Jasper left his room and walked past me to the bathroom. When he came out, I asked, “Did you brush your teeth?”
He rolled his eyes dramatically. “Yes, Dad.”
“Good boy.” He ran off towards the living room; a moment later, I heard cheery, high-pitched cartoon voices.
I’d been cooking a few more minutes, halfway listening to Jasper’s show, when Logan finally emerged. The very sleepy-looking boy trudged into the kitchen.
“Well, good morning,” I said brightly. “You almost missed breakfast.” The boy grunted and went into the bathroom. I snorted and turned off the stove. I knew he was staying up late and reading comic books, but I wasn’t going to say anything; he’d figure out soon enough that he had a bed time for a reason.
“Breakfast,” I called. In the living room, the TV shut off.
I served the boys and then sat down with my own breakfast. As soon as we’d eaten, I rushed them off to get dressed, and, shortly after that, they were on the bus bound for school. I took a moment to have a relieved breath, but then I was in motion again, heading into the bedroom to get ready for work.
In the bedroom, I found Loralee just coming out of the bathroom. “Morning,” I smiled at her. “Perfect timing. There’s breakfast on the counter.”
“You’re truly the perfect husband,” she said with a broad smile.
While she ate, I got ready for work. I couldn’t help smiling the whole time. I loved our routine.
I finished rolling up my sleeves as I left the bedroom. Loralee stood at the sink, cleaning up after breakfast. It felt so familiar, so easy. It could’ve been any morning. Sometimes, even right now, I felt a little like I was on one of those overtly-nice 1950’s shows. Maybe one of our neighbors would be outside when I left so I could wish them good morning.
Loralee looked over at me and laughed softly. “What are you smiling so big about?”
I shook my head and walked over to her. “Nothing. Just in a good mood.”
She leaned up and kissed me. “I like you in a good mood.”
“Hey, you’re sick. Don’t kiss me.”
My wife rolled her eyes. “Honey, whatever I’ve got, you’re sure to get, too.”
I huffed softly. “You made a doctor’s appointment, right?”
“Yes, yes. I still think it’s unnecessary, but Dr. Landry actually fit me in this morning. I’m leaving in an hour.”
“Good.” I nodded in approval. I glanced at my watch. “I’ve got to get going.” Despite my earlier protesting, I leaned in and kissed her cheek. “See you tonight.”
“Catch a bad guy,” Loralee said, as she did most mornings.
“I’ll try.” I smiled and walked to the front door and out to my unmarked.
I walked into the doctor’s office and checked in with the receptionist behind the desk. She directed me down the hall to Dr. Patricia Landry’s waiting room.
I sat down in the uncomfortable chair and took out my phone. I could be being productive right now. I still thought this appointment was a waste of a bill. I’d promised Tommy that I’d do it, though, so here I was.
“Loralee Thoreau,” a nurse called professionally into the waiting room.
I hope this is fast, I thought as I got up.
When I was finally in the exam room and the initial, basic exam was over, I moved to a chair. I hated sitting up on the exam beds.
“So, how are you feeling, Loralee?” Dr. Landry asked from her stool.
“Really, I’m feeling okay. I just got nauseous and dizzy at work the other day, and I had a little of the dizziness yesterday.”
She made a hm sound. “Any throwing up or headaches? Body aches?”
I shrugged. “Some headaches lately, but what mom of two boys doesn’t get those? And I’ve been achy from the gym, but, other than that, no.”
Another, longer, hmmm. “Well, it could be something or just a minor bug. I don’t want to give you antibiotics if you don’t need them. I’ll run a couple quick tests. I’d also like to do a pregnancy test.”
I laughed and shook my head. “I can’t be pregnant; my husband had a vasectomy years ago after our second son.”
“Those can sometimes fail over time, but it’s mostly just a precaution,” she assured me.
So, even though I thought it was unnecessary and overkill, I let her nurse come in and draw blood. Then it was a matter of waiting.
I was at the tenth level of Blicblock when Dr. Landry walked back in, a neutral expression on her face. “Well, we got your tests back, Loralee. With barely a pause, she said, “You’re pregnant.”
My eyes flared open wide. “I’m what?” I’d been fully expected a run of antibiotics – not a baby.
The doctor sat down. “You’re pregnant,” she repeated. She looked at me, evidently trying to gauge what my reaction was. “Now, there are options, of course.”
“Oh, my god, no.” I shook my head vehemently. I could barely form a train of thought, but I did know I didn’t need “options.” I was pregnant. I’d never thought I would be again after Jasper, but here I was – it was a little miracle baby.
A smile split my face wide.
Laden down with prenatals and all the other accoutrements that came with pregnancy, I returned home. My newfound happiness turned to confusion, though, when I saw Tommy’s unmarked parked outside. He should still be working for hours.
I got out of the car and walked into the house. Inside, I found him in a chair, head hanging down. I could tell just from his posture that something was terribly wrong.
“Tommy?” I said softly.
He looked up at me, tears streaming down his face. When he spoke, his voice was a hoarse croak. “My dad died.”