You win

His mother’d been fussing around on the sofa half the afternoon and now she threw down the paper she’d been reading, bouncing it off the coffee table.

“Ridiculous nonsense,” she said. “I can’t stand it. All this kafuffle about alternative facts. As if journalists have some kind of special entitlement to the truth.”

Andy put his finger carefully into his page in the biology book he’d been trying to study. “I suppose you think politicians do,” he said, fully aware that his mother was hooking him but unable to stop himself.

“I do not,” she replied. “But I do have the sense to see that just occasionally there are two sides to a story.”

“To a story, maybe,” he said, “but not to a FACT.”

“Oh, yeah,” she replied, eyeing him in that way she did lately, as if her massive belly was giving her the right to be some other kind of malevolent being. “Give me a sample fact.”

“Well,” he said, one hand still tucked in the biology text and the other pointing to the offending belly. “Human females have a gestation period of 9 months,” he said. “Fact.”

She snorted in that unpleasant way she’d developed. “I’ll give you an alternative fact. Less than 5% of human females deliver at 9 months. I made it up but I guarantee it’s a truer fact than yours.”

It took him a second to get it, and then he remembered she’d said that technically the baby was due today. So that’s what was up her nose. Baby was going to be late.  As if he cared. The later the better, as far as he was concerned.

He didn’t deign to reply. She ALWAYS had to win, and he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. But she’d moved to stand in front of the window, and the bulge was this grotesque thing under her flimsy shirt.

“If you’re going to stand in front of windows,” he said, dialing up the scorn, “you shouldn’t wear diaphanous stuff.” He flipped open the biology book to illustrate the FACT that the conversation was over.

“Ooooo, ‘diaphanous’,” she mocked. “Listen to you with all the growed up language.”

He could feel his face reddening as he flipped pages in the textbook. Suddenly he was aware of her standing right next to him, and he spun round – to encounter The Bulge. She’d lifted her shirt and positioned her stomach right in his face. It was veiny and stretched like a moldy balloon, and that belly button! It was obscene.

He lurched out of his chair, brushing past the offending bulge and the nasty grin on her face above it. “You win,” he shouted. “You always have to win. I’m going out. Nobody could study in this bizarre place. Go ahead and WIN all on your own.”

 

Andy stood with his hand on the door knob, ready to make peace. His time out had cooled him off. He’d gone over to Matt’s, and Matt, while sympathetic, had pointed out that females probably get antsy when baby time is coming. And that his father still being overseas probably didn’t help, nor that his mother was pretty old. Well, Andy knew all that, of course. Maybe he could cut her a little slack. It would be nice if she’d cut HIM some slack, what with his year 10 finals coming up and all, but he could be the gracious one if it came down to it.

When he went inside, she was nowhere to be seen. He slung his coat over the back of the chair, to discover there was a short note on the table.

Baby’s on the way, I’ve called a taxi. I’ll ring you when your little sister arrives.

Love, Mum

P.S. You win. Baby’s coming at exactly nine months. Fact.

His ears suddenly buzzed and he had to sit down for a second. His little sister!

Then he grabbed his coat, checking to make sure his bus pass was in his pocket. This was a time when his mother needed a man around. He knew a bit about the whole birth business, and he’d be there for her.

How hard could it be?

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