An Education

Betting on GG

"When we get outside, please listen to my instructions before you do anything. Don't try to listen and follow instructions at the same time. Listen to the instructions first and then follow them, okay?" Olivia said to her eager 4th graders as they stood in line at the classroom door. She knew her speech was getting a too lengthy in light of their short attention spans and bubbling excitement, but she continued. "I have already read the directions thoroughly so if you were doing this yourself at home, you would read them first too. This is why I always say that reading is fundamental. Okay, class?"

"Yes, Ms. Pope," they said in chorus. Her students bounced with anticipation, not really hearing what she was saying. They just wanted to tie dye their white t-shirts for International Games Day (IGD) that was scheduled for later in the week.

IGD had long since replaced Field Day at Ambrose Elementary thanks to the suggestion of one Ms. Olivia Pope. In recognition of the diverse international student population, she had recommended that each class be taught a game from around the world along with its origin, history, and other important information. Students would come together and play their games with and against other classes in a grand competition. Former principal, Mrs. Vega, had loved the idea and requested that Olivia work with the PE teacher and other staff to plan it. Some of the other teachers had balked at the idea since it required more work on their part to make the flags for their assigned country and teach the games. As years passed, IGD became a wonderful celebration of the diversity at Ambrose, a model for other schools in the district, and a great fundraiser for the school because local businesses donated goods and paid to advertise. Now that it was an Ambrose tradition, the teaching of the games and the making of the flags were incorporated into the Physical Education and Art curriculum.

Olivia led her class to a shady spot beside the school and instructed them in setting up the supplies and workspace. The students were lined up two by two facing each other with trash bags, and newspaper under them. Two students who hadn't finished their homework the night before looked on sadly from a nearby picnic table. At this point in the year, failing to do homework had severe consequences.

"Lay your t-shirts out flat like this. I will show you two methods you can use for your tie dye pattern. Once you choose your pattern, you will rubber band your shirt to secure the pattern. Please keep your gloves on at all times especially when we start squeezing the dye onto the shirts. Anjelica and Theodore focus on your homework now. You can't join us until you are done."

"Is Ms. Karen coming today?" said Sasha.

"Yes, but she is running late," said Fitz who appeared behind Olivia.

"Hi, Mr. Grant," said 25 students in a singsong greeting.

"Hello, Mrs. Grant…oops…I mean Ms. Pope's class!" Fitz said.

The students laughed. By now, everyone knew that Ms. Pope and Mr. Grant were getting married. Olivia had been the only person uncomfortable when the students found out. At first, Olivia didn't mention it until students began asking questions either based on what they could plainly see and hear, her engagement ring, other teachers' congratulations , or rumors they'd heard from friends. Olivia decided to formally address the subject directly with her class one day.

In true Olivia fashion, she used it as a learning activity. To build anticipation, she'd announced that there was a secret message she needed their help to decode. She'd scrambled the letters of the words, "Mr. Grant and Ms. Pope are getting married" to become: "rm atgrn nad sm eppo rae egingtt adrmeri." She read Lily's Big Day, by Kevin Henkes and told them that the book held a clue to the message. Then she let them go on a scavenger hunt around the room where vocabulary words from the book were hidden on index cards. Some of the cards had the answers to the unscrambled words on the back. Students had to walk through the scavenger hunt without making a sound or they would be out of the game. Her two most precocious boys, Anat and Malik, found the words, 'getting', 'Ms.', and 'Pope.' When they sat down on the carpet, everyone worked with partners to share their finds. One student shouted out, "Ms. Pope is getting married to a goat!" The class erupted in laughter, but it helped them eventually decode the message. Thereafter, the students peppered her with questions.

"Are you getting married in the gym?"

"Will Ms. Karen be you daughter?"

"Will you and Mr. Grant live at the school?"

"Will you still be our teacher?"

"Where will you go on your honeymoon?"

"Will Mr. Grant become Mr. Pope?"

One student wrapped his arms around her waist and asked, "Will you have to leave us when you have your baby?"

That question had surprised Olivia, "No, Cassie, silly goose. I'm not having a baby."

Her talk with the class had removed her uneasiness about everything. Fitz's impromptu visit while they were tie dying and his light kiss on her cheek was not a problem for her now.

