It was a rainy Saturday afternoon in October, there was nothing to do, and he was hungry. He was driving to a place that the hotel told him would be a good place to have a sandwich and a couple of beers while he watched the Penn State game. What happened that afternoon changed his life forever.
Chuck was a networking consultant for a factory automation company near Atlanta. He was thirty-three, and the hotshot on his team. Any time someone needed something special, he'd always be the one to fly. Unlike others on his team, he was unattached and willing to see the world on the company's dime.
This time, it was a big college town in western Pennsylvania. He was to do some preliminary project work at one of the company's big accounts. He job this time was to get some details of how things were laid out, a job that he figured would take about a week. Because his company was cheap, however, it meant that he had to stay over a Saturday night anytime he left the building.
He had landed a few hours before, coming in from Atlanta. The flight hadn't been all that bad, especially considering the early fall rain that gave the Pennsylvania landscape a chill that it shouldn't have until November. The sky was low and gray, and the rain, although not heavy, was wind driven. All of this left little doubt in his bones that it'd be an early winter. It was the sort of feeling that went to the core, and which wouldn't easily go away. Just as the rental car was warming up, he saw the place and pulled into the lot.
He shook himself off a little like a dog when he got in. He took the usual business traveler's quick look around the place. He'd learned things to look for from his manager years earlier. You wanted to be careful with new places. This restaurant was the kind of place where the college kids would get their parents to take them for dinner when they were in town for the weekend. The walls were covered with stuff that other people would consider junk, but with enough of the stuff, became nostalgia. He wondered if these "treasures" had made their last stop at a garage sale.
In the center of the dining area was a lounge, which was surrounding a big open-pit fireplace. This place would do.
It was about two in the afternoon, and it place was dead. Most kids and their parents were at the game, which was being played in spite of the crummy weather. He walked in the door, and went straight for the men's room. A couple of hours on the flight, followed by a run to the rental car desk didn't leave a lot of opportunity to pee.
The hotel wasn't a lot of help either, since his room wasn't ready yet. This was his first real chance to pee since leaving home that morning, and it was about time.
He came out of the men's room and went to the desk. It took a while for anyone to notice that he was there, because what few eyes were in the place were on the pigskin ball on TV. Finally a tall guy noticed him, and came over. He was obviously a college kid making a few bucks for school. His glasses were in dire need of repair, and it looked like all his clothes were exactly a month old. "Table for one near the fireplace please."
"Sure thing. You're lucky you got here when you did, in a couple of hours, you'd be lucky to find a seat anywhere near here!"
You could tell it was early in the year, since the host had actually shown some enthusiasm for seating a customer. Had it been later in the semester, he'd likely have been dragging himself from a thick book to begrudgingly find a warm place for me, but no, he still hadn't had all his energy drained by school's demands. The host first brought Chuck to the close side of the fireplace.
"Is this alright," he questioned.
"I'd prefer to be on the opposite side, if it's not a problem," Chuck replied.
Sitting in his seat on the opposite side of the fire let him see who was coming into the room, and get a good view of the game as well. He liked to people watch. There was nobody to converse with, so this was his way of making up for that. People watching, trying to guess about them. He could entertain myself by watching the game and people at the same time. At the moment though, the gridiron had more people on it that the restaurant had in it.
Of course, there was the occasional waitress to watch. Most of them were behind the bar most of the time, watching the game. Maybe some of them had boyfriends in the game. It was hard to tell, but they all did seem into the game, more so than you'd expect women to be. They were all wearing basically the same outfit, black pants or skirt, white shirts, and aprons on the side for carrying those remote order entry devices that get you your beer before you can count to ten. Some filled their shirts better than others, and some took liberties with their dressing more than others. It was pretty clear that they were all college kids of one type or another.
He was enjoying looking at them and trying to guess what they were studying. That one must have been liberal arts, she seems flighty. Another was probably economics, or something like that. Quite studious looking, and perhaps the one having the least fun watching the game. One of them he couldn't quite figure out. He probably didn't see enough of her to guess. That must have been it. He convinced himself.
