Helping Sis Pick A Dress

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Chapter Seven

I thought about lying on my bed naked. I was pretty sure she wasn't going to last long, trying to be mad at me. I mean if she really was serious about the baby thing (mind explodes with a silent pheow!) then there was no way she could resist me for any extended period of time. As for the baby thing (mind explodes again) I didn't know what to think. Before she got the ring, while we had waited tensely for her friend to arrive and were worried she might be pregnant, I had thought about that a lot. My mind had played out various scenarios, most of which didn't end happily. In fact, the only one that did end "happily" was the one where we ran away together and pretended to be married and she had the baby and we lived together after that. Of course, in that one, we never saw our parents or extended family again, so it wasn't all that great an ending.

I was pretty sure she'd examined the options, too, and it was likely she'd run into all the same dead ends I had, so for her to say she wanted to get pregnant with my baby meant she was stressed out to the max. She'd always been emotional, which might be why she got emotional about me getting a boner for her way back, when all she wanted was for me to tell her what outfit looked hot for her dates. I knew she'd get over it, sooner or later. She wasn't an idiot. She knew I couldn't go fathering children on her willy nilly.

Anyway, I decided that if she came to my room and found me naked, she might think I had an overinflated sense of my worth, so I put on some shorts and a tank top. I was reading when she did, in fact, open my door and come in. I say I was reading, but I couldn't concentrate on the book. I kept trying to figure out what was going through her mind. I mean how did she think getting pregnant would solve anything or make things better? She was complaining about me going away when all this came out, right? And if I got her pregnant, then I'd be going away for a lot longer than four years, and it wouldn't be to college, right?

She had elected to get dressed, too, also in shorts. Her T shirt made it obvious she wasn't wearing a bra. I loved it when her nipples imprinted on whatever top she was wearing. Our mother did not.

"Are you mad at me?" she asked, softly.

"I thought it was the other way around," I said.

She came to the bed and sat on the edge.

"I just miss you," she said.

"Cathy, I'm not even gone!" I groaned.

"I know that!" she snapped. "But you will be. And I'll be miserable, and I know that, so I feel it already."

"What do you want me to do?" I asked. "You want me to give up on college and stay here and get a job at Wendy's?"

"No," she replied, her voice surly.

"Well then, what?"

"If I knew that, I wouldn't feel like this," she groaned.

"I have an idea," I said.


"How about we don't make a baby until at least after college," I said.

She stared at me for so long that I started thinking I had screwed up somehow. I bet she just stared like that for two or three minutes. Finally she spoke.

"Are you saying that, after college, you would be willing to get me pregnant?"

I sensed danger, but I couldn't identify it. It was like I was in the dark, and felt some malevolent entity out there that wanted to eat me, but I didn't know which direction it was, or what it looked like, or how to protect myself.

"Maybe," I said, trying to get more information.

She was just looking at me again.

"Can I ask a question?" I asked. She nodded so I went on. "Can you help me understand why you want me to get you pregnant?"

"Because I love you, you dope!" she said, instantly.

"I get that part," I said. "And I love you, too. But how does having a baby help you to not miss me when I go to college?"

"I don't know," she said, slumping. "I guess I thought it would be like having a little piece of you with me, even though you were gone."

"You know I can come home now and then," I said. "It's not like I'm joining the military and going on overseas tours for years at a time."

"I know," she moaned. "I just know I'm going to be miserable." She looked at me intently. "But if I knew that, after we got through college, I could actually live with you, then having your baby then would make me very happy, Bobby, happy enough that I think I could stand you being away from me for one year of college."

"Where did all this having my baby stuff come from?" I asked.

She leaned toward me.

"I just told you. It's because I love you." She sat back up. "I think I've wanted to have your baby since I was, like, thirteen."

I was astonished.

"Thirteen?" My voice was weak.

