Sammy restarted the car and resumed driving. “I am luckier than most dragons. Some elders don’t let their children find a mate. They tell their children who they will marry and that’s that. My elder is not so unreasonable in comparison.”
They lapsed into silence as they drove past what seemed like three thousand acres of cornfields.
“Samer? Will you be okay during the wedding?”
“Yes.” He smiled at her.
Tulips and roses sprouted in his cup holder and ash tray.
“Because I will have you by my side.”
John’s thoughts drifted from Carolyn to Clarice to Carolyn’s twin sister, Olivia.
I could be a horrible person and ask Olivia to sit with me.
I could pretend that she is my wife, my Carrie. I wouldn’t take it too far. I wouldn’t try to kiss her, not even on the head. That would be wrong for so many reasons.
I’d just hold her hand and pretend. No harm done. Nothing wrong about that. I’d just be holding her hand and nothing else.
He remembered his conversation with Father Landover.
But it would be wrong. It would be easy to take the pretense too far, to want to take it too far. Besides, what would I do? She will have her husband with her. What would I do? Insist on her sitting next to me and tell him to sit in some other pew?
It would create strife between them and that is not what I want. If I were an awful enough person, maybe I would want it. Maybe I would want them to split up so I could maneuver into her life.
But that is not what I want.
I do not want to be that man. I don’t want to be a home wrecker. Even if Olivia didn’t have any children, I would still feel that way.
Barbara leaned forward and tapped his arm. “Are you okay? You’re being so quiet.”
“Are you okay? Are you feeling sick?”
“No, I’m fine. Just thinking about your mom.”
“We almost named you Joy, did you know that? Have I ever told you that?”
Barbara shook her head.
“You were our greatest joy, Barbara. Before you came along, she just couldn’t get pregnant. We tried everything we could think of and nothing. We even did a fertility test. The results were inconclusive, meaning that there really wasn’t a solid good reason why nothing was happening. Her doctor at that time recommended in vitro fertilization, but we decided against it. We wanted to do it the old fashioned way.”
“I don’t think you’ve ever told me this story before.”
“I don’t know why I haven’t. Anyway, she arranged to have a series of masses said at our church and we left it up to God. Of course, we did our part. Obviously. But we tried our best to not obsess so much about pregnancy tests and ovulation cycles. We just focused on being together and enjoying each other. I won’t say that it wasn’t in the back of our minds, because I know it was always in mine. Even though I knew better, I kept worrying that it was my fault. I never told her about my fear. I didn’t want to add on to the stress she was feeling about the whole situation.”
“So, what happened?”
He chuckled at the memory. “We decided to get away. We went to a—” He chuckled again. “—-couples only ranch for about five months. Guess what we found out two weeks into our stay?”
“Pregnant with me?”
“John?” Carolyn ran into the kitchen. “John! JOHN!”
He startled so hard he dropped his bowl of cereal. Milk and Oatliest Oatly O’s splattered the floor. “What? What’s wrong?”
Carolyn held up the pregnancy test. She was panting and trembling.
He hurried over to her. “What is it? What?”
She handed the strip to him. “Stork’s a-comin’, John!” She laughed and cried at the same time. “The stork will be coming.”
He looked at the strong pink line and back up at her. “Oh!” He embraced her. “Oh, Carrie! Oh, Carrie love!”
“Yeah.” He smiled. “She was pregnant with you. She loved you. You were her joy and delight. If she were still alive, she would be bursting with pride and happiness about you getting married.” He pulled into the church’s parking lot and parked the car. “Are you ready?”