Ethan had been elated that he’d passed the test...
Natasha was by now 5 months pregnant.
She was loving it.
It went against everything she thought she knew about herself.
Her, Natasha, a loving mother?
She’d have questioned this if asked years ago.
Now, she felt different, and she couldn’t imagine feeling any other way, now that she was expecting.
“I’m going to be the most loving mother in the world,” she told herself.
She grew, she brooded, she was in a dreamy mood.
“Do you wonder if we’re having a boy or girl ever?”
“Yep,” said Nigel, snuggling up to her melon sized belly for a kiss.
“Eek, your hands are freezing!” she squealed, wriggling away.
Nigel frowned, but then chuckled. He tucked his hands between his legs.
“I’m going to warm my hands up a little. But then: they’re going to go all over you.”
Natasha wriggled her nose at him.
She loved this crazy doctor – this huge intellect who could also be kind, and silly. He was her friend, her support structure, the first person she saw when she woke. He was hers, and she his.
They kissed once more.
Their tongues sought each other. Their bodies fused, melting into the warmth of each other.
“Nigel,” Natasha managed breathily, “wear a condom.”
The words switched on an awkwardness between them. He rolled back, surprised.
“I’m not on birth-control, baby. Seriously. I want to, but you need to wear a condom.”
“But babe,” answered Nigel, “you can’t get pregnant while being pregnant!”
“Technically it’s possible, though, isn’t it?” asked Natasha.
Nigel was frustrated. He expected Natasha to have the same general knowledge about pregnancy as he did. Then, though, he was a doctor…
“Ma, guess what score Ethan got on his test,” said a smiling Annelie.
Mrs. Vorster was dishing up pasta with mushroom and cheese sauce, one of Annelie’s favourites.
Mrs. Vorster eyed them both suspiciously.
“I can’t guess. What is it?”
Ethan produced the test and placed it on the table.
Mrs. Vorster took in the grade.
“Well done,” she said, a little frigidly.
“Mom, can’t you be more happy for him? He was worried he’d fail!”
Mrs. Vorster forced a tight-looking smile.
“We’re very pleased for you, Ethan.”
As they were washing up, Ethan went to read Annelisa her bed-time story.
Annelie was left alone in the kitchen with her Mum.
“Sweetheart, don’t you think it’s strange that Ethan scored so well when he was having such difficulty recently?”
Annelie held a lappie and plate in her hand. ‘What do you mean?”
“Well, think about it. Two weeks ago he seems to be caving in, struggling to take it all in-“
“It takes time, Ma. Learning a new subject can be rocky,” said Annelie boldly.
“I know, I know, I’m probably being a bit unfair.”
Annelie was silent, thinking.
“It just seems so unreasonable and unbelievable that he’d improve so rapidly in less than two weeks.”
“Ma, what are you trying to say?”
Her mother replied with an arch of the eyebrows, a gesture that said, “you know perfectly well what I am saying.”
“What,” continued Annelie, “are you saying that he cheated?”
“Maybe,” was her mother’s response.
Emma had a craving for chocolate that would not subside.
So at 10.32 pm after a couple of episodes of The Wire, she got into her grey Corsa and drove to the QuickStop petrol station.
She avoided these usually. She’d used them a lot at college, after drunken nights. She and her friends would stumble into these late night places and order pies.
The other problem was that, because they were open late, they proved unexpectedly popular.
Someone was in the dairy aisle who knew her, though only vaguely.
He was about 5 foot 10, with ginger hair and soft brown eyes.
His name was Ross.
As he was coming out of the shop with a bag of groceries, he saw the pretty woman he’d rescued from the nightclub floor weeks ago.
“Hello,” he announced warmly.
Emma, who was receiving her statement from the ATM jumped.
“Oh, you gave me a fright!” she exclaimed.
Then she recognised him, and smiled. ‘Hello!” she offered cheerfully.
She stepped away from the ATM, and the next person in line took her place.
She didn’t know quite what to say.
“Cold, isn’t it?” she suggested, and hugged her coat in tighter.
Ross laughed awkwardly. “When people don’t know what to say, they always talk about the weather!”
“Sorry, my thoughts are being completely controlled by my craving for chocolate. Nothing else is registering!”
“You look well.”
“I mean, better than when I last saw you. Which was, uh, on the floor of the men’s toilets.”
Emma laughed. “Tell everyone here, why don’t you!” she joked.
She then looked at the door of the shop.
“Well,” she said, trying to end things off.
“Well, actually, I’ve been meaning to ask you…”
“Yes?” said Emma, her leg jiggling impatiently now.
“Would you like to go out with me some time? Like for coffee. Not like a date. Just…or a drink? Or anything really. We can even go to a movie. I mean, if you want. Or, just, you know, you choose something. I think it would be cool. To hang out. If you want.”
He said this rather clumsily. She noticed a slight bush emerge on his cheek.
He held the moment, anxiously awaiting the response.
This part was always the hardest.
Ross and Emma? Can you see it? Is she interested?