"Yeah, about then," she said. "I looked at all the brothers of my friends, and they were all dicks. But you were nice. And then I went to that stupid sleepover at Mandy's and Crystal told me about how her brother had been fucking her for years and about how fantastic it was, and I got all confused about you. And then you got boners for me, and that made me feel even more confused, because I loved it and I knew I wasn't supposed to love it, but Crystal loved it and she seemed completely normal, and she said she wanted to have David's baby and that made me think about having your baby."

She had to stop because she'd run out of breath. She took a deep one, but didn't go on.

"I see," I said, for lack of anything else to say.

"I think maybe that's why I asked you to help me pick out a dress and got naked in front of you," she said. "I didn't think that back then, but now, I kind of think that's what was going on."

I was thinking about how she had acted, back then.

"You seemed pretty disgusted, as I recall," I said.

"That's how I was supposed to feel," she sighed. "Except Crystal wasn't disgusted. And she seemed so normal!"

"So this is all Crystal's fault?"

"No." She looked at me. "It's your fault. If you hadn't been such a good brother none of this would have happened."

"If I had been a good brother I wouldn't have gotten boners for you," I said.

"I'm pretty sure I wanted you to get boners for me," she argued.

"So this is all your fault?"

She ignored that.

"Do you love me?" she asked.

"Of course I do. You know that," I replied.

"Well, then, we have to figure out a way to keep being happy, because I'm really happy right now, but I know if I don't have you I won't be happy."

I thought for a minute.

"Okay," I finally said. "Let's look at this logically, instead of emotionally. Before all this happened, did you think it would happen?"

"Of course not," she said.

"Okay, so you didn't think this could happen, but then it did. And now you don't think you'll be happy when I go to college, but isn't it possible that, just like you adapted to us being ... um ... closer than most siblings ... you might be able to adapt to me not being here all the time? I mean you will get to see me sometimes, and like I said, you could go to college at the same school, and we'd be together again. So maybe it won't be as bad as you think it will."

She rolled her eyes.

"I'm in love with you, you dope. Do you think I'll just fall out of love? Do you think we'll break up like you were some random boyfriend or something? And if you fall in love with some girl, do you think I'll be all happy for you? Would you be happy if I decided I was going to let Jeff Hancock fuck me?"

I had to suppress the urge to kill Jeff Hancock, who she had gone out with a couple of times. After those dates she'd been extra horny and we'd made love with maybe a little extra passion.

"We can't get married," I said. "As much as I wish we could, you know we can't do that. And if we live together and you start popping out babies, somebody's going to notice that, especially Mom and Dad. So how do you figure to explain that?"

"I don't know," she groaned. "I just know what I want."

"Well if you're ever going to get what you want, then we need to be smart about it, and having a baby right now wouldn't be the smartest thing you've ever done."

"I know that, too," she said. "I think I just panicked."

"Okay," I said.

She reached to run one finger down my chest.

"Can I go for a ride now on my stallion?"

"Can I check to make sure your ring is still in?" I teased.

She took off her T shirt and let me look at her breasts.

"I'd be unhappy if you didn't," she said.

Her emotional crisis passed, but another one exploded, and it almost ruined everything as much as her belly swelling would have.

Gina, under pressure from two cheerleaders, wrote a prescription for Oxycontin.

It was the star running back on the football team that handed the prescription to a pharmacist. He thought he was being clever by going to Granite Springs, where he thought nobody would know him. It was precisely because the pharmacist didn't know him, and because it was a paper prescription, and because it was from a doctor in a different town that questions popped into the pharmacist's mind.

So he called the doctor who had prescribed the opioid and asked him to confirm it.

To say the shit hit the fan is like saying shooting your foot with a nail gun hurts.

Long story short, there was a big investigation and Gina caved and confessed. They interviewed her and she admitted to everything. She named a few names, but because Cathy was her only real friend, she left us out of it. Of course the investigators looked at every prescription for birth control "Gina's dad" had ever written, and started interviewing 'co-conspirators' for the legal proceedings to come.

