“Hello, Annie Deane?”
“Hi, Miss Deane this is Jan from Prompt Care. I’m calling to inform you that your pregnancy test came back positive. You’re pregnant! Congratulations!”
“Oh, um, thanks”………..
Pregnant? I’m pregnant?
With her heart pounding, a flushed face and a sudden spinning in her head, the 20 year old cashier who was working the closing shift at her job, managed to excuse herself from the register she hated so much. The filthy buttons and annoying scanner that beeped over and over again as customers purchased their much needed office supplies. Paper receipts, rubber bands, and post-it notes decorated the register and cabinets where she stood for hours. The ache in her feet and legs would be unbearable at times. She would ask her manager, a tall 40 year old know-it-all, with bad jokes and breath, if she could use the restroom, just so she could sit down. Even though it was on a public toilet, the relief she felt for that brief moment was enough. Calgon take her away, or that porcelain shit bowl. Either way, it was heaven. The store that night was abnormally empty. It was getting near closing time, and the young stockers were starting to get annoyed with the creeping of time. They wanted just as badly as she did to be off from work. No better sound in that store, was the evening announcement. Even though he was a jerk, the middle aged manager sounded like an angel as he spoke over the intercom. Ten minutes before closing time he would inform the last of the customers that the store was closing, and to get their shit, and get the hell out. Of course not in that script, but to Miss Deane, she could care less how it was announced, as long as it was. The 5’5”, slim built cashier with dark brown hair and eyes to match, had been dating her High School sweetheart for 4 years, had just learned that she was carrying his baby.
“Ma’am? Miss are you okay?” Asked one of the store customers. Apparently, still in shock and disbelief, Miss Deane stared in to the center of nowhere, thinking about the pregnancy test she had taken earlier that day. Taken only because she had missed her last period, she didn’t actually give a “positive” pregnancy result, any thought. She was still young, and naïve. No way could she be pregnant. A sudden helpless feeling sickened her to the pit of her stomach. She stood there sporting the store uniform of a buttoned up light blue oxford shirt with black stripes and black slacks, her long brown hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. She felt everything around her disappear. The store shelves freshly stocked with inkjet cartridges, printer paper, pens, staplers and any other necessities an office of any kind would need to keep it up and running efficiently, no longer existed. TAP, TAP, TAP. The elderly customer tried to free the cashier of her trance. “Miss, do you need some help?”
Shaking her head Annie managed to mumble out a “no, no I’m fine. Thank you.”
“Are you sure dear?” Asked the elderly woman. She had the kindest pale blue eyes, pink lipstick and a green button down wool coat, that hung just passed her knees. The woman touched her gently on the arm. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Oh no, I am just.” She paused, and hesitated before speaking the words, “I’m pregnant.” Looking at the elderly woman, Annie couldn’t help but wonder if the elderly woman had ever been pregnant. Did she have a child or children? Did this elderly woman know what it was like to learn that she now carried life inside her body? A tiny human growing inside her taking the nourishment it needed to survive from her small frame. In High School, she was an athlete, an outstanding cross country runner who strived to beat every other runner in a race. She worked hard to be the best and always finish first, but was now responsible for supporting life inside her body. Putting herself second and this new life first. Is this a dream she thought.
“Attention customers, we will be closing in 10 minutes, please make your final selections and come to the front of the store for checkout.” Rang through the building like the most beautiful church chorus on a sunny Sunday morning. Finally! Annie thought. “Would you excuse me?” She said to the woman still standing in front of her.
“Well of course, dear, good luck with your new baby boy or girl.”
Boy or girl? The sound of “boy or girl”, left a lump in Annie Deane’s throat.
“Annie, I need you to stand up front and lock the door behind the last customer.” Demanded the Store manager. A short scrawny man with the personality of an ape. Every day he would linger around the store doing hardly anything until the higher ups came in for the quarterly audit. Only then would the black haired ape of a man do something more than pick at his scabby arms. He’d flail around ordering this be done or that to the associates. An annoyance for sure.
“Wait, um no, no I can’t, I have to leave, right now.” Protested Annie. Her grey striped shirt already untucked, she was headed to the break room to collect her things, clock out and go. Somewhere, anywhere else, she needed to clear her head, and process what she’d just learned. The store manager looked at her with disbelief. The confused ape was just told ‘no’ to a direct order he’d given to a cashier. Cashiers were considered the lowest of the low in HIS store.
“Excuse me? What did you say?” He narrowed his eyes at her, tapped his blue ballpoint pen on his forearm, which he’d folded in an aggressive, yet pathetic attempt to show his authority over her. How can she take this irritating man seriously, when just hours ago he was seen picking his nose at his too big of a desk?
“OH, you didn’t hear me? I SAID I HAVE TO GO!” Annie’s frustration and get out of her face attitude came to a roaring shout. Usually a quiet and polite young lady, until she didn’t get her way. Which may explain why her boyfriend, hadn’t asked her to move in with him, or get engaged. Which getting married to her sweetheart had never crossed her mind, but, if he were to ask her, she’d surely say yes. The couple met in middle school. They had classes together, he played on the basketball team, she a cheerleader. Annie was average in appearance, but always the most athletic among her peers, male and female. Her crush never gave her a second look, never once did they share a conversation. She would admire him from a distance, his smile, his eyes, he had the most caring and sensitive way about him. Taller than she, with light brown skin, and perfectly aligned teeth. To her best friend Shannon, she would talk about him for hours. Go on and on about every detail.
