"Well then! That day went by quickly, don't you think so, Jack?"
"I couldn't agree more, Mayor," he confirmed, granting the stout politician the recognition he frequently asked of his renowned Pumpkin King, that speaking in a subliminal sense.
Jack performed a singular clap to carry out clasping his hands together. Rubbing his rough palms together, acting extra antsy to return home. Not only was the repetitive whim resulting from a long-winded day of full-on work but, if he made a fast beeline, he might govern a scant chance of beating Sally back to their manor. Although be it a very slim one at that, there was still a middling gamble!
All because, as he'd knuckled down to proceed on with his important duties again—after his short 'lunch break' trip—a nagging uneasiness troubled him throughout the second half of the day's stretch.
Why did I leave the books so close to the front door?
If Sally more than likely acknowledged the tall stack underneath the unfamiliar sheet, what would she come to think? Surely she would slowly believe her husband was bonkers for his inflated overreaction and Jack, quite frankly, could not blame her one bit if it proved that way. Heavens, he really had to calm down about this whole pregnancy thing, it was something that just happened to befall onto them… But the verdict still remains—why had his overt effort in hiding the books been so puny?
"Farewell, Jack! See you again tomorrow then!" The Mayor bid him a hearty goodbye, unmindful to the skeleton man's emotional malaise. "We will meet by six at the latest?"
"Oh, yes. Goodbye," he dismissed. "Six sounds efficient." Jack weakly waved the Mayor off as they parted their separate ways as of this late evening. One waddling onwards while wearing a satisfied grin, while the other pursues in a developing speed walk, only one clip away from jogging.
If I'm lucky, I can hide the books in the bedroom– no! The library upstairs! Perhaps, if he randomly slipped the childcare reads sparsely across the bookshelves, they'd be obscured well enough to hide from Sally's sharp eyesight. Or, maybe instead, he should store them in some ancient closet or cabinet. Though, it'd definitely have to be a room all-long-but abandoned, where Sally wouldn't have the need to even cross its threshold. Just temporarily, until he feels comfortable sharing the collection with her. He will reveal it in the future, he'll make sure of it.
And so, subsequently arriving much sooner than expected, Jack rounded a spiked corner to near his house's front gates. Where the stone built pillars stood well above his head, giving a regal and grand entrance. But he swung the iron gates open without a second thought to the majestic architecture—an overly clamorous creak scratching rust clenched at the fastened joints, noisy from having been screwed in place without proper cleaning regularly for millennia. Fiddling with his chain of distinct keys for the right fit for the doorknob ahead as he hiked the uneven stairs reaching to the small porch. Then, stealing the bronze house key by pressing the cold object between his thumb and index finger, aims the piece directly into the keyhole. Jiggling the lock a tad and twisting to unlock the door, gaining entry to his long-held abode.
Jack's gaze immediately snapping to the doorside where earlier he positioned the stack of childcare books just in the corner, rightly beside the coat rack and umbrella holder. Swallowing a shuddery breath in seeing the blanket neatly removed and correctly folded on the floor, with the actual pile having part of its top height retained from the peak.
In a slowed and contrite motion, Jack pushed the door closed behind his person. Stuffing his keys inside a coat pocket and hanging his head low, shoulders almost hunching over. Readying himself for an evidently awkward and disconcerting interaction with his wife. So naturally, Jack was reluctant to take a few short steps to the entryway of the lounge room. Where he found Sally curled up on the couch with her head stuck in one of the many books he borrowed today.
She didn't notice the added presence at first, but when she did, Sally slammed the book shut on pure impulse—lucky to not have whammed her fingers flat—and gawked at him, not one particular emotion present across her demure features. Loosening her posture slightly after another uneasy moment rendered. "Wh—Where did you get these?"
"Get what?" Jack lamely chuckled. I have never seen those books before in my entire afterlife, mind dubiously stretching out the lie.