"Ewwww," cried one little boy who witnessed the peck.

Fitz fluffed the little boy's hair. "How's the tie dye coming?"

"We are just starting, Mr. Grant," Olivia said. "How long before Karen comes? I wasn't sure if she could get by today. Doesn't she have a date with Ethan?" Olivia asked so only Fitz could hear. She didn't want the kids to ask Karen about her date. Her official day to intern in Olivia's class had ended last week.

"Let's not say, 'date' because Gerry will be there." Fitz wasn't comfortable with her dating.

"I told you she liked Ethan. All those afternoons riding with him from school…I knew she made too big of a deal about not liking him," Olivia said smiling. She went back to instructing the students. Fitz observed and helped the students who had trouble putting the rubber bands on their shirts.

"Why are Anjelica and Theodore not participating?" said Fitz.

"They didn't finish their homework last night," a student said accusingly.

Fitz walked over to the table. "What happened, kiddos?"

Olivia watched him sit down, knowing he would help them finish in no time. Her heart swelled with love as he worked patiently with the students. She thought about how he had been so patient with her through their relationship. Counseling with Pastor Hawthorne was going well. They'd discussed religion, politics, race, money, spousal expectations, and sex. Children were on the agenda for the next session. Olivia and Fitz started looking forward to the sessions because they enjoyed their spirited conversations. All the roadblocks to their relationship had resulted in a stronger bond.

"Ms. Pope, why are you crying?" Kelly asked.

Olivia dabbed her eyes with the back of her hand. "Kelly, I think something flew in my eye."

Fitz looked up at that moment and winked at her. He mouthed, "What's wrong?" and pointed to his eyes.

She smiled at him and mouthed back, "I love you."

"Mmm. That smells good, Mr. Grant. I'm so glad GG taught you how to cook when you were a boy." Olivia stepped behind Fitz and slipped her arms around his waist as he cooked the Asian stir-fry they would have for dinner. "Thanks for cooking tonight, babe. After a long day at school and tie dying the shirts, I feel like Rolfo over there."

They both glanced at Rolfo who was asleep by the kitchen door. He was on his back with all four legs sticking up. They both laughed at the sight.

"How long before you have to wash the tie dyed shirts?" Fitz asked.

"They have to sit for 6-8 hours. I plan to wash them tomorrow night. They'll be ready in enough time for IGD on Thursday. Why?" Olivia asked.

"I want a tie dye shirt too. I forgot to mention it. Is it too late?"

"No. But sweetie, that might cause trouble at school. Each class has a different color. My class is rainbow so if you wear our color it will look like you are biased towards us, especially when it is time to pick the class with the most school spirit."

Fitz's expression fell as he continued cooking. He looked sad and said, "Okay, I understand."

Olivia waited for him to drop his act, but he didn't.

"Oh, okay. Of course, I'll tie dye you a shirt for you. You really know how to get your way, Fitz."

He smiled without a word and kept cooking.

"Why don't you take a seat on the sofa. I'll let you know when dinner is ready."

Olivia rubbed her lips against his and then settled on the couch. Within 5 minutes, she was sound asleep.

Granny walked downstairs, rested from her own nap. "Mmm….that smells good, Fitzgerald. Well now, look at that, Olivia is in a deep sleep. She's been napping more than me the last couple of weeks."

Fitz looked up from setting the table, "It's that time of the year when there is so much to do. We are all so busy. I forgot how tiring it is at the local school level. I didn't work nearly as hard when I was Area Superintendent. Today I watched her and the class tie dye t-shirts."

"Fitz, when are you two going to start a family?" said Granny.

"Granny, well that came out of left field. If it were up to me, as soon as possible, but I suspect Olivia will want to wait. We're going to talk about it in our next counseling session. She is contracted to write three more books and I know she wants to go back to school for her doctorate. So, really not for a couple of years."

"What do you think she would do if the stork brought a little one before her timetable?"

"I really don't know. Olivia keeps me guessing, but I am pretty confident she'd be happy. I'll know more after that next counseling session….the stork, Granny? I haven't heard that term used in a long time."

Later that night at dinner, everything was going well until Karen mentioned Mellie.

"Dad, have you spoken to Mom today?" Karen asked. Mellie had been back in town for almost a month. They were counting their blessings because it had been an uneventful month. Mellie and Fitz had not spoken. They didn't have to because Granny acted as the go between.

