500 Word Story: Baby Boom

I originally wrote this for a Short Short story competition in the summer of 2009, hosted by Vita.mn. While I didn’t place in the competition, I was pretty happy with the story. It’s not easy to write a complete story in 500 words or less! I mostly pulled it off, I think.  I probably won’t submit it anywhere else, due to the length and style; so here it is, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Baby Boom

Last night, Lauren found out she was pregnant when a thirty-two ton space rock exploded over the skies of Annapolis, MD. The blast was high enough in the atmosphere that it did not end civilization, or even the eastern seaboard. Instead, it shattered approximately five hundred and forty one windows, set off over three thousand car alarms, and caused a mass panic that resulted in the looting of two electronics warehouses and one late-night taquería.

In addition, the deafening crack startled Mrs. Lauren, newly betrothed to Mr. Steven Lauren, as the two honeymooners strolled across the red brick of Main Street. Mrs. Lauren, moments removed from having thrown herself to the ground and with ears still ringing, looked up in shock at her new husband as she felt the quick pressure of a five month old foot against the inside of her abdomen.

“Lauren? Lauren?” her husband asked, to the full extent of her name.

She nodded, and Mr. Lauren hurried her back to their hotel, unsure about the cause of the explosion and fearful for their safety. He sat hunched forward at the foot of the bed, staring at the television as reporters broke down the size of the space rock and the miniscule-but-not-impossible threat of further strikes, radiation fallout, and/or extra-terrestrial pathogenic contamination. Lauren Lauren sat with her back to the exquisitely carved teak headboard, and considered her slight weight gain and recently acquired appetite for chocolate shakes. She also considered her lack of noticeable nausea and, of course, her oddly regular menstrual cycle. The baby kicked again. She thought about the night she and Steven called off the wedding, when she sought solace in the arms of an old boyfriend. It was four months ago, or maybe five. She and Steven had reclaimed their love within weeks, and passionately so. She’d told him about the old friend, and though he was visibly hurt, he said it didn’t matter. That was six months ago, or perhaps five.

“Can you believe it?” Steven Lauren declared, watching the television. “Boy, I bet those Navy boys are scrambling now! We should go down to the pier!”

“Steve,” said Lauren Lauren. “I think I’m pregnant.”

Steven Lauren stared at her.

“What do you mean?”

“I felt it kicking. While we were out on the street.”

She brought his hand to her belly; miraculously, the baby kicked again.

“Did you do that?” Steven Lauren asked.

“No.”

“How is that possible? I thought you just got your period?”

“I don’t know. It’s possible, I guess.”

“How far along do you think it is?”

“Pretty far, I think. Four months, or six. Maybe five?”

She could see he was thinking, doing the math. He smiled at her, unconvincingly, and took her hand. Behind him, on the television, there was a graphic that showed the space rock hitting the earth.

“Well, that’s big news,” he said absently.