As promised, here is my update. Thanks again for all of your support, it really means a lot to me!
"I'll walk you to the door," Jordan reached across her to open the passenger side door. Sharon and Shane were sitting in the back seat. Rayanne had disappeared with Tino. Unfortunately, Angela's curfew meant she had to be the first one to get dropped off, which meant they had just enough time to drive back after the show.
"Shotgun!" Shane and Sharon both called out simultaneously, and Angela smiled in amusement as they both scrambled to get into the front seat. There had definitely been some flirtation between the two of them, and she figured it was harmless.
"Thanks for coming tonight," Jordan said, sounding almost shy, as they made their way to the front porch. She was still buzzing with excitement from the show. They had played so well, and Jordan's voice had made her feel as if her insides had turned to liquid.
"Are you kidding? It was amazing. You're amazing!" she laughed in excitement. "You look really natural up there."
"Yeah, it's weird, how I can like, forget that there are people watching me but the minute I step off the stage, it's like, I'm… me again."
"What do you mean? All of that is you… and I think it's great." It was her turn to feel shy.
"Why do you… always know what to say?" he reached behind her and stroked her hair in the back, which made little shivers go down her spine.
"I don't…" she laughed a little, thinking of all the awkward things she had said in front of him – his presence used to rattle her so.
He brought their foreheads together. "Well, whatever, it feels nice so…"
She stared into his beautiful, captivating eyes.
The front door opened. Patti stood there, slightly flustered at the sight of the two of them. "Oh good, you're home. I'll see you inside." She shut the door.
"Sorry," Angela rolled her eyes.
The reverie broken, they both grinned at each other, then Jordan pulled her into him for one kiss.
"You should go, your mom's waiting," he said. "And I have to get your friend home."
"I'll see you tomorrow?" she asked.
"Tomorrow," he said, and in that moment, it seemed like the sweetest word in the world.
"I feel like death," Sharon announced dramatically at Angela's locker the next morning.
"We weren't out that late," Angela said absently, "although for all I know, you were making out with Shane or something!"
"Cherski was making out with Shane?" Rayanne swept in, all braids and hair ribbons. "I knew it was only a matter of time!"
"How do you just appear out of nowhere like constantly?" Sharon asked, bewildered. "And shut up, there was no making out with anyone!"
"I got dropped off first, so it's her word against mine," Angela grinned conspiratorially at Rayanne.
"Seriously though, I feel like crap. There was no chapter in the teen pregnancy handbook that prepared me for this." Sharon leaned against the locker. "I am so nauseous today, and I have the worst stomachache, or cramps, or something."
"Cherski, you keep playing this all wrong," Rayanne explained patiently. "You keep going for the martyr role when you should just accept that you've become like this… wayward teenage prom queen. Think of all the other good girls you could inspire to embrace their sexy side. Everybody loves a good girl gone bad. There are so many pornos about that."
Sharon wrinkled her nose. "Gross. How do you know so much about porn? Never mind, don't answer that," she cut in as Rayanne was about to respond enthusiastically.
"Seriously, Cherski, why don't you go see the school nurse? There's got to be some way of using your condition as a way of getting out of class," Rayanne said.
"Well, if you must know, I have an appointment at the clinic this afternoon. My mother is taking me, but I was wondering if either of you wanted to come along." She looked pointedly at Angela.
"Last chance to have a little Vinnovich eh, Cherski? Maybe that's why you don't feel well - a little bit of regret perhaps?"
"Do you always just say whatever's on your mind?" Sharon asked, although she knew it was a rhetorical question. Rayanne just shrugged and grimaced.
"You're going to do it today?" Angela asked.
"No, I'm not getting anything done today, I just have to talk to a doctor about it. So many hoops to jump through, right?" she smiled nervously.
"They want to make sure you're sure," Rayanne cut in. "There can't be anything worse than a fifteen-year-old who wants to have a baby but gets rid of it. I'm sure you'll still be thinking about it when you're forty." Her tone was sarcastic but Sharon frowned.
