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Now, I had been told all of my life that pregnancy was a "beautiful thing" and that it should be "embraced" and a mouthful of other hogwash of a similar nature. The people who say that have either never been pregnant or are simply compulsive liars who want others to join in their misery. Because, I had now known I was pregnant for two weeks and "completely miserable" scratched the surface. I threw up at least three times a day - seriously, whoever called it morning sickness is a fraud. I get sick when I wake up, getting ready for work, a couple times at work, when I'm cooking dinner and sometimes before I go to bed. On top of that I have to pee an impossible amount considering I don't drink a lot, my breasts are sore and even I notice my mood swings. Yesterday I nearly bit of Lottie's head (no, not literally) because she asked if I wanted her to cover some of my tables. This was a very kind gesture but for some reason my pregnancy brain interpreted it as thinking she thought I was incapable and blah blah it was a big mess which I have since apologized for. Honestly, it'll be a miracle if both of us survive this pregnancy (because, let's face it I'm done for once my father and/or boss finds out, depending on who finds out first) and if we do both survive, it'll be an even bigger miracle if we're still friends. Even I wouldn't be my friend. Some days I'm normal and then others you would think I was carrying the spawn of Satan and although I do not know James Potter well, I do not believe he is Satan.

"Taylor," I spun around and Lottie was standing there with raised eyebrows, "I know he's in my section, but Mr. Jenkins is refusing to let me serve him today, he's insisting on you."

Of course he is.

"Just get him the special, that's all he wants."

"I know what he wants, Tay, but he's being difficult and really wants to see you. He said he missed seeing you last week," I hadn't been able to stand for longer than twenty minutes without getting dizzy so I got sent home that day. "He said he wants to make sure you still have all "yer limbs and things." I don't know, just please go out there. I feel like he's about to have a mental episode or something."

There was no since arguing. Lottie would end up winning.

"Of course," I didn't want to serve Mr. Jenkins, but for some odd reason he wanted to make sure I had my limbs or something along those lines. And frankly, I didn't feel like arguing to be completely honest.

Walking to the seating area, I didn't even have to look up to know where he was sitting. He had sat in the same spot every single week for as long as he had been coming.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Jenkins," I say with the best fake smile I could muster.

"Afternoon," he replied gruffly. "Didn't see you last week."

"I wasn't feeling well and went home."

Truth.

"You'll be good as new in a few months, don't you worry little lady." He said, flipping over the menu as if he would ever actually order something other than the special.

What did that even mean?

"Ex..excuse me?"

"Pregnancy only lasts a few months, less than a year, nothing too long. Now, which do you prefer, the grilled cheese or the steamed casserole?"

Wait, what?

"Who told you I was...yknow..."

He let out a loud laugh, "I'm not a fool, Taylor. No one had to tell me. My wife and I have five children, and now I have a handful of grandchildren, I know how to tell. Besides, you aren't that great at hiding it. "Tummy bugs" don't last nearly as long as you're trying to pretend."

I looked around to make sure no one was listening, and luckily no one appeared to be paying attention, "Can you please keep your voice down, Mr. Jenkins? My boss doesn't-"

He held up a hand to stop me, "I'm not telling anyone, but you aren't going to be able to hide this as long as you think. Now about the food, which is better?"

This was a lot to take in. Mr. Jenkins had some sort of pregnancy radar and was looking at food other than the special. The world must be coming to an end.

"Um, I like the grilled cheese-"

"It's settled then, I'll have the grilled cheese and a lemonade," he thrust the menu at me.

"You sure you don't want the special, Mr. Jenkins? It's vegetable soup with a side of garlic bread."

He shook his head, "Nope. Change is good. You'll see."

He made a faint point to my stomach and that immediately made me fold my arms get myself protectively, it was almost instinctive.

Not once have I ever thought of this pregnancy as a "good" thing.

I took the order back to the cook and meandered to the break room, unable to take looking at people any more. I leaned against the wall and sunk to the floor and just cried. I had never been a big crier, my life had required I stay strong and be brave, but every ounce of bravery I had had left the moment I saw the word 'positive' printed on that damned pregnancy test.

I didn't hear anyone come in, but after a while I heard my name and by the time I could look up Lottie had pulled me into a hug.

