HUG • by Mandy Moore

Billowing clouds of steam rose straight up from the black and white swirling liquid. The white rim of a coffee mug held in the contents precisely and the words ‘Chug Your Mug’ curved around the sides. He sat in the dining room chair staring at the words and trying to remember why they seemed so quaint when he saw them in the faint fluorescent light of a convenience store a year before. Nothing about those words seemed quaint anymore. They just reminded him that life sped by too fast, that every morning he had to chug his mug of coffee before rushing out the door. That morning was a bit different, however. That morning he was waiting on a very important phone call. A phone call that could mean future morning coffee breaks would be a lot lonelier, chugged or otherwise.

Picking up the mug in his gnarled hands, he sipped at the contents. He couldn’t remember who said it just then, but someone somewhere had once said waiting was the hardest part. At that moment he couldn’t agree more. The ticking of the clock on the wall behind him seemed to echo through his head. Tick tock, tick tock. He lowered the mug to the table once more and looked through the window in front of him. Outside he could see the fire orange of Peruvian lilies growing in the flower bed. He’d planted them there for his wife a couple years before. Every year she would tend them, carefully encouraging their growth. As he watched them blowing gently in the breeze he could almost imagine her kneeling down, elbow deep in dirt, caring for them. He picked up the mug and took another sip, noting the fact that the coffee was growing cold.

A weary glance over his shoulder at the clock told him that the morning was going to be a bust. He would wait there however long he had to, though, and he wouldn’t budge until that phone rang. One way or another he had to know what was going on. So he sat there staring out the window, sipping his coffee and listening to the ticking of the wall clock. Eventually the sound of cars started streaming in through the open window as more people woke up and the road out front became busier. He listened to the familiar sound as if he were a newborn having never heard the sound of an engine before. Somewhere deep inside he was hoping one of those cars would pull into his driveway to deliver the news. As he allowed the hope to rise up, he lost track of everything besides the sounds of the cars speeding past.

Almost as if it knew of this hope, the shrill ringing of a phone filled the air, jerking him out of his thoughts. With the coffee mug held tightly in one hand, he picked up the phone with the other.

“Hello? This is Curtis.” A pause and then, “Mag, calm down a bit, please. I can’t understand you.” His voice was strained, tears obvious in his voice. He stood and began to pace as he listened intently to the phone. “I knew I should have come with you, honey. Please try to calm down. Is there anyone by you that can tell me what’s going on? Did they get the test results back?”

A longer pause filled the room with silence. Suddenly his face turned into an expression of pure shock and the mug slipped from his hand. It crashed to the ground and sent glass and coffee flying everywhere. “You’re pregnant?” he exclaimed, oblivious to the coffee soaking through his overalls. “Honey, you’re too old to be pregnant!” It was the only thing he could think to say but he instantly regretted saying it. Not only did she not have cancer but he was going to be a father again.

Mandy Moore is a married mother of two from Oklahoma. Her hobby of writing spans almost two decades and she has been focusing on creative writing as a career for eight years. She is currently attending the University of Central Oklahoma and is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. She prefers writing prose in any genre.

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