"Don't say it like that," she pleaded. "That makes it sound so awful."
"People are going to say worse things than that," Rayanne warned. "You're going to have to get a thicker skin."
"It's your body," Angela said.
"Yeah, right. It sure doesn't seem like it right now."
"I'll go with you if you want," Angela offered.
"I'm not doing anything this afternoon either," Rayanne said. "And if we're skipping class, all the better."
"Okay, I think I'm going to go and throw up again now," Sharon said, looking a little green. "Let's meet back here after fifth."
"Well hello ladies," Shane called out across the hallway, Jordan walking alongside him. Sharon flushed and dashed away. Angela smiled at them.
"Was it something I said?" Shane asked, noting Sharon's hasty departure.
"Yeah Jones, it's always about you," Rayanne said sarcastically. "Nothing to do with the parasite growing inside her, or anything."
She caught sight of Rickie walking with Mr. Katimski and without waiting for a response, she took off after them: "Enrique, wait up!"
"I am not even going to address that," Angela said to the two silent boys, and she hurried away to homeroom.
Sharon sat alone in the bathroom stall as another wave of nausea washed over her. She knew that she was sick and that it was worse than usual, but she couldn't bear the thought of calling her mother to pick her up. She couldn't shake the idea that she was a disappointment, and staying home from school just seemed like admitting defeat, or something. She thought about how she'd gotten through the cheerleading season last year despite a sprained ankle. It had been horrible at the time, not knowing if she could get through each game, but she'd felt satisfied with herself afterwards, for not showing weakness. Maybe this was the same thing. Besides, she didn't want her mother to think that she'd changed her mind and was using this as an excuse.
Everything had happened so suddenly, she'd barely had time to process what was happening. One minute she was fooling around with Kyle, without a care in the world, and the next, she was holding a positive pregnancy test in Rayanne Graf's bathroom. The irony did not escape her. And although Rayanne still frustrated and irked her, Sharon felt grateful for her unspoken support. Angela continued to be a bit of an enigma though. Their friendship was still newly repaired, so she didn't push what seemed like Angela's reticence. Maybe she just felt left out due to her lack of experience compared to the two of them, and her feelings for Jordan obviously ran deeper than Sharon's own feelings for Kyle.
What did she expect from Kyle though? He had proven to be unreliable when her father had his heart attack, and it was part of the reason she had become so disenchanted with him. He couldn't be there when she needed him, and this time it was no different. All of the things that initially appealed to her about him now irritated her to no end, so she didn't feel too upset about the way he was acting now. It was a constant power struggle between the two of them – she wanted him to do things he didn't want to do even though to be perfectly honest, she was indifferent. Then she would withdraw from him to get what she wanted. He got angry when she withdrew, and he acted like a jackass, then he would finally give in. It was strange, but she almost felt relief that she finally had a concrete reason to get rid of him. It was a sick, immature game that they were playing and she wanted to stop.
None of this is fair to a baby.
Naturally, Sharon had never imagined any of this. She had always had conventional ideas about having a family – she would meet someone that she couldn't live without, just like her parents, and they would get married and start a family then. She imagined likely meeting this person in college and settling down when both of them had careers. It was all so neat and organized in her head, and she was used to things going her way, but when Angela drifted away and her dad had his heart attack, the clear images of the life she had envisioned were starting to blur around the edges. She was absolutely grateful to have Angela's friendship back and she was overjoyed that her father had recovered, but things would never be the same – like her father's heart, there would always be a scar, a reminder of what was lost.
Clearly, she had diverted from the ideal path her life was supposed to take, but what was she supposed to do next? Most of her desperately wanted to get back on track to her initial vision – a top college, good grades, a promising career, true love… And yet, a teeny tiny part of her wondered about what would happen if she didn't choose that path. It was only human, she rationalized. After all, she wouldn't be here if her mother had decided not to have her. And didn't things supposedly happen for a reason? If so, what was the reason for this huge sidetrack off her life path?
