"Where the Heart Is" has been one of my favorite movies for years, but I've just now gotten around to writing fanfiction for it. This is a short oneshot exploring Novalee's discovery of her pregnancy and Willy Jack's reaction to the news, with a few brief flashbacks leading up to the event and aftermath.
Expect more drabbles shortly. Especially nasty mullet-y Willy Jack. Hooooh yeah. I love that inbred hillbilly sum'bitch.
Read, review, and enjoy.
P.S. I haven't actually read the novel by Billie Letts, but I found it on Amazon and will be purchasing myself a copy as soon as I have enough money. So, until then, all my WTHIs fics are going to be based off the 2000 movie-verse.
Novalee knew she was in trouble when she started throwing up.
She'd already missed her period, and that had been almost a month ago. Her friend Rhonda told her she was probably pregnant, on account of that night she and Willy Jack did it in the back of his car at Earl's party. Novalee didn't believe her; she'd always heard it was impossible to get pregnant the first time. At least, that's what Willy Jack told her when she'd hurriedly asked at the last minute, just to make sure.
"Hell, Novalee," Willy Jack's weedy voice grated in her memory, close to her ear and his breath hot on her neck as they fumbled around in the back of the old Plymouth. "Ever'body knows that."
She'd closed her eyes then, accepting his half-assed lie and willing to let herself bask in the heat and shivery pleasure his muscled body had to offer. At nineteen, Willy Jack was more man than boy, and this sure as hell wasn't his first time with a girl, Novalee knew that much. He kissed rough, but his wet lips touched all the right spots on Novalee's sensitive skin, sending shivers of excited pleasure in tingling waves throughout her whole body. She opened her eyes, arched her neck, gasped and stared blankly up at the sagging grey interior of the car's roof, vision gone starry with blunt pain when Willy Jack thrust himself inside of her, big and rough and unprotected.
"What, this your first time or somethin'?" He'd grunted, thickly-accented voice gone gravelly. Novalee didn't say anything, so he took it as an a-OK to continue. Willy Jack didn't like girls who talked too much. Novalee knew that.
The screen door banging open with a loud clatter caught Novalee's attention. She jumped, startled at the noise, heart pounding in the aftermath on top of her already jangling nerves. Her whole body trembled with anxiousness. Willy Jack was home.
"'Ey, Novalee!" He hollered, that same grating yell that greeted her every time he came inside. "Where you at?"
Novalee breathed to herself for a few moments, fingers fiddling with the plastic pregnancy test. "In here, hon," she called, answering him. It's a plus sign, she thought, staring down at the test. The plus sign had appeared faintly at first, but had grown darker and more well-defined as the minutes ticked by. Definitely positive. The box says a plus sign means positive. I'm pregnant. I can't be pregnant. It was only my first time…
"Hell, woman," Willy Jack hollered again, mumbling around his cigarette. Novalee could picture it dangling off his lip as he talked. "Why don'tcha just move inta the damn bathroom! I gotta go too, y'know!" He gave the door a solid kick, and she flinched. He's gonna be mad, she fretted silently. Willy Jack had made it clear he wasn't ready "for no damn kids" anytime soon; he had big plans to move to California and make it big as a country singer. Novalee, by now, could almost recite perfectly the speech he'd always make whenever he got drunk or riled up, or if one of his favorite songs was playing on the crackly secondhand radio in the kitchen or car.
One'a these days, that's gonna be me, Willy Jack would always say, grinning proudly and drunkenly around a cigarette, bottle of cheap beer clasped in his fist. One'a these days I'm gonna get outta this place'n make it big, jus' like ol' Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings. Then y'all'll be comin' t'all my shows and seein' me play live in concert, 'n I'll have fans 'n groupies 'n I'll be rich 'n famous, 'n y'all ain't never gonna see my ass 'round here again! He would never mention Novalee. She wasn't included in his plans to make it big. Willy Jack didn't want to be tied to a woman or kids or family when he left to pursue his dreams. Novalee knew that.
