The coco pinchard boxset.., p.55
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.55

           Robert Bryndza
 

  I was now rounding the corner that would take me back home.

  ‘Look, I’m sorry Chris. I have to go. I’m out with Rocco,’ I said.

  ‘Yes, you go… Maybe I’ll get a dog. A dog would give my life purpose… but my carpets are white…’

  ‘I’ll call you in the next day or so. Love you,’ I said. I rang off as the sun came out. The park was transformed, sun glinting off the water and making it all come alive. Rocco came bounding up and gave my hand a lick, before running off again. I couldn’t get Chris’s word out of my head.

  Miracle.

  I arrived home as Adam was folding up the duvet.

  ‘Are you okay?’ he asked.

  ‘I’ve got a scan at nine-thirty.’

  We looked at each other for a long moment.

  ‘Do you want me to cancel it?’ he asked. I could see he was clamping up every emotion inside him. I tapped my phone against my teeth.

  ‘No. I should go,’ I said quickly, and then scuttled off to the bathroom. I spent a long time zoned-out under the water until Adam started knocking, saying he’d ordered a taxi.

  It was a short ride to University College Hospital. We rode in silence, holding hands. We took a lift up to the maternity unit, and we were shown straight away into the consulting room. The sonographer was a thin woman in white, with long grey hair wound up in a bun.

  ‘Right, would you like to hop up onto the table please,’ she asked, pulling a roll of paper out for me to lie on. I swung myself up on the examination table and hitched up my jumper. I remembered the smell of the disinfectant and the feel of the rough paper sheet under my back from all those years ago. The sonographer pulled over a trolley with wires hanging from a monitor.

  ‘The gel might be a bit cold,’ she said. Her voice was soft and soothing. She squeezed a bottle and gel plopped out on my stomach, on top of the faded stretch marks from when I’d had Rosencrantz.

  Adam was sitting beside me and grabbed my hand as she began to slowly smooth out the gel on my stomach with the scanner.

  ‘It’s quite overwhelming, being pregnant,’ she said softly. ‘It happens every day, but it never ceases to be wonderful.’

  A loud whoomping echoing sound, like a ball bouncing around a tunnel came out of the speakers.

  ‘And that’s the heartbeat,’ she smiled as she carried on smoothing the scanner across my stomach. Adam and I were speechless. It was so quick and strong and vital.

  ‘Right, I’m just doing a check to see that everything is okay.’ There was a silence as she peered at the screen, a few minutes ticked past.

  ‘Everything looks…. Perfectly normal,’ she said turning the monitor round to face us. The liquid black screen had what looked like a shard of light illuminating the profile of a baby. It was lying on its back with a big round head and little feet sticking up in the air. I couldn’t believe how detailed it was.

  ‘That’s in here?’ I asked, pointing from the screen to my stomach. The sonographer smiled and nodded.

  ‘You can see a nose and a mouth,’ said Adam his voice catching in his throat. ‘A head! And a body! Look Coco, the mouth is moving.’ Just then the baby on screen lifted a tiny arm.

  ‘It’s lifting an arm! It’s got an arm and fingers!’ shouted Adam excitedly. ‘Did you count them alright? Has he got ten fingers?’

  ‘No,’ said the sonographer.

  ‘No? Is there a problem?’ said Adam.

  ‘Your baby has eight fingers and two thumbs,’ she grinned.

  ‘Oh my god, a baby, our baby,’ I said in wonderment.

  ‘That baby is really inside her, right now?’ said Adam. In our shock we were coming across as two utter plonkers, but the sonographer was very kind and nodded.

  ‘Hello,’ said Adam running his finger along the tiny hand on the screen. ‘He’s so tiny, how big is he?’ The sonographer moved the scanner around my stomach.

  ‘I can’t see if your baby is a he or a she, but it’s about the size of a Mars bar.’

  ‘What size?’ I said seriously.

  ‘A Mars bar,’ she repeated.

  ‘Is that normal? It being as big as a Mars bar?’

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘A king-size Mars? A normal Mars, a fun size? What’s normal?’

  ‘A normal Mars bar,’ grinned the sonographer.

  ‘It’s just I drink, drank a lot,’ I said. ‘Well, that was my diagnosis.’

  ‘What have you been diagnosed with?’

  ‘I haven’t been to a doctor. We added up our units on the BBC website and we found out we’re binge drinkers.’

