In hindsight, February supposed she really shouldn’t feel surprised at being faced once again with a surprise positive pregnancy test…yet there she was, in much the same state of disbelief she’d found herself nearly twelve years ago after having unexpectedly conceived March. True, she and Hector hadn’t really been what you’d call “careful” in the more recent past, mostly because February honestly hadn’t expected that she could get pregnant again at her age…which was foolish, she now realized; after all, hadn’t her own mother been well into her adulthood when Martin Luther was born? Figuring there was no time like the present to break the news, February rather reluctantly made her way to Hector’s house.
To February’s surprise, Hector was overjoyed at the prospect of having another baby. He seemed to experience none of the shock or angst February felt regarding the idea of starting all over again with an infant, especially at their ages, or the stress of trying to maintain a career, a home, and meaningful relationships with loved ones. His unbridled enthusiasm gave February an idea: why not just have Hector move into the Callender home? That way, he could help with the baby, get to know March better…and it wouldn’t hurt her to have him near by more often, either. Sharing responsibilities would provide them both with more time to focus on their other needs…and, of course, their relationship would still be considered casual. Hector enthusiastically agreed, on the condition that his older brother, Bert, come along as well. February wasn’t keen on cohabiting with Bert, who she suspected might be involved in nefarious activities, but, as he was an elder, neither she nor Hector could in good conscience leave the old man to his own devices. So, within a few hours, the Cusack-Little house merged with the Callenders.
For all of her moodiness, March seemed to take the sudden household increase in stride. February had been so worried over how her tempestuous young daughter would react to living both with her dad and a cantankerous elderly uncle she barely knew that February had put off telling March she would be a big sister. She knew she would need to let March know soon; being pregnant at a later stage of her adulthood was a far cry from being pregnant when she was younger. Her bones protested doubly hard at having to accommodate an extra person, and she discovered her bump wasted little time in making her condition obvious this go round. Even so, she found herself nonplussed when March approached her one morning.
“Mom,” March began, “I’ve been doing some research, and I think you must be pregnant, not just getting fat.”
“Oh?” February found herself torn between amusement and horror at her daughter’s assessment. “And what makes you think that?”
“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? You’ve got all the classic symptoms…swollen ankles, weird cravings, bad gas.” February flushed at this apt, if embarrassing, description as March listed her points. “But the thing that REALLY gave it away was letting Dad move in. You’ve been avoiding making any kind of commitment with him for years now; it would hafta be something REALLY major to make you reconsider even a little bit.”
With no idea how to respond to her perceptive young daughter’s ingenuity, February deftly changed the subject.
While lying together in bed that evening, February retold the story to Hector, who chuckled and laid a hand fondly over February’s swollen belly.
“I hope this one has half as much personality,” he said, rubbing his hand gently along the rounded crest that housed his newest child.
February smiled wanly, thinking about how full their hands already were with all the personality March had. “I hope it has your red hair,” she finally offered. They lay contently for some moments before February broke the companionable silence.
“I’ve been thinking,” she began tentatively, “Aren’t you at all worried about Bert?”
“Nah,” Hector replied through a yawn. “Bert has a….questionable…demeanor, I’ll admit. But he would never harm a child. You’ve seen how March adores him…and besides, he’s always out with Latoya, anyway,” he added, referring to Bert’s long-time girlfriend.
“I hope you’re right,” February murmured into the darkness before drifting off into a troubled sleep.