Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Edition 8

Rumors flew about Jimmy and Lydia for two months.  No one really knew the truth.  They were hiding the fact that they were married pretty well.  Prom night came and Lydia was more nervous than usual.  She sat at the table with Stokes and Sara, his date from another school.
“So, what are you planning to do after high school’s out?” Sara asked Lydia.
Lydia wasn’t paying attention.  She had her head turned watching Jimmy laugh with a bunch of his football buddies.  She turned back around and tried to focus on the conversation.  “I’m sorry, what?”
“After school?  What are you going to do after school?”
Lydia ran her hand over her stomach. “Um, I dunno.  Probably go to community college and get some credits for journalism.”
“Community college?” Stokes asked.  “You’re smarter than that, Lydia.  Everybody knows that.”
Stokes was right, but Lydia didn’t want to admit it.  She had recieved scholarship offers for several schools, but she hadn’t answered any of the acceptance letters.  She looked down at her stomach.  There might be something else she was going to have to work at and it wasn’t academics.  She rested her hand on her stomach.  How was Jimmy going to react?  He’d been working nonstop for months.  He would get home from school, change his clothes, and be at the shop for hours on end.  Lydia tried to get a job, but Jimmy wouldn’t have it.  He told her that he could make the money on his own without her help.  Bills were piling up and the rent was due.  They barely talked to each other.  They hadn’t even slept together for a month.  That’s how she knew that something was wrong.  How would Jimmy take the news she was going to give him?  She couldn’t think about what he would do. She had to come up with an excuse for Stokes before he figured her out.
“I want to be around when Jimmy comes back.  That’s all.”
“Aww, that’s sweet.  When are you two getting married?” Sara asked.  “Nick told me about you two.”
Lydia pulled a face.  “Who’s Nick?”
“Me.  Duh!  Nick Stokes.  Lydia, are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.  I think I’m going to go find Jimmy.”  She got up quickly and blacked out briefly.  “Maybe not.  Uh, Stokes, can you get Jimmy to come over here.  I think I need to go home.”
“Yeah, sure.”  He looked over and saw Jimmy yucking it up some more with the stag football players.  “Jimmy! Come get your girl.”
Lydia rolled her eyes.  “Ugh!”
“Geez, Lydia.  Fine. Jimmy, your lady friend requests your presence at the table.”
Jimmy held up his hand as a sign to hold on a minute.
“Now!” Lydia prompted.  “I need you to come here now.”
Jimmy walked over with his head drooping like he was in trouble.  All the football players teased him on his way to the table.
“What, Lyddie?”  His voice sounded annoyed. He looked up and her face was pale.  That look on her face changed his tone quickly.  He knelt down in a catcher’s squat in front of her.  “Are you okay?”
“I don’t think so.”
“What’s wrong, baby?”
Jimmy always called her baby, but this time the word made an uncomfortable knot in her stomach.  She couldn’t get used to the  fact that they might be parents soon. Lydia looked around.  She didn’t want to tell him here.  There were too many people around.  She leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “Do you have the keys to the hotel room?”
Jimmy smiled.  “Back pocket, baby.  You wanna go now?”
Lydia nodded.  Jimmy took her hand and helped her up.  “See you later, guys.”  He walked her out of the ballroom and into the hotel lobby.  They stood at the elevator trying to avoid any high school kids that knew them.  They were successful and ended up getting on the elevator by themselves.  When the doors opened, they walked to the end of the hall.  Jimmy slipped the key in the door and opened it to reveal the honeymoon suite.
“Jimmy, how much did you spend on this?” Lydia asked concerned.
“I’ve been doing some extra work at the repair shop.  Sam fronted me some money.”
Lydia walked over and sat on the king size bed.  She melted into the soft blankets.  Jimmy walked over to her and kissed her.  She pulled  back.
“Jimmy, that’s not why I wanted to come up here.”
“C’mon, baby.  It’s not every day I get to live out every high school senior’s fantasy of getting a girl in a hotel room.”
Lydia’s eyes glared at her secret husband.  “Don’t talk like that, Jimmy.  You know I don’t like that.”
Jimmy ran his hands up her arms.  “Baby, what’s wrong. You only get defensive when something’s wrong.”
“I was going to wait until after we had graduation and the wedding.”
“Wait on what?”
