Summer had ended. School was back in session. The first hint of autumn had kissed the breeze. I was in the 8th grade and life was good.
Sunday was filled with the usual flurry of activities. Between choir practice and class, my world was shattered.
Slipping into the restroom to freshen up, I heard someone vomiting in the next stall.
“Hey, are you all right in there?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’ll be okay,” answered the muffled voice. I recognized that voice. It was my friend Susan.
Standing in front of the bathroom mirrors and washing our hands I asked, “Susan, are you feeling okay? Do you need me to get your mom?”
Face flushed from regurgitating, eyes beginning to moisten, Susan stared back at me flatly and said, “Lissa, what am I going to do?”
“About this,” she said, “I’m starting to show.”
Turning her sleek, firm swimmer’s frame sideways, she flattened her skirt over her normally flat tummy.
Instantly my gaze was fixed on her tummy. It wasn’t flat. It was slightly rounded. Not fully comprehending what she was trying to tell me, I flippantly said, “I guess you’ll have to cut out the Twinkies!”
“Lissa, this isn’t Twinkies!” she fumed, “it’s a baby. I’m pregnant!”
“You’re what?” I stammered, completely taken aback. I knew where babies came from. My friend was only 13. We did everything together. We were inseparable. How could she be pregnant?
“I’m pregnant!” she emphasized again.
“But how? You can’t be. Are you sure?”
“Now Lissa,” she glared, “I don’t have to go over all that with you, do I?”
“You know what I mean,” I awkwardly sputtered. “I mean when and who’s the father?”
Who’s the father? What a bizarre question to be asking my friend. It just felt so surreal. This couldn’t be happening.
“Barry!” I exclaimed. “He’s 7 years older than you. How could he be the father?”
“Well you know how his family and my family always go out on the lake together,” she began. “This summer our families went on the lake together. While our folks were on shore dining, we stayed on the boat. I don’t know Lissa, I’ve always had crush on him. One thing led to another and well, it just sort of happened.”
“Does Barry know?”
“Yes, I told him, but he’s denying everything. He swears I’m just making it all up. He told my parents that I am a slut and sleep around with every boy I see.”
“And they believed him?”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Susan’s parents would take the word of Barry over their own daughter. It just seemed too wild to be true. I had to be dreaming. Trying to make some sense out of what she was telling me I asked, “What are your parents going to do about it?”
“They’re sending me to Florida. My sister’s boyfriend is a pre-med student. He has a friend who can take care of it.”
“What do you mean take care of it?”
“You know… an abortion.”
“You can’t do that!” I said in shocked horror. I couldn’t believe what my friend was telling me. I stood in stunned speechless shock. In the last 10 minutes I had been told the most unimaginable thing my friend could have ever told me. Not only was she pregnant. She had been molested by a family friend. The family was denying it. And her parents were going to cart her off and allow some medical student to kill her baby.
I was completely overwhelmed. I was totally out of my element. I was not prepared at 13 to handle what my friend was telling me. I simply hugged her and we both cried.
Someone else came into the bathroom. We dried our eyes and slipped outside to continue our conversation.
“Have you talked to the youth pastor?” I inquired. “I mean he ought to have a better suggestion. You could go to one of those unwed mother homes and give the baby up for adoption. You don’t really want to kill your baby, do you?”
When I said that; Susan just stared at me. Her gaze hardened and she looked at me squarely in the eye, “You mean give my baby up like someone gave me up?”
“Well, yeah I guess. But it wouldn’t be giving it up. You’d be giving it a home. Parents who would love it. People like your parents.”
“I would never do that to my baby!”
I just looked blankly at my friend. I never knew she felt that way about her own adoption. I had always envied her. I always thought she felt loved beyond measure. Her parents had gone through all kinds of red tape and spent a great deal of money to adopt her. I always thought she had the perfect life.
Now I knew she didn’t. Every promise her parents had made to protect her, look after, defend her and care for her…every promise…now lay shattered in the broken pieces of my friend’s heart.
…and the promise of another life was dying also.
© 2/9/04 Lissa M. Lee