“I think he is so cute, she’d squeal. I’m going to ask him for his phone number!” She’d tell her best friend. Finally she came up with a plan, to approach him after the bell rang at the end of that school day.
“I know what door he comes out of, I’m going to walk up to him and ask him for it!” She told Shannon. The school had two front doors underneath a canopy that lead into the school. Annie always exited from the right side of the building and her dream boy on the left. Bursting with excitement, she finally had the courage to approach him. RIINNNGGGG! Went the dismissal bell that ended the longest school day ever. Annie, rushed out of the classroom, down the crowded hall. That day she was wearing brown slacks and a tan and white blouse. The sides of her hair was pulled tightly on top of her head in a gold polished barrette. Out into the sun splattered day, down the side walk, she waited until she saw him walk out of the school doors. Oh! There he is, she thought. He was dressed in blue jeans and a maroon t shirt that read S-T-A-B on the front in white letters. Stab stood for Saint Annes Belfield, the school where his father worked and Marshall spent a lot of time playing basketball. She started toward him, trying to make eye contact. She spoke his name.
“Hey Marshall!” He was walking with his best guy friends. She got closer to him, tried getting his attention, but his posse’ roared with laughter, high fives and practically trampled her. He never even saw her. As usual.
“You’re not going anywhere!” The store manager told Annie in his so called, forceful voice.
“Watch me.” Annie growled through her teeth. Minutes later the 20 year old cashier was sitting outside the store in her 1983 Firebird. A graduation gift from her parents. Even though the ’83 Pontiac was outdated and had no bells or whistles like newer cars, it was a head turner. Bright white, with black painted trim around the under carriage, tinted windows, Chrome five star styled rims and the best part, a glass roof. T-tops. Rare to see cars with T-tops. On a nice day, Annie would take the ever so heavy glass roof off from the top of the car and drive. Just drive. She loved the wind blowing her hair, the hot sun warming her skin, music blasting and the open road. Oh how she loved the carefree feeling.
“Marshall, I have to tell Marshall.” She said out loud. But not until she informed her momma. She felt the need of her mother more than anything at that moment. She needed her approval, her advice, and her kind words of wisdom. Annie and her mom hadn’t always been the best of friends, but as Annie matured, so did their mother, daughter bond. At that instant Annie’s going anywhere, was now going home. The home where she grew up, the home where she shared fond memories with her older brother, Alex. Even though they were four years apart, the two were inseparable as children. Running around outside, playing with match box cars, riding bikes. Annie and Alex grew up as friends as well as siblings. They lived in a small 3 bedroom house with white vinyl siding and black shudders on every window. A large wooden deck hung on the back of the house, which their dad had built. A lengthy process but also a much needed expansion. Annie had memories of her big brother building an igloo on that same deck from snow that fell one February. The children were seven and eleven that year and Annie thought it was cool to be the same age as the name of a convenience store. 7/11. The door most used was on the side of the small modular home and entered into the kitchen. Ugly green and yellow designed laminate, covered the kitchen floor. A large walnut table set for six took up most of the small kitchen. That table was used mostly for folding clothes on, or where Annie and Alex’s mom would sit and drink her coffee while talking to her longtime friend Janie. The family of four rarely sat at the kitchen table and shared a meal. Only on special occasions such as thanksgiving or a birthday celebration, was the table used to its full capacity.
Annie thought about how to bring up the topic to her mom. What will she say? Will she be mad or disappointed in her? Annie drove home, never even thinking about the route she was taking or which turn came next. She could make the drive with her eyes closed. She had been driving for as long as she could remember. Her dad always had tractors or old cars parked in the driveway. Annie even had a four wheeler growing up. She was no stranger to operating a motor vehicle. Once while racing her brother, who had a dirt bike, green with nubby tires and a number plate bolted to the handle bars that read 01, she flipped her four wheeler into a briar patch. No harm done, some scratches maybe a bruise, other than that, the tomboyish Annie still rode her red four wheeler home. “Don’t tell on me!” She pleaded with her brother.
“Don’t worry Squirt.” He told her, while chuckling. Squirt was a nickname Alex gave her as a kid, because that’s how he thought of her, small and a squeaky voice to match.
The September night was warm and humid, and since she had left work a little early it was only a few minutes after nine o‘clock. Aside from the sound of wind coming through the car windows, inside was quite. No music pounded through the kick box she had wedged in her trunk, which usually vibrated the entire car from the bass. Annie was what you would call a “bass head”. Pulling into the steep gravel driveway a sense of relief and safety came over her but now she needed to pull herself together enough to tell her mother that she would be a grandmother. A grandmother for the second time, Alex already had a five year old little girl, named Brittainy. He’d been married and divorced already at the age of twenty four.