She seemed to have more natural energy than the others. She wasn't overly energetic, but seemed to show more enthusiasm than someone might while working. Maybe it was a bounce in her step, or maybe the bounce in her dark brown ponytail. There was something about her that kept her in his thoughts. Then he convinced himself of thing else. "Maybe this was why I can't decide what she's studying, maybe I'm just not letting myself come to any conclusions," he thought to himself. She was just too interesting to watch to decide anything too quickly.
After a few minutes, the mystery girl who was the object of most of his thoughts came out from behind the bar. She came right over and stood across the small round table from him. "Would you like something to drink," she asked. Her energy was even more evident up close. The fireplace played on her curves, softly detailing her shape.
A warm orange glow danced across her right cheek, from her hair to her chin. Her nose was short and round, and cast a cute shadow. Her eyes had a kind look, and it was hard for him to tell whether the fire was making them glisten, or they were just naturally that way. Her chest was not large, but she filled the shirt nicely. The orange glow transformed her from cute waitress to art form.
"Sure," he said. "What do you have for beer?" She moved closer to him.
"The beer is listed here," she said, as she leaned over his shoulder from behind, pointing toward the right page from the menu. "We have about twenty on tap here, and here's what we've got in bottles."
Her frame was what most men would call "normal". She wasn't fat, but her belly filled the skirt, making a nice small round bulge under the skirt's top. It was as though she was one of those women who were always on an optimistic diet, squeezing into what she wanted to fit into, rather than what she would comfortably fit in. Maybe she was just trying to wear something formfitting, and missing part of the recipe. The rest of her seemed fit, the belly just didn't match the rest of the picture.
He liked athletic women. As an occasional runner, and frequent racquetball player, he kept himself fit, and was normally attracted to women who did likewise. He noticed her slender legs first, and her tummy second, but it was the whole of her that did it for him. He could easily overlook something like that. "Heck, most men are attracted to a rounding of the edges," he convinced himself. He caught himself though, he was an out-of-towner, probably never come back, besides, she was probably engaged to a football player or something. She wasn't wearing a ring though. He caught himself again.
"I'll take that one," he hesitated a little, not wanting to give up the moment.
"Great," she said as she went into efficient action, "I'll be right back with your beer and to take your order!"
He watched as she went back behind the bar to put in the order. Before, she was interesting, now she was the absolute focus of his attention.
She came back a few minutes later, but he averted his attention to the game as she came out. He didn't want to give her the impression that she was being watched. "Ready to order?", she asked.
"Sure, but I have a question." She leaned over him again. It had worked. "Does this come with a salad and fries?" He could have done without the salad, but he had to ask a legitimate question.
"We can give you a house salad for two dollars more."
"That's OK, I'll take this, rare." She scribbled.
"Do you go to school here?" he asked.
"Ya, pretty much everyone does."
"What are you studying?" he probed.
"I'm doing graduate work in oceanography." This intrigued him even further. A scientist. Probably a lot smarter than me too, he thought. She went off again. His thoughts were concentrated.
She came back with cheese and crackers. "Here you go. How's the beer doing?"
"Fine." It was taking him a lot longer than normal to finish this one. He was busy thinking other thoughts.
"Do you ever do any field work with oceanography?", he asked, trying to know more about her rather than the studies.
"I did some work at Wood's Hole this summer, and had hoped to go back next, but I don't know if it'll work out."
"Why's that?" He knew it involved a boyfriend or something like that. She seemed too smart to let grades get in the way of her profession.
"Well, you may as well be the first to know," she started. He wondered why he was to be the privileged one to be the first to know whatever it was. "I'm pregnant."
Earlier that same morning, Karen woke up earlier than normal. Over the month since she discovered that she was pregnant, she had been needing more sleep. She was usually tired earlier, and avoided parties, since she wanted to take the best care of her new little partner that she could. This meant that she could begin her morning heaves earlier too, although this was starting to pass.
