Chapter 1 – Gloria’s dilemma is revealed

In honor of the long-awaited (at least, by me) official release of my novel, this blog post will be the entire first chapter of the book.  I hope you find it interesting. If it makes you want to read the whole book, you can get it from most online retailers, including and Barnes and Nobles. com. It is available as an ebook in a variety of formats, including Nook and Kindle. Of course, you can always have your local book store order it, if you prefer to support the businesses in your local community. Whatever you choose, I do hope you enjoy it.

I would love to hear your reaction.




Gloria Geist awoke from the dream overwhelmed by a feeling of dread. It was that same dream again and it left her feeling vulnerable, afraid and pregnant…very pregnant.

She did not want to have a baby. Not now, not at this stage of her life. She was 46 years old. She had a married daughter who was expecting her first child. She had come to terms with being a grandmother before she was ready. She didn’t think she could come to terms with being a pregnant grandmother. Besides, her husband and daughter would be horrified. This couldn’t be happening, but she was pretty sure it was.

She shivered with apprehension as she finally confronted her nagging fear. She went into the downstairs bathroom, locked the door and peed on the pregnancy-detection stick that she had hidden weeks ago. If her fear was confirmed, and those last few months without periods were because of pregnancy, she would have to tell Jared she was pregnant rather than menopausal.

Feeling faint, she stayed seated on the toilet and put her head down between her knees. She held the stick tightly between the thumb and forefinger of her right hand. She was going to give herself a few seconds before she looked at it again. Maybe she had read it wrong the first time. After all, it had been years since she used one of these.

As the blood began to flow back to her brain, she was able to think more clearly. With the fingers on her left hand, she carefully counted back the months to the last time she and Jared made love. Not enough fingers on one hand. This was bad, really bad.

It didn’t add up right. She didn’t see how she could have conceived. Jared had been gone for a month-long business training right about the time she would have had to conceive if her missed periods were an indication of when she got pregnant. This didn’t make sense. She decided to get to her gynecologist as soon as possible. She needed answers…and soon.

Her visit to the doctor left her with more questions, than answers. If her doctor was right about how far along she was, she would have had to conceive while her husband was out of town. This was a total impossibility. She shivered as she contemplated what this could mean.

As she walked to the parking lot, she began to feel off balance and out of it; the same way she felt after taking antihistamines. Her heart beat rapidly as she tried frantically to figure out how she could possibly be only three months pregnant. Maybe it would be better to walk. She headed towards Touro Park. A short walk around the perimeter might clear her head. What she really needed was someone to talk to, but how could she share this news with anyone? It would be devastating if it got back to Jared.

She sat on a bench and started to cry. Before she noticed, a man in a tattered pea coat, mismatched boots and a dirty watch cap sat down beside her.

“Hey, Curly, why the tears? What does a pretty lady like you have to cry about?”

She recognized him as soon as he started to speak. It was the homeless man whom she saw almost every time she went to the park. Most people thought he was crazy. She made a habit of greeting him and treating him with respect, even though Jared thought he might be dangerous. One day a few years ago, when her unruly hair was blowing into her face, he called her Curly. Ever since, that had been his name for her. They had developed a friendship of sorts, based on friendly greetings and her occasional gifts of hot drinks, gloves, socks and much-needed tissues. She figured she was one of the only people who treated him like a normal human being. She went out of her way to be kind to him. He often said to her, “Don’t you worry. I’ve got your back,” even though there was no reason to think she needed someone to have her back.

She wished he would leave her alone now, but knew that he wouldn’t go if he thought she was in trouble. Wiping away the tears on her cheek with the back of her hand, she looked at him intently.

“I know you can keep a secret. Right?”

“Hell yes, Curly. I can keep a secret. No one talks to me, and when I talk to folks they think I’m psycho. I’m your man for a secret. Just call me your secret keeper and I’ll call you my secret weeper.”

She considered his answer. Maybe he is crazy, but no one will believe anything he says about me.

“I’ve got a problem. I’m pregnant and…”

“Unplanned babies. Hmmmmm, there are lots of those in the world, Curly. Look at the stars, probably as many unplanned babies as stars in the skies. Did you know that we are made of stars?”

“Sure. I know…lots of unplanned babies but this one can’t be my husband’s,” she said, tears beginning to flow again.

“Oh, well that’s a different problem… Curly, I hate to tell you but you are in some deep shit. Cheating women, ummm, ummm, ummm…lot of songs been written about them cheating women.”

“I didn’t cheat! I didn’t even have sex. I just…well…I think it happened in a dream,” she said tentatively.

“And people think I’m crazy? That’s a good one, Curly, but even a wacko guy like me can’t believe that one. Unless, you are the Virgin Mary come back to life in the here and now. You aren’t, are you?”

For an instant she considered the story about the Virgin Mary. She had never really believed this story, but for a moment she empathized with the Virgin Mary and what she must have gone through before she told Joseph that she was pregnant. She wondered when people started referring to Jesus’ mother as the Virgin Mary, and that led her to wonder ruefully how people would refer to her. The Cheating Gloria? Maybe the Crazy Gloria?

“Hey, Curly, don’t look so sad. Why don’t you tell me the whole story? I’ll figure out an answer. You know that when I look through a window, I always see things no one else can see,” he said.

