Immaculate Reception

Submitted into Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt

33 comments

American Fiction Contemporary

“There you are,” he said, making his way through the crowd, walking over to kiss her.

“The fans are very loud today,” she replied, laughing amid the clamor, folding herself into his bear hug. Luckily, she had secured the last two barstools. 

“It’s the playoffs. They’re entitled to a little noise,” he remarked and looked around the cozy, wood paneled bar. Television screens were affixed to every flat surface, beaming in games from around the globe. It was a friendly crowd, yet even decades after his stint in the U.S. Army, he found himself surveilling the area for any threats.

“Did you find parking?”

“I got lucky. Spot opened up right in front. Hey, you look good in your jersey,” he said, smiling as she stood up to briefly model for him.

“Thank you for the gift. I don’t know if I’ve ever worn an official NFL jersey before. They are quite big.” She self consciously tugged it down firmly over her leggings. 

“You look great in it,” he said, meaning it, motioning to the bartender who quickly took their drink orders. 

He had a beer. She ordered club soda. 

“You know, you didn’t have to buy me anything.”

“I wanted to,” he replied, a little stung. “You don’t like the jersey?”

“No, I really like it. Does the number 25 have any special significance? Besides being half my age—”

“It’s Fred Biletnikoff’s jersey number—a Hall of Famer. My dad loved the guy. Biletnikoff played for the Raiders until ‘78. He scored 76 touchdowns. Played in Super Bowl II and XI. Before he died, my dad managed to get his autograph. Dad said that was the best day of his life.” 

She listened carefully, trying to digest all that information which seemed so important to him, completely charmed at how wistful he grew when talking about his father. They were both at the age when parents were entirely forgiven of past sins and wholly cherished instead.

“One more thing,” she said. “I was just wondering why you put your name on the back of the jersey,” she asked, one eyebrow raised. She waited again for his reply. 

He looked guilty. Of what, she did not know. 

“So . . . so I could find you in a crowded sports bar,” he replied, hoping that would settle the matter for the moment. They had only been dating for a few months, but ordering a jersey for her with his last name emblazoned on the back seemed like the most natural thing in the world to do. 

She stared at him with an amused smile on her face. Now he was embarrassed. What must she think of him?

He motioned to the bartender for some menus.

“You like chicken wings? They have some really good bacon-wrapped ones—” He deflected wildly. 

“I need to tell you something—” she grew serious, biting her lower lip. 

“Don’t break up with me.”

“Wait—what?”

“Please don’t break up with me.”

“I wasn’t quite sure we were officially together.”

“We’re together,” he said, motioning to the back of her jersey. “I’m not usually so subtle,” he said, ironically.

“Got it,” she beamed. “I’ve been drafted.”

“Yep, you are on the team.”

“Look, ever since the funeral—” she said, not wanting to bring it up, but her news really couldn’t wait any longer. It wasn’t something that would ever work in an email or a text. 

“Look—my wife had been sick for so long. If I haven’t told you, I appreciate everything you did for our family at that time. It was all too much, and your making all the arrangements and the luncheon . . . ” he said. “I don't know how we’d have done anything right without you. I’m just not very good with those things.”

“I was happy to help, I just—”

“Just what—?” 

“I just wonder what people will think about us now.”

“They’ll think we found a little happiness in this crazy world,” he said, optimistic as always.

“Sure, some middle aged divorcee hanging around like a ghoul waiting for—”

“It wasn’t like that. You’d been her friend. My daughters have already given me their blessing. They knew our marriage wasn’t perfect even before—”

The bartender interrupted, placing their meals before them on the bar. He picked up a bottle of ketchup and doused the french fries. 

“I—” she attempted to start again. “I—I really need to tell you something.”

“You can tell me anything. I want to share everything with you.”

“Even your french fries?”

“Don’t touch my french fries.”

“Noted,” she smiled, drinking her club soda. He ordered another beer.

