by: Rebecca Taylor

**Previously published by Twisted Endings in 2013**

He thought he knew how to live and take care of his family; everything had been going along so well. But he didn’t know what was going to happen, he couldn’t have known. He didn’t have a crystal ball or a secret connection to something divine. He was just a man, with a wife who had a baby on the way and now he was out of a job. He’d been working at the same place for over ten years and now suddenly all that he had put into being a good employee was being taken away. He had a month left of being the breadwinner for his family and by then his wife would be on maternity leave and he would have to collect unemployment. He should have thought ahead, he should have planned and had an emergency fund but he hadn’t. He had always figured there would be time for that, for now, thinking let us enjoy our money and have vacations and dinners out before the children came. Now, they were coming and not only would his child change his life forever but if he didn’t figure something out fast, they might not have a home for it to live in. He should have known never to take things for-granted, hadn’t his economics teacher taught him better, he should have known.

He picked up his lunchbox and his letter explaining that he was a good employee but that the company was downsizing and he was among those who would unfortunately no longer be employed at the River Ends Construction Company. He had worked assembling furniture. That was what his experience consisting of, cutting out the templates and putting them together based on the company’s specific blueprint designs. It wasn’t a job that other companies were screaming to find people for. It was Friday afternoon and he headed out the door towards his car. For a moment, he turned around and glanced back at the brick building, knowing that he would be back on Monday but that it wouldn’t be long before he would no longer be able to say that. He drove home, the half hour passing too quickly for him, knowing that he would have to tell his wife. He walked in the house and put his lunchbox on the counter. His wife was at the stove stirring something that smelled absolutely amazing. She was humming along to a tune on the radio. He watched her for a moment, savouring the happiness of watching her, giving her another minute to be oblivious to the changes that would soon affect their lifestyle.

“Hey, love,” he said placing his hands on her shoulders.

“Hello,” she answered putting the spoon down and turning to hug him. Then she took his hand and placed it on her stomach. “Your daughter wants to say hello too, she’s moving around like crazy this afternoon.”

“Then, it’s a girl,” he said.

“Yes, my ultrasound confirmed it this morning.”

“She’s going to be beautiful just like her mother,” he answered and then he paused, “we need to talk about something.”

Together they sat down on the sofa, hands intertwined. He took the letter out of his shirt pocket and handed it to her.

“We’re going to be okay,” she said after reading the letter, “I know that look and you’re worrying but that isn’t going to help anything.”

“But, love, the money, you and the baby, the car payments, the mortgage….”

“There’s unemployment and my maternity leave benefits. I know it won’t be our usual income but we also won’t be spending as much money on gas and car repairs. We can eat at home more, and if we have to, I’ll go back to work early because you’ll be here to look after our baby.”

“I don’t want you to have to give up your year off with our baby; I know how much you’ve been looking forward to this. You’ve pored over magazines and admired the baby’s clothing and all the accessories for the bedroom. Now that we know it’s going to be a girl, you have a plan for what you wanted.”

“I’ll scale back. The baby isn’t going to know or care if her clothing is high end or bargain brand. She’s going to be precious in whatever she wears. We probably should have learned to live more frugally before anyhow.”

The next three weeks went by quickly. Tony and Marcia Sutton came home from work each day to each other and they got into the habit of helping each other with the cooking. Tony learned that he actually liked cooking. He never had before. He’d had a change of heart, he decided, he needed to do it, to help his wife, so he might as well try and enjoy it. And he was doing it with his wife in the kitchen while they talked about their days and they traded baby name suggestions.

The day came when Marcia left the insurance office where she worked and went home on preventative leave until her daughter was born and then she would take pleasure in bonding with her daughter during her maternity leave. It was a week later when Tony left his job behind and went home to be with his wife. Despite the circumstances of him being home, Marcia appreciated his company and the extra help around the house. The time went by and finally they went to the hospital and Marcia delivered a beautiful baby girl that her parents named Maria Anne. While his wife and baby slept Tony went across the street with his parents to get a cup of coffee. They were running a promotion and a scratch ticket came with each cup of coffee. Tony’s mother scratched it and revealed the words “please try again.” Tony’s father was a bit luckier and earned himself “2 free cups of coffee.” Tony took a coin out of his wallet and scratched at the golden surface, “Winner of $8000.00” it read. Tony stared at the ticket in disbelief.

“It’s your lucky day, son,” said Tony’s father, “You’ve become a dad for the first time and you’ve got some money to help make all of your futures more secure.”

“I’m planning ahead,” said Tony, “I’m going to put this money in the bank. We never know what might happen when we need to have a contingency plan.”