I fight to open my eyes, but something inside me warns me not to wake up. My stomach hurts. My head feels heavy. And who's vacuuming? Don't they know I'm trying to sleep? Where am I, anyway?
"Happy birthday dear Chloe, happy birthday to you."¯ I blow out the six pink candles, straighten the princess birthday crown on my head, and eagerly anticipate a giant piece of angel food cake with strawberry frosting and my most favorite ice creams--chocolate, chocolate chip.
"Oops, Mommy, I dropped ice cream on my princess dress. Now my life is ruined."¯
"No worries, sweetie, Mommy will take care of it. Mommies can fix anything."¯ Mommy kisses me on the cheek, and I know everything will be okay.
The incessant vacuuming is joined by talking. Loud talking. Hey, am I invisible here? It sounds like someone is moving silverware aroundā€”dropping it onto a metal tray. Would everyone please stop making so much noise? I just need to get some sleep. There is way too much commotion going on here. What's the crisis, anyway?
Mom brings our blue mini-van to a screeching halt in front of Madison Middle School. I am late for school--again.
"Do you have your science project, sweetie?"
"Yes, Mom."¯ I roll my eyes. "Why do you always question me? I'm a teenager now--I can take care of myself."¯
I wrestle the white display board out the back sliding door.
"Oops, the spring fell off the board. Oh, great. Now what am I supposed to do? I'm already late for first period. My life is ruined."
"No worries, sweetie. I'll take care of it. I'll just run home, grab the glue gun, come back and have this board fixed before your science class. Remember, Mommies can fix anything."¯ She blows me a kiss and mouths "everything will be okay"¯ before speeding away.
The vacuuming stops. My stomach cramps. The loud talking is replaced by hushed voices. I strain to hear, but can only make out a few words. Missed. Pieces. Bleeding. The vacuum starts up again. Good grief, how big is the room, anyway?
"Oh, Eric, I wish you didn't have to leave tomorrow. How am I going to live without you?"¯
"Sshh, baby, I know."¯ Eric pulls me tighter into his embrace. "It's only for a few months, and then I'll be home for winter break."
"But what if you meet some college girl who steals your heart away from me?"
"Hey, I already told you, nobody's going to steal my heart. And, besides, the love we're going to share with each other tonight will bond us together as one. Forever."
Eric lies back on his bed and tugs at my arm. His parents are gone for the evening; my parents think we're at a movie. Eric and I have been dating for two years. Everyone calls us the perfect couple. He was captain of the Debate team; I was co-captain. He plays bass in the youth group worship band, I sing lead. We both volunteer at the city soup kitchen.
We'd been talking for weeks about how we would spend our last night together, and I really did want to give myself to Eric completely, but--
"I don't know, Eric. The Bible says this is wrong."
"Come on, Chloe. We love each other. And it will only be this one time. Then we'll wait until we're married."
Eric gently caresses my cheek with the back of his hand. His tender kisses on my neck make me melt in his arms. As he slowly begins unbuttoning my blouse, I hesitate, pushing his hand away from my now exposed bare skin.
"What if, you know--something goes wrong?"
"Relax, Chloe, I got protection from the school nurse."
Eric returns to my buttons and I stop listening to the still small voice and start reacting to my passionate desires.
It all happens very quickly. Not quite like I'd pictured--or seen in the movies.
"Oops."¯ Eric abruptly rolls away from me.
"What's wrong?" I reach for the blanket--suddenly ashamed of my nakedness.
"Uh, nothing. Just a little slippage. No worries."
"Chloe, Chloe. Can you hear me?"¯
I hear her voice. I don't want to open my eyes. I have intense pain in my lower abdomen. I know what that vacuuming was. My life is ruined.
"The nurse said everything went fine, sweetie. It's all taken care of. See? Mommies can fix anything."
She kisses me and I know--everything is not okay.
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