"Oh, Tay," she sighed, "please don't cry. You've been crying for two weeks, I hate seeing you so upset."

"Mr. Jenkins knows I'm pregnant."

She didn't seem too phased by this, "He has some sort of extra sense for knowing something is going on. When I got in that wreck last year and wound up with stints in my ribcage, I hid it, but he still knew. It was weird."

"But if he knows, then it won't be long until Mr. Acreman knows. And when he knows, I'm sure he'll fire me, then I'll have to tell my dad and he'll kill me. The end."

"Tay, stop, your over exaggerating."

"Am I? Do you remember what happened when I broke my ankle two years ago?"

I flipped an ATV and when I fell my foot caught in a hole and my ankle snapped life a twig. I wanted to keep it hidden, but it's kind of hard to do when you broke it as severely as I did. My dad never once showed up to the hospital to see me, Lottie's mom ended up discharging me, claiming to be an Aunt. Everyone knew she wasn't, but no one had the heart to say anything. I at the time had been too hurt that he didn't seem to care and stayed with Lottie for a few days, but when I came back my dad threatened me within an inch of my life if I ever did something like that again. I couldn't work for weeks. At that time I was only fourteen and couldn't have an official job, so I did odd jobs such as cleaning houses and babysitting, but I couldn't do anything for a while and that cost us money. Which cost my dad booze. And booze was the most important thing in the world to my father.

Lottie simply nodded, "You can come live with me. My mum loves you, it'll be fine. She won't judge you. No one will."

"I appreciate it, but I can't. I'm not a charity case and I need to make sure my brother is taken care of. He won't be without me."

"Surely your father isn't that bad, he wouldn't let him starve."

I shook my head, there was no since arguing. When the ankle incident took place, it wasn't odd to have us have a meal every other day. He would let us go hungry. If there was booze money, he was drinking. If there wasn't, he was having a rage filled rampage. Either way, kids lose.

"My life is over," I sniff.

It was true.

"No, Taylor, it's not-"

"Please, stop saying that. It is. You don't know how bad it is. I have no money or place for a baby."

"So what are you saying?"

"I don't think I can have this baby," I whisper.

She pushed her eyebrows together, trying to make sure she understood exactly what I was saying. In my head, I pleaded for her to not say something. The idea broke me.

"Are you talking about abortion?"

I couldn't tell what she was thinking.

"I think I have to consider it."

"Before you were dead set on the fact that you couldn't do that. What changed, Tay?"

I shrugged, "reality."

"Meaning?"

"There is no practical way I can have a baby - raise a baby. It would just be selfish, wrong. I can't bring a baby into this world that's unwanted."

She stroked my hair, "I'm here for you either way, whatever your decision is. Just make sure you make the right decision for you. I don't want you to feel you have to make a certain choice and then regretting it."

"Thank you."

"What about James though?"

"What about him?"

"You're carrying his child, don't you think he at least has a right to know?"

"I don't even know if I'm ever going to see him again. I've only seen him a couple times since that happened. Summer is almost over, he was only staying the summer. He's probably long forgotten about me. Besides, there's no since causing him problems if I'm not even going to have it."

She nodded, "Alright. Well, I was planning on surprising you, but I feel like now I should just go ahead and tell you. I got Jenna to cover our shifts and this afternoon I set you up a scan at the hospital, you and me, we'll go down there and see a doctor, get you a scan. If you still want to take care of it, they have a place there where you can."

"Today?"

I hadn't expected to have to decide that quickly. Although I believe my window for "taking care of it" wasn't big.

When she nodded, I shook my head as if to say "okay."

When I eventually left the stuffy break room, the first thing I saw was Mr. Acreman waiting outside, his face a deep red and his arms folded across his chest, "May I have a word?" He growled entering the break room quickly, me right behind him, fairly scared.

"It has come to my attention the nature of your "tummy bug", Taylor Bowie."

Oh no.

"And I must say that I am quite shocked. You always struck me as a smart young lady, so finding out you've gone and gotten yourself knocked up is quite the game changer."

Do I cry and plead for him to spare me my job? Do I deny it? Do I pretend to faint? Hell, I could probably really faint.

