Thursday, December 15, 2011
Facing Facts - Audrey DeBarbarak
Audrey had been in Berlin for a few weeks. The chilly temperature and the near constant snow made it far too easy for her to sit in her rented room and ponder how she should go about telling her family about her, well, condition.
Finally, after long days watching the snow pile up outside, Audrey finally decided to pick up the phone.
'Okay. I can do this.'
'This isn't going to be as hard as it seems.'
'Yeah, it'll be fine...'
Finally the beep of her mother's answering machine sounded, and Audrey slumped in relief. 'Oh, thank you!' She thought, silently smiling. Her happy demeanor was short lived, however, as halfway through the answering machine message, her mother picked up the phone.
"Oh, oh, hang on there, I'm here!"
'Oh, hell.' Audrey's shoulders slumped again, and she took a deep breath.
"Hey, Mum," she said into the receiver, trying to sound upbeat. "How are you?"
"Audie! Audie, honey, it's so good to hear from ya! Oh, darlin', I've missed you so much! How are you, sweetheart? Doin' well? Stayin' healthy? Are they feedin' ya well there in Rome, as if I even need to ask? Thank you so much for that package, by the way, honey, I used the pancetta in a pasta I made the other day for your brother... needless to say there are no leftovers!"
Audrey smiled somewhat wearily. "No problem, Mum. Yeah, I'm doing well, but I'm not in Italy any more... I'm in Berlin."
"Berlin? Sweetheart, you do realize it's winter, don't ya?"
"It must be freezin'!"
"Yes, Mum. But, it's fine, I'm fine. How've you been?"
"Oh, I'm doin' just fine, darlin'. We're comin' up on the Yule Festival again, and you know, it's terribly, terribly fun. I'm on the committee again this year, and it's goin' to be just fabulous! I sure wish you'd be home for it."
"I might be, but Mum, that's not what I called about...."
"You're comin' home? Oh, Lordy, darlin', I'm so happy to hear that! You know I love havin' my babies around me for the holidays!"
"And oh! Maybe you could help me get things settled. We're gonna need some able bodies to help set up the exhibits, and the stage for the performance of A Christmas Carol!"
"And I could always use a hand with the baking. I'm takin' a mess o' cookies down to the shelter again this year...."
"Mum...." Audie ran a hand through her hair. Somehow, when her mother went off on a tangent, Audie had a hard time getting a word in edgewise. "MUM!"
"And... oh, yes, baby girl?"
"There's something I need to tell you."
"Well, go on, honey! What is it?"
Audrey pursed her lips. "I... I...."
"You... you don't wanna come home for Christmas, honey?"
"No, it's not that."
"Then... you don't want to help with the festival?"
"That isn't it, Mum..."
"Well, I don't need help with the cookies, I just thought...."
"Mum, I'm pregnant."
There was, for lack of a better term, a pregnant pause.
"Come again, darlin'?" Her mother asked, her voice an octave higher than usual.
Audrey swallowed hard, and steeled her resolve. "I said I'm... I'm pregnant."
The only thing that could be heard on the line was a gentle crackling.
"Mum? Say... something. Please?"
"Pregnant?" Her mother breathed.
Audrey sighed. "Yes."
"When? Right after I lost my job. As for how, Mum, let's not get into that right now. Or, at all...."
"You're telling me I'm going to have a grandchild?"
A smile threatened to break Audrey's worried expression. This was the reaction she had expected. "Yes."
They spent the next hour or so on the phone, Audrey giving up every - or almost every - detail about how she was feeling, what she was eating, how many check-ups she had been to, what she was planning on doing, when she was planning on coming home.
Finally, with red ears from being pressed against the phone for so long, Audrey stopped her mother in the middle of a tirade about the importance of eating the rights foods. "I've got to go, Mum. It's, uh, it's way past lunch and I'm getting kind of hungry."
"O'course, darlin'! You go, eat up. I love you, sweetheart. You take care o' yourself, and that baby, you hear?"
"Yes, Mum. Love you too. Bye."
Audrey hung up the phone, and drew in a deep, heaving breath. It was only a moment before she dissolved into tears. Relieved, sad, frightened tears.
Back in Simberry, BriAnna was hanging up the phone as well. She grinned from ear to ear, but slowly, the longer she stood there, the expression faded.
Frank entered the room not long after. "Hello, sugar," he greeted her, "What's going on? I thought you'd be down at the Fairgrounds by now..."
"My baby's having a baby," she blurted.
"Your what's having a what?" He gaped, and she pursed her lips, feeling a weight settling into her chest. "Oh, sugar," he said, immediately taking her in his arms. "That's... That's wonderful, right?"
"'Course," she muttered, swallowing hard. It was what she had always hoped for, after all, her little girl having a family of her own. But somehow, faced with it, she was now more overcome with worry for her daughter than happiness.