  ‘Which is surprisingly little,’ said Adam. ‘And she stopped drinking completely when she found out she was pregnant a month ago.’

  ‘Your baby is healthy,’ smiled the sonographer. Adam and I stared at the screen, the minutes ticked by and we just stared, open-mouthed. There was a soft whirring sound as she printed off some pictures. She went on to say that I was actually twelve weeks pregnant, and my due date would be August 8th.

  ‘August the eighth, have we got anything on that day?’ said Adam quite seriously.

  ‘No, I think it’s free,’ I said still in a daze. ‘You’re sure it’s not a crossed signal from another scanning machine?’

  ‘No, it’s your baby,’ said the sonographer. I’m surprised she didn’t suggest a visit from social services. How could these two morons bring up a child?

  We were both crying, tears running down our cheeks. Adam grinned and leaned across and kissed me. I knew then we were going to have this baby.

  The sonographer gently wiped off my stomach with some paper towel.

  ‘You’re past the first trimester now… and out of the most dangerous bit of your pregnancy. You might like to consider telling people,’ she said and handed me printouts of the ultrasound.

  It was a different world when we came out of the hospital. The sun was shining, we were both smiling from ear to ear, and I suddenly felt this warm maternal feeling kicking in. I am pregnant; I’m going to have a baby, our baby.

  ‘We have to tell people!’ I said.

  ‘Tomorrow,’ said Adam. ‘Let’s keep this between you and me for one night. Our secret.’

  We came home and talked and talked, about if it was going to be a boy or a girl, what it would look like, and which room would be the nursery. He pulled out the ultra sound picture and leant down and kissed my stomach.

  ‘I can’t believe there’s a baby in here!’ he said.

  ‘The second I saw it everything changed,’ I said. We felt this incredible bond of love and warmth and excitement.

  ‘Of course now we have to unpack,’ said Adam looking round at the boxes in the living room.

  ‘Let’s do it in the morning,’ I said.

  Thursday 26th January

  We invited Rosencrantz over this evening. I wanted to tell him face to face that at the age of twenty-two he will shortly have a baby brother or sister. He was the person I was most looking forward to telling, and I was excited all day in anticipation.

  Adam ordered pizza and we took the plastic off another chair and lit a fire. When Rosencrantz arrived he looked handsome, but a bit thin. He was wearing big timberland boots, jeans, and a checked shirt. His dark hair was now cropped close to his head.

  ‘You’re not on another diet love?’ I asked.

  ‘No, Ibiza was crazy, I sort of forgot to eat!’ he grinned. ‘Did you see my Instagram photos?’

  I said we had; all five hundred of them. He gave Adam and me a huge hug, and then knelt down to tickle Rocco’s little furry face.

  ‘Can I get you a drink Rosencrantz?’ said Adam.

  ‘I’ll have a beer, thanks.’

  Adam went off into the kitchen and we came into the living room, Rosencrantz carrying Rocco.

  ‘As you can see we haven’t quite got round to unpacking,’ I said.

  ‘You’ve been back for a month,’ he laughed. ‘That’s classic Mum!’ Adam came back in with drinks, beers for them and an orang
e juice for me.

  ‘Let’s sit down,’ I said nervously. We all sat by the fire. Rosencrantz downed half his bottle of beer in one gulp. I looked at Adam. I went to open my mouth when Rosencrantz said,

  ‘I’ve got huge news!’

  ‘What’s that love?’ I asked.

  ‘You know Oscar, my housemate? Well he’s no longer my housemate…’ he looked at us with a grin.

  ‘Is he moving out?’ asked Adam.

  ‘No. He’s no longer my housemate because he is my boyfriend.’

  ‘That’s lovely,’ I said. Rosencrantz went on,

  ‘Do you think it’s going to be weird? I don’t think it will be because we’ve lived together in the house share with Wayne for a year now, and I really love Oscar, and he loves me. He told me so the other night at Pizza Hut.’

  We stared at him with fixed smiles. This wasn’t going to plan. I’d wanted to get it over with, and tell him about the baby as quickly as possible. All I could say was,

  ‘Ooh. Pizza Hut?’

  ‘Yes I know what you’re thinking, Pizza Hut, how can that be romantic? But it was romantic because it was so low key… I mean you watch those shows like ‘The Bachelor’ where they have a meal under the stars with champagne, but it’s just so staged and pre-meditated.’

