Pumpkin

By Gary Henderson

“Well you know how we had that packet of pregnancy tests? I was cleaning the toilet and I was going to throw them out because of what we spoke about earlier, and there was only one left in it, and I thought I might as well just use it rather than throw it out, so I just used it, and well, I went and got some more just to be sure, and they were all the same, and eh, it was positive…”

She let the breathless tale dangle in the air for as long as it took me to must up some sort of – any sort of – reply.

I had barely dropped through the front door after the longest day I’d had in a while. Four hours driving from Glasgow to Newcastle on business, and the same in reverse.

The time between was spent wandering the crisp, dark streets of Whitley Bay from one assignment to another. As the evening hours cosied up against me, the streets began to fill with pirates, ghosts and zombies. They ran excitedly from door to door, plastic bags filled with treats bouncing alongside.

My suit was crumpled, my feet were aching and my spirits were damp. I jumped into the hire car with my own treat in hand – a chippy. I sat and read through my messages with one hand while the other grabbed a fistful of chips.

‘I was thinking, maybe we should stop trying for a while? I hate getting my hopes up every few weeks and then being let down.’

I was disappointed, but more for her because I knew she would blame herself.
We had been trying for about 4 months now, ever since returning from a six month round the world ‘finding ourselves’ trip. It was time to settle down, we thought. The wedding was just around the corner, the house was mortgaged and we had just bought a new fridge. It was all very grown up.

But this was the elusive unticked box. As I drove up into Scotland and through the borders, the skies got heavy and the night miserable. I drowsed at the wheel, a marathon waste of a day topped with pretty rubbish news and the drone of the football phone-in.

I trudged into the house expecting her to be asleep and for me to quietly knock over every appliance on the way to bed, welcoming the end of the day.
So, her wonderful, terrifying, beautiful, frightening Halloween treat still hung there as I climbed into bed. The room was dark. My mind was spinning.

“Positive, as in, positive for a baby, as in pregnant?”

“Yeah”

“Oh, wow, that’s good. And that’s definite then?”

“Well, in as much as I’m definitely pregnant”

“Right. That’s good then. Night”

In the true spirit of the evening, I felt myself float above my body, looking down on what life was like before this moment, unable to compute what lay ahead.

Our little pumpkin was on his way.

Gary is a new dad. He doesn’t sleep much anymore. When you’re 30, that’s as scary a sentence as you can read.

Halloween Flash Fiction Competition Winner

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