“I think-“ She blew out a deep breath and tried to compose her thoughts.  She didn’t have any idea how Jimmy was going to take the news she was about to reveal.  She’d seen him angry and she didn’t want to see that again for a long time.  Never would be more like it.  He did stupid things when he was angry, like enlist in the Army.  How was he going to take this news?
  She’d also seen him extemely happy.  She loved when he smiled and his green eyes danced.  But, this news was going to floor him.
“What, Lyddie.  Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I think I’m pregnant,” she blurted out.
“Good Lord, Lyddie.  That’s what this is all about?  Do you know for sure?”
Lydia shook her head.  “I don’t think I want to know, yet, Jimmy.  I had plans and I’m not quite ready to let them go.”
“Okay, okay.  I get it.  When will you find out?”
“Before you go.  I promise.  Okay.  I just, I’m not sure.  I keep throwing up and I think it’s nerves, but I’m not sure.  It might be because of graduation or the wedding.  I just don’t know.”
“You’re not on anything are you? Nothing that could hurt the baby if you are y’know?”
 “Absolutely not.”
“Any other signs?”
“Just a big one.  Something that seems to be having a very late arrival.”  She leaned over so her elbows rested on her knees.
Jimmy scrunched up his face.  He was quiet for a moment and then the realization played on his face.  “Oh.” He grinned.  “You’re so cute when you try not to be gross around me.”
“Well, it’s gross, Jimmy, okay.  You try bleeding every month for 5-7 days-“
Jimmy covered his ears like he was a five year old trying not to listen to his parents tell him he was in trouble.  “That’s plenty of that, Mrs. Baker-Brown.  Continue trying to be modest.  I like that better.”
“You would, wouldn’t you?  I hope you’re happy that you got to deflower me.”
“King of the world, baby.”  His eyes danced.  “Now, what were we doing before we started having a super serious conversation?”
“I think you were trying to get in my pants,” Lydia remarked.
“Well, seeing as you don’t have any on and that dress zips all the way down the back, I think I might just be able to forgo those details.”
“Jimmy, what if-“
Jimmy pressed his finger against her lips.  “I love you, baby.  All of you.  Nothing is going to stop me from loving you.”
“Maybe we should go back downstairs.  You haven’t danced with me, yet.”
“We can dance right here.”  He walked over to the dresser and clicked a few buttons on the remote.  Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton filled the room.
“Jimmy, I want to go downstairs.  Where people are.”
“Lydia, I’m not dancing in front of them.”  He lifted her off the bed.  “Besides, this is much more sexy, don’t you think.”  He danced around the room with her and sang softly in her ear.  His hand ran up and down her back stopping in variously places that made her skin tingle.  Lydia smiled.  “I didn’t know you could sing and dance.”
“Family secret.  No one knows, okay. No one.  Not even Stokes.”
“Secret’s safe with me.” Lydia leaned on Jimmy’s chest and closed her eyes.  Everything was going to be okay.

Graduation came and went.  Jimmy and Lydia spent the next day at their wedding.  All the guests showed up at the church and Lydia barely kept her composure as it was.  Jimmy had written his own vows and themed them around the Army.  The words were the sweetest Lydia had ever heard.  He wouldn’t let her go more than two steps away from her that day.  Now, it was two weeks later and Jimmy and Lydia were barely making it in the same room with each other.  In a short while, Jimmy would get on the bus that took him to basic training.
Jimmy shoved his gear into his duffle bag.  The bus was leaving in an hour.  Lydia still wouldn’t tell him anything.  She sat on the edge of the bed tracing the seam of the comforter.
“Well?” he bent down so he surrounded her.
“Not yet.”
“Good news or bad news, baby.  Just tell me.”
“I don’t know what you think would be good news.”
“That you’re okay.  That would be good news.  I can’t leave you like this.  You have to tell me what’s going on in that head of yours.”  He put his hand on her stomach.  “In that body of yours.  Tell me, baby.  It’ll be okay.  I’ll make it be okay.  I promise.”