  Adam and I still didn’t know what to say. All I could come up with was, ‘I’ve never seen ‘The Bachelor’.’

  ‘Oh it’s quite good Mum,’ he said. ‘I know I’ve never told anyone I loved them before. I don’t want you to worry; we are serious but I’m not going to do it without a condom.’

  ‘Rosencrantz, I’m your mother!’ I said.

  ‘Surely you want me to be honest with you? It’s the next step in a gay relationship, to take HIV tests and have unprotected sex. You always told me to use a condom, and that’s what I’ll do. Of course that was when you thought I liked girls and could get them pregnant, but it’s just as important when you’re gay.’

  I went to interrupt but he laughed saying,

  ‘Just think yourself lucky I am gay and I won’t get some girl pregnant. You two have only just got married, and you wouldn’t want to have to babysit some screaming tot!’

  ‘Rosencrantz, we’ve got something to…’ but he cut me off.

  ‘We might do a Civil Partnership though, wouldn’t that be cool?’ he finished off his beer.

  ‘Are you not drinking Mum?’ he asked, noticing my orange juice.

  ‘No, I’m not…’

  ‘What? Come on Mum, you’ve moved back home, and I’ve got a gorgeous new man. Let’s celebrate! I’ll grab you a beer.’ He left the room and came back with two beers, and downed half of one again.

  ‘No, I’m fine thanks love.’

  ‘Go on Mum. You’re not on some stupid January detox?’

  ‘No.’

  ‘Then have a drink silly,’ he said pushing the bottle at me.

  ‘I can’t,’ I said. ‘Look, sit down, I have to tell you something.’ Rosencrantz sat down. I suddenly felt embarrassed. Adam held my hand.

  ‘Rosencrantz, love… It started a couple of weeks ago, when I couldn’t keep my food down, so I went to see the doctor…’

  ‘Oh my God,’ said Rosencrantz, his beautiful green eyes filling up with tears. ‘I’ve been going on and you’ve been diagnosed with …’

  ‘No,’ I smiled. ‘No. I’m not ill; I’ve not been diagnosed with anything. Well I have been diagnosed… As pregnant… Rosencrantz love, I’m pregnant.’

  Rosencrantz froze, his mouth agape. There was a long awkward silence.

  ‘It is mine, of course,’ said Adam. I gave him a look. Rosencrantz remained frozen with his mouth open.

  ‘Well say something. You looked happier when you thought I was dying.’ Rosencrantz finished his second beer, then started on the third.

  ‘You’re going to have a baby?’

  ‘August the eighth,’ I said. ‘And steady on with those beers.’ He ignored me and took another big slug.

  ‘But how?’

  ‘It’s a bit late for the birds and the bees chat,’ I said, trying to make light of the situation. ‘You remember that? When your father sat you down? He did his best; it’s not his fault he can’t draw.’

  ’Don’t try and be funny Mum… You weren’t using protection?’

  I looked at Adam.

  ‘It was only the one time,’ I said.

  ‘Only the one time. And neither of you have a job right now. Who’s going to pay for this baby?’

  Neither of us had expected this.

  ‘I’ve been applying for jobs,’ said Adam.

  ‘And my book is being published in April,’ I added. Rosencrantz got up and went to the window. He looked horrified.

  ‘But what about your career mum? You had such ambitions to be an author.’

  ‘I am an author!’ I said.

  ‘When will you have time to write? You’ll be a middle-aged pram face.’

  ‘Hey! Don’t talk to your mother like that,’ said Adam standing up.

  ‘Adam I looked up to you,’ said Rosencrantz. ‘I thought Dad would be the one to knock up some bird,’

  ‘You watch your mouth,’ I said jumping up from the sofa. ‘I am not knocked up! If you haven’t forgotten Adam and I are married. And you might be twenty two but I don’t like your tone.’

  ‘You’ll be pensioners soon, you can’t have planned this?’ said Rosencrantz.

  ‘No it wasn’t planned, but I’m a damned sight better off than when I had you, and you certainly weren’t planned!’ As soon as it came out of my mouth I regretted it. Rosencrantz thumped down his beer, grabbed his coat and stormed off.

  We sat there in silence after the sound of the door slamming.

  ‘And I thought Ethel was going to be the tough one,’ said Adam.

  ‘Well, Ethel kind of already knows,’ I admitted.

