Marko is practically bubbly this morning. Persis can only conclude that he's going to see some of this friends. Nothing gets Marko excited like a social outing.
Except it's not just a social outing- the summer festival is today which means Marko's "block party" is today too! One small thing... he hasn't told Persis yet.
"I didn't know cereal could put someone in such a good mood," Persis remarks dryly. She knows that look on Marko's face, the "I-really-want-to-talk-about-something-but-I-don't-want-to-annoy-you" look. The quicker she asks, the quicker he can spill whatever's making him so excited.
"I decided to invite some neighbours over, to celebrate Leisure Day," he says, a huge smile on his face. "I hope that's ok...." he knows how much Persis values her alone time. He really should have asked her before planning a party, but he was afraid she would say no, or even worse, agree and then feel uncomfortable the whole time.
Persis fights her horror at the idea of interacting with a bunch of strangers and manages to keep a straight face. "So how many people are we talking about? 3, 4?" noticing the hesitation on Marko's face, she deflates. "...you planned a party, didn't you?"
Marko nods, his large eyes now even larger with sadness. "I was just getting lonely- no one talks to me at work and you need your space and without someone else to talk to I'll just die." He looks down guiltily at his cereal. "You hate me right now, don't you? I'm sorry, I'll call everyone and tell them there's no party, don't worry Persis, I'll take care of everything!"
While Persis thinks he's being a bit dramatic, maybe even a bit manipulative, she feels bad. Marko has always been surrounded by a gaggle of friends. She didn't realize that moving to a new town would isolate him so much. And I could always go out fishing...
With a possible escape route in mind, she smiles softly at him. "No, don't do that, I'm ok with you having a party. I was just caught off guard. You need to tell me these things ahead of time," she says firmly, "And you have quite a bit of cleaning to do if people are coming over..." she crinkles her nose at the dirty dishes on their dining table.
Persis gets up to get dressed and leave Marko to wash the dishes, but he stops her with a passionate kiss.
"We have a few hours before the guests get here..."
Mere moments after they're finished getting dressed, the first guest shows up. Marko decided that for a Leisure Day party they should be dressed in "summer clothes" so Persis dug up this old sweatshirt from her high school days. Summer is hot, flames are hot, whatever.
Marko decides to dress like
an asshole a beach goer.
The doorbell rings before Marko can properly greet Kenji, so he completely misses Kenji invading Persis' personal space when he runs to answer the door.
"I got you these..." Kenji says nervously. He's seen Persis around town and he always thought she was so pretty! Neither she nor Marko wear wedding rings, so he was hoping Persis would be available...
On top of feeling insanely uncomfortable, Persis is confused and doesn't know how to turn Kenji down politely.
"Thanks...but I'm married," she manages to mumble before high-tailing it out of the room.
I'm definitely going fishing next time, she thinks with a grimace.
Kenji tries to make a graceful exit before his new friend finds out he tried hitting on his wife. Instead, he finds Marko being yelled at because of the fly-infested dishes sitting on his dining table. He feels obligated to help Marko out here.
"Hey Marko," he interrupts loudly, "...got any nachos?" Kenji is not good at improvising.
Marko is grateful for the clumsy rescue. "Man, I wish! A party isn't really a party without nachos." Kenji doesn't realize that Marko is only half-joking. Marko loves nachos.
"Kenji, hi!" Gracie Loveland interrupts their "conversation" with a spontaneous bouquet of roses.
Kenji is surprised but happy. Gracie isn't Persis, but at least Gracie is single and interested in him.
Marko smiles, happy for his friend (and happy to get Gracie off his back) but also a bit uneasy. Since he met Gracie last chapter, she's already been through a string of boyfriends. He hopes Kenji isn't expecting anything long lasting.
Back inside, Marko mingles with guests.
"Great party," the un-zombified cowboy tells him, "The only thing that would make it better would be some nachos..."
Marko wholeheartedly agrees!
Gracie enters the room, miffed that her ploy to make Marko jealous didn't work. She knows he's married, but it seems that Gracie will not be deterred. By now it's less because she finds Marko attractive and more that she can't understand why he seems uninterested in her.
Kenji follows her in, not aware that Gracie is completely disinterested in him.
Marko includes Kenji and Gracie in some casual conversation. While they talk about their favourite kinds of dim-sum, Gracie inwardly seethes at Kenji but pastes a smile on her face. He'll have to leave eventually, right?
After nearly 30 minutes, Gracie gives up. She needs to go home and feed her cat and it seems the party is drawing to a close anyways. If she's too pushy, Marko will get annoyed with her and that'll ruin any chance she has with him. She says her goodbyes and gets out before Kenji can offer to walk her home.
Persis materializes after the last guest has left to eat dinner with her husband. She tells him about her uncomfortable encounter with Kenji.