Sally set down the book someplace vacant beside her to mindfully wobble to him on her unsteady legs. Lacing her steel blue fingers to intertwine with his phalanges, subsiding her wavering balance as she leaned into him. Knowing he could manage holding a good portion of her weight when the need arises. "Jack…"
The skeleton went taut, bracing himself to speak. "Sally, I…"
Knock, knock, knock. What perfect timing. Screech! Appears the functioning doorbell pulley has been incidentally taken notice of. Ahem.
Jack averted his skull away from her beseeching eyes in order to reluctantly sidestep backwards to answer the door, detaching from her tender touch. And by this deed, permitting a cold shoulder to briefly avoid his chagrin. Although slightly agitated to do so, he continued to open the wooden door to reveal Igor, the local Mad Scientist's not-so-bright assistant. The bone-man purposely not displaying a welcoming demeanour, although the creature before him wasn't intelligent enough to take any notice of it.
Hence, marginally drooling, the hunchback shifted some weight rearward to slump into his heels in order to meet the Pumpkin King's enormous height. "Mistress order Igor to deliver this to King Jack," the brutely servant spoke in precarious growls, third-person perspective prevalent in his sloppy speech.
"Oh… thank you, Igor," Jack cringed, plucking the book from the dwarf-sized monster's outstretched arm. I told Jewel I'd drop by later sometime, he stooped.
Igor laughed a little mechanically, proud of this evident job well done before scooting down the steps again. Scurrying back off to the Laboratory just as fast as he'd come. Leaving Jack to momentarily peer at the book now in his possession—Fatherhood 101, the hardcover read—as he swivels to come face-to-face with Sally, likewise to previously. Well, the cat's fully out of the bag now.
"You got all of those books from the Doctor…?" Sally quaked, appearing additionally puzzled than anything else now, and rightly so by her prevailing position.
Jack wandered closer to her, discarding the book onto some convenient shelving at arms reach and suitable level. Preparing to figuratively vomit words out of his mouth, unable to become secretive with something like this anxiety induced reaction from his wife. "I borrowed the other books from the Town Library during a lunch break. Jewel happened to stumble across me and recommended that book to me," he gestured to the of medium-thickness page turner disposed of not a second ago.
Sally glanced back up to stare into his coal-black eye sockets, making a face suggesting her clear query. "Lunch break?"
"It's—uh—a long story," he responded simply.
The rag doll threw him another dubious look, provoking harder for him to explain. Kindling her wish from looks alone.
And so accordingly, with a heaved sigh, her husband cowered in and explained everything entirely. Involuntarily recounting the day's events for her attentive listening ears. Trying his best to mask any and every insecurity, but having a difficult time in doing so successfully in considering the topic hindered by what he did out of sheer panic from the news she broke to him a mere night ago!
"I'm sorry…" she tremored after his turgid explanation. Her reaction was unexpected, making him duly furrow his brows. "I… I should have—" she pressed before being cut off.
"Sally," her forever ardent and lovesick lover addressed her, utterly firm. "Do not apologize. You have done nothing wrong," he lifted his right hand to stroke her soft cheek. Trailing the back of a benign finger along her beautiful stitches, held there to tether her running scar.
She pressed the side of her face farther into his cupped hand, smiling weakly. Before gently grabbing his hand, wonkily advancing backward to lead him within the 'living' room. "Sit down and rest for a bit."
"You've lasted a full day of work and you need to relax," she carefully weighed down his elbows with regards to push him onto the couch. "I'll make us some tea," she clarified before withdrawing to the kitchen.
When she exited in a small hurry, Jack sighed under his breath. Idle in deciding to flick through the book she left in her wake, the pregnancy-centered hardcopy resting just on a velvet cushion beside him. The sentence-long blurb reading, "An informative guidebook to help you cope with the preparation and early caring stages of welcoming your new little bundle of joy!" And as he switched to the index, then realized just how vague his knowledge on this topic was up to this point. Flipping to the first page, reading the very first infernal line, the king felt so out of it already.
