One chapter story. Don't get your hopes up.
Chapter title taken from the song "End of the Innocence" by Don Henley, in keeping with the tradition of eighties songs as chapter titles.
On with the story:End of the Innocence
She couldn't believe it was happening to her. Not her. She knew these things happened, but it was always the other girls. She was never the one who would have to deal with a situation like this. Not her.
She had big plans for her future. She had done everything right.
Well, almost everything. She had just proved that she had made one mistake. One lousy mistake, and her life was ruined.
Most of the girls at her school, well, she wouldn't be surprised if it had been them. She might have even made a crack about it when they weren't paying attention. But this was out of her control. She didn't need this; she didn't want this. Out of all the girls in the school, all the girls in the world, all she could think was why me?
"Oh, god, what will my parents say?" she whispered.
And then there was him. She knew he was partly responsible for this horrific turn of events. And the thoughts came rushing at her. Would he be a good father? Would he be ready for this responsibility? Should she even tell him?
She didn't know. Things had just gotten out of hand. Nothing could ever be the same after this day; she knew that. She couldn't erase time; she couldn't make a problem like this just go away.
Well, maybe I could…she thought desperately. No! What am I thinking? This isn't right!
She hoped her thoughts weren't from her, but knew that was ridiculous. She didn't believe in terminating a pregnancy, and doing it herself would make her a hypocritical monster in her own eyes.
But what do I do? she begged herself. What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?
"Oh, god!" she choked out between tears. "How could this happen?"
She could imagine the pain in her father's eyes when he knew the truth about his baby girl. The horror her mother would feel. The agony they'd all endure. She knew she had to tell them, and the sooner the better, in some ways. But she couldn't help but feel that she needed to hold off as long as possible. That if maybe she ignored it, it would go away.
She knew that was silly. But she felt so passionately about it. She made one crummy mistake, and it would mar the remainder of her life. She was ruined. She knew she was ruined.
Should she call him? Ask him for advice? Or would he laugh in her face and slam the phone down?
She knew that thought was silly, too. He wouldn't do that to her. He couldn't. But she was afraid, so afraid. And so alone.
No, not alone, she thought bitterly. Not anymore.
And what kind of life could she give a child? She herself was still a child! It was preposterous, absurd, ridiculous, and worst of all, it was true. She was a child, and she would soon have a child.
A child. A little girl or boy dependant entirely upon her.
She felt windows crack open as thousands of others slammed. She felt the world close her inside. She would become another statistic, another sad story about a nasty accident in some poor girls life.
Accident! Imagine, thinking a child could be an accident!
But somehow she felt all children were accidents. Just something that happened. But how could something so enormous happen to her?
This is getting out of hand, she thought sadly.
Tears streamed down her forlorn face as she hugged a stray pillow tighter and tighter to her stomach. Her head began to ache with the swarm of thoughts that were plaguing her.
Maybe it was a mistake! These tests aren't always accurate, are they? she thought with the tiniest surge of triumph. Maybe it's all some stupid mistake on some stupid pregnancy test!
But somehow deep within her, she knew that was a lie. She knew she was lying to protect herself. It wasn't an accident. It wasn't a mistake. It was true. She was carrying a child.
My life is over, she thought sadly. My dreams, my hopes. Everything I wanted to be, and I'll never do any of it. I'll never get to be the woman I was destined to become.
She felt awful for thinking such things, when she knew opportunity could still lie in her future. She knew she had argued time and again that motherhood was not crippling. Plenty of women still worked!
But she thought of how her working could affect the baby. Her baby. How even if she tried, she'd still forever be labeled as a teenage mother.
She wanted desperately to be held by her own mother. To be comforted, to know she at least had her support. The fear chased the guilt chased the anxiety, and she didn't know what she was supposed to do.
Who she was supposed to tell.
What her options were.
She knew she had to swallow her pride. Swallow her pride, and confide in someone. She knew this was one thing she couldn't keep secret. People would know. Even if she never told a soul, it would be pretty hard to hide something as blatant as pregnancy.
Feeling like she was just a dead man walking, she stood from her bed and looked back at her room. All the innocence. The stuffed animals, the balloon-covered wallpaper. She had grown up in that very room. She was still growing up in that room. But it had changed when she changed. It was no longer a place she could hide in, a refuge from the outside world. She would never be alone again, no matter how she craved it.
I got into this mess. But I can't get out of it alone.
She sighed. Her eyes took one last look around before the image was shattered forever. Her feet shuffled slowly, oh so slowly, down the stairs. It was as if they, too, were dreading the final confrontation.
She found her mother sitting casually on the white recliner in their living room. She had a newspaper above her face.
"Mom, I need to talk to you," she whispered, tears still running softly down her cheeks.
Her mother put the paper down on her lap. "Sweetie! What it is? Are you okay?"
"I, well, sort of. It's just that…that…"
"What is it, honey?"
"I was just upstairs…and I took a test. And it said…it said…"
Her mother stood up and walked to her daughter. "What kind of test? Oh, lord, are you sure you're alright? I haven't seen you like this in such a long time! Baby? Baby, what is it?"
Her mother's eyes widened. Her mouth became the shape of an o. She walked backwards, as if in a trance, and fell back into the recliner. Her face was pale. She stared at her stricken daughter.
"No," she whispered. "Liberty, no!"