“Don’t do that, Jimmy.  It’s not going to be okay. You’re leaving!  You’re leaving and you might not be coming back.  They might send you straight off to war.  I don’t want that.  I never wanted that.  Stupid Stokes and his stupid ideas!”  Lydia ran into the bathroom.  Jimmy sat down on the bed where Lydia was.  He dropped his head in his hands.  How could he be so stupid?  He signed those papers in moments of anger.  He wanted to protect his country, the  girl he loved, his family.  Where did that leave him?  The girl he loved hated his decision, his family was falling apart, and his best friend was mostly to blame.  He should never have listened to Stokes.  Look where it got him.  He stood up and knocked on the door of the bathroom.
“Lyddie, come out here, baby.  Let’s talk.”
“I can’t, Jimmy.”
“Lyddie, open the door.”
“C’mon, Lyddie.  I need to know before I go.  What should I expect when I get home in 12 weeks?”
“You don’t know if you’re coming home in 12 weeks.  I’m not telling you anything.”
“Dang it, Lyddie.  Open the door. We need to talk.”
“I don’t want to talk to you!” Lydia screamed.
“Not an option, Lydia Marie.”  Jimmy turned the knob.  She hadn’t locked it.  He opened the door and the overpowering smell of vomit filled the air.
“How many times, Lyddie?  How many times have you thrown up today?”  He grabbed a washcloth from the cabinet and ran it under some cold water.  He handed it to Lydia and she wiped off her clammy face.
“Twice, but it’s still early.”
“You can’t keep doing this.  I know you’re scared.  I know you don’t want me to go.  But, I have to.  I signed papers.  I could get arrested if I don’t show up.”
“Jimmy, that’s not the reason I’ve been throwing up.”
Jimmy’s eyes danced.  A smile broadened his face.  “Tell me, Lyddie.  Please, baby.  Tell me why.”
“We’re going to have a baby,” Lydia informed her husband.
Jimmy picked her up off the floor and spun her around.  “That’s great!  That’s incredible!  We’re having a baby!”
“Jimmy, put me down.  I’ve already  thrown up twice all ready.  I don’t want to make it a third time.”
“Sorry, sorry.”  He put her down.  “I have to tell somebody.”  He picked up the phone, but Lydia put her hand over the keypad.
“Don’t, please.  I don’t want anyone to know, yet.”
“Why?  It’s good news.”
Lydia couldn’t look at her husband.  “Because, they’ll just tell us we made a stupid mistake.  We don’t have any money, you won’t let me work, and now your leaving.  I’m sorry.”
Jimmy hooked his finger under her chin and tilted her head up.  “Baby, you don’t worry about money.  We have it, okay?  I’ll take care of whatever you need.  We didn’t make a stupid mistake.  We’re married and babies come along.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.  All right?  Don’t let anyone tell you any different.  If they do tell you any different, they can answer to me.”  Jimmy raised an eyebrow.  “And I don’t take too kindly to  people saying bad things about my wife.”
“Jimmy, I’m just not ready to tell anyone.”
Jimmy rubbed his forehead and put the phone down.  “Lydia, somebody has to know besides me.  I’m going to be gone.”
“Don’t remind me.  I know.  You’re leaving and no one is going to be around.  No one that cares.  I have two friends in this town.  You and Stokes.  That’s it.  Nobody cares. Okay?  Nobody wants to be friends with the outsider.  The girl that’s too pretty.  The girl that stole their precious QB1 away.  Do you see the way people look at me, Jimmy?  Have you ever watched them stare me down and snarl their lips at me?  I didn’t do anything wrong, Jimmy!  I didn’t do anything and they hate me!”
“That’s not true, Lyddie.  That’s not true at all.  They just don’t know you.”
“They don’t want to know me.  I’m too pretty, too smart, too attached to you.”
“We’re having a  baby together.  You have to be attached to me.”
Lydia looked into her husband’s green eyes.  She wanted to say a million things, but she only had thirty minutes to say them so she blurted out the one thing that seemed to sum up all her feelings.  “Don’t go, Jimmy.  Please.  Stay with me.  I need you.  Don’t go.”  Tears spilled from her eyes.
“Hormones must be working overtime today.”
Lydia glared at Jimmy.  “It’s not hormones.  It’s the truth.  I never wanted you to leave me.  And now, you’re not just leaving me, you’re leaving us.  I just don’t want-“  Lydia stopped before she said anything else.
“What, baby?”  He wiped the tears trailing down her face.  “I don’t have much time left.  Don’t keep my guessing.”
