a story about a boy who receives some unexpected news from his girlfriend.

     Nick Lowry leaned toward his girlfriend, expecting her to turn her head so that he could collect his customary kiss.  But Ginny Macomb just sat there, and stared out into the darkness on the other side of the dirty windshield of Nick's tiny, red Ford Fusion.

     After what seemed like an hour had passed, finally, in a slow, ghost-like voice, Ginny said, "I have to tell you something.  You're not going to like it.  I'm pregnant."

     Nick froze.  His breath caught in his throat.  His dark eyebrows flew upward, his eyes bulged in their sockets, and his lips parted, as he stared at her in shock and disbelief.

     He shrank away from her as if she had some terrible disease and he was afraid of catching it.  "You're sure?" he asked, staring at her through narrow, suspicious eyes.

     Her head bobbed up and down in the dark.  "Uh-huh.  I took the test twice.  It came out positive both times."

     "Are you sure it's mine?"  He didn't mean to say it.  The words just seemed to slip out of his mouth before he could stop them.

     "Nick Lowry!" she gasped.  He thought he saw the faint shimmer of a tear in her eye.  "What a terrible thing to say!  We've been going together for---what---over two years now?  You know I'm not the kind of girl who sleeps around.  Of course this baby is yours."

     "Relax.  I was only kidding."

     "Then stop being so intense.  You get so relentless sometimes.  You know I don't like it when you get like that.  Why must you always turn everything into a cross-examination like we're in court or something?"

     "I said I was sorry.  What more do you want?"

     "I know you are, sweetie.  And I'm sorry, too.  This all must be a big shock to you coming out of the blue like this.  It was a big shock to me, too, when I first found out.  But now, I'm very happy.  And I want you to be happy, too.  Happy Birthday, sweetie."

     Yeah, right, Nick thought.

     It took another moment for the awful enormity of it all to finally sink in like water seeping into stone.

     "Oh, wow," he said.  "This is really cool."

     "You're not mad?" Ginny asked.

     "Are you kidding?  Right now, I'm very happy.  I'm the happiest guy in the world."

     "You're not mad?"

     "No, I'm not mad.  I'm just a little surprised is all.  I wasn't expecting this."


     "Yes, really."

     "Oh, I am so glad.  But you're sure you're not mad?"

     "Honey, how many times must I tell you?  I am not mad at you."

     Nick opened the door and got out of the car and walked around the back and opened Ginny's door.  She looked up at him, wide-eyed and mouth ajar, in surprise and confusion, and even a little fear, as if she actually thought he was going to yank her out of the car and make her walk home.

     Instead, he grinned down at her, offering her that old, disarming smile of his, as he sank to one knee in the grass and weeds.  He took her right hand in both his hands.

     In a voice that sounded just right, he said, "Ginny Macomb, I love you with all my heart and soul.  And I just can't picture the rest of my life without you in it.  Will you please marry me?"

     Without hesitation or reservation, she replied.  One swift, sweet, simple word.  "Yes!"

     She saw the surprise in his face and eyes and she laughed.  "What?  You didn't think I was going to say no, did you?"

     "Well, nothing in this world is ever a hundred percent sure," he said with an indifferent shrug.

     She finally gave him the kiss he'd been waiting for ever since he'd picker her up at her parent's house.  Somehow, her kiss didn't taste quite as good as it usually did.

     "First thing tomorrow morning, we go to Wal-Mart and get you a ring," he told her.

     There, he thought.  The rip in his personal universe had been healed.  Everything was perfect again.  At least until tomorrow morning.  And tomorrow morning was still a long way off.

     They had sex in the back seat of Nick's car and that didn't feel quite as good as it normally did, either.  There was some kind of invisible barrier between them.  Nick couldn't penetrate it, no matter how hard he tried.

     All he could think about was short, round, big-breasted Emma Calhoun and the angel food cake she'd promised would be waiting for him when he came to work tomorrow afternoon.  Nick loved angel food cake.  It was his favorite kind of cake.  Not like the chocolate cake Ginny had baked for him.

The End

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