Fred

“Ugh, I’ll never eat again,” Veronica moaned.

Charles regarded her from the other side of the room. She was young and slim; the kind of skinny where you could tell by sight that she’d eaten too much. He glanced at the little pooch at the bottom of her stomach. “I think I’ll name it Fred.”

“Fred?” Veronica asked. “Who’s Fred?”

“Your food baby,” he said simply. “Its name is Fred.” He returned his attention to his phone and wondered just how many miles he’d scrolled with his index finger.

“Why would you name any baby Fred?”

“Dunno, I just like it,” he said not looking at her.

“And besides, how do you know it’s a ‘he?’ It could be a ‘she.'”

“Fred’s a nickname, so it’s unisex. Frederic and Frederica are both fine names.”

“You will not be naming my baby Frederica!”

Charles locked his phone screen and looked at her. “It’s a food baby. They’re supposed to have weird names.”

Veronica chewed her lip and thought for a moment. “What would you name our real baby?”

“But we aren’t having a baby.” He searched her face and found no signs of mirth; only worry and a pinch of hope. “Are we?”

“March 16th,” she said, her voice marked with caution. “I didn’t want to jinx it, so I waited to tell you. Are you?” She let the question hang in the air, only half asked.

Charles got up and crossed the room in three strides and gathered his wife in his arms. “I don’t think I could be happier than I am right now.”

Veronica let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and relaxed into his arms.

“I am going to put my foot down on Fred, though,” he murmured into her hair.

Veronica leaned away and swatted his arm with the back of her hand and laughed.

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