"No. Why do you ask?" Fitz had never told them about Mellie's attempt to have him arrested on false charges.

"She said she would pay for Greece this summer if I still wanted to go," Karen said slowly, testing the waters.

"Karen, we have discussed Greece and this trip at length. What did I say the first time you asked me about traveling there this summer?"

"Well, you said, no because it was too expensive, but…"

"That was not the primary reason, Karen. You're only 16 and too young to be traipsing in a foreign country with friends. You will have time to do that in college. You're going with the family to Antigua this summer and that's the final decision," Fitz said firmly.

"But Mom said she…"

"What your mom says doesn't matter at this point, honey."

"I told you, Karen. You can come with me when I go on my college trip next summer," Gerry said trying to console her.

"Shut up, Gerry! May I be excused?" Karen asked not looking at anyone at the table.

"Not until you've apologized to Gerry, young lady," Granny said before Fitz could answer.

"I'm sorry Gerry, Can I go now?" Karen was on the verge of tears.

As soon as Fitz allowed her to leave, she loaded her dishes in the washer and ran to her room upstairs. The door slammed shut.

Gerry rose from his seat. "I'll go talk to her."

"I don't understand. The first time she mentioned going on this trip, we talked about it. I expressed my reservations. She was okay with it and that was it. Now, she is bringing it back up again." Fitz rose from his chair and began to clean up. "Mellie has to know that this trip is not appropriate for her right now."

"I think this has everything to do with Mellie," said GG. "It has been quiet since she moved back, but we knew it was only a matter of time before she tried to cause more trouble."

"Fitz, I'll talk to Karen tomorrow when she comes to my class. Maybe she'll tell me something to shed light on this." Olivia cleared her plate along with GG's off the table.

"Okay, I won't waste another thought on it." said Fitz.

"Olivia, let Fitz clean up and take a walk with me outside," Granny said. Rolfo's ears perked up when he heard the words, 'outside' and 'walk.' "No, boy. You can't go with us. Fitz will take you out when he is done."

GG linked her arm with Olivia's as they walked down the sidewalk. The sun was still shining brightly at 6:30 in the evening.

"How are the wedding plans coming, Olivia?"

"Very well, GG. I am a very efficient planner. The only thing that remains is my dress, sending out the invitations, and the activities just before the wedding. November is an unconventional time for a wedding, but as you know we didn't want to wait a full 12 months. And of course we didn't want to interfere with Gerry's college trip next summer."

"When will my great grandbaby be making an appearance?" GG asked giving Olivia a pointed look.

Olivia inhaled deeply. When she exhaled a little nervous laugh escaped. "Oh GG, Fitz and I haven't talked about when we'll start a family. Once Gerry leaves, the house will be quiet, won't it? But I think it may be another two or three years. I have three books to write and I'm thinking about going back to school. I really don't know."

"Sometimes the stork makes unexpected visits, and we have to be prepared."

Olivia patted GG on the wrist and gave her a peck on the cheek. "I'll remember that, GG," she said with a smile. When they headed back into the house, she couldn't get GG's words out of her head. What did she mean by that?

Rain was forecast on International Games Day. Fortunately, light showers came early that morning. Olivia noticed them as she ran for the toilet. She hadn't vomited in years so the burning sensation behind her ears was confusing to her until she also had the overwhelming sensation to expel what was coming up. Rolfo whimpered when she stepped on his tail on the way to the bathroom.

GG's voice replayed in her mind as she gripped the seat.

"Sometimes the stork makes unexpected visits, and we have to be prepared."

Olivia pushed the thought from her mind. She knew she couldn't be pregnant because she hadn't been late last month. She was due any day now to start her next cycle.

"Livy, are you okay?" Fitz opened the door and knelt beside her.

"I think I might have food poisoning. It had to be that shrimp. I'm going to stay here until it all comes out. I'll be fine. Go back to sleep." Olivia felt another wave of nausea come over her.

"I'm going to get Granny. She'll know what to do or have some concoction you can take. I'll be right back."

Olivia could only grip the porcelain bowl as she vomited into the bowl again.

