I am currently in the thick of manuscript revisions in advance of my trip to the Willamette Writers Conference next month. What follows here is the first two pages of the current revision. In the original draft, it was part of an eight page prologue that included lots of backstory; almost all of which I cut out. Here’s what I left in; it’s still titled “Prologue,” but a better title might be “How the Story Begins”
“Are you ready to be a daddy?” The words wake me out of a deep sleep. I blink my eyes and squint trying hard to focus without my glasses. Julia stands at the end of the bed, her smile a beacon cutting through the fog that shrouds my brain.
“Are you ready to be a daddy?”
My left hand feels the outline of my glasses on the nightstand. I slip them on and as my eyes adjust to the light they focus on her right hand: a pregnancy test stick.
My head spins in one direction while the room spins opposite. Do I want to be a daddy? Of course I do. Am I ready? No one is, but at this moment I feel about as unready as anyone possibly could. I am an only child, and all my relatives live thousands of miles away. I didn’t have younger siblings or cousins around me when I was growing up, so I have no experience with babies or young children. No one is as unready as I am.
It’s Thursday morning—June . . . what’s the date again? . . June 15th—and I am awake before my first sip of coffee.
“Are you sure?” I ask.
“It’s a plus. I guess so. I could try again Saturday, in case it’s a false positive.”
I know somehow down in the depths of my gut—though I won’t confirm it until later—that there is no such thing as a false positive. Call it “The One and Only Rule of Pregnancy Test Math:”
Minus — She’s probably not pregnant, but test again to be certain.
Plus — Time to decorate the nursery!
I don’t know this rule now. I don’t know anything about pregnancy and that’s what scares me. I thought I’d have more time to prepare. So far, we’ve taken our time with all the big decisions.
I met Julia while I was in grad school, but I didn’t propose until I finished my doctorate.
We waited a year after that to get married.
We planned to wait another year before starting a family, but then we wondered how long it might take. It could take six months, maybe a year, and we both started to get impatient
It didn’t take long. It didn’t take two months.
And now only one question remains, dawning in my mind as the stars fade into a brightening blue sky and the last wisps of fog dissolve before the rising sun.
Am I ready to be a daddy?
The next four-and-a-half years would test my readiness, my priorities, and my faith in ways I couldn’t begin to imagine. I hope I can share this story in-full with you soon, once A Smile for Anna finds a publisher. Until then, I plan to post more teasers from time to time and I hope to get more excerpts published in print.