Things One Overhears

Tom Wilson

My daughter was a senior in college when the following events took place. She is our only child and I have to admit unabashedly she is, as the saying goes, the apple of her father’s eye. She was studying premed; and because of the rigors of such studies, I had told at the outset she did not have to worry about expenses. I said all she had to do, no mean task I acknowledged, was to concentrate on her studies and achieve her dream of becoming a medical doctor so that she could help people in a real and meaningful way. I wanted her to be whatever she wanted to be and I was willing to help in any way I could.

I should not be saying I, for her mother shared each and every one of my hopes and dreams for our daughter and joined with me in the commitment to pay her way for what she so profoundly desired and was focused on achieving.

It was no small commitment as you may well imagine. We both had to take second jobs to make ends met as well as met all the considerable expenses of the prestigious university 500 miles from our town that she chose to attend.

She was home for semester break and had “renewed” her friendship with a high school sweetheart, a circumstance that caused some minor consternation in her mother and me. We had a little talk, the three of us, and were assured it was “no big deal … everything was still on track … not to worry.” In fact we learned this was not a renewal after all, but rather they had been seeing each other intermittently ever since high school. We were assured “everything was cool.”

After she left to meet her old beau and say goodbye for she was to return to the university the next day, her mother and I had a good long talk. We agreed we were both being a couple of old fuddy duddies. She was a senior about to graduate with highest honors from a major, prestigious university. She had even taken extra course work and elected courses in creative writing, which I thought was in homage to me since I was a high school English teacher and taught a class in writing. We allayed all our misgivings and put our minds at ease. We agreed to relax, enjoy the rest of the day.

I had a book that I had been intending to read for months, so I ensconced myself in a most comfortable chair in my office and began to read. The office is located adjacent to our front door; owing to the unseasonably warm day, I had the windows open which inadvertently provided access to conversations held at the front door. A happenstance the importance of which will be revealed momentarily. I was well into chapter two when my daughter returned. Her friend accompanied her to the front door where they began their farewell. I felt uncomfortable being privy to their conversation and made an effort not to listen with some success, but decided to move away when I heard what I could not ignore.

“Good God, I’m pregnant,” said my daughter somewhat dramatically. This was followed by some words I could not hear. Then her friend began congratulating her in the most jolly of terms. Both of them seemed happy with the news and content in their situation. They continued talking as though it had never been said. I could listen to no more. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Would this not derail all her plans, our plans? What of our sacrifice? What of all her hard word? Why were they so casual about such alarming news? A million questions swirled in and out of my head. No answers, there were only questions. Cloaked in a shroud of despair, I went in search of her mother. We had to talk, immediately; then the three of us had to talk, immediately. As fortune would have it, a chance encounter with my daughter interrupted my search.

She gaily intoned “Daddy, what’s the matter you look as though you’ve seen the proverbial ghost? Where’s Mom, I have to ask her a question?”

“Question,” indeed. I thought. ”Young lady, we have to talk,” I said in my sternest tone.

“Huh,” was all my honor student could muster.

“I overheard your pronouncement at the front door. I’m sorry it couldn’t be helped, I just heard and, and, and, …,” I trailed off.

After a few moments of thought she said, “Oh Daddy, you think I’m pregnant. This will make a great memory someday, maybe today, after I explain. I was telling Bob about my latest creative writing effort. I was going to share it with you and mom tonight at supper, sort of a going away present. The assignment was to write a short story in as few words as possible, in other words be concise. This professor is a real stickler for the concise. Equally important, the story must contain each of the three following elements:

Religion,

Sexuality and

Mystery.

Mine was the only one that got an A+”

“Well what was it,” I asked sheepishly in a most muddled state of mind.

“Good God, I’m pregnant; I wonder who did it?”

The End

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