"Sweetheart?" Someone brushed my bangs away from my sweaty face. I could feel the humidity soak into my skin, causing only more discomfort. A knot in my throat prevented me from swallowing—the bitter taste of waking up almost made me gag. I opened my watery eyes slowly; they began to sting the moment I caught a glimpse of the behemoth sized window next to me. The sunlight stung my eyes.
Just how long have I been asleep for?
"M-m-mother?" I whispered, feeling the knot in my throat choke me. I still couldn't swallow my saliva. "W-what?"
"It's alright, dear," Tears filled my mother's eyes. I have never seen her so distraught before. Well, I take it back. The time my father left us back when I was just a kid … the look of depression is something you really can never forget.
She pushed a strand of her auburn colored hair behind her ear. "You had me worried sick!"
"What happened—" I coughed, trying not to gag. "Where are we?"
"In the hospital …" She smiled softly, a small tear escaping the corner of her eye. "Word is that you fainted. The doctors are running some tests …"
She paused, placing her hand before her mouth as if she was ready to start sobbing. I stared at her flawless skin and emerald green eyes. If only I could be as beautiful as my mother, perhaps I wouldn't feel so useless most of the time.
"To check if the baby is alright—" My mother let out a short sob. My heart began throbbing anxiously.
"Why? What do they think is wrong with the baby?" The nerves started making my stomach churn. The bitter taste in my mouth became overwhelming. Something started creeping up my throat.
I looked around the room curiously and quickly found an ice bucket. I yanked it off from the table beside my bed and immediately threw up. Thankfully, the bucket had no ice in it. The knot it my throat disappeared. Sadly, an even worse taste filled my mouth. My mother pulled back my hair and whispered encouraging words into my right ear.
Pregnant. I couldn't seem to believe my situation.
Somehow, I had a feeling throwing up was going to be a regular thing for me.
My mother sighed. "They say that you overworked yourself. The way you get anxious or nervous seems to be affecting the baby. Even though you're months from labor, if you keep stressing out, you could lose the child."
My head pounded. Lose the baby? I gagged again, causing my stomach to churn. Something, once again, kept climbing up towards my mouth. In one swift move, I threw up some more. My mother patted my back soothingly, and I instantly remembered all the times I would yell at her. I was a horrible daughter—how did I deserve this kind of love? All my life, I've been nothing but a rebel and trouble to her. I would stay out past midnight with my friends, start fights with girls at school, get low grades—I didn't deserve my mother's comfort.
"I'm fine!" I gasped, pulling my face back from the bucket. "I'm… alright." I gave a reassuring smile to my mother.
She smiled back, somewhat half-heartedly. I stared into her eyes—seeing my reflection. I immediately remembered the night she found out I was pregnant. Someone from my school called her personally when she was at work. Now, my mother never missed a day of work. Ever since my father walked out the door, money has been tight for the both of us.
Even though I often yelled at my mother, I did still love her. I've applied to countless jobs to help her the moment I turned fifteen. Sadly, many stores chose more qualified applicants to work for them. I couldn't even get a job at a freakin' burger place. I had a hard time admitting my feelings to anyone—it's always been that way since I've been able to know what "love" is. The way I showed love to my mother was through job applications. How else could I prove my love to her? I didn't even tell Jimmy that I loved him. It was just understood.
The afternoon my mother got a call from my school, she rushed home immediately. I remember the moment she charged into our home, slamming the door behind her. I was in my room, crying, and still managed to hear her have a fit in the living room.
"Zoe Taylor, you come over here this instant!" Her screams were ferocious.
I walked diligently towards the living room, my doom, my very own personal hell.
"You're pregnant?" My mother's voice was so powerful, it shook me to my very core. I was afraid the neighbors would hear or the kids playing outside would listen in on us.
"Yes, mother," I sighed, feeling my eyes swell with tears again. "I'm pregnant."
"How did this happen?"
"I don't know, mom,"
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"I don't know!" I yelled, tears streaming down my face.
She walked closer to me, her face turning red, her eyes filled with tears. "How do you plan to care for this child? You don't have a job, you don't have an education—"
"I'll figure something out!" I cut her off, my voice growing louder with anger.
"Don't raise your voice at me! I am tired of being pushed around by you! I'm your mother!" She yelled back, causing me to jump. My mother never raised her voice at me before—who knew that pregnancy would finally make her snap?
"You know that you can't do anything right! How do you expect to care for a child when you can't even take care of yourself?"
Ouch. Her words sizzled in my mind, causing me to remember my father. Those memories, however, are something I wish to never remember. Her words managed to bring up things I have tried so hard to oppress.
"Oh, really, is that so? At least I would be a better mother than you! You're the reason why dad left us in the first place!" I yelled as I walked closer towards my mother.
I stared into her green eyes for what seemed like an eternity. She pondered on my words, and I instantly regretted what I said. My words were as sharp as a knife—what did I just do to my very own mother? Reflecting in those beautiful green eyes, I could see a heart breaking into a million pieces.
"I-I mean …" I whispered, feeling guilt wash over me like never before.
My mother slapped me across the face swiftly and harshly, causing me to tumble backwards. I stared at my mother, who, out of all the years of my life, could never force herself to hit another human being. Today was an exception. She went jogging towards her room, her sobs extremely loud; I began to blush at what the neighbors might say when they heard her.
