The Worst Surprise

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It was eight o'clock on a Saturday night. While most of our friends were pregaming for parties, Julia and I just got off our ten-to-seven shifts at the hardware store (late, of course, because there was never enough coverage) and we were both starving.

The Bump Buddies were at a booth, ready to stuff their faces at the diner down the street from the store. I had to cancel my plans with Cler for the night. We were supposed to go see a movie, but I'd much rather be eating.

Since Julia and I were both too big to face forwards, we were each laying down on the seats with our feet up and our backs against the window, using our winter coats as support.

I loved the comical, pregnant antics we kept getting ourselves into. I just hit the eighth-month mark, and this was the most comfortable I'd been all day.

"So, have you heard from either of the Hetchers?" Julia asked, looking over the menu that was resting on her bump.

"Jace got me a gift card, so I used it towards my stroller."

"Hey, that's a good thing! I'm glad he's finally stepping up."

"I know. Chase texts me like once a week to ask how the boys are doing." I took a piece of bread from the basket in the middle of the table. "Jace sent me this contract that I was expecting, you know, to see who gets the boys and when, and it was only one weekend a month. Between you and me, his parents are really controlling and don't want him to see the babies."

"Wow, seriously? What the hell is wrong with them?"

"His mom is kinda nuts. She's batshit crazy. I feel really bad for Jace, seriously. We've been texting back and forth and he said he's trying to move out when he turns eighteen, but that's not for over a year still."

Julia sighed. "Geez. The poor guy."

"Oh really? It's you two?" Mom said, dressed in her waitress uniform with her hands on her hips.

"Well duh! We had to come. We're starving," I said. "Happy last night at your third job!"

She rolled her eyes. "It's Saturday, so let me guess, beef barley soup and a large order of chicken fingers for you, Chrys. What about you, Jules?"

"What's your other soup of the day?" she asked.

"Chicken noodle."

"Yum. I'll take that with two orders of mozzarella sticks!" Julia said.

Mom took our orders and walked away. Julia kept shifting herself, rubbing her back a lot. She didn't quite seem herself at the store, either.

"You okay?" I asked.

"Yeah, my back just hurts extra bad today," she said. "And I've been starting to get Braxton Hicks contractions like you. I think I've had them literally all day."

"Yikes. Mine usually go away after a while. Maybe you should call your doctor tomorrow?"

She nodded. "Yeah, I think I will if this doesn't get better."

"Are you excited for your shower next weekend?" I asked.

"Am I ever! Have you checked my baby registry? Almost all the gifts have been bought already. I can't wait. I don't think I'll be able to top your mom's pinatas though."

We laughed and took a little break from talking about baby stuff to gossip about our coworkers. Julia heard that one of the head cashiers was having an affair with the back-end manager.

Before we knew it, our food was brought out to us. Mine was gone in seconds, and when I looked up from my empty plates, I saw Julia slowly sipping on her soup. She saw me staring and put her spoon down.

"I don't know. I lost my appetite, I guess," she said.

"Are you nauseous? I read that nausea is pretty common in the third trimester when you're having twins," I said.

"Yeah, I guess that's it." She pulled herself up. "I hate to leave you hanging, but I think I should get going. I think I need to lay down in bed. These stupid Braxton Hicks won't go away. Here, this should cover my half."

She slid a twenty across the table and started putting on her jacket. I could see in her face that something was wrong.

"You don't even want to wrap up your mozzarella sticks?" I asked.

"Nah." She used the table to get herself standing, then zipped her jacket. "I think I just need to lay down. I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"Okay. Take it easy."

I waited until she was out of sight, then snatched the first plate of her mozzarella sticks. I took some time to unwind and check my social media. I ate both plates, then Mom gave me a piece of complementary chocolate cake.

"Where's Julia?" Mom asked, setting the cake down.

"She left."

"What? That doesn't seem like her. Is she okay?"

"Yeah. She just wasn't feeling good," I said.

I scrolled through my phone while eating my cake and sent Julia a quick text to make sure she was okay. She didn't answer, I assumed because she was still driving.

I paid the bill and tried to give her a nice tip, which, as usual, she turned down. She told me she'd be home at eleven as I walked out the door and to Smushy. It was starting to snow. There was an accident up the road, so traffic was slow, but the radio was playing some good songs.

I unlocked the front door and tiptoed up the stairs so I didn't wake Poppy. She had an early babysitting job in the morning. I washed the dishes she left in the sink, then took a quick shower.

I let my crazy hair air-dry as I snuggled up in Mom's hand-me-down bed. It was big enough that now I actually had room to fit my favorite pregnancy pillow.

Right as I was falling asleep reading an article called The Ten Biggest Nursery Fails, I got a text from Julia.

Hey. I'm in the hospital. Those weren't Braxton Hicks, Bump Buddy. I'm in labor. The girls are going to be born tonight.

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