"Uhh"

Very good, Taylor. Excellent word choice.

"Don't try and deny it, I know you're pregnant."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Acreman. I didn't mean to, if was a one time thing it-" the words started flowing out without me even having to think them up, but he stopped me.

"Please, I'm sure it was a very moving and well thought out speech, but it will just waste both of our time. This is however something we do need to discuss as this could impact your place here. Follow me to my office?"

Although it was technically a question, we both knew it was really nothing less than an order, which I obliged to. When we arrived in the office, he sat me down opposite him, clasped his hands together and leaned across the desk, as principals do when you're in trouble.

"Now, Taylor," he began with a sigh, "Tell me, what are your plans?"

"Plans, sir?"

"Are you going through with this pregnancy?" He clarified.

I figured that's what he meant, "I'm not sure. I'm going for a scan this afternoon and that's when I'll decide."

He nodded, "If you do have this child, I will go ahead and tell you that will change things for you drastically, as far as your place here goes."

"What exactly would happen if I did have this...child?"

"Legally, I can not let you go due to this situation. So, you would be allowed to maintain your job here until you become so far along that you will not be able to work adequately. At that time, I will insist you quit. After you have the child, however, if you wish to return when your doctor feels it appropriate, I will allow it if I have an available position since you are a good employee."

Much better than I had thought.

"You're a good employee, Taylor. And I would hate to see you go. I will not, however, try and lean you one way or another. This is your decision. I will not be able to provide you pay or maternity leave if you go through with this. You're a smart young lady, but just know that this is a big decision and raising a child is not something to be taken lightly. Babies don't stay babies, they grow up. Only getting more difficult and more expensive.
This is not a year long project you can throw out when you're bored."

I am aware.

"Are you telling me to get rid of it?"

"I'm not telling you one way or the other, life I side. I am simply informing you of the reality of your situation. In fact, even though it would be hard, I think you could do, if any teen could. Even though you allowed this to happen, you're a decently smart young lady."

Was that a compliment?

"Now, Lottie had come to me asking for you two to get off around five and that is what it is now, so I assume you must be off. Good luck. I expect a decision to have been made my tomorrow morning."

"Yes sir."

*

"Taylor Bowie, follow me please," a tall nurse said curtly, looking at her clipboard. She had her hair up in a tight bun and her eyes glint with boredom.

I followed her, with Lottie by my side, down a couple long halls and then she gestured for me to enter room 218, telling me a nurse would be by shortly to do my scan, then a doctor would see me and answer any of my questions.

We say in an awkward silence for about five minutes before the door opened, revealing a small, curly headed nurse entering the room, clipboard in tow, a grin on her face.

"You must be Taylor," she greeted cheerfully, shaking my hand. "And you are..."

"I'm Lottie."

"Nice too meet you both, my name is Nicki, and I'll be helping you today," she explained. Now have you seen a doctor in the past couple weeks?"

I shook my head.

"Okay, that's fine. Now, you took a home pregnancy test and it came back positive, yes?"

"Right."

"Alright, great. Now, do you drink, smoke or do any sort of substance abuse? I don't mean to pry, it's just a pregnancy precautionary."

"Right, no, I understand. I don't do any of that."

"Excellent. Now, this is your first pregnancy, correct?"

"Oh yes," I laugh.

She smiled, "I just had to ask."

She continued scribbling away at her clipboard and then set it down on the table.

"Alright, are you ready to see your baby?"

"As ready as I'll ever be," I say truthfully.

"Don't worry, it's completely painless. And don't believe the lies that the gel is cold either - we keep ours warm for our patients." She smiled as I climbed on the table and laid down, lifting my shirt to reveal the teeny bump protruding between my hips. It was very small, but still there. Although, if you didn't know, you wouldn't be able to tell if it was a pregnant thing or if I had simply had a big meal.

"Okay," she said, squirting the blue gel on my stomach, "let's see."

She took an object that looking vastly similar to a microphone that was connected to a unique computer screen and ran it over my
stomach. A fuzzy gray screen showed up
on the screen.

"You are definitely pregnant," she confirmed and then pointed to a blob on the screen, "that is your baby."

The blob was my baby? Where?