"Goddamn, Novalee!" Willy Jack pounded on the bathroom door, making it rattle. "Get the hell outta the bathroom 'fore I piss myself!"
He was getting mad now. Novalee hated when Willy Jack lost his temper; usually he just hollered and slammed shit and went outside and threw shit around, but one time he'd hit her. Backhanded her so hard she stumbled and fell onto the floor, and it left a black eye for almost two weeks. She'd left and moved in with Rhonda for a while, but Willy Jack had gotten stone-drunk and came crawling up on the porch steps, whining and wheedling like a tomcat in heat until Novalee came to the door and heard out his profuse, strung-together, barely-intelligible apologies and promises to never lay a hand on her again "so long as ya stay with me, Novalee, I swear I'll never do it again". Whatever. But she'd gone back to him anyway, and now he'd gotten her into an even bigger mess, one that couldn't be fixed with apologies alone.
"I'm comin', hon." Novalee hurriedly shoved the test and the crumpled instruction booklet back in the box and threw it under the sink. She unlocked the door, and Willy Jack stood there, beer in hand, cigarette fixed firmly on the corner of his lip, seeming to take up the whole doorway.
"Jesus, finally," he declared, blowing smoke in her face. "The hell took you so long?"
"I'm sick, hon." Novalee answered quietly, looking up at him.
"Yeah, me too," Willy Jack muttered, smoke rolling off his cigarette. "Sick'a you takin' up the damn bathroom all the time."
Novalee pressed her mouth into a thin line. "I'm pregnant, Willy Jack."
A beat of silence passed between them. "What?" He uttered, confused expression contorting his sweaty face. His top lip curled around his cigarette, revealing a yellowed incisor. Novalee found herself repulsed by the sight of him, and she had to keep her lips pressed firmly together to quell her nausea.
"I said I'm pregnant, Willy Jack," she repeated, louder and more firmly.
He stared at her, same stupid expression on his slow face. Then he shook his head, mask of anger sliding back into place. "That's jus' great. Thash' great." He proclaimed, turning and heading back for the screen door, his urgent need to pee apparently forgotten.
Novalee was left alone in the trailer, still standing in the bathroom doorway. Unsure of what to think, she simply stood there, attempting to process what had just happened. She was glad he hadn't lost his temper and hit her again. Maybe he didn't wanna hurt the baby, a small voice in her head reasoned, but the notion was still absurd. Willy Jack didn't give a shit about the baby. He just needs time, is all, the voice spoke up again, sounding oddly calm and reassuring. Perhaps it was the voice of the mother she'd never had – a real mother, a loving, caring mother who didn't abandon her child on her fifth birthday to run off with a baseball umpire named Fred. Maybe it was her own voice, now sounding motherly, because she was going to be a mother herself soon. Emotion prickled at her eyes. She suddenly longed for Willy Jack, for his strong arms around her, and for him to say it was all right for them to have a baby. Maybe he'll even ask you to marry him, the voice piped up again, brightening with possible excitement, although even the optimistic voice felt that was a farfetched idea.
Willy Jack just needed to blow off some steam, tear out in the old Plymouth with a screeching of tires and go get tore-up shitfaced wasted down at Earl's or at the local biker bar where his fake I.D. actually worked. That's how he dealt with problems, big news, and upsetting events. The realization that he'd knocked up his seventeen-year-old girlfriend counted as all three. It was a big night for him tonight.
Willy Jack just needed to blow off some steam, then he'd come home and be back to normal. Novalee knew that. For now, she settled with changing into her nightgown and watching reruns of I Love Lucy on their small little TV with the crooked antenna and fuzzy screen, trying to keep her mind off the plus sign on the pregnancy test, or Willy Jack's reaction to her news. Their news.
Willy Jack would be back in the morning. Novalee knew that. He didn't have anybody else to come home to.