Fortunately, her roommate was usually gone by the time that the retching started, and today was no different. A shower always helped after a session of that unpleasantness. Today, starting the shower was the first thing she did.
As she stepped into the shower, she noticed her reflection in the bathroom mirror just as it started fogging over. She wiped it to get a better look. Her twenty-five yea-rold athletic body had changed in the last few weeks. As she gazed into the mirror in amazement, she slowly put her hands to her belly. Before her pregnancy, she would have put her hands on to a nice flat abdomen and a twenty-five inch waist, but that was a thing of the past.
She felt that her hands actually made a round shape as they made contact with her skin. She rubbed side to side and up and down. Her skin seemed tighter than normal. A rush of blood went to her head as she realized what she was feeling. There was no denying it, her tummy was growing, and faster than she had expected.
After her shower, she looked at herself again again. The tummy was still there, not as though she expected otherwise, but it was still a new idea to her. She hadn't expected to grow this early. "You're not supposed to be showing at twelve weeks," she muttered to herself. Her breasts also seemed a little bigger than before.
She placed her hands under her breasts, and cupped around them. Definitely a little bigger, and heavier. She felt as though they had started to fill with something, but knew that they were just preparing to feed a child. She had noticed this before, but today brought a more noticeable change than ever before.
She wrapped herself in an oversize towel and went to her room. It was almost six thirty and she had a seven o'clock shift. She quickly put on some panties, but took extra notice of how they fit. They still fit, but they were tighter than she had remembered. The belly bump was just under the waistband, and she could almost feel the waistband settle in just above her belly. She sighed again. She felt that this was inevitable, and decided to get used to it.
She put her bra on. Since her breasts had begun feeling tender, she opted for a slightly oversize athletic bra that would give her better support, and give her room to grow. Her breasts were nice round spheres now, especially with their fullness and more ample size, and fit nicely in the bra.
She'd have almost killed for boobs like that earlier, but this isn't how she had expected it to happen!
She leaned over and fumbled with a pile of clothes on the floor, noticing how even a small pregnant belly could affect how she bent over.
She grabbed a skirt. She'd heard that you can grow overnight, but didn't believe it. Now she believed, firsthand.
The restaurant would let her wear anything black below the waist, and anything white above the waist, so she was usually willing to push the limits a little. There was going to be a game today with lots of parents taking their kids out to eat before the game, which meant big tips, so she'd wear the little skirt. As soon as the skirt met her belly, she had to work at it a little. The skirt had some stretch to it, but this was the first time she had to actually use the stretch. She pulled the waistband of the skirt over her belly, and it settled in on top of her belly. This gave the waistband a break, but the fabric on the front of the skirt was stretched outward in an alarmingly new way. She again rubbed her hand on her belly, and said to herself, "I guess this is the way it's going to be from now on, so I'd better get used to it."
Curious, she got a tape measure from the kitchen drawer and put it around her waist. She was thirty inches! It's no wonder that things that used to fit weren't anymore! Her waist had expanded alarmingly fast!
She was trying to decide if anyone would notice, and whether she should start telling people. She decided yes on both counts. She was becoming just too big in the belly to hide it anymore, but she just didn't know quite how to explain it. She'd have to think of something.
He hadn't expected that. Her rounded belly could easily have been a few too many burgers over the years. He became a little lightheaded when she said that. "Well, congratulations," he started.
"How far along are you?"
"Depends how you count, but I figure it to be about twelve weeks."
"That's great! I'm sure that you and the dad are very happy!" Her face dropped a little.
"I doubt it," she said. "It was this summer, he's married, I didn't know it at the time though, and he lives in Massachusetts. I didn't even bother telling him." She paused. "I probably shouldn't have dumped on you, sorry."
He felt like a heel. He hadn't wanted to open any old wounds, so he tried to make things a little better. "That's alright! Dump on me anytime, I'm told that I'm a great listener. He's probably a loser anyway, right"
"He's got a PhD. in oceanography," she countered. He felt worse. She left the table to see if the order was up.
