Michael Wombat’s Picture Choice: 1
The Gray School bell rang for the very last time, and opened its door to the late summer day the way Stacy had opened her heart to James the previous night. They had sat on the school bench out by the trees, shyly held hands, and he had fallen for her like the blue star that had fallen from the night sky above them. They had kissed; proper grown-up kissing, too. Stacy had tasted of strawberry. She had taken his hand and put it on her small breast, but he hadn’t known what to do next. Oh sure, Richie Chester had told him all about how men and women did it, but it all seemed a mite unlikely to James. Not to mention embarrassing, and not at all romantic.
Four sisters and three brothers had educated Stacy in the ways of the world far more extensively than he, but she had given him a stunningly beautiful smile, and told him not to worry. They were probably too young to do more than kiss, anyway. For now, at least. James was more than content, for kissing Stacy was the finest thing he could imagine in the whole wide universe.
As twilight deepened and fireflies commenced to doodle in light, Stacy had gone home as instructed by her father. Mr. Bennett kept a close eye on his daughter, as was only right, and he had told her to be home by nine. James had offered to walk her home, but she had reassured him that it was only a half mile through the trees, and James’ own father would begin to worry if his son stayed out too long after dark. He had watched her disappear into the trees, admiring the sway of her hips, then jumped on his bike and pedalled hard all the way home.
He had found it impossible to concentrate in class today. James had spent most of his time writing Stacy’s name all over his notebook, and thinking about her beguiling lopsided grin. Each minute had seemed like ten, each hour like a day, but now, finally, he was free. He would head over to Stacy’s house now, to see whether Mr. Bennett would allow him to take her out to Cheryl’s Shakes. His mind still spinning with the memory of Stacy’s hair sapphire-lit by the falling star, James stumbled outside with the rest of the students, squinting in the dazzling late-August sun. The hot air buzzed like a fat bee.
A colossal, gnarled hand grabbed his shoulder, the fingers digging painfully into his flesh through his thin checked shirt, and flung him hard against the old tree stump embedded in the school wall.
“What the hell did you do, boy?” Mr. Bennett thrust his furious face close to James’, flecks of spittle spraying from his twisted lips.
“Sir... sorry, sir, I don’t—”
“Shut the fuck up!” Mr. Bennett growled, thrusting the barrel of a shotgun up against James’ nose. “You’ll come with me. Now!”
“Yes, sir. I... of course. But what—” Mr. Bennett shot James a murderous look that stilled his voice, and pushed him towards the trees and the narrow dirt path that ran through the small wood to the Bennetts’ home. James’ stomach felt tight and flippy. He was baffled and terrified. Mr. Bennett was normally so calm, so in control. James had never heard him curse even mildly before, let alone say f... use that word. What could have happened to make him so angry? And what had it to do with James?
Oh God, Stacy. Maybe something had happened to Stacy. He turned to ask Mr. Bennett if she was OK, but the nearby tree trunks distracted him before he could speak. They were scorched, burned charcoal black, but only in a small section between about one and four feet off the ground. Further away from the path the trees were untouched, but those close by had all been subject to intense heat.
They emerged into sunlight once again by the Bennett house. Stacy was standing there, thank goodness, her back to him, her captivating hair lifting slightly in the breeze. James’ heart lifted. She was OK. Thank God she was OK. She turned as she heard them approach, and James’ mouth fell open as his world fell apart.
Stacy was pregnant – hugely pregnant – her distended belly pushing what was clearly one of her mother’s dresses far out in front of her. Her breasts seemed much larger than James remembered from, well, from last night. He gaped at her idiotically. When she saw him she ran to him and threw herself into his arms. He held her as close as he could, as she sobbed against his chest.
“Now boy,” barked Mr. Bennett, “Explain yourself. How’d you do this?”
“Papa, I’ve told you!” Stacy cried, “It wasn’t James! We’ve never... we’ve never...” She looked up into James’ eyes for help.
“We’ve never made love,” James said, trying to read her expression. All he saw was confusion and fear.
