All Or Nothing

by Anton Wills-Eve

All or Nothing?

Jamie had never really thought much about the deeper philosophical things in life. He liked his football, his beer and his girlfriend. His job as a car salesman was financially adequate for his twenty two year old life but did not provide him with enough money to marry and settle down. Then one evening, sitting in front of the television watching a celebrity talent show on the sofa of Jane’s lounge, his eighteen year old girlfriend looked up at him and said, “Turn the sound down a bit Jamie, please I’ve got something important to tell you.” The automaton obeyed and looked at her not really very interested in what she wanted to tell him.

“Love. I hope you don’t mind, but we’re going to have a baby!”

His mind still half on the awful programme he asked, “A baby what?”

“Jamie!” she shouted now, “a baby. A child, our own little kid. Aren’t you delighted? We can marry and live here for a bit until we can afford our own place. With my part time supermarket work we should be able to manage okay. Shouldn’t we Jamie?”

For the first time in his life Jamie came up against real life like a car crashing into a wall. What on earth did she mean? They weren’t going to have a baby, she’d told him they weren’t every time they made love. Didn’t she know? That was a woman’s job after all. Then he saw that she was not just smiling but looking happier than he had ever seen her. The brick wall that was real life then cracked and fell on him burying all his rational thoughts at once. He was dumb.

“Oh darling, be pleased. Please say you want a baby, Jamie. Please. He’ll have lovely curly hair and become a footballer and all those other things you always wanted to be. He’ll be wonderful. Honest.”

Finally Jamie spoke. “We’ll call her Madeleine. I’ve always liked Madeleine. It’s French and she’ll have long blonde hair and be a terrific success at everything she does. Just think Jane, she’ll go to uni and get a top degree and then become a TV or film star. In between roles she’ll stand for parliament and when she’s elected she’ll marry a royal Prince and we can live in luxury off the state for the rest of our lives. Oh, clever you Jane!”

“I didn’t do it on my own. Although it was the night Rovers won 3-0 so I might as well have done, but seriously. Could we call him Jake and even if he isn’t very clever we could help him with his soccer and he might scrape into a league side? You could train him, couldn’t you? And he’d earn good money even if he didn’t reach the very top class! What do you say Jamie?”

“Football’s too dangerous and there’s nothing in it for people who don’t make the big time. No he’d be nothing next to our Madeleine as she went on world tours and the press showered money on us to ‘tell all’. The only danger in her life would be fighting off the foreign dignitaries lusting after her. No danger there, though, when you’ve married into royalty and become chancellor of the exchequer!”

Jane and Jamie had a lovely quiet wedding a month later and eight months after that they were genuinely overjoyed when they both got their wishes. Twins, a girl called Madeleine and boy called Jake. Their parents earned enough to get by as they grew up and today the whole family is having a celebration. They are off to watch Jake playing for England in the world cup final, and even Madeleine has managed to get the day off from her job as a shelf stacker at the supermarket.

Anton Wills-Eve