  ‘How?’

  ‘She guessed.’

  ‘When?’

  ‘Couple of weeks ago.’

  ‘And you didn’t tell me? I thought it was just me and you who knew, who else knows?’

  ‘No one.’

  ‘Just when I think I can trust you!’ said Adam. He then stormed out and slammed the living room door.

  Rocco came and put his head on my lap and looked at me with his wise little eyes.

  ‘I hope I’m having a girl,’ I said. ‘Men never seem to grow out of being children.’

  Rocco gave my hand a little lick.

  ‘Apart from you of course,’ I said.

  February

  Wednesday 1st February

  My nausea seems to have waned, but overnight my bladder has shrunk to the size of a peanut. I slept fitfully and woke every half hour, busting to pee, which involved climbing over Adam and Rocco to use the downstairs loo. I was flushing the toilet just before six, when the doorbell rang. It was still dark outside so I kept the chain on when I opened the door. It was my neighbour Mrs Cohen, in a long buttoned up nightie and curlers. She peered through the gap at me with her beady eyes.

  ‘Hello there Mrs Pinchard. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to come round and welcome you back to the neighbourhood… I’ve been so busy.’

  ‘So you came over at quarter to six in the morning?’ I said.

  ‘No,’ she said smiling awkwardly. ‘I came to ask who keeps flushing your toilet?’

  ‘I do.’

  ‘Could you not?’ she said. ‘Mr Cohen is having terrible problems with his hip, so we’re having to sleep downstairs. Our bed is up against your soil pipe!’

  I apologised.

  ‘Why aren’t you using your en suite? It can’t do your hips any good, up and down the stairs.’

  ‘We’re sleeping downstairs too, until we get unpacked,’ I said. Mrs Cohen tried to see past me into the hallway.

  ‘So you’ll stop all that flushing? We’re stuck downstairs until Mr Cohen gets to the top of the list.’

  ‘List?’

  ‘He’s on the waiting list for a
new hip. So? No more flushing?’

  ‘The reason I’m flushing the toilet so much, is because, I’m pregnant.’

  Mrs. Cohen’s mouth fell open; it stayed close to her chin long enough for me to count six fillings.

  ‘Oh, um, congratulations,’ she said composing herself. She looked at me with a horrified curiosity. ‘Was it expensive? The IVF?’

  ‘It wasn’t IVF.’

  ‘But you’re…’ she was going to say old but just stopped herself.

  ‘I’m forty-four and I conceived naturally.’

  ‘Shouldn’t you be in bed?’

  ‘I’m not ill, I’m pregnant.’

  ‘Well, um, you should get unpacked, and then take it easy, Mrs Pinchard…’

  She turned in her curlers and staggered off down the steps. She looked back at me with a pained smile. I closed the door, and joined Adam and Rocco on the sofa.

  ‘Who was that?’ asked Adam.

  ‘Mrs Cohen… Am I freakishly old to be having a baby?’

  ‘Don’t ask me trick questions so early in the morning,’ mumbled Adam into his pillow.

  ‘This isn’t a trick question. I’m talking medically. I’m serious.’

  ‘What did the doctor say?’

  ‘You were there, he said, wait in the waiting room.’

  ‘What about the midwife?’

  ‘Nothing really, she is rather young and inexperienced.’

  ‘Didn’t Jane Seymour have twins? And that was way back in the fifteen hundreds.’

  ‘No. That was the other Jane Seymour, Dr Quinn Medicine woman.’

  ‘Oh yeah,’ said Adam and then started to snore.

  I couldn’t sleep so I fired up my laptop and scared myself even more. I scoured the internet but found conflicting information. It said, many older women have healthy babies at 45, 46 or 47, and also lots miscarry in the first stages of the pregnancy. Typical internet, gives you all the answers but also none of them.

  I took the train over to see Marika in South London. I’d been avoiding her calls again, and in her last message she’d said how concerned she was about my well being.

  I’d agreed to meet her on One Tree Hill, just down from her flat in Honor Oak Park. I got there early, and sat down on the bench that looks out over London. It was clear and still and I could just see the London Eye turning silently in the distance. A few minutes later Marika appeared at the bottom of the hill being pulled along by two enormous Alsatians. They strained against their leads, froth dripping from their mouths. As Marika reached me, she let them both off the lead and I screamed hitching up my skirt and climbing on the bench.

 
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