“That’s a cop out, Lyddie.  You know that.  You tell me what’s going on in that pretty head of yours.”
“I’m scared, okay?  I’m scared that if you go, that this pregnancy isn’t going to happen.  This is why Mama ended up having so many miscarriages.  She stressed out too much.  You think Daddy being MIA and not telling me is the only reason they fight?  It’s not.  He wanted more kids, Jimmy.  What if I’m wired just like my mama?  Will you still come back?”
Jimmy wrapped his wife in his arms and sat down on the bed with her.  “Lyddie, that’s not going to happen, okay?  I love you.  If something happens, then it wasn’t in our plans to have a baby right now.  I can accept that.  But, you need to stop worrying about me.  Okay?  I’ll be fine.”  He kissed the top of her head.
“Boy or girl?” Lydia asked.
“Whatever makes you happy, Lyddie.  That’s all I want.  Whatever makes you happy.”  He pushed the loose hair away from her forehead and tucked it behind her ear.  Lydia smiled. It was the one gesture that she defined him with her.  He could laugh and joke with his friends, be mad at his parents, but when he was with her, he let all defenses down and let Lydia have his heart.
That one gesture was the way to her heart.  She felt safe, protected, loved when Jimmy would touch her face like that. 
What was she going to do when he left?

Jimmy held Lydia’s hand the entire way to the bus station and even while sitting at the depot.  His mom showed up and so did Lydia’s parents.
“Where’s dad?”  Jimmy looked up at his mom waiting for an answer.
“He’s not coming.”
“Why not?”
“He checked into the VA again. Not outpatient this time. Something’s wrong, Jimmy.  Something’s very wrong.”
Jimmy ran his fingers through his hair.  “My gosh, he can’t even think about his own son, can he?  I’m leaving, mom.  I’m leaving and he doesn’t even have the balls to show up and tell me goodbye.”
“Jimmy Alexander Brown, you don’t talk about him like that.  He is your father and you know better.”
“He did a lousy job, Mom.”
“Jimmy, don’t start.”
Lydia squeezed Jimmy’s hand.  He looked at her and she shook her head at him.  “Fine, for Lyddie’s sake, I’ll be quiet.  She doesn’t need anymore stress right now anyway.”  He leaned into Lydia and put a protective hand over her stomach.
Lt. Baker looked at Lydia’s face.  She wasn’t quite smiling, but she wasn’t frowning either.  “Sweetheart, is there something you want to tell us?”
“No, Daddy, I’m fine.”  She took Jimmy’s hand away from her stomach and scratched her nose.
“You’re lying.  You always scratch your nose when you’re lying.”
“He was interrogation, wasn’t he?”  Jimmy asked. 
“Daddy, I don’t want to talk about it here.”
“Then, where?” Michelle asked.  She looked at her watch.  “Jimmy’s bus will be here in ten minutes.  I’m sure he wants to be here when you tell all of us you two are going to have a baby.”  Lydia looked startled.  She remembered her mama had said something at the wedding.  The dress she wore fit perfectly when they bought it, but it barely zipped up all the way the day of the wedding.  Michelle had been quiet, but Lydia knew that her mama picked up on small things.  Lydia tried to joke that she was just eating too much like she usually did when she was nervous.  She knew that her mama didn’t believer her by the look in her eyes.  Now, Lydia knew that her mama knew everything.
Anita jumped up and shook her finger at Lydia.  “I knew it. I knew that’s the reason you got married.  You trapped him, you little hussy.  You got him the only way you knew how.  You tramp.”
Jimmy stood up and put his balled up fists on his hips.  “That’s my wife you’re talking about, Mom,” he said through tight lips.
“That’s my daughter you’re talking about, Mrs. Brown.  She was taught better.  She knows better.” Lt. Baker added.  He looked at Lydia with a look of confusion.  He wasn’t accusing her of getting pregnant before they got married, but his eyes looked concerned.  He’d seen the way Jimmy and Lydia never kept their hands to themselves.  He always made sure the porch light flipped on at ten o’clock.  He didn’t want his daughter to be the girl everyone talked about.  Not in this town, and not in the towns before.  His eyes landed on Lydia and she half smiled.  Her face was filled with anger from the comment her mother-in-law made.  Lt. Baker gave a sigh of relief.  He was right.  What was his daughter going to say?
