Bend Over Backwards
by Rosey Collins
"Cold tea," Liddy repeated.
It was hard enough to keep track of a conversation with Liddy when one was actually going on, but they had been silent for some time now. Foxglove replayed the events of the day back in her mind. They had spent the morning shopping, and were now in a cafe drinking coffee. She went over all of the topics they had conversed, but could not find a link.
"What do you mean?"
"Get her to drink cold tea. My grandmother swears that's how she got pregnant with my mom. It's probably parp, but it's got to be worth a try."
Foxglove nodded in understanding. They were back on Chip and Gadget's attempted pregnancy. They had been trying for a baby for almost two months now, but needless to say they were having no luck.
"She refuses to try stuff like that," Foxglove replied. "I told her to try standing on her head, but she says 'what goes on inside the female reproductive system is absolutely nothing to do with external forces'."
"She's not even prepared to try?"
Liddy leant back in her chair and pouted. "What a misery. I want them to have a baby."
Foxglove snorted. "I don't."
"Who's going to look after it while Mommy and Daddy are out catching bad guys? Besides, Nicky would be disastrous with a baby."
"I'd be terrified he was going to put it in the washing machine or something. He'd certainly suffocate it, given half a chance."
"Have they tried aroma therapy?"
"Scented candles that smell like the fruits of the earth and that kind of stuff. It's supposed to help."
"Yes, well, it doesn't. People spent years establishing that wiping the toilet seat and showering don't stop you from getting pregnant. You know that, don't you."
"Everybody knows that."
"Well, it works both ways. Gadget won't get pregnant from smelling candles any more than she will sitting on a unisex toilet seat."
Liddy and Foxglove both considered this for a while, and then their separate trains of thought veered off in different directions.
"I have to go home," Liddy said absently. Mentally she was already there.
"Me too." Ditto Foxglove.
"Ok, so she slept and ate and watched TV and cooked and cleaned and went shopping and made toast and listened to Liddy talking gibberish the same as usual," Chip recapped, counting the points on his fingers.
Dale nodded passively. He had been trying to watch repeats of Starsky and Hutch, but for half an hour now he had had to listen to Chip's questions about the build-up to Foxglove's two pregnancies. He imagined that the conversations his wife had with her own best friend were similar to this, in that they were sickeningly one-sided.
"What did she drink?"
"What does it matter?" Dale replied irritably. "All of that has nothing to do with it. Maybe it's you," he added.
"Yes, you. It takes two, you know. You haven't been hanging around any radioactive substances, have you?"
"Um... not that I know of."
"Well, wear a lead suit just to be sure."
The front door opened. At last! A diversion! Dale leapt up to meet Foxglove as she entered the room. Nick emerged from his own bedroom, but was disappointed to see that his mother had not brought Liddy home with her.
"Liddy not with you?" Dale asked. Thank God for that, he added silently.
"No. She had to go home." She strolled to the couch and placed her wings on Chip's shoulders. "Still not pregnant?"
Chip obediently got to his feet, after which Foxglove promptly rotated the couch through forty-five degrees.
She turned and started to leave but Chip called her back.
"What was that for?" he demanded.
"It might help."
"I'm not sure exactly," Foxglove replied. "It's Greek or Japanese or something. We've had this arrangement... I don't know - forever. Changing an old arrangement of furniture that you've lived with for so long, even slightly, can change the atmosphere, your mood and even what goes on in your body."
"No it can't," Chip returned.
"It also has something to do with magnetic poles or the four elements or something earth-related like that, which can bring you good luck."
"No it can't." More forceful.
"Well, it's got to be worth a try," Foxglove said. "Hey, do you have a fertility bracelet?"
"That's ok. I can make you one, but I'll need some of your:-"
"What?" He sounded anxious.
"Oh." He sank back into the couch. "I guess we're pretty much ready to try anything."
Foxglove took a sheet of paper from the memo pad to her left and made for the kitchen. Dale watched her go, and then he noticed for the first time Nick standing at his feet.