And one day, an investigator showed up at the house to confirm that our parents knew about Cathy's prescription for birth control.

Which, of course, they did not.

I was not privy to the conversations that took place between Cathy and our parents, but of course she told me about them.

She admitted that she was sexually active, but refused to say who with. My dad wasn't impressed. His baby girl had been soiled and he wanted blood. The term "whore" was bandied about, until Mom yelled at him and reminded him that they'd had sex long before they got married.

He settled down, but then said that until she was eighteen, she had to obey his rules, and a new rule was that she was forbidden to date until she graduated and moved out on her own.

Mom, being less emotional about it, and remembering her own youth, took Cathy to our doctor (not Gina's dad) and after a very thorough exam, he wrote her a legitimate prescription for the ring. I think Mom knew that once a girl is sexually active, she stays sexually active. There was a lot of unannounced checking up on Cathy, to make sure she was in her room and hadn't sneaked out. Obviously, that put a big dent in our nighttime get-togethers.

A month later, Mom got Dad to relent, and she was allowed to date again ... as long as it was a double date, and I was the guy with the other date.

So for two months, every time Cathy went on a date, I was on the same date with another girl, chaperoning my sister.

We had fun, but not as much fun as if we'd been on dates by ourselves. It wasn't great for the guy she was out with, or the girl I was out with, either.

And then Cathy got the bright idea for us to go on double dates that were fake. In other words, we'd leave the house together to go on our double date, except that we just didn't go pick up anybody else.

Finally, we had alone time again, together. Of course it was the middle of winter, so there were no blankets under the stars, where we could roll around and fuck each other senseless. There was a lot of oral sex, but we already knew that intercourse just didn't work well in a car. At least not in our car.

It was April before she just couldn't take it anymore and snuck into my room in the middle of the night.

We had to put a pillow over her face, because she started getting loud.

Graduation was emotional. I had spent so much time reminding Cathy that we had plenty of time before I left, that I sort of lost track of how quickly that time was passing. Plus everything was in turmoil because of the investigation. It had been a scandal all over town, because even though all the principals involved were juveniles, and their identities were shielded from the public, the rumor mill in town made sure that information got out. Naturally, any girl who got a birth control prescription from Gina was assumed to be a slut of the first magnitude, and that appellation got attached to some girls who, before this, were believed to be innocent, virgin angels. Like two daughters of ministers in town, for example.

So our routine had been thoroughly disrupted, so thoroughly that Cathy actually found out she could go without sex for quite a while. I, on the other hand, always had my ... hand. It wasn't as good as a nice soak in Cathy's hot pussy, but it got the job done. Cathy, at least for the first month or two, never knew when a parent would open the door without knocking and check on her.

Then, I think more from desperation than anything else, Cathy got a summer job. She worked at the city pool, checking people in and issuing baskets for them to put their clothes in and all that. It was a full time job. I worked part time for a construction company, cleaning up job sites, throwing the stuff I cleaned up into big dumpsters. I also unloaded lumber deliveries and that sort of thing. If the weather was good, I might work a twelve hour day. If the weather was bad, I stayed home.

I had applied to and was accepted by the college in our state that was called "The teacher's college." That's because they specialized in turning out teachers. They had lots of other majors, of course, but because of Mr. Zalinski, our high school science teacher, who was the coolest guy I knew, I had decided I wanted to be a science teacher, too. I had decided I was going to major in secondary education.

So, in August, after a "last summer" that didn't meet my expectations at all (and didn't meet Cathy's either), I went off to live in a dorm room and get on the path to my first career.

