Betty Draper cradled the tiny lime green phone in her hands, twisting the cord around her fingers. With a spare hand she continued to fan herself to keep the bugs away from her tiny apartment in the heart of Manhattan. The lone open window in the corner brought her little pleasure for the long Indian Summer ahead of her.
"Daddy, I told you, Don and I are doing just fine." Taking in another deep breath, Betty shot a dirty look at the broken air conditioner in the next room. Some help you are, she glowered. "No, I am not lying, Daddy," she insisted, trying to keep a positive attitude for her father back home in Philadelphia. "Yes, I know that your offer to come home for the summer still stands, but Don's so busy with work there's no way we could get time off right now." Betty swatted a stray fly on the counter. "I am not going up East for three weeks without Don." Wiping a bead of sweat off her forehead, Betty continued her conversation. "Because he's my husband." She countered to fan herself with the tiny paper implement. "Well, it's sweet of you to be so worried, but the three of us are doing just fine." Betty rested her hand on her tiny tummy. Haven't heard her complaining too much, Betty thought to herself. But I'm sure everything is nice and cool in there. Betty craned her neck upon hearing the familiar ring of the ice cream man right outside her window. "Daddy, I have to go, something came up. Give my love to Mother and William – I promise to call tomorrow." Placing the phone on the receiver, she grabbed some change from the piggy bank on the counter and bolted out the front door, hoping to catch some sweet relief.
Betty triumphantly handed the gentleman her coins, selecting a chocolate ice cream bar for herself, opting to eat it on her front stoop rather than go back up the stairs. It's just as hot outside as it is inside, she thought bitterly, waiting impatiently for evening to come. The sun would go down until morning, and her husband would finally come home from work.
Betty lifted her left hand, looking at her diamond ring glimmer in the afternoon sun. They had only been married for a few short months, and she still thought of herself as a young newlywed. So did her father, who had been persistent with his phone calls to the city – especially after finding out that he was expecting his first grandchild.
Betty closed her eyes for a moment, resting one hand on her stomach. She had told her roommates that she wanted to have one hundred children with Don, but she didn't imagine getting pregnant so soon after the honeymoon. Betty pivoted so that she could find the perfect spot to sun herself. It wasn't just the sun that was getting her down today; today she was officially one year older, making her exactly twenty-one years old. An official grown up was what her father called her when he sent her birthday wishes earlier that day, though he reminded her that she would always be his little princess. I feel older enough, Betty thought to herself. She had decided during her modeling years to attempt to push birthdays aside – in an effort to stay as young as possible. Don had playfully teased her about it earlier that morning, telling her that she was lucky to have married him before she became an old maid. Betty hadn't been able to see the humor in his joke, even if it was well-meaning.
Heading back into the house, Betty peeked into the small refrigerator in the corner to see what she would be serving for dinner. Pulling out a small frozen chicken, Betty sorted the ingredients in the kitchen. As she went through the motions of preparing another meal she wondered just what would await her the night of her birthday. She hadn't asked her husband for anything in particular that year; she knew how hard Don was working to provide for the both of them on his small salary at Heller Furs.
The sun finally began to fade for the evening, bringing an aura of coolness to the various inhabitants of the Manhattan neighborhood. Betty had opted to enjoy one of her borrowed library books on the front stoop once more, waving hello to neighbors as they passed by. She was close enough to check on dinner at a moment's notice, ensuring that Don would be satisfied when he returned.
Checking her wristwatch, Betty walked up the front door and pulled the chicken out of the oven. It was finally time to put on the finishing touches. Her mother had trained her to be a proper housewife, to learn how to cook and keep house for her husband, and Betty reveled in her little successes, hoping that her husband was as happy as she was.
Betty perked up hearing a familiar sound of footsteps coming up the front door. "Welcome home," Betty said with a pleasant smile, taking her husband's briefcase.
"Happy birthday," Don grinned, giving her a kiss on the mouth.
"Ssshhh, I was hoping to forget," she chided.
"Well I didn't want to forget to give you this," Don smirked, pulling a small black box from behind his back.
"Oh Don," Betty murmured, touching the black velvet exterior. Opening the box, Betty let out a tiny gasp as she pulled out a gold charm bracelet.
"They're all the rage in the city," Don said, lifting the bracelet out of the box and clasping it around Betty's right wrist. "You can get dozens of little charms and attach them to the bracelet – make quite a collection."
"I love it," Betty sighed, throwing her arms around her husband's neck. "I love you more," she whispered.
"I love you both more than that," Don added, resting his hand on her belly. "By this time next year, they'll be a beautiful little baby."
"She'll have your eyes," Betty said, pulling Don to the small dinner table.
"You're so sure it's a girl?" Don teased, lifting his fork.
"A mother knows these things," Betty said over her water glass.
"To the mother," Don said, toasting his wife, who readily raised her glass in celebration of her first few months of marriage and first baby on the way.