"You're oddly quiet," he observed, squatting to meet his son's eye level. "What are you up to?"
"I was hoping Mommy would bring Liddy home," Nick answered, "but... she hasn't. What are we talking about?"
"The facts of life." He and Nick both looked in Chip's direction. "How do you think Chip and Gadget will get a baby, Nicky?"
Nick shrugged. "Stalk, doorstep, mail, rescue dog, angel, hospital, bulrushes... it's different every time on TV. Dani says they come from inside their moms."
"She's right," Dale confirmed, rising from his haunches.
"She is? How do they get in there?"
Gadget walked in, having heard much of the conversation from the bathroom. She very much wanted to see how Dale would get out of this one.
The youngster broke into a smile. "Yes."
"Well, that has something to do with it."
Nick looked puzzled, but he did not pursue the matter. He enjoyed intrigue, and perhaps he could even figure out what was implied for himself. Probably not, but he was not to know that.
Dale noted Gadget's presence and sent Nick to "see how much you can annoy your sister", lest the conversation should become graphic. It did not seem that way to start off with, however.
"I came from the stalk," Gadget said. "That's a pretty popular one. Where did you guys come from?"
" 'Under the gooseberry bush'," Dale replied, smiling at how ridiculous that now sounded.
"I came from the cabbage patch," Chip said, and then to Dale, "You and I argued about it for weeks."
"That's right. I won because I very cleverly pointed out that you didn't have a cabbage patch."
"Well, you didn't have a gooseberry bush."
"It's a little bit late to think of that now," Dale returned triumphantly. "Anyway, we were both wrong. I don't know why parents lie about it."
"Because it's disgusting," Gadget said. "The minute you find out, you wish you hadn't."
Chip was about to build on this when the front door opened again. Liddy walked in, complete with a bulky shoulder bag; she and Foxglove were now on letting-themselves-into-each-other's-homes terms.
"Hi," she said. "Still not pregnant, Gadget?"
"Still not pregnant."
"Bummer." She looked almost pleased.
Liddy dropped the shoulder bag on to the arm of the couch and was about to commence rummaging inside it when she heard her own name rung in delighted tones from across the room. Turning, she saw Nick toddling towards her.
"Hi, Nicky," she said cheerily, and she crouched down and allowed him to wrap his arms tightly around her neck. "Hey, be careful. I've only got one windpipe, you know."
She tried to stand up, but Nick would not free her from his constricting grip, so she was forced to slide her wings under his armpits and take him up with her. The lad was delighted, and immediately tightened his grasp in the hopes that it would disable her from ever putting him down again.
"Hi, Liddy." Foxglove had emerged from the kitchen. She had written on the scrap of paper she had taken with her, and was now looking intently at it, and then at the room surrounding her. When she caught sight of the waste paper basket in the corner she looked anxiously at her piece of paper, which Dale and Gadget could see sported some kind of map, wandered over to the offending article and put it in the opposite corner of the room. Foxglove then checked that it was all right with her piece of paper. Evidently it was, so she left the room and came back moments later with a pot plant which she promptly put in place of the waste paper basket.
"What are you doing?" Chip was the first to say it.
"This will help too," Foxglove informed him, looking again at the map she had drawn.
Chip mentally replayed her actions, wondering if he had missed some vital clue as to how exactly this would help Gadget to become pregnant. No light dawned on the subject, so he tried saying it aloud to see if it made any more sense.
"You moved the waste paper basket, and you put a pot plant where it used to be." It sounded even more unlikely when spoken aloud. "How exactly will that help?"
"Look at this." Foxglove joined him on the couch and thrust a sketch map of the house into his hands. "What you do is divide your house into seven sections, and you label each one with something going on in everyday life. You and I are currently in the getting pregnant area, and Dale and Gadget are in risks and hazards."
"Risks and hazards?"
"I needed somewhere bad to put the things like... well, like the waste paper basket." She glanced anxiously towards the kitchen. "I'd better move that trash can out of family and friends."
