...and this is why we can't afford to have more babies

Submitted into Contest #19 in response to: Write a short story about someone watching a convincing infomercial. ... view prompt



She reached for her phone… as if it mattered what time it was. 

Her hand touching everything on her bedside table except that blasted phone.  

Where in the hell was the damned phone and why in the hell had she decided her alarm clock was no longer necessary… there was a time she need only open one eye and glance at the time displayed in that garish red, disjointed, digital font.  

But not now.

Now she had to blindly search for her phone and bring it to life just to know the time. Again… not that it mattered.

She finally found it nestled between her childhood stuffed animal and the Grinch finger puppet. As she brought the phone to her she sighed with irritation and thought, “Yeah… clearly it was the alarm clock that was overwhelming this space…”



How is he still asleep? Another irritation-laced sigh as she dropped her phone on her still swollen belly and used her left hand to not-so-gently nudge ol’ Rip Van Winkle next to her - 3 times. By the third time it was less a nudge and more an all out shove.

“Huh? What?”

“How do you not hear her screaming? It’s your turn to get up.”

He already had his pants on.  

Wind pants. 


She rolled over and fell back to sleep to the sound of him swishing over to the bassinet.

She had no idea when he came back to bed. Having a newborn in the house made it difficult to worry about anybody else but you and that little ball of neediness.

The baby was napping in her swing when he came downstairs… swishing.

“Do you not have anything QUIET that you can wear?”

He headed straight for the coffee pot and shot over his shoulder, “I’ll shut my clothes up when you stifle your mouth.”

Her laugh was deep and genuine. Paul didn’t often snip at her; he was kind to a fault and his devotion to her happiness was paramount, so more often than not, when he did give it back to her - she laughed.

And then he laughed - but not until he was certain it was safe.

As Shelly cleared a space next to her on the couch she sheepishly said, “sorry for shoving you so hard last night. I just can’t even believe you don’t hear her screaming…”

“Aw no, I feel bad that I don’t just wake up.”

She leaned into him, giving into the sheer exhaustion of having a 3-week old.

He rested his face in her hair and decided now was as good a time as any…

“So… not gonna lie… got caught up again last night.”

“Oh God… I need to breast feed… what did you buy?”

“I swear… I was flipping through the guide… trying to get away from it… but it was in the corner of the screen and they were carrying on…”

“We nearly went bankrupt after Brett. The Ronco Rotisserie, The Time Life Christmas Collection - which we still haven’t paid off… 18 months later. The mop-in-the-bucket mess and don’t even get me started on that weird shampoo - did you know it made a bunch of women lose their hair? Oh my God I would’ve shaved your whole body while you slept if I’da lost my hair." 

Paul opened his mouth to argue the usefulness of his middle-of-the-night-feeding purchases but even he couldn’t justify that hundred and thirty-two dollar pillow. “I don’t know what it is about late night/early morning feedings and infomercials… those products just call to me.”

Shelly sat up and looked him in the eyes, “It’s like a Jedi mind trick and you’re just a weak, weak Storm Trooper… UPS loves it when we have babies.”

“Well this time we’re gonna get our money out of it…”

“Just tell me what you got suckered in to…”

“There was no suckering… it’s a great product…” Shelly’s expression told him she was more than a little skeptical, “no, honestly… it’s a new kind of workout. It’s like yoga and dance and pilates. There’s cardio and stretching. I was lucky enough to be one of the first 50 people to order - I got us the free diet tracker and cookbook. One woman was fresh off her second pregnancy - both C-sections, like you. She said it got her back into shape in less than 2 months. I mean… I know you can’t do anything for a few more weeks and I personally don’t think you need to work out, but the other day, you said you needed a new exercise program to get you motivated. They use dynamic movement to (air quotes) maximize calorie burn. I think you’ll love it. I thought we could do it together, in the evenings. I paid a little extra for the body measuring tools but one woman said she would have never reached her goal without them. It’s a tape measure with little toggles that mark your measurements so you CAN SEE how you’re whittling away. The toggles are different colors - I thought you could be green and I’ll be blue… but there are other colors, too. Then there’s a chart for us to keep track of everything. I didn’t want to miss out on the free shipping so I jumped on it. Oh! I totally forgot… I got the supplemental subscription - it’s basically a trainer that we can contact once a week on the website. It’s only $4.95 a month and we can cancel it after 6-months. Then… when I got the confirmation email it had a link for a deal on… accessories… for lack of a better word… but it’s the weights and mats. If we bought one set we got a second set for just the shipping and handling - which was like $42 or something… it’s weights… it’s heavy. I took into account the fact you can’t workout for a few weeks so I chose regular shipping which was way cheaper but when I got to the checkout screen they offered the expedited at half rate. I figured it was only $19 more and we could get a jump start on learning about the diet and getting our measurements and what-not…”

“How much?”

“Well… it was a little costly but LESS than joining a gym - which is their plan I think ‘cause they mentioned it quite a few times. And really… at the end of the day, the freedom of being able to workout when we want - AT HOME - is worth it.”

“Yeah… what are we talkin’? one-fifty? two-hundred?” Shelly braced herself.

“So… if we did payments it totaled three-ninety-five with tax and shipping,” he saw her alarm and to calm her: “BUT I thought that was crazy.” He saw her relax a little, “So I chose the pay-in-full option and got 2 payments knocked off - it came to $345.” 

“You’re joking, right?”

His look of discomfort answered her question.

“You’re just trying to get banned from middle-of-the-night feedings…”

“But we can exercise together… whenever we want….”

December 13, 2019 14:13

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