Maria slipped into her chair at the kitchen table and, with a trembling hand, spooned scrambled eggs onto her plate. “Where’s dad?” She lifted her eyes to peek at her mom.
“In his office.” Loreene turned from the stove and set down a plate of bacon before taking her own seat. “His boss called and needed something right now, never mind breakfast.”
“Oh. Ok. Um…” She shot a furtive glance down the hall, then looked down her plate.
Loreene eyed her daughter. “Something on your mind?”
“It’s just…it’s been a week.” Tears pooled in Maria’s eyes and she tried unsuccessfully to blink them away. “And he hasn’t called.”
She nodded and forced a swallow of juice past the lump in her throat.
“Maybe he’s been sick.”
“No, see…” Maria peeked down the hall again. “Last week, he told me he loved me.” She chanced a look at her mom, but couldn’t meet her eyes.
“Hmmm. Do you love him, too?” Loreene grabbed a slice of bacon and began nibbling.
“Yes, Mama, I do. And I told him. I know you think we’re too young, but we really ARE in love.” She'd stirred her eggs into oblivion by then and dropped her fork in disgust. Fresh tears fell into the yellow mess on her plate.
Loreene ached to throw her arms around her “baby” girl and smother her in hugs. She opted to play it cool instead. “So, why do you think he hasn’t called?”
Maria buried her face in her hands and mumbled, “I think I made a mistake.”
“By telling him you love him?”
“No. By showing him.”
Maria’s sob echoed through the kitchen, and Loreene grasped her hand. Lord, give me words. Give me wisdom and patience. She took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak, having no idea what she was going to say.
“Ok. You say showed him. And that means…?” She was careful to maintain a gentle tone despite the raging emotions threatening to make her shriek.
“Mom. I’m sorry. I know you said I should wait, but it seemed right. I thought it was for real. But it’s been a week, now, and he hasn’t called, and I…I’m…”
“Scared? Angry? Confused? You should be. I would be. I AM.”
“No. Well, yes, those things, but I’m…late.”
Loreene’s racing heart kicked into afterburner, and she clenched her daughter’s hand in a vice-grip.
“Sorry.” Loreene let go of Maria’s hand and combed her fingers through her hair. Lord? An extra helping of patience would be nice right now. And words? Please? “Late, huh? Ok, let’s look at this. It happened a week ago. And you’re how late?”
Loreene felt a measure of relief; chances were extremely slim her daughter’s mistake had resulted in conception, but she still wanted to rant and rave about the stupid thing she’d done.
Maria interrupted her thoughts. “I took a test. Before I came downstairs. It should be done now.”
“And if it’s positive?” She drummed her fingernails on the tabletop and cocked an eyebrow.
“We’ll get married!”
The drumming ceased, and Loreene laid both sweaty palm on the table. “Before we go check the results, can I say something?”
Maria shrugged, but wouldn’t look at her. Loreene plunged ahead.
“Love is more than emotion. It’s also action. You do things for someone because you love them.
“If he hasn’t called you in the week since he “showed” you how much he loves you, how much love do you think he’ll show in a marriage? Or to a baby? There are worse things than being a single mom—like having an abusive or neglectful husband. You’ve already made one bad decision; don’t top it off with a worse one.”
Maria’s face drooped with shame, and panic crept into her voice. “But I don’t want to raise a baby alone!”
“You’ll never be alone. Even when we’re disappointed in you and wish you’d done things differently, we’ll never desert you or disown you.” This time Loreene didn’t hold back. She grabbed Maria across the corner of the table and held her tight, ignoring the scattered remnants of eggs and bacon. “We’ll always love you.”
She broke the hug and took her daughter’s hand. “The next time you’re faced with the same decision, I want you to think of how you feel right now. And remember you are worth so much more.” She stood and pulled Maria up with her. “Are you ready?”
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