Fitz led Granny into the bathroom. Karen and Gerry followed behind her. They were up preparing for school and interested in the commotion. "I knew it! Looks like the stork will be here in a couple of months."

Olivia smiled weakly. "I-I-I have food poisoning from the shrimp last night, GG."

"Gerry, are you feeling ill? Didn't you have the scampi last night too?" Granny asked.

"Yes, GG. I am just feeling fine. Aunt Lauren and her husband had it to. I can call them to check."

Olivia stood up and began washing out her mouth. "No, that's not necessary. We could have had different batches. I'm feeling better now. Whew! Okay, I have to get dressed. It's IGD today. I have so much to do."

Fitz exchanged looks with Granny. She winked at him. "Karen, Gerry, let's go."

Fitz followed Olivia into the walk-in closet. "So you don't think you are pregnant, sweetie?"

"It's highly unlikely because I haven't been late. I take my birth control pills religiously…"

"But isn't there still a slight chance?" Fitz was getting excited at the possibility.

"Yes, I guess so, but I don't want you to get your hopes up, Fitz. Actually, I am feeling a little bloated and achy like I do before I start my cycle. I am due any day now." She moved in close to hug him when another wave overtook her. She ran for the toilet with Fitz following after her.

International Games Day ended with multiple of Tug of War competitions between classes. Fitz instituted a new rule for this year. He chose two classes to be in contention for the spirit award.

"Ms. Pope's class and Ms. Leslie's class will compete for the spirit award!" Fitz announced into the microphone. The students roared and squealed as they rushed to the rope. Each teacher stood next to their class to coach and cheer them on. Olivia along with Karen screamed at the top of their lungs to encourage the students. Olivia jumped up and down, running along the length of the rope screaming and cheering her class along.

"Pull! Pull! Come on! Don't give up! Go Pope's Panther's! Go! Go! Go!" Olivia cheered and screamed like a woman who possessed a deep desire for her class to win.

When Olivia's class pulled the scarf over the line, Olivia and Karen hugged each other and danced in circles. Olivia felt dozens of arms closing in on her as she was engulfed in a massive class pile up.

After the festivities, the classes gathered on the grassy lawn for a picnic lunch. Olivia passed out popsicles to her class and settled down to eat.

"Sweetheart, you were a maniac today. I've never seen you like that," Fitz sat down beside Olivia and Karen.

"Yeah Liv, I was a little scared of you," said Karen.

"Abby, Huck, and Harrison could have filled you in. That was the only reason why they were happy that I left 5th grade, my excessive celebrating. I guess I'm like Icky Woods. It runs in the family."

"I didn't pick up on that when your family visited," Fitz said, looking more closely at Olivia. Her face looked strange, holding a peculiar looking pallor. "Sweetie? Are you okay?"

"It only happens when we are playing a game together or when we are watching a game toge…" Olivia stopped talking and leaned against Fitz. "I don't feel well. Just let me close my eyes for a min..."

Olivia opened her eyes.

"Hi dear, how are you feeling?" Granny asked.

"How did I get here GG? Where's Fitz? What happened with my kids?"

"You fainted during the picnic, but don't worry about the kids. I'm sure Fitz told them you were okay. Most of the teachers are going to jump to the conclusion I came to this morning."

"Where is he now? Do the doctors know why I fainted?" Olivia motioned for the water. Granny handed it to her and she took a sip.

"You were dehydrated so they gave you some fluid. You've been resting since then. But you and I know why you fainted today, don't we?" Granny rubbed her hand.

Olivia couldn't help but smile at GG.

"I did have my period last month, but it only lasted one day and it was very light. My period for this month is about a week late, but I'm not even sure if I can count last month. So GG, you may be right about the stork."

GG bent over to hug Olivia. "Finally. Fitz! You can come in now." Granny announced loud enough for him to hear from where he stood outside the door.

He walked into the room as GG walked out.

Fitz and Olivia exchanged smiles, but no words for a while. He sat on the bed beside her and placed his hand on her belly.

"How does a June wedding in Antigua sound, Livy? We'll already be there."

"The odds are that the stork will be visiting like GG said, but there is a chance it could be the shrimp. We won't know until they do the test."

"I'll always put my money on GG, but say you'll marry me in Antigua whether we're pregnant or not."

"One thousand times yes," she said.

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