“I don’t want to disappoint you, but the only reason I am telling you any of this is because I know no one will believe you if you ever repeat it,” she said.

“Yeh, I get that. That’s for true. Go on, tell me how you got yourself in this fix, Curly.”

“I don’t even know and I sure as hell don’t know which will be harder, telling my daughter that I am pregnant or telling my husband I am pregnant with a baby that is not his.”

“That one is easy, Curly. Telling your husband is gonna be harder for sure. Whoooeeee, that’s gonna be a hurtin’ time.”

“You’re no help. You don’t even believe that I didn’t cheat on Jared. But l didn’t. You know the beginning of menopause does weird things to a woman’s cycle and people have change-of-life babies. My periods have been kind of random lately.”

“Maybe I don’t need to know all the woman stuff details about this,” he interjected.

“But, it’s important. See, if I wasn’t pregnant and my periods were regular, I would be just about due for my third period since Jared’s business trip. According to the doctor, I am fourteen weeks pregnant. That means I got pregnant while he was gone. But that’s impossible.”

“Sure is impossible if he’s the daddy,” he added.

“We didn’t even have sex for months before he left because of his back sprain, and before that I got poison ivy on my legs, and that was gross. So if I figure back to the last time we actually made love, I would have to be at least six months pregnant, and the doctor says I’m definitely not.”

“Ummm, ummm, that’s a mystery.”

“God knows what he thinks about why I kept insisting that I had to be farther along. He probably thinks I’m having an affair. Like that would ever happen.”

“Curly, you got a world of trouble here. I got to think about this before I see an answer. I’m gonna go look through that window there…that one, the third one over…that’s the one. I think you best go home and face the music now. Get it over with.”

As he walked away, Gloria considered her options. Maybe she should stop for a cup of coffee before going home. She just couldn’t walk back into her house, knowing she was pregnant and that she literally did not know how she had conceived. It made no sense to her. Worse than that, it scared the bejeezus out of her. As she ordered a large latte, she pushed the hair off her forehead. Her temples were covered with sweat and her thick, curly hair was beginning to clump in moist bunches.

She had so much to figure out, so many questions she needed to answer. The list made her head throb. She really wanted to call her best friend Sheila, but Sheila was also her sister-in-law. She just couldn’t take the chance that Sheila would tell Jared’s brother. She sipped her latte tentatively, wondering if it was still okay to drink coffee. She hoped it was because giving up coffee would be even harder than giving up alcohol.

 Alcohol. Oh my God, how much wine have I had in the last three months? She needed to get a grip. Most of all, she needed to figure out how to break this news to Jared. How could she tell her husband she was pregnant and the baby was not his, but not to be upset? How could she make him understand that she had not had sex with anyone, and yet she was pregnant? It made no sense to her. How could she expect him to believe it?

Would telling Melanie be any easier than telling Jared? Probably not. No matter how the baby was conceived, Melanie would not be happy to hear that she was going to have a sibling the same age as her own child. No point thinking they might grow closer because they were pregnant together. No way. Melanie would be at best incredulous and at worst very hurt and angry.

The more she contemplated telling her husband and daughter, the more convinced she became that there was no upside to telling them. She was in an impossible situation that made absolutely no sense to her. If she was having trouble believing it, how could she expect Jared and Melanie to believe it?

Despite her worries about how Jared and Melanie would react, the question that caused her the most distress would surely be the hardest to answer. Does this pregnancy really have something to do with that dream? Could I possibly be the girl in the dream?

For the past few months, Gloria had been plagued by a recurring nightmare; a nightmare so real and so graphic that she had begun to wonder if she had tapped into a past life. Each time she had the dream she felt more connected to it. But the realization that she was actually pregnant with a baby that could not be Jared’s shocked her into believing that she was truly linked in some mysterious way to the girl in the dream.

Every time she woke up from this nightmare, about a young girl who was raped, she felt an intense desire to help her. But now, with her inexplicable pregnancy confirmed, she felt trapped and afraid.

The dream was always exactly the same. It was a narrative told by a young pregnant girl in a hospital. The girl always began the story by referring to her celestial life, but the story was about her earthly life. The dream always ended with the girl in a hospital bed, being told by a nurse, that she was pregnant. Every time Gloria had this nightmare, she woke up just as the girl was learning that she was pregnant. Each time she woke, she wondered if she felt a stirring inside her womb.

She had this same dream so many times during the past three months that she could recite it from memory. Now, as she sat bent over a half-empty cup of coffee, she reviewed the dream yet again.


That’s the first chapter. Here’s a short video that tells you a little more about the dream.


About What a Heart Can Hold

I'm Jan Krause Greene - writer, peace activist and lover of the earth. I formed my opinions about life at an early age and they haven't really changed much since then - I believe war does not create lasting solutions, love will be the real revolution, and the human heart can expand until it holds love for the whole world. I have been a teacher, a newspaper columnist, a bank teller, a house cleaner, an executive director of a non-profit dedicated to education advocacy, a diversity trainer, AIDS activist, a group facilitator, and a waitress. Whatever it took to raise 5 kids and remain true to my values. I can't carry a tune, but I love to sing and don't know any steps, but I love to dance!
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