As I drove home from Richmond the next night, 24 hours into my secret, I knew exactly where my first stop would be. I wouldn’t go home, wouldn’t pass go, wouldn’t collect £200 before I’d seen Fats and told her my news.
I still remember the song playing in the car when I pulled up in front of her house – ‘The Ship Song Project’, if you don’t know it, listen to it – and the feeling of bitter sweet that consumed me. On the passenger seat, I had the bouquet of red flowers I’d picked up from my favourite florist in Richmond for her, and as I got out of the car with the flowers, I took a big, deep breath.
Whilst I knew Fats would be over the moon for me, I also knew that that news couldn’t be digested completely without sadness. Fats suffered a very heart-breaking miscarriage two years earlier, and has been incredibly broody ever since. In the aftermath, she discovered she suffered from both polycystic ovaries and endometriosis, conditions which could have an impact on her fertility. The news of both my own and Stel’s pregnancies would be difficult for her, yet I knew she’d react in the way that the very best friends would: with happiness, love and support. And, you see, she is the very best friend, in every sense of the title.
Fats and I have nineteen years of unbreakable, unfaltering friendship to boast. No-one in the world knows me better, or understands me better, than Fats. We used to refer to ourselves as ‘soul sisters’ and as 90s as that was, it’s completely accurate. Since that aforementioned art class when I met Holly and we bonded over our love of the Spice Girls, our pets, and our incredibly vivid imaginations, we’ve been inseparable. Dan has often admitted that he’s well aware that Holly is the true love of my life, and Coates – Holly’s boyfriend – learnt that same lesson fairly quickly.
I presented Fats with my positive tests, and her eyes grew increasingly wide as she grabbed me and squeezed me tight. As we hugged and chatted, and hugged and chatted, she drank a bottle of ginger wine, and we discussed how her period – as usual – was late. “That would be incredible,” I said to her. “I know,” she said, “but I’ve done a test and it was negative.” I told her about how my first test was negative and how I’d read that endometriosis could affect pregnancy test results, showing either false positives or false negatives, and immediately regretted having mentioned it, seeing the hope in her eyes.
Later that night, Fats and Coates sent us a video of them singing and dancing along to ‘Baby Love’ and she looked truly happy, and I couldn’t have been more relieved, or grateful. See, the very best friend.
We planned to go to Fats’ house the very next night for dinner and movies. Neither she nor I had any idea how that evening would play out, or how in 24 hours, those two eleven-year-olds in art class – who would write daily letters to each other filled with their hopes and heartaches – would be contemplating their new roles, together, as mums-to-be. Of course, everyone else would call it a miracle that two best friends would fall pregnant only eight days apart, but for us, and those that really, really know us, it was written in the stars from that very first day in Mrs Blackmore’s art class..