I got emails from Cathy daily. The first month it was almost always about how lonely she was, and how she cried sometimes at night. She didn't say anything about dating, but I knew my dad, and I was pretty sure that, if I wasn't there to chaperone her, Cathy wasn't spending any time with boys away from school. When October rolled around her emails got less dark, and she started writing about what her friends were doing, and what was going on at school. She wanted to try out for a part in the musical that year, but Dad said no. He wasn't letting her have that much freedom, where she might succumb to her base nature and let some boy fuck her. She mentioned several times that she was looking forward to seeing me at Thanksgiving. Meanwhile I paid attention in class and read all my assignments. I went to the student union pretty regularly, especially on weekends, and got fairly good at eight ball. I met some interesting girls, but it felt like cheating to think about going out with them, so I only talked to them, also mostly at the union. I also worked part time on work study for university services, which took care of the apartments they had for married and foreign students. I started in plumbing, which I thought would teach me something about plumbing, but it was almost all unplugging toilets, so I managed to get a transfer to the team that took out old carpeting and installed new.

Then Thanksgiving got there and I went home for the first time since I left home.

I got there on a Tuesday night, because I had to take a bus to get home. I didn't have my own car. Luckily, Dad was home this year. There had been times in the past where he was too far away when the holiday got there to be able to come home. This year, though, he had four days off and picked me up at the bus station. He seemed normal. He asked me how school was and I said fine, and when I asked how everything at home was, he said fine, and it didn't occur to me until much later that his reticence to talk might be rooted in the fact that he hadn't gone to college and already thought of me as much more educated than he'd ever be. We got over that, eventually, but it made the ride home seem off somehow.

Cathy's reception for me was strangely muted, especially since she had recently said in an email that she couldn't wait for me to get home. She gave me a hug and a kiss on the side of the neck, and then said she had homework to do and disappeared. My room was unchanged, though Mom said something about turning it into a sewing room. What with her job and night classes, I wondered when she thought she'd have time to sew, but I knew she had a sewing machine and had repaired a lot of my clothes when I was younger, so I didn't ask questions. Dad made it clear he expected me not to be like other kids my age, who hung around home for years after high school and "mooched off their parents," as he put it.

It was actually kind of weird being home. I had nothing to do. A year before this, I would have had homework myself, or maybe gone to hang out with friends (or been in bed with Cathy) but now I felt like a visitor. So I sat down in front of the TV and watched a movie on Netflix. About halfway through it, Cathy plopped down beside me on the couch and asked me what I was watching. She sounded so much like a normal sister that I raised one eyebrow when I looked at her.

"Act normal," she whispered. Then, in a normal voice, she said, "So, is it a big secret or something? What are you watching?"

It happened to be a standup performance by Ricky Gervais, who I had always found to be both disturbing and entertaining. He has such a different outlook on life. So I told her who it was and she sat there and watched with me. Mom had gone to class, and Dad was sitting at the computer looking for a load to pick up when he went back to work. The next day was Wednesday, and nobody had said anything about special plans. If it was like years past, Mom would get up early on Thursday morning and put the turkey in the oven, and then spend hours getting everything else ready while Dad and I watched football.

So when Cathy yelled at Dad, asking him if I could take her to the mall, I thought she was just bored. But then Dad came in and interrogated her for five minutes on why she wanted to go, and what she was going to look at, and if she had plans to stop anywhere else.

I said, "Chill, Dad, we're only going to the mall," and he said, "You don't understand, Bobby. She can't help herself," and I said, "What?" and Cathy yelled, "I'm not going to go fuck some boy, Dad. You need to fucking get over it!"

It deteriorated from there, as he corrected her language and she just screamed some more. Finally, during a break in which neither was screaming, I said, "I'll take care of her Dad. I'm not going to let her do anything with any boys. I'll just take her shopping. Okay?"

He said, "Okay!" and Cathy pulled me to the front door so quickly that neither of us had a coat when we got outside. She wanted to go without them, but I told her to stay put and went back in to get them. I also needed the keys to the car.

Once in the car, she broke down. Dad was convinced that Cathy had no control over her libido, which was why she'd committed a felony to get on birth control, and embarrassed him publicly by doing so. The identities of all the girls who had done it had gotten around and every time he was home, some jerk would snicker, "How's that daughter of yours, Hank?" or make some other snide comment. It had been going on for months, and his response was to tighten up on Cathy with an iron fist. He wasn't taking any chances that she could embarrass him again.