“I didn’t do anything to trap him.  I wasn’t-we didn’t.  Why do I have to explain myself to you, Mrs. Brown?  Can’t you be happy for us?  Your son and I are having your first grandchild.”
“Say  you’re sorry, mom,” Jimmy muttered.
“Jimmy, why didn’t you just tell the truth?”
Jimmy threw his fist at the post of the bus depot.  “Dang it, mom.  I did.  We did things in order, all right?  We got married, now we’re having a baby.  She’s only been pregnant two months-a honeymoon baby.  I’d like you to apologize to Lyddie before I go, please.”
“What’s there to apologize for?  I didn’t do anything to hurt her.”
Jimmy’s eyes grew wide.  “I can’t believe this!  Yes, you did! Lyddie’s always been a good girl.  She’s never done anything to deserve the reputation and the rumors that fly around about her.  I don’t care if you mean it, just say you’re sorry.  She deserves at least that from you.  It’s the least you can do for me.”
Anita shifted uncomfortably.  She stared at Jimmy and then looked at Lydia.  Lydia kept her head down and wouldn’t look at anyone.  She kept making circles on the pavement with her toes.  She kept her head down because she was crying and didn’t want everyone to see her like this.   She needed to be happy.  She needed to be strong.  Jimmy was leaving.  She couldn’t let him see her like this.
“If she’d look me in the eye and tell me the truth, I’d be happy to tell her I’m sorry.”
Jimmy threw his hands in the air.  “Just forget it.  I don’t have time for this.  She’s not feeling good and she doesn’t need your abuse.”  He looked at the wall on the station clock.  “Shouldn’t Stokes be here by now?  We’ve got five minutes.”  He knelt down in front of Lydia and put his hand on her knees.  “Lyddie, are you okay, baby?”
Lydia shook her head.
“I’m sorry, baby.  I’m sorry she’s being so mean.  You don’t deserve that.  Just pretend she’s not even here.”  He looked up at his mom who had crossed her arms and pursed her lips together.  “Because, I’m going to.”
“Jimmy, don’t do that.  Don’t make her mad before you leave.”  Lydia still wouldn’t look up.
“I didn’t make her mad, baby.  My dad did.  She’s taking it out on you.”  Jimmy tipped up her chin and saw the tears again.  “Oh, Lyddie, please don’t do this to me.  Don’t let me see this face before I leave.  I can’t take that face.  I can’t take those tears again.”  He pushed her hair away from her face.  Not just the loose bangs, but every hair that fell that obscured her pretty face.  “Be happy, baby.  Smile.”  He leaned in closer to her so no one could hear and sang in her ear.
It only took a few seconds for her to smile again.
Jimmy kissed her sweetly and stood up.  Stokes came running from the parking lot.
“I thought you bailed out on me, man,” Jimmy called out.
“Sorry, Brown.  Sob fest from my aunt.  Y’know, the usual: don’t you dare do what your daddy did.  That crap.  She wouldn’t let go of me.  I was wrapped up in a hug for probably 20 minutes.”
Lydia stood up and narrowed her eyes at Stokes.  “You make sure he’s in one piece, Stokes.  You make sure he gets back and you watch his back.  Don’t you dare leave anywhere without him.  Don’t you dare.”  She poked Stokes in the chest with each word.
“Yes, ma’am,” Stokes replied after a mock salute. “A little cranky today, aren’t we Mrs. Baker-Brown.”
“Mood swings.  That happens when you’re having a baby,”  Jimmy replied with a smile on his face.
“No way!”
Stokes picked Lydia up and swung her around in a hug.  “Congratulations.”
He went over and high fived Jimmy.  “What’ve got, some sort of Olympian swimmers?”
“It doesn’t take much, when you’re wife is as pretty as Lyddie is.”
“Oh, cut the romantic stuff.  We gotta go.”  Stokes pointed to the bus pulling up in front of the depot.
“Bye, Lyddie.  I’ll see you soon.”
Lydia grabbed his face and kissed him.  She wouldn’t let go.  She didn’t want to let go.  Finally, Jimmy pulled away with a smile on his face.  “You kiss me like that again, I might have to take you into a closet and finish what you started, girl.”
Lydia blushed.  “Jimmy!”