"That's it, I'm never asking questions again," he said to himself. After a while, she came back to the table carrying his dinner.
"Here you are, can I get you anything else, steak sauce perhaps?"
"No, I'm fine, but if you want to sit here instead of over there, you're welcome to," he explored. He didn't really expect her to accept, but she did.
"That sounds great. You're my only table right now, and I'm really tired."
He introduced himself, and told her why he was in town. "So what are you going to do?"
"Keep it, of course! It's a child, a human being, I couldn't do anything else!" she exclaimed.
"No, of course, I meant what are you career plans, what are you plans for taking care of the little one?" He didn't want to offend, so he had used careful terms. In fact, he agreed with her wholeheartedly.
She seemed resigned to her future, and dismissive of who she was and her past. "Well, the career's shot for a few years, because I'll be taking care of my baby, and sure as heck nobody's going to want to date a fat preggo, so I'm just going to let it go where it'll take me."
"What do you mean nobody's going to want to date you?" he queried. She seemed to be getting a little sarcastic. "You know what I mean, you don't need to sugarcoat reality for me." She turned away a little.
"I don't. I think that you look fabulous," he countered. He did indeed think that she looked great, and knowing that inside that little belly was a new human being made him think it all the more sexy.
"Oh sure, for now, give me a few weeks. Just look at this stomach, and I'm only twelve weeks into this!" She put her hands around her belly to accentuate the growing bulge.
"I think it's beautiful." He was convinced, and needed to convince her.
"No you don't."
"I do," he insisted.
She lifted up the bottom of her shirt and put her hand on her stomach, and rubbed it. Her tummy moved a little bit as she rubbed in a small circle. She sighed. This sent him in circles too. "I need to go check in, I'll talk to you later," she said. She got up and went toward the kitchen. He took one last look at her belly as she walked past. He sighed, and ate his meal.
Later that evening, Karen went to a back table to cash out all of her receipts. One of the older waitresses was there working on her receipts.
"Hi Monica." "Hi Karen." "Hey, Monica, you've got kids, right?"
"Yup, two great kids. I'll be picking them up in half an hour if I can get through this," she said part jokingly, part longingly.
There was a pause while Karen worked up her thoughts. "I'm going to have one of my own in a few months." She confided in Monica only because she was the only waitress with kids who wasn't a gossip.
"Really? Congratulations? How far along are you?"
"Twelve weeks," she said, putting her hands down near her belly.
"My goodness, that's great! If you don't mind my saying so, I've noticed a little thickening of your waistline lately, but you do look great!"
"Do you think that other people have noticed?"
"I don't know really, but you see these things when you'ev had kids of your own," Monica assured.
"I feel as though I'm big for twelve weeks though."
"Hmm," said Monica as she looked down at Karen's belly. Karen put her hands around her belly to make the shape more pronounced. "This is your first, right?"
"Well, ya, I think that you are big for the end of the first trimester. Have you seen a doctor?"
"Sure , why?"
"Well, there's an outside chance that you may have twins. This is your first. Woman show early when it's not their first. Also, you're athletic, so that would help hide a pregnancy longer. I think that you should ask for an ultrasound."
Karen sat back in her chair, fluffing up her shirt to hide the bump once again.
"Wow. I don't know what to think."
Two days later, Karen was working the breakfast shift with Monica again. They were at the coffee station together.
"Seen that doctor yet?"
"No, this afternoon," said Karen.
"I've got some pictures to show you after the shift."
Around two o'clock, the shift was over, and the waitresses were cashing out.
"I'll be in the ladies room," Monica said to Karen.
A minute after Monica got up, Karen followed.
Monica was just coming out of the stall.
"Here are a few snapshots of me while I was pregnant with my first," Monica said. Karen took the small stack of snapshots. She looked at twelve weeks, then sixteen, and then twenty. She put the pictures down and stood next to the mirror, pulled down the front of her pants, pulled up the bottom of her shirt and compared. Monica watched too. As she looked again and again, a rush came over her. Her eyes were fixed on the photographs.