I drove to the mall and pulled into a slot away from the crush. She came into my arms and we kissed. For the first time since I got home, she felt like normal Cathy. We spent the next fifteen minutes making out and I realized the windows were fogged up, which might draw exactly the kind of attention our father would have a coronary about. So we went inside and did some Christmas shopping and got something to eat and just spent time together.

When we got home, Dad was sitting where I'd been sitting, watching something on TV. I said we were fine and pushed her towards her room. Then I sat down beside my father, and said, "Don't you think you're being a little hard on her?"

He looked at me and said, "Look, boy, don't think that just because you started college, you understand shit. She's a woman and women are weak, and men prey on them. She fucked up and my job is to see she doesn't fuck up again until she's out on her own and her mistakes won't affect anybody else in this family."

"So you're kicking her to the curb?"

"My job is to raise you two and kick both of you to the curb," he growled.

"Hmm," I said. "Good to know."

"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked.

"I guess my job will be to get kicked to the curb and then keep an eye on you, so I know when to stick you in an old folks home," I said.

"Try it," he said, puffing up.

"You have a heart attack over worrying about what every other motherfucker in town is thinking and you won't be able to stop me," I said.

Then I got up and walked out of the room.

That night, I quietly went to my sister's room. She was exhausted from worrying all the time and actually asleep when I closed her door. I would have left her asleep, except she was Daddy's little girl, and Daddy's little girl was getting fucked that night. There was no way she wasn't getting fucked.

We needed a pillow again, because she started having orgasms one after another, and while Daddy's little girl was getting soiled, it would not do for Daddy to actually find out about that.

Then, when she went limp, I flushed her full of a three month supply of incestuous brother cum.

All in all, it was a very satisfying night.

The only thing I didn't do ... was check to make sure her ring was still in after I fucked her.

And Wednesday morning, when she got up, she didn't notice the little rubber ring folded into her sheets. So, Wednesday night, when I fucked her again, not only had Tuesday night's load ended up in her unprotected vagina, Wednesday night's load got added to it.

She did find the ring in her bed Thanksgiving morning.

But by then it was too late.

I didn't have to be back at school until Monday morning, but that meant going on the bus Sunday. Thursday was taken up by eating and football. Cathy didn't think it was important to tell me about finding her ring in bed that morning. She'd put it back in and thought that was all that was needed. Ironically, Thursday night, when she snuck into my room, I did check to see if it was there, but I did it while we were kissing and she might have thought it was just foreplay. We made love Thursday night, but not Friday night because Dad was getting ready to go back on the road the next morning. Mom was home that night, too, and we knew they'd stay up late. So we played it safe that night.

Saturday night we pushed the envelope. I went to her room and she led me back to my room and said we both had to leave our shirts on, because she said if we got caught she wanted to be able to say all she was doing was cuddling with her big brother before he had to go back to college again. I thought that was odd, until, after we had made love, she just stayed there until we both drifted off to sleep. She had planned on sleeping there all night.

We woke up before Mom did. She always slept late on Sundays. We made love one more time and neither of us had any idea that the sperm left over when my penis dragged her ring out Tuesday night was still in her womb, or that her body, when the ring came out, thought, "Oh! It must be time to start things up again!"  If this had happened on the normal schedule, her womb would have been ready to shed the lining of her uterus. Instead that lining was healthy and ready for implantation of a fertilized egg.  Moreover her ovaries had released an egg.

Basically, by the time I got back to college, my little sister was pregnant with my baby.

She didn't know, of course. Just like there's no "cha-ching" to announce ovulation, there's no "cha-ching" to announced impregnation has occurred.  The first clue was that, when she took her ring out on schedule, her period didn't start. She wasn't dumb. She knew this wasn't normal. So she made her own appointment with our family doctor and then went without Mom. She explained to the doctor what had happened and said she didn't know whether to put a new ring in or not. He asked her if there was any possibility that she might be pregnant and she said, "I'm on the ring, so no."