Jimmy’s eyes danced when he looked at Lydia.  “There it is.  There’s the smile I’ve been waiting to see.  Now, I can go.  I love you, baby.”  He kissed his fingers and put them on her stomach.  “And that baby, too.  Whoever he is.”
“Or she.”
“Or she.”
“You want a boy, don’t you?”
“I want whatever makes you happy, Lyddie.  I told you that.  I have to go, baby.”  He turned and walked toward the steps.
“I love you,” Lydia could barely get the words louder than a whisper.
He pivoted on his heel and turned around. “Always and forever, Lyddie.”  He winked and hopped on the bus.
Lydia stood staring at the bus as it loaded.  It was filled with guys Jimmy’s age.  Guys that had seen the terrible attacks of September 11th and wanted to do something about it.  Her eyes never stopped watering even though she had stopped crying.  Her mom came up beside her and put her arm around her shoulder.
“Sweetheart, don’t let it get to you.  You’ve got somebody else to think about now.”
“I know, Mama.”
“You be careful and you don’t do anything to strain yourself.  You don’t worry about Jimmy.  He’ll be safe.  It’s just training.  Okay?”
Lydia nodded.
Michelle took her hand and pulled Lydia’s face toward her.  “Promise me.  Promise me that you won’t do anything that could cause any problems.  Don’t be like me.  All right?  Don’t let the stress of Jimmy being gone cause anything to go wrong.”
“Mama, you didn’t do it. Daddy left.”
“Sweetheart, it was all me.  I did so many things wrong when your dad was gone.  Don’t be like me, Lydia.  You be careful.  I don’t want anything to happen to my grandbaby.”
Lydia strained her neck and looked around for Lt. Baker.  “Where’s Daddy?”
“He went back to the truck.  I told him I needed to talk to you about girl stuff.”
“Don’t send him away like that.”
“I didn’t want him to hear what I had to say.  I knew it would hurt him.”
“It hurts me too, Mama.  Didn’t you ever think that I wanted a brother or a sister and I never got one?  Did you ever once think how I felt being the only child?  It’s like being the only survivor of a fatal car accident.  How come I survived?  How come I’m the only one that was able to make it through the rotten things you did to your body?  Why couldn’t you just relax! It’s not fair!”
“Lydia, calm down.”  Lydia’s voice had rose with each question.  She wasn’t crying, but Michelle knew her daughter enough to know she wanted to cry.  “I’m sorry, sweetie.  You never talk about it.”
Lydia pointed to herself.  “How come it was me, Mama?”
Michelle rubbed her forehead.  “I don’t,  I don’t know.”
“Sometimes, I’d spend nights locked in my room when you and Daddy were fighting.  And it wasn’t because I survived or that I didn’t want to hear you two screaming at each other.  It was because-“ Lydia swallowed her tears.  She wasn’t going to cry.  She was too mad to cry.  “Because of the way Daddy looked at me because I was a girl.  He never said it, but I could tell.”
“Lydia, that’s not true.  Your daddy loves you.”
Lydia shook her head.  “Not as much as if I were a boy.  I’ve seen him get quiet when he’s at a football game.  All the other dads are bragging about their sons out on the field, but not Daddy.  He doesn’t even tell them I’m his daughter sometimes.  He’s jealous.”
Michelle put her hand on Lydia’s shoulder.  “Sweetheart, that’s not true.”
“And I keep thinking that if I were a boy, then-“ Lydia took a deep breath.
“What, Lydia?”
“Then what happened to me with Brett wouldn’t have happened.  Daddy’s disappointed with me.  Did you see the way he looked at me when you said that I was having a baby?  This never would have happened if I was a boy.  That’s why he walked away.  He couldn’t take it anymore and didn’t want me to see how disappointed he was with me.”
“Lydia, your daddy is not the least bit disappointed with you.  You’re his little girl. He’d walk through fire for you.  Sometimes, I think he’d leave me behind and rescue you first. He’s not disappointed.”
Lydia wasn’t listening to her mama.  She looked over her mom’s shoulder to try to spot where her daddy had walked off.  Then, she continued.  “And I don’t want to disappoint Jimmy, either.  He wants a big family and I want to give it to him, but I don’t-“  She stopped and looked at the ground before she stared into the eyes of her Mama.  The same eyes she saw in the mirror everyday.  It was eerie how they looked so much alike.  “I don’t want to be like you, Mama.”
