Merryl made another cup of tea, adding an extra teaspoon of sugar. On second thought, she made one each for Kyle and herself. This was all a big shock to everyone, and despite modern medical thought, Merryl was a big believer in sugar for shock. And chocolate for depression. And cake for everything else. She brought the cups over to the table and placed one in front of Monica.
“So,” she said firmly, cutting through the sniffling, “did you do a test?”
Monica looked at her and shrugged.
“A pregnancy test, darling – did you do one?”
Monica shook her head.
“I didn’t want the chemist to tell -” she blew her nose loudly, “- to tell Mrs Knightley… she’s been so ni – i – ice to meeee…”
She dissolved into wailing again.
Merryl sighed and reined in her temper. The kid was scared and upset, even if she was dumb and a little too melodramatic. Besides, she’d been smart enough to head straight for home and tell them. Screaming at her would not help.
Kyle opened his mouth, only to be kicked firmly under the table.
“Darling,” Merryl said sweetly, “would you go to the all-night chemist and buy two pregnancy tests? They’re near the condoms. Buy the type you can pee on directly, not the type where you need a separate cup.”
Kyle’s face assumed an expression of exaggerated horror, and he clapped his hands over his ears.
“No more details! LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!!!” he yelled tunelessly, walking out of the room in the direction of the front door.
Merryl chuckled and shook her head – and caught a brief glimpse of a smile on Monica’s face before it was hidden in her arms again. She sat down beside her daughter and threw an arm around her shoulders.
“It will be alright, chickadee,” she said gently, “no matter what happens, we can get through it together, you know? It’s not the end of your life.”
Monica snuffled loudly.
“It feels like it!” she said indistinctly.
“I know,” Merryl said, and squeezed her shoulders, “but take it from me – it won’t be. Even if you are pregnant.”
“I am,” Monica said, raising her head, “I haven’t had my period for weeks!”
Merryl shook her head and smiled.
“Silly!” she chided, “just being upset like this can cause your period to disappear, love! That’s why when I was young, we used to call her Aunt Flo – like an old grouchy aunt who’s always turning up when you least want her around, and disappearing when you need to see her!”
Monica smiled faintly.
“So don’t panic!” said Merryl, and pushed her toward the lounge room. “Go! Watch TV! Lose yourself in a ridiculous soap!”
Kyle wandered into the kitchen, carrying a large, full plastic bag.
Merryl looked at him, raising an eyebrow.
“Too embarrassed to buy only a pregnancy test?”
Kyle blushed and grinned.
“Yup – but I still caught it,” he said,
“The checkout chick told me I was wasting my money, I’m definitely not preggers. Then she said I should just lay off the KFCC!” he looked offended, patting his (rather rounded) stomach.
“Monica!” she yelled, “Come out and pee on a stick, love!”
They sat together on the lounge, watching the pregnancy test intently. Kyle sat across the coffee table, muttering to himself about unhygienic conditions.
The control line remained stubbornly single.
“Mon, darling, ten minutes have passed – you’re in the clear!” Merryl cheered.
Monica cheered, clapping her hands above her head. She stopped abruptly, and frowned.
“Ummm, mum? There’s one other thing I forgot to mention…”
“A frog??? You turned the heir to Kingsley’s into a frog?”
Monica nodded, head hanging.
“Oh, darl – appropriate -” she stopped and snickered, “ – but he could be killed out there by himself! We’ve got to help him!”
“I – “
“Don’t want to face him?” Merryl asked, turning Monica to face her, “Darling, you have to – you’ve done a lot of mischief to the guy and you need to apologise. I know you’re hurting, and I know it will be hard – but I won’t let you out of this. It would only hurt you both more!”
Monica clenched her jaw and nodded sullenly.
“Come on, I’ve booked tickets – let’s get going! I’ll call Mrs Knightley and let her know to put out a search party for a frog on the grounds…”
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