He explained that the only method of birth control that was a hundred percent effective was not having sex, and she said, "But it was only twice," at which point she remembered finding her ring in the bed. Things got cleared up when he did a test and said she was, in fact, pregnant. She cried and he said he needed to call her parents, because she was still a minor and she begged him not to and said her father would kill her. She must have sounded very convincing, because he called child protective services first.

This is how things can go to shit in a very short amount of time.

On the other hand, child protective services reined Dad in pretty effectively. If you can call disowning her and telling her to have her room empty by the end of her 18th birthday being reined in. Thankfully, she graduated from high school three weeks before she turned eighteen, which gave me time to come get her.

Dad blamed Mom for not "keeping a leash on Cathy" while he was on the road. Mom felt helpless, particularly when Cathy wouldn't say who had knocked her up. Her answer to that question was, "One, I don't want to marry him, and two, would you honestly want to turn my father loose on some poor boy who thought he was having safe sex?"

So, because of Dad, Cathy wouldn't cooperate with Mom. I was pretty sure Mom wouldn't understand, anyway. But what Mom did do was call me and ask if there was any way I could ease Cathy's entry into the adult world, since she was being cut off viciously from any support from her parents. The doctor thought he was doing Cathy a favor by involving CPS, when all that did was double the embarrassment and resultant harassment from Dad's "friends" in town. And that removed all trace of paternal support from Cathy's life. Do-gooders always think their actions will bring about the best possible result, even when it does the opposite.

As far as I was concerned, Dad did exactly what Gina had done. He chose popularity and what outsiders thought of him over loyalty to his family. In the end, he had neither friends (worth having) nor his family.

University services did a lot of work during the summer, when the apartments were empty, so I got offered full time while school was out. There were tons of places for rent in the summer, too, and I found one where Cathy and I could live together. The rent was cheaper in the summer, and would go up when school started again, but the landlord made me a deal because normally he got no income during the summer at all.

So I borrowed a car and went and picked up Cathy before she turned 18. She packed what she wanted in the car, and, because she knew Dad was getting home the next day, threw the rest on the front lawn. She left a note for Mom that said, "Sorry for the mess, but tell Dad I knew he would throw it all out on my birthday, so I saved him the effort. I love you. Cat." I told her she was being childish, but she insisted on doing it anyway.

Then I took her back to her new home, where both she and her baby were welcome.

I knew that becoming a hermit and shunning people would not be good for Cathy. In some ways, that's what I had done when I first got to school. I didn't shun people, exactly, but I didn't go out of my way to make new friends, either. I know now that part of that was from a misplaced loyalty to Cathy. I say misplaced, because Cathy didn't want me to be a friendless hermit, either. Our problem was that we knew our relationship was taboo and in our minds, the fewer people we were around, the fewer people might find out about us. It's also pretty normal for a pregnant young woman who has no boyfriend to feel like people might judge her.

I knew she needed to keep busy, especially since I was working full time, so I took her to the student employment office, where we fibbed a little and said she'd be starting school in the fall.

It turned out the early childhood education program needed some people. Life, unlike college semesters, doesn't cycle to a close every four months. The research they were doing in early childhood education involved humans in early childhood - kids - and that research needed to go on uninterrupted if the results were going to be useful for anything. So some of the more advanced students doing that research went to school year-round, at least for a couple of years. The university operated a child care center/preschool that provided the subjects for the experiments the post grad students dreamed up to illuminate how we learn when we're very young.

When she saw an announcement on the board for a full time child care worker, Cathy jumped at it. It was entry level, which was good, because she had no experience. Basically she was a worker bee who changed diapers and sang songs and supervised play and so forth. The fact that she was pregnant wasn't an obstacle, and there were no requirements that the prospective employee actually be a student. The pay was minimum wage, but that was offset by the fact that the employee's own children, aged infant to six years, could be enrolled for free. And, because she was an employee of the university, she got health insurance. That was really crucial, and a stroke of luck, because two months after she started, and about the same time as I started my second year of college, she went into labor.