"What!?" Marko splutters. Since he's wearing sunglasses, Persis can't see the genuine anger clouding his eyes. "I leave him alone with you for two seconds and he tries to make a pass at you! Man, I'm sorry Persis, I didn't know he was like that."
Persis shrugs. "When I said I wasn't interested he left it alone... and it was just flowers... but yes, it was quite uncomfortable, and I'd like to avoid that happening again, if it's all the same to you."
Seeing as the matter is settled, the topic changes. Marko asks if Persis needs anything for her garden, like a better fence or indoor planters. It'll be fall soon, meaning any outdoor plants will be frozen over and dormant.
Persis shakes her head in the negative. They have one indoor planter but it has her most expensive plant in it- the spotlight mushrooms- so they won't be wanting for cash during the colder seasons. Uprooting her outdoor plants would a very delicate and labor intensive task which Persis just doesn't have the energy for.
She chooses to focus her energy on other pursuits.
Although there is an unintended side-effect. Persis is 90% she's pregnant after several nights of nausea-induced insomnia in a row.
They're not hurting for money right now, so her previous financial concerns are not as pressing, but she is worried about her ability to raise a child. She likes having her own space and lots of privacy. Sharing that with just her husband has already proven to be a considerable effort, add a baby to that and Persis may never be alone for quite some time! What if she resents her baby? She doesn't want that. If she's going to have a child, she wants to provide a caring, stable environment for it.
Persis has told Marko none of this, so he just smiles at her after getting out of the bathroom. Persis gets lost in deep thought regularly and he knows better than to bother her.
She reaches out and grabs his arm, effectively stopping him as a wave of nausea overcomes her.
"I don't feel so good..."
Marko wanted her to lie down, but Persis insists on having dinner. She might want to vomit, but she's also very, very hungry. If her suspicions are correct, this could be the beginning of strange cravings and "eating for two".
She would rather confirm her hunch with a doctor before getting Marko all worked up about a baby she might not be pregnant with, so she curtly responds to Marko's attempts at conversation. Yes, the garden is ok, yes fishing has been going well, etc.
"Are you sure you're ok?" Marko asks as she wolfs down her food. He can't remember Persis being very sick before or eating so much.
She nods, "Yeah, I'm fine, I'm not sure what came over me... maybe I didn't eat enough for breakfast."
Right after her last bite, her dinner threatens to make a reappearance.
"I'm just going to use the bathroom real quick," she spits out before bolting to the toilet. Marko blinks as she slams their bedroom door open. He hopes this isn't serious...
Persis violently wretches into the toilet. She is definitely going to make an appointment at the hospital.
There's a bit of a wait, so the next morning Persis takes her time while tending to her garden, letting the calmness of solitude wash over her. Worrying about this will only make it worse.
She still has time after this, so she makes a quick trip to the consignment store to drop off her vegetables for sale. If she's right, she and Marko are going to need the extra cash...
She takes a deep breath. It's off to the hospital now. Somehow, she has the feeling that she's right even without seeing a doctor, but she has to be sure.
Later that evening, Persis has a quiet dinner with Marko. She's been trying to find the appropriate time to give him the news.
"Maybe we should buy some knick-knacks, to spruce up the place, you know? I think with our combined earnings we could afford it," Marko suggests. Their house is still very bare and he'd love to make it feel more lived in.
"With fall and winter coming up, my garden might not make as much money," Persis warns him. Marko is silent for a moment, giving Persis the perfect opportunity to mention that their money will have to go towards something else soon anyways.
Persis steels herself and then blurts it out. "With a baby on the way it might not be the best idea anyways!" she says it much louder than intended, causing Marko to jump in surprise and choke on his goopy carbonara.
"Wait, you're pregnant!?"
Persis avoids eye contact and nods once. She has no idea how he's going to react. They're not going to have as much money or free time now and Marko's knee-jerk reactions are always a bit extreme.
He stands up and pulls her into a warm embrace.
"And you're sure? 100%?"
Persis bites her lip. "Yes. I went to the doctor today. I'm pregnant."
Marko's face splits into a wide smile.
"Is it a boy or a girl? Actually no, don't tell me. This is great! We're going to be parents!" he cheers and kisses her repeatedly, then pulls back.
"We need to think of names! Isn't this great, Persis?" he asks. Before she can answer, or even express her relief that he's so happy, he runs off to the bathroom.
If he's going to have a kid, he needs to prepare all of the "dad" speeches! I'm here for you, where are you going with that boy?, You should bring her to meet the family son, Have your friends over for supper, the whole shebang! He also realizes that his stock of dad-jokes is severely lacking, which is obviously an urgent matter requiring his immediate attention.
And he's mentally reeling at the same time. A baby! His baby. He's going to be a dad! And Persis is going to be a mom! He's going to have a lot of preparation to do for this baby, their baby.