To start somewhere though, he promptly asked what's been mentioned as 'pivottable to know' advice straight up, smackbang there on page number one. "Um… Sally? How far along did the Doctor estimate you to be?" The book having said distinguishing this to be essential recognition.
He could hear Sally briefly stop pouring the newly brewed tea from behind the wall as she jumbled her words collectively. "I believe he said about four weeks," she voiced from the kitchen.
Jack conducted some ultrafast mental math, silently subtracting nine months from December by solely brain smarts alone. I must have become a little too excited after Valentine's Day, he mused. The lovey-dovyness floating about the Skellington couple never seemed to wear off so quickly after February. No, that wasn't true. Their shared passion towards one another never died out depending on something so insignificant as the date! Cupid's annual holiday just spiked at the lovemaking side of their romance, perhaps a tad extra than ordinary days. What, with rose petals strewn about the floors, scrumptious candies inducing regular sugary highs, and the frequent dances the lovers engaged in.
Well, admittedly, all of those activities weren't always foregion outside of that single month, especially their shared dances to be specific. Jack knew how Sally appreciated their waltzes, maybe that's why.
Jack finally smiled a genuine grin this time 'round. He'll be twitterpated for the rest of his days thanks to his delightful dolly, the bone man tittered.
Oh, including the case of Halloween being far away amidst the lovely season and not as crucial until the end of October deadline. Lifting some stress off of the Pumpkin King and Queen's shoulders until then. But, to get back to the forethought point, anyone could confirm this kid was certainly Jack's. Not that they'd ever need to make sure. The skeleton has made his love to Miss Sally as clear as each approaching day!
Mi cora. Jack nodded in satisfaction.
Randomly skimming through the book using careful fingertips. This book Sally had picked from the top was written by mortals in the 'real' world, judging by the pictures and unique terminology inside. Albeit, still useful in areas to salvage information from.
He remembers instances from his worldly and holiday travels, seeing an extra curve on—say, well—any of the neighbouring six world's female citizen before, being so lively and all. But it was hard to imagine Sally's little stomach with a fixed roundness of its own… Pictures of the two of them lazing in a blooming park, showering her face and belly with kisses. How cliche…and yet…
The skeleton shakes his head and continues waiting patiently amongst tense air for her imminent return. The rag doll soon returning to carry out a pair of filled teacups over to the coffee table in front of them, taking a seat on the couch beside him. Jack gave a polite "thank you" and that was all they said for under a minute, just sipping away at their drinks before anyone had the guts to speak up.
Sally toyed with stray strands of her hair flowing over her shoulder, being the first to spark a conversation. "I know neither of us has ever brought up the possibility of having a baby together before—at least, not seriously. But… are you excited, at least a little bit? I know it's unexpected and very sudden, but…" Sally exhaled, looking away from him now.
He blinked, eye sockets wide. "Um, it's not that I'm not… but… Oh, how perfectly splendid it shall be…" Jack unknowingly changed the subject, eyelids becoming half-lidded. "A little of you and a little of me blended into one."
She brought her gaze back to him, put a teensy bit more at ease. "You are then? …Excited to be a father, I mean?"
He took her small hands in his own to somewhat soothe her shyness. "How could I not?" The skeleton smiled softly, gently tilting her chin to meet his lips. Apparently, she was a little startled at this action at first but quickly sunk into the kiss. And, when he pulled away, his smile broadened. "My dearest, we're having a baby," he whispered into whereabouts her ear would be. The books were merely a MacGuffin for their sympathetic conversation, it seemed. But he still needed to release the overwhelming anxiety from his chest. "I'm just a little scared is all," he admitted. "Because I've obviously never had a child before…"
She softened. "I understand, that's how I'm feeling too."
"A—And how about physically wise, how have you been feeling?"
Sally wore a reassuring smile. "I'm alright, nothing I can't handle. I'm okay—really. I am glad we know where my symptoms are coming from now, though. And, you know, can find recommended treatments, if need be."
He cleared his throat. "Of course, precisely. I'm, uh, glad we talked about this," he squeezed her hands gently.