By November, when Thanksgiving loomed, along with the first year of our lives we weren't going to be home to enjoy it with our parents, we were poor, but happy. Our daughter, Michelle Elise, was a happy, fat little thing, thriving on breast milk. She was part of a study comparing some two dozen measurements of things like weight gain, body mass index, evidence of allergic reaction and a bunch of other stuff, between babies who were breast fed, versus formula fed. Incidentally, Cathy loved breastfeeding, I think because the university setting made it so easy for her to do, with so little fanfare associated with it. She loved it so much that, after Michelle was weaned and an experiment was designed that needed wet nurses, she volunteered to do that. Basically, her breasts supplied delicious, nutritious mommy-milk for four years in a row. And since breasts of any size can produce as much milk as is required, within limits, the fact that I siphoned a little off now and then while we made love didn't hurt a thing.

Thanksgiving came and went. There was a homeless shelter/rescue mission kind of place in town and they provided Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who showed up. Over the years a lot of elderly people had started going there, usually bringing along some food, like one of our pot luck dinners at church, when we were little.  There's a story that they tell every year about one time when a new employee of the health department tried to stop that, but the food was put on a table with a sign that said, "This food is not approved for consumption by the Health Department." As the story goes, one homeless guy stood there and if anybody came up to the table, he asked, "Are you with the health department? Because if you are, this food is not fit for your consumption." Then he'd cackle. Supposedly, he did it for hours and never got tired of the joke.

Along with some of the elderly, if college kids were left at school, since the cafeteria was closed down, we'd go to the rescue mission, too. It was crowded and noisy and there were strange people there, but then again, isn't that what Thanksgiving dinner is like in millions of homes across the nation? They even had a couple of TVs where football was on.

I'm told something similar happened at Christmas, though on a much smaller scale. We never found out about that.

Michelle loved the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving. She wasn't crawling yet, of course, at only three months, but she could hold her head up like a champ. I thought she looked like a turtle without a shell, rubber-necking, trying to see everything that was going on. And lots of people wanted to hold her and cuddle her.

When school had started, we got two new roommates. We lived in an old two-story house with three bedrooms, part of the original town before there was a university, there. A girl named Tiffany moved into one bedroom, and a guy named Michael rented the other one. Neither one thought it was odd that a brother and sister would share the third bedroom to save money. They were told that Michelle's father hadn't wanted to step up to the plate, and that I was helping her. They also knew she worked at the child care center. There were two beds in our room, but we slept together. There was a little breaking-in period, where they got used to Michelle's excellent noise-making capabilities, but Tiffany had younger siblings, so she was used to it. I think Michael put up with it because he already knew Tiffany. Both were juniors and were in the broadcast journalism school. He was pursuing a meteorology degree and she wanted to be a cameraman. By second semester they were spending a lot of time in each other's bedrooms, and didn't pay much attention to Cathy and me at all.

My courses were still mostly of the standard type, and because I had spent so much time studying instead of partying, my study habits were good. So I was doing really well and looking forward to more challenging classes in years to come.

Basically, everything was pretty good for us. We were poor, but happy. We could sleep together and make love whenever we wanted to, again. Our first Christmas alone was looming, but we tried to be philosophical about it. If we'd moved out and gotten married like normal people, we'd be starting our own Christmas traditions anyway, right? We bought a little "permanent" tree at the Salvation Army thrift store, and some decorations, and tried to spruce up the house a little.

Then disaster struck.

Dad was delivering a trailer load of car parts up into Canada and a white-out blizzard developed. There was a pileup on the highway ahead of him and he ran into it at much too high a rate of speed. The cab of the truck he was driving was torn completely off the chassis and he was killed instantly.

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