Eating in a companionable silence, they watched the kickoff, listening to the noisy banter of the throngs around them. Finishing, the bartender appeared, taking away all remnants of their meal.

“Okay, spill it. What do you want to tell me?” he asked, his eyes peering into hers, ready for whatever she felt she needed to say. 

“I’m pregnant.”

“You’re 50.”

“I’m 50 and pregnant,” she clarified. 

He looked at her, waiting for her trademark grin, preparing for one of her witty remarks.

“So we’re pregnant,” he said.

“Yeah, I guess the menopause fairy didn’t show up after all. It was her sister, perimenopause.”

“What are the odds—”

“2%.”

“We had a 2% chance of conceiving a child,” he said. 

“Or less.”

“Then,” he said, raising his beer, “lucky us.” He leaned over and kissed her. She started to cry.

“There’s a strong chance of a miscarriage,” she said, smiling and dabbing the tears in the corners of her eyes with a bar napkin.

“Oh, I hope not. I’ve always wanted to have a son.”

“You will be 73 at his high school graduation,” she warned.

“But I will look fantastic,” he replied and kissed her again. “And you will be a beautiful mother.”

“I’m already a beautiful grandmother.” 

“So we can get hand-me-downs from our son’s uncle.”

“You want to have this baby with me?”

“Well, there is only one problem—”

“Just one problem . . .” she laughed, unconsciously rubbing her belly. 

“They just don’t make NFL jerseys that small.”




January 09, 2021 22:35

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33 comments

I am so glad that I'm not the only one who used dialogue tags...=) Anyways Deidra, stupendous story. Absolutely loved it so much. :)

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Deidra Lovegren
21:46 Jan 10, 2021

They aren't the boss of us. :)

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Haha, you're right, they aren't! 😁

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Yuk Yuk
15:48 Jan 16, 2021

Lol

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13:00 Jan 17, 2021

Absolutely delightful. I particularly loved the sentence 'They were both at the age when parents were entirely forgiven of past sins and wholly cherished instead'. And the banter at the end was lovely.

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Deidra Lovegren
14:46 Jan 17, 2021

Thanks, Rhonda! I actually hope that particular line is true in hopes that my own children realize we did the best we could. 🤷‍♀️

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David G.
14:59 Jan 16, 2021

Sweet story. And well written, as always.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:21 Jan 16, 2021

Old people need some romance, too. 💕

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Elle Clark
12:57 Jan 15, 2021

This is great, Deidra! 2% chance of getting pregnant at 50? I had no idea! Can you even imagine falling pregnant at that age? It’s hard enough when you’re younger. The relationship here is sweet and the characters feel very real, as does the bond between them. A very enjoyable read!

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Deidra Lovegren
15:48 Jan 15, 2021

Thanks, Laura. These two definitely have a strong bond. I hope it works out for them; they seem to belong together. According to my research, "after age 45, a woman's likelihood of getting pregnant naturally is less than 4%, and that number plummets to 1% once she hits 50." I figured 1% sounded a little too pat; I doubled it since they are so obviously in love. Thanks for dropping by Chez Lovegren. Always glad to see you on my feed :)

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Niveeidha Palani
23:38 Jan 14, 2021

This was so beautiful and nicely shaped together. A fifty-year-old woman? Wow. A sequel on the works?

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Deidra Lovegren
12:09 Jan 15, 2021

Thanks :) Yep. Old ladies getting pregnant. It's all the rage: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2014/pregnancy-fertility-over-50/ A sequel would be fun...

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Niveeidha Palani
02:55 Jan 16, 2021

Dear me. Yes, if at any case, you make a sequel, do let me know. ;)

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Katina Foster
02:50 Jan 14, 2021

This story reminds me of one of my favorite Lao Tzu quotes: “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” I love this story as an illustration of how life has many chapters. And how sometimes the chapters feel like they are happening out of order! Well done!