Pull it together, Cherski. You're starting to get overly philosophical. All this vomiting has definitely thrown off your electrolytes. Maybe you need an IV or something like they always do on TV.
She took a deep breath and slowly stood up, testing herself to make sure she didn't get nauseous again. Her stomach twisted painfully and she felt dizzy momentarily, but the nausea had lessened somewhat. She walked gingerly out of the stall and towards the row of sinks, where she splashed cold water on her face and rinsed her mouth. She was grateful that there was no one else in the girls' room then.
Maybe she should stick it out for the rest of the day, then she could at least go to her clinic appointment and get some answers. She wasn't sure if she could sit through class feeling this way, but maybe she would feel better if she got some fresh air. And there was a soda machine over by the bleachers, so she could drink some ginger ale or something.
She made it out to the bleachers through sheer will, it seemed. It just didn't seem right to be feeling so weak and crampy this morning, but then again, she'd never been pregnant and neither had any of her friends so she had no idea how she was supposed to feel.
She lay down and closed her eyes.
"Well, I should be flattered that you decided to come and pay me a visit," a male voice floated down from somewhere above her head. Her eyes flew open and she stared up at Shane Jones, smoking a cigarette on the bleachers, a book in his hand.
"Don't be ridiculous, I had no idea you were out here," she said somewhat irritably, since she was hardly looking her best but she felt too sick to move.
"What's wrong? Aren't you happy to see me?"
"Are you reading a book?" she couldn't hide the surprise in her voice. He held it up so she could see the cover: Where I'm calling from, by Raymond Carver.
"Isn't that like a college-level book?" she couldn't hide the surprise from her voice.
"I don't know, is it?"
They stared at each other somewhat defiantly, then he shrugged. "I just read for kicks. Did you think I was illiterate or something?"
She winced at a twinge of pain in her belly and shook her head.
"Are you sick? Why are you at school?" He flopped down beside her and looked into her face.
"I'm pregnant," she said bluntly. "Last time I checked, that didn't qualify as a sickness."
She waited for him to flinch or to make some kind of a face. She wasn't prepared when he smiled and leaned towards her. "You're right, it's not."
"Go ahead, judge me. Everyone else has." She found herself pulling away.
"That's none of my business," he said seriously. "And don't take this the wrong way babe, 'cause you always look great, but you do look sick or something."
"I'm not your 'babe'."
"Easy, it's just a term I use with girls I find attractive."
She pursed her lips in disapproval and and turned away. She didn't know why she was drawn to him and she wasn't sure what she wanted from him, but she certainly didn't need more chaos in her life.
"Are you uncomfortable with the fact that I find you attractive?"
"No… I'm uncomfortable with the fact that you're using a term of endearment with me that you're not really entitled to use."
"Well that's your fault. You have the ability to change that."
"Just because our friends are dating doesn't mean we should."
"It doesn't mean we shouldn't."
She was aware of how close to her he was just then, and she was also aware of the fact that she sort of liked it. It was unnerving.
"You don't want to get involved with me. I'm a mess."
"Let me be the judge of that," he said quietly.
"Stop acting like a player," Sharon scoffed. "I'm not feeling well and I'm not in the mood to be messed with."
"Do you want to get out of here? I have a car."
"That is such a line," she cringed.
"Well as friends then. Scout's honour." He held up his hand and smiled. She had to admit that he looked nice, and that was disarming. "I'll take you home or something. You look sick."
"What are you, like a doctor or something?" A shot of pain ripped through her side, and she realized for the first time that she was sweating. "Okay I think something's wrong," she admitted finally.
"Do you need the hospital? I know a good one."
She could hear the smile in his voice and once again, it surprised her that she liked it. He offered her a hand up and she took it. He pulled her to her feet and they looked at each other.
"Hey," he said softly, the concern evident in his voice. His eyes were somewhere between green and brown, she couldn't remember the name of the colour and for some reason that bothered her.
That was the last thing she remembered thinking.