“Lydia, you’re not me. You won’t make the same mistakes I did.  I won’t let you, baby girl.  You are going to have this baby if it kills me.”
“I don’t want to talk to you.  You’re just making it worse.”  Lydia turned and ran towards the parking lot.
“Lydia, slow down!Lydia!” Michelle ran after Lydia trying to catch up with her. “Danny stop her!” 
Lt. Baker hadn’t quite made it to his truck.  He turned and Lydia ran into him.  She burrowed herself in his body and he wrapped his arms around his daughter.  “What, baby girl?  What’s wrong?”
“Jimmy’s gone, Daddy.  I’m pregnant and alone and I’m scared, Daddy.”
Lt. Baker kissed the top of her head.  “Sweetheart, everything’s going to be okay.”
“How do you know that?” Lydia asked.
“Because you’ve still got your daddy here.  That’s why.”
“Thank you for not going.”
“Anything for my favorite girl.”
“What about mama?”
Michelle had walked up and put her hand on Lydia’s back rubbing it for comfort.
“Yeah, I like her, too.”  He winked at Michelle and she smiled.
Lt. Baker grabbed  Lydia’s shoulders and pulled her away from him so he could see her face.  “You be careful, sweetie.  Jimmy’s coming back.  You call us if you need anything.  Don’t do anything that might hurt you or the baby.”  He raised his eyebrow in true dad form.  “Understand?”
Lydia sniffed and nodded.
“Twelve weeks, baby girl.  You just have to tough it out for 12 weeks.  Write to him, send him pictures. Tell him everything that’s going on.”  He peeked over Lydia’s head and kept his eyes on his wife.  “It’ll hurt worse if you don’t tell him what’s going on.”
“Daddy, don’t start a fight here, please.  That’s the last thing I need.”
“I’m sorry, sweetheart, I just need you to know, okay?  And I need to tell your mama that I’m sorry.”  He let go of Lydia and walked over to Michelle and grabbed her hands.  “Honey, I just saw from the outside what it looked like when I left.   I know it was just for training, but soon it’s going to be deployment.”
“Don’t say that,” Lydia interjected.
Lt. Baker didn’t acknowledge Lydia.  “I’m sorry, Shelly.  I should have never put you through that.”
“It’s okay,” Michelle whispered. She wouldn’t look Lt. Baker in the eyes.
He shook his head.  “No, it’s not okay.  I blamed you for a lot of things and I was too blind to see what was really going on.  The miscarriages, the sadness.  It wasn’t your fault, honey.  I don’t know what else to say but sorry.”
“You were taking care of me and Lydia.  It’s not your fault.”
“Okay, you two, you’ve both established that it’s each others fault.  Just kiss and make up all ready.  Sheesh!”
Michelle leaned in and kissed her husband.  He framed her face with his hands and wouldn’t let her pull away. “We might have to go into that closet Jimmy was talking about,” Lt. Baker quipped.
“Oh my word!” Lydia exclaimed.  “Even when he’s not here, he still makes me blush.”
“That’s good, sweetheart.  Do you need a ride home?”
“No, I’ve got Jimmy’s truck.”
“All right then.  Let’s go, Shelly.”Lt. Baker hooked his arm around Michelle’s waist and looked at Lydia with a grin on her face.
“What?” Lydia asked.  “Daddy, you’re making funny faces at me and I don’t like it.”
“I’m just trying to figure out how to get some words to come out of my mouth.  I’ve been a Marine for so long that all I can think of to say to you is Semper Fi or Hoo-Rah and Jimmy’s Army.”
“You know what to say, Daddy.  You just can’t do it, can you?”
“Let me help you.”   Lydia went over to her dad and smooshed his lips together to form the words as she said them.. “Hoo-ah. Army strong”
“Okay, sweetheart, thanks.  That’s good.”  He shook his head and rubbed his mouth.  “I think I’m going to go have to wash my mouth out with soap.”
“Smart alec.”  Lydia grinned wide.  She knew her dad hated to see her hurt or sad.  He was just trying to ease her pain.  She didn’t mind at all.  She’d have to turn to her daddy for a few months if she needed something and that didn’t seem to be hard at all.  It was the waiting on Jimmy to  come back that bothered her.
Lydia looked at her watch.  Only 84 more days to go.