The idea for this story has been nested in my head ever since I was a child, a child who had the very particular fear outlined below. As a adult, I took out the idea often. I knew there was a story in there. But, I could never quite see it. Credit must go to “B Is for Beer” by Tom Robbins for lending me the pink and flowery X-ray glasses through which I could finally glimpse it.
When Olivia awoke on Sunday morning, she knew. She had been impregnated by God in the middle of the night. Now she was going to have to tell her parents.
They weren’t going to believe her, of course, which was completely unfair seeing as though they were the ones who had told her about the Virgin Mary in the first place. Olivia was young, but she was old enough to know that there was a disconnect between things grown-ups purported to believe around Christmas tree time and what they believed the rest of the year. Or maybe they believed certain things about Biblical times, but didn’t think the rules applied to this Wednesday morning. Or maybe, Olivia suspected, being particularly bright, they didn’t really believe those things ever. Regardless, her predicament remained the same. They were not going to believe her now.
But what else could she say? They were bound to notice a beach-ball stomach sticking out of her overalls. She would have to tell them something. And while Olivia would not have wanted to lie about her immaculate conception, she was a kid after all and if there had been a good lie, she certainly would have been tempted.
Part of the trouble she ran into when trying to imagine a lie was that she didn’t know that much about the birds and the bees. She had been handed a book by her mother that very year, which explained among chapters about body hair and breasts, the comingling of male and female body parts necessary for reproduction, but she still wasn’t sure she had the full picture. The measurements and angles of what was required to fit where seemed improbable. She was clear on one thing though: the topic was mortifying and certainly not one about which she wanted to talk with her parents. Furthermore, while the exact mechanics remained dubious, she was positive that it was the kind of thing for which she would be in big trouble. Possibly the biggest trouble of her life.
Before Olivia could decide what to say, (no amount of swallowed pumpkin seeds, she discovered despairingly, would result in a pumpkin in the womb,) Olivia was visited thrice by angels. The first angel was almost as young as Olivia herself and showed up swimming in Heavenly light, somersaulting around the room until she caught sight of Olivia watching and straightened up.
“Are you an angel?” Olivia asked, to which the angel child nodded.
“Are you here because of what happened?” Another nod.
“Is this like when the angel came down to talk to Mary?” Olivia cringed at the comparison. Again the angel child nodded.
However, it turned out, this was not like that. Instead of a Heavenly explanation, the angel child opened her mouth several times, meaning to say something, but would then shut it promptly looking puzzled. Clearly, if there was a message, she was not entirely sure she remembered it. After much time had passed, the angel child curtsied with an embarrassed smile and left. Olivia tried to roll over and fall asleep.
Two nights later, a second angel arrived, older and male. “It’s like this,” he said, “God doesn’t make mistakes. First, you have to understand that. God doesn’t make mistakes.” This angel too seemed to lose his train of thought, but before Olivia could interrupt, he spread his hands and said, “Olivia, have you ever had the experience where you meant to do one thing, but did something else instead?”
“Like a mistake?” Olivia asked, scrunching her nose. Obviously, she had made mistakes but she felt sure the angel had just hinted that this was the wrong answer.
“Maybe it almost seemed like a mistake, but then it turned out to be for the better?” the angel asked her, nodding his head encouragingly.
“I guess,” she said. She could not really remember a time when this happened to her off the top of her head, but she didn’t want to contradict an angel. She was already in enough trouble.
“Well, good,” he said.
Olivia stared at him, waiting for more.
“So…” His hand beckoned her next thought forward, but Olivia’s head was as empty as her uterus had been two weeks ago. Finally, grasping at straws, she said, “Amen?” The angel vanished.
And so it was the third angel, who showed up two nights after that with a neat bun under her halo, who set the record straight.
“But that’s not fair! I’m going to get in big trouble,” said Olivia. She pouted and crossed her arms and stamped a mean foot onto her carpet, and then, inspiration struck. “You could tell them! My mom and dad!”
“Well,” the angel said with a stern tilt of her head, “no. Angels cannot go around to whomever you see fit with explanations. It’s undignified.”
“But, what do you want me to do? I’m just a kid. I don’t want to grow a big watermelon stomach and eat pickles in my ice cream. And,” she said, now finding her voice, “I don’t even want a baby! I don’t know how to change a diaper, and my allowance is only two dollars a week.”
“Well, what do you want?” said the angel, with a less-than-patient smile.
“A puppy,” said Olivia, her eyes growing wide. “The tiny black hot-dog kind.”
And so it came to be that Olivia had to face her parents’ horrified glances as her stomach became rounder. She was pulled out of school and forced to endure several long-winded child therapists and two sets of police interrogations. But she stuck to her story. And when nine months later, she delivered a beautiful baby Dachshund, her parents had to admit she seemed to be telling the truth.
Reluctantly, they began attending regular church services again, though they refused to dress up. Both had imagined the irrefutable knowledge that God existed would be a little more comforting than it turned out to be, and wrinkles blouses and ripped jeans were their way of showing their disappointment. The name Olivia had given to her dog, Whoopsie, only served to underline the issue, but the dog was given to Olivia by God, so if He didn’t like it, they decided He could talk to her.
And so, Olivia and Whoopsie lived happily ever after for the sixteen years that Whoopsie lived, and when he died, Olivia was quite proud of the foresight she had shown in also demanding a Doggy Heaven.