Qualified Entry: Fiction Category
By: Katherine Ladny Mitchell
“Positive?!” Sonya raked her fingers through her highlights and cursed. Four out of four tests confirmed it: soon she’d be waddling around like a bloated penguin. Goodbye heels, hello bare feet… if she could see them anymore.
“I need a drink,” Sonya muttered as she trounced out of the bathroom to the kitchen. As she opened the fridge, she remembered the pregnancy test in her hand – no alcohol for nine months. She cursed again.
Sonya didn’t worry about telling Brian — he had a list of baby names dating back to their honeymoon. She didn’t worry about telling her family – nine years of “accidental” Mother’s Day cards clearly conveyed her parents’ expectations. But how would her boss handle the news of this latest acquisition?
After years of strong coffee and midnight oil, Sonya had finally clawed her way into position for an upcoming promotion. Maternity leave could leave her stranded on the corporate sidelines — disqualified from the rat race. What about her career? Her social life? Her waist? Would she ever see them again?
“I can’t believe this is happening!” she groaned.
“You okay, Honey?” Brian’s voice brought Sonya back to the present. He walked into the kitchen, loosening his tie. “Bad day at work?”
“Not yet,” Sonya said, handing the test to her husband. “Look.”
“Positive?” Brian’s eyes grew wide. “Positive you’re not pregnant?”
“No, genius. Positive our lives are about to get way more complicated.”
“We’re really gonna have a baby?” Brian asked, his voice quivering with excitement.
“As opposed to a cruise this January, yes.”
“That’s AWESOME!” he whooped, throwing his hands in the air. He took Sonya in his arms and kissed her hard. Her silence checked his enthusiasm.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“And stunning,” Brian soothed as he kissed her neck.
Sonya ignored the compliment. “Enjoy it while it lasts. In a few months I’ll be about as sexy as a seasick elephant.”
“Nah. You’ll be radiant!” More kisses.
“Knock it off,” Sonya chided. “I’m not a kid person. I don’t even know how to change a diaper. And I’m not gonna be one of those women who lives for her kid‘s games.”
“Pity,” Brian smirked. “You’d be a hot soccer mom.”
“And what about my promotion? How do I tell Meredith?”
“Your boss?” Brian asked. “Tell the old battle axe you quit!”
“Har, har,” Sonya replied, without a hint of humor.
“Ms. Williams, have a seat.”
Sonya sat down stiffly and clutched her hands together till her knuckles grew white. Meredith never invited people to her office just to chat.
Meredith cleared her throat. “Ms. Williams, for the last four months your performance has not met company standards.” She held up a report. “You’ve failed to meet two deadlines, been late to work, and made numerous trips to the restroom during office hours.”
Sonya‘s stomach tightened. “I can explain, ma’am. You see, I’m expecting…”
“I’m not finished,” Meredith interrupted. “In this economy, we can’t afford anything but 110% from our employees. Your recent history has made me question your commitment to this company. Therefore, I’ve decided to promote Ms. Young to Regional Manager.”
A boxer could not have dealt a harsher blow. “Ms. Young?” Sonya stammered. “The new girl?!” She felt wretched.
Meredith folded her hands on her desk. “If you want to grow in this company, I suggest you upgrade your work ethic — and look into daycare,” she said, gesturing toward Sonya’s midsection. “You may go now.”
Sonya slowly rose to her feet and zombied to the ladies’ room where she promptly lost her lunch.
“I gave that company everything for five years!” Sonya sobbed into Brian‘s shoulder. “All that overtime for nothing!”
Brian combed his fingers through Sonya’s bedraggled hair.
“Four months ago, life was great. I basically had the promotion. My jeans fit. Now I’m hormonal and fat! I feel betrayed and insulted… and I’m getting your shirt all wet!”
“Hey, look at me,” Brian cupped Sonya’s mascara-streaked face in his hands. “You are more than your job.”
“But I worked so hard for that position. Now that it’s gone, I feel worthless.”
Brian smiled. “Well, no matter how much money you make, you’re worth a lot. This baby’s a gift. We’ll just figure out how to unwrap it one minute at a time, alright?”
“Thanks,” Sonya sniffed. “You’re still okay being married to a mess like me?”
“I’m positive,” Brian replied as he gently kissed away her tears.