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Lerato Moeketsi
00:20 Jan 14, 2021

Can't wait to see how beautiful she'll look at the high school graduation. I love the story.

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Deidra Lovegren
02:37 Jan 14, 2021

“Is that your grandma?” Oof

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Rachel Macmorran
05:36 Jan 12, 2021

Wonderfully warm-hearted and awkward. I saw one small typo: "Look, every since the funeral..". And I have one writerly note: I felt the small aside about his military service a bit jagged in an otherwise organic character development. I guess he just seems like a fairly sweet and thoughtful ordinary guy, and that small note that he is still paranoid and scanning for threats decades after service didn't quite jibe. Maybe the service and passage of time could be alluded to in another way? Like sitting at the bar makes his back ache or somethin...

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Rachel Macmorran
05:37 Jan 12, 2021

I also meant to mention that your title is hilarious! ;)

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Deidra Lovegren
08:08 Jan 12, 2021

Great typo catch! I appreciate the careful proofreading 😬 As for the Army reference, I guess I was going for a big Boy Scout who was protective and prepared to do his duty than PTSD and paranoid. I like that he’s a vet; however, it does imply his “serve & protect” ethos a little strong. Sigh. Thanks for the thoughtful commentary—off to read your latest!

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Ray Dyer
01:54 Jan 12, 2021

I love the way the sweetness of the story rubs against the imperfections in their conversation. They don't mesh perfectly, and that creates such a sense of a realism in this scene. These two are well-drawn, as always, and the question at the end is reached so smoothly that there's really no other place it could go. I rather like the way she revealed her age at the beginning. It stands out a little at the moment, but there's a reason it is on her mind, and it serves as foreshadowing. The touch with pulling down the jersey adds a very human a...

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Deidra Lovegren
08:14 Jan 12, 2021

Yay! A Ray Dyer comment!! I live for those. Thanks for liking my middle age (I guess they are like more 2/3 age) parents-to-be. I should have tagged this story HORROR... Let me know when you post your latest. I love reading your stuff. ✨

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K. Antonio
00:46 Jan 11, 2021

I LOVED THE IDEA OF THIS 50 YR OLD PREGNANT WOMAN. It really gave this story an unconventional (and even a bit mad) air that I felt was delightful and charming and actually super appropriate for a prompt like this! Great stuff!

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Deidra Lovegren
05:07 Jan 11, 2021

As a 50+ year old woman, let me just say the idea is terrifying...🥺

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Zilla Babbitt
00:00 Jan 10, 2021

Why does this seem so short? I need an answer! I know I'm early, but glad to beat the "rush." This is lovely, really and truly lovely. My mom wasn't quite fifty when she had my youngest sibling, but in the region. Pretty sure French fries have a capital... and that's all I caught. Short and sweet, and I will not be surprised when it's shortlisted or wins. Great job!

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Deidra Lovegren
00:34 Jan 10, 2021

Congrats to your mom — my hero! That’s quite a feat. I checked on the 🍟 and lowercase seems to be preferred. It’s always fun for me to write these late romances 💕

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17:23 Feb 17, 2021

I love it well done

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Deidra Lovegren
19:30 Feb 17, 2021

YAY. Thanks for dropping by, Swagger Girl.

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Laura Everly
21:43 Jan 15, 2021

great story

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Deidra Lovegren
21:53 Jan 15, 2021

Thanks 😊

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Danny
06:34 Jan 10, 2021

Your stories are soooo good and I love them, but this might be one of my favorite ones :DD

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Deidra Lovegren
09:41 Jan 10, 2021

An old pregnant lady? Seems like a nightmare to me 😂

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Danny
10:57 Jan 10, 2021

Seems like a nightmare in general, but, the first part was what hooked me, it was veryy enjoyable to read

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03:09 Mar 15, 2022

My nana comments on some men whenever the two of us hang out, but other than that she mourns my papa still. I hope she can have something cute and sweet like this. It hurts to see her still in pain.

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