“Don’t give me that crap,” Mr. Bennett snarled. “I know boys like you. You’re only after one thing. You’re slaves to your dicks and your filthy thoughts. Now I don’t know how you managed to make this happen overnight – maybe it’s some modern thing you got out of those damned comic books or those god-awful movies you kids like about giant ants or Martian invasions. I don’t much care, frankly – but you will do right by my girl.”
“Papa, it wasn’t James. I left him last night at nine, like you’d said.”
“You got in at ten thirty,” her father told her. “Ninety minutes to walk half a mile? Then you went straight up without even coming through to apologise for your lateness! What’s this horny bastard been doing to you?”
“Papa, don’t. I told you, something crazy’s happening. I was walking home through the trees and then – Lord knows – then there was a bright blue light. The next thing I know I’m waking up in bed this morning like... like this.”
“Mr. Bennett, sir,” James faced the confused, angry man who was pointing a shotgun at him, and hoped that the honesty of his words would show in his face. “I’m sorry, but I have no idea what’s going on here. I’ve only ever treated Stacy with respect. Sir, please, I... I love her.” He looked Stacy in the eyes, those deep beautiful eyes. “I love you.”
She smiled and tears rimmed her eyes. Encouraged, he continued “and whatever this is – whatever is going on – I will stand with you and protect you and look after you and stuff.”
“Oh, James,” she sniffed. Her smile made his chest swell. His skin tingled where it touched hers, and his feet felt wet. Why were his feet wet?
“Oh James!” Stacy cried, “Lord, I think my waters broke!”
“Your what did what?” James squeaked, wide-eyed in panic.
“The baby’s coming! It’s coming now!”
“Nope! Stop that nonsense, girl. Babies never come that quick,” Mr. Bennett said firmly. “Well, except in bad movies and crap stories.”
“Then maybe this is a crap story, Papa, because I tell you it’s a-coming! It’s coming NOW! Aaaaaah!”
Stacy got down on the lawn on all fours, helped by James. Mr. Bennett flapped his hands, looking lost. He would be no help at all.
“What should I do?” he asked Stacy, though part of him was desperate to run and hide.
“James, you’re going to have to help the baby out,” Stacy gasped, trying to catch her breath.
“How? How does it happen?”
“Remember when your dog had puppies? Like that.”
“I closed my eyes! It was icky!”
“Well you’re going to have to keep them open now!” Stacy pulled up the dress, baring her backside and parted legs. Blue liquid ran down her thighs.
“Stacy Bennett!” roared her father.
“Papa, we ain’t got time for embarrassment. This baby’s a-coming fast. James, if you love me, keep your eyes open and DON’T DROP IT!”
“This can’t be happening,” wailed Mr. Bennett, dropping his shotgun on the ground.
James looked between Stacy’s legs, a thing he had never even dreamed have doing. From between her plump thighs a slippery round thing protruded. He put his hand gently under the head, and with the other prepared to catch the small body as it came out. The baby slid out of Stacy like eggs from a pan, then it was safe in James’ hands, covered in blue gunk, but breathing. He cradled it securely, supporting the ass and the head.
“James, you have to cut the cord,” Stacy panted.
“Um, there ain’t one,” he said. “Look.”
Stacy turned and sat on the grass. James sat beside her and laid her child in her arms. He put his own arm round her shoulders, protectively.
“Oh, look, Papa!” she laughed. “Isn’t it beautiful? Look at its tiny horns!” She stroked her new child’s wriggling tentacles and it gazed up at her with lidless red eyes. “I think we should call it Colin.”
Colin roared in approval, and reached up with his tail to stroke his mother’s hair.
Several Twitter chums all influenced this story. My thanks to @flcro, @rachaelkanute, @ekctafc, @landladycheryl, @captain_doodle, @SBennettwrites, @LEJamez and especially to my eternal muse @KJCollard.
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Michael Wombat has published several books - search for him on Amazon, or go talk to him on Twitter where he is @wombat37.