That was two weeks ago. And, oddly, for a whole week, she never left her room or went back to work. That was the first time I had ever seen her act that way.
"Don't worry, love," My mother hugged me gently as I snapped back into reality. "Throwing up is a normal part of pregnancy."
I grimaced. Pregnancy. I felt nauseous all over again.
Knock, knock, knock. My eyes immediately gravitated towards the door. The thought of the doctor coming in made my eyes water.
"Mom," I whispered, gently touching her shoulder. "Is it normal to be emotional during a pregnancy too?"
She nodded, a soft smile forming on her face. I sighed harshly. As if I wasn't emotional enough …
The door opened slowly, as if the person behind it didn't want to make noise. Jimmy peaked around the door and a wave of relief washed over me. At least it wasn't the doctor.
"Hey there, Zoe …" Jimmy stood at the door, holding a bouquet of roses in one hand and waving at me with the other. "Mrs. Taylor …"
My mother's face was priceless. She looked at Jimmy with disgust, and I couldn't help but smile. My attitude certainly came from my mother, even if she was truly the sweetest person on earth.
"Mr. Hopkins," she said casually, as if she has done this a million times before. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"Mom!" I gasped, truly shocked that she could do such a thing. Where did she suddenly get this authority from? "Mom, I know you've never liked Jimmy, but—"
"But what, Zoe?" She glared at me. "He's the reason you're here in the first place. He knocked you up!"
My mouth dropped open. "Mom, it takes two to … well, you know …"
She frowned. "I truly believe that this boy has been a bad influence on your life. I think he forced you to have—"
"No, mom," I sighed, my face flushing with embarrassment. Jimmy stood at the door, at awe that my very own mother would turn savage. "Could I just have a moment with Jimmy, please?"
She sighed harshly, moving some of my bangs away from my face. "You have ten minutes." She glared at Jimmy as she walked slowly towards the door.
"Good to see you too, Mrs. Taylor," Jimmy's sarcasm wasn't amusing. I rolled my eyes. Way to win my mother over, jerk.
She shoved past him, and he quickly jogged towards the side of my bed.
"You freaked me out when you passed out yesterday!"
I blankly stared at him. After not talking to me for a week, he was going to have to try harder than a marriage proposal and roses to win me over.
"So … you're still mad at me? Shouldn't you be happy I asked you to marry me?"
I sighed. "You didn't talk to me for a week. You couldn't make up your mind, remember?"
"I'm sorry … I was scared, that's all."
"You shouldn't have been scared at all!" I said through my teeth, ready to take Jimmy down and beat him up.
"Don't even lie and say that you weren't scared either!" He yelled back, throwing the roses on my lap. "I ask you to marry me, and I care enough to be here right now! Why are you acting this way?"
"You deserve to be yelled at! You made me cry myself to sleep for a week, you jerk!" Tears rolled down my cheeks. "How could you be so cruel? It should have never taken a week for you to make up your mind on whether or not you wanted to be with me!"
"I didn't take a week for that! There was never a question on whether or not I wanted to be with you!" He started whispering. Our yells were probably attracting attention. "I took a week from talking to you because I didn't know what step to take first!"
"Step? What are you talking about?" I asked, completely caught off guard.
"Well …" He scratched his head, staring at the tiled floor. "I looked around town for apartments. Found some cheap ones, but they were at the bad side of town. I don't want our kid growing up in a place like that."
I stared at him at disbelief.
"Then I decided it would be best if we just get engaged first …" Jimmy continued to whisper. "You need your mom during this whole pregnancy. It's going to be tough. Try to learn as much as you can before we move out."
We? Moving out? Marriage? My whole world just turned upside down as I felt like throwing up again.
"Wha—" I couldn't finish the sentence. "Who says I need you in my life?" Anger suddenly took control of my mind.
"Wait, what? Don't you love me?" Jimmy turned to look at me, an obvious pain in his eyes.
I wanted to say that I loved him, but my past had a hold on me like never before.
"All men are the same," I said casually. "You say you love me now, but you'll leave me soon enough."
"Seriously?" Jimmy's anger started to return. "I'm not a scumbag like your father, Zoe. I won't leave you like—"
"Don't bring my father into this!" Tears, once again, started filling my eyes. I have never been so emotional in my life. Jimmy is the only person I have ever told about my father. The only way to prove my love for Jimmy is by telling him my past.
"I don't have a father, either, you know." He whispered, completely depressed. "He left me and my mom too … but I know that I won't make the same mistake as he did."
I looked at the beautiful bouquet of roses on my lap. Two dozen of them, and boy, were they gorgeous.
"I will never leave you or our child." He gently grabbed my hand.
I kept staring at the roses, trying to avoid any awkward eye contact with Jimmy. I felt my face burn with embarrassment.
"Fine …" I whispered. "I'll give you a chance."
Jimmy smiled and gently pulled me closer to hug me. Neither of us were good with feelings, but I guess today was an exception.
I sighed. What was I thinking?
"I love you …" he whispered, tightening his grip on me.
As I hugged Jimmy in return, I began to think about my father.
Dad… why did you have to leave me?
"Okay!" My mom burst into the room, causing the door to swing and hit the wall violently. Jimmy and I jumped simultaneously. "Your ten minutes are up!"
I sighed. Now, if I could only get my mom to accept Jimmy into the "family."