"We need a trash can in the kitchen," Dale pointed out.
"I agree it's desirable," Foxglove said, "but if we leave it there one of us will die."
"Because the objects in a particular area affect what goes on in that aspect of your life."
"Hence the pot plant."
"Exactly. That one's in season."
"It's not going to help," Chip decided.
"You just said you were ready to try anything," Dale reminded him. "I've got a pregnant cousin in Florida. Do you want me to call her and ask her to come and stand in the corner of the room?"
During this somewhat absurd conversation, Liddy had been rummaging in her shoulder bag. It was not an easy task with Nick still hanging on to her neck, but she eventually managed to produce from her bag a large bottle which had once contained perfume, but the stench it now emitted suggested that this was no longer the case. She handed the bottle labelled "Geminesse" to Chip.
"There you go," she said, sporting a self-righteous smile. "Drink that and you'll be pregnant in no time."
"I don't think so," Chip replied. He was having to hold the concoction at arm's length even whilst its smell was stifled by a lid.
"Because it stinks. I'm definitely not going to drink it unless you tell me what's in it."
Lil Nicky - adorable!
"A few bodily fluids," Liddy whispered back. "Tears, blood, sweat, that kind of thing."
Nick pouted, and loosened his grip a little. "I'd have given you my tears and blood and sweat. You only had to ask."
"You're a little young," Liddy told him. "It only works if it comes from an adult. Besides, I don't know what your parents would have to say about it. But thanks anyway," she added, upon noticing Nick's dejected look.
Chip was not prepared to drink Liddy's bottled boyfriend, but he did accept a few lucky charms and a pouch of herbs from her, if only to keep her quiet. Along with these and a little bit more remodelling by Foxglove, by the end of the day Chip and Gadget's bedroom had been turned upside-down - almost literally.
"None of this is going to help, you know," Gadget informed Chip that evening.
"Probably not, but it's nice that they're trying to help."
"Listen..." Gadget's expression turned grave, and she gestured Chip to join her on the edge of the bed. "What if we..."
"What if we what?"
"How do you mean?"
"What if we can't have kids? What if we're... not compatible?"
"Of course we are," and Chip put his arm around her shoulder in an effort to reassure her. "We must be. Dale and Foxglove managed it."
"Twice," Gadget added.
"Then why can't we?"
"We can." His hand rose to her head and he started to stroke her hair. "It's not been two months. Let's not start panicking yet."
Gadget sighed deeply, and then nodded. "Ok, you're right. Better try again, then."
"Aha. Eight o'clock this morning she started spewing like a beer barrel, she didn't have any breakfast and around ten she got a sudden craving for pasta. Her ankles even look bigger. If she's not pregnant I'm the tooth fairy."
"Well, that's good."
"Yeah. They've really been bending over backwards trying to get pregnant."
Foxglove smiled. "Probably."
Liddy put down her coffee mug and sat back from the marble decorated table, reflecting upon the events of the previous day. "You think we had anything to do with it?"
"Doubt it. If it happened last night the signs are awful quick in coming. She must have been pregnant for a couple of days at least."
"But she took like eight million pregnancy tests."
Foxglove scoffed. "Those things tell you nothing. Dani is the result of a negative pregnancy test."
"Oh yeah, I remember. You think you'll have any more?"
Foxglove winced. "Not just now. Dale would quite willingly have as many kids as he has teeth, but then again he only plays with them and feeds them every other day. I get the dirty jobs."
"I get the dirty jobs," Liddy returned. "The other day Dale asked me to try and coax Nick out from under the sink."
"Did you manage?"
"Yes, but I had to sing."
Foxglove smiled at this.
"Why do we have kids, anyway?" Liddy went on. "I mean, you go through hours of labour, and then you get this ugly little prune type thing that you have to wait on hand and foot, and then it grows up, hates you for a few years, and when it finally turns into a civilised person you only ever see it at Christmas. I mean, why?"
Foxglove considered, mentally weighing up the pros and cons of motherhood. "Beats me."
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