I was not starting the journey of motherhood off on right foot. First, I find out at sixteen in a loo and now I can't even tell that the object on the screen is even a baby at all.

She turned a knob on the machine and a thumping sound started echoing throughout the room, "and that is your baby's heartbeat."

Okay, I'm not a terribly sensitive person in general, but this made me cry for whatever reason.

"Everything seems healthy. The heartbeat is around 155, and that is right around where it should be. Everything is progressing well."

She excused herself, explaining that the doctor would be in soon and some other stuff I didn't really hear because I was too focused on the screen.

Heartbeat.

My baby had a heartbeat.

A real, loud, strong heartbeat.

Like a real person.

Of course like a real person, what was I expecting? An antelope?

"You're really pregnant," Lottie gasped as if she thought I somehow had pulled off this big immaculate lie as a late April Fools
Joke.

I nodded, "I'm having a baby."

She looked at me with big, puppy dog eyes, "so you're going to have it?"

I didn't even look away from the screen, but my tears started flowing even more as I shook my head, "I don't see how I couldn't...that's my baby. My baby..."

She pulled me into a hug, reassuring me once again that she was there to support me. Maybe it was just the hormones talking, but at this moment I couldn't not go through with it. I had to have it. I couldn't bear to think of telling my dad because I knew that I would be a homeless pregnant teen when I did, although Lottie assured me I could stay with her, I would only do it during the pregnancy. I refused to bring a baby into her home and disrupt her family that way. I would only stay during the pregnancy while I was still working and could pay. Although I hoped I could convince my dad to let me stay until the baby was born.

There was a lot to think about. But right now all that mattered was that I was going to have a baby.

"Come in," Lottie called loudly.

It was Nicki. She came in and shut off the machine and explained that the doctor would see me in his office instead, but that Lottie would have to wait in the waiting room.

I followed her to the office and she gestured for me to go inside. I took a seat, waiting for the doctor to arrive.

"Sorry I'm late," a man said as he rushed through the door and into his chair, running his hands through a thick head of brown hair.

"It's fine," I laugh.

"It's nice to meet you, Taylor," he shook my hand, "my name is Doctor Ramsey, but you can call me Aaron."

"Nice to meet you too," I said, nerves once again fluttering in my stomach.

Would he judge me for being sixteen and pregnant?

"Do you have any questions?"

"Uhm," I thought it over, "how long can I work? I have a job and it's a lot of the income in our home."

"You can work, typically, until sometime in your third trimester given everything is healthy and going as it should. Complications could change that. You're able to work full time the first trimester, but by the second you'll probably need to reduce it to part time. What do you do exactly, if you don't mind me asking?"

"I'm a waitress."

He nodded and then smiled, "I don't know why I asked, you're only sixteen, there isn't much you can do. No heavy lifting though, that's a must."

"Done," I say. There wasn't many times I needed to lift anything heavy, but I wouldn't mind not having to do it at all.

"I'll prescribe to you your prenatal vitamins which you will have to take daily, and you won't need another scan for a while, but you can always schedule an appointment. Most expectant mothers schedule one between 16 and 18 weeks to reveal the gender though. I would like to see you at least once between now and then but that is not necessary unless you have any concerns."

"Sounds easy enough," I say, racking my brain for another question to ask.

"I'll give you a card with the hospitals number and the extension to my office, call any time with questions or concerns. Your health is key."

"Thank you, Doctor- er- Aaron." Calling adults by their first names was odd for me. Being respectful of adults had been something I had found important my whole life. I just felt it was proper.

"You're welcome. So if that's all you want to know, just remember to take your vitamins, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Don't over work yourself. And don't hesitate to call if you need anything."

He walked me to the waiting room, which was empty except for Lottie who started making puppy eyes the moment she laid eyes on him.

"Thank you," I say awkwardly.

I introduced Lottie to Dr. Ramsey and he shook her hand and I thought her jelly legs might give way underneath her.

When we got back to her car, she was like a
giddy schoolgirl.

"Oh. My. Gosh." She gasped, "Maybe I need to get pregnant."

Luckily she was driving because this statement startled me so much that if I had been driving I would have slammed the brakes, "What? Why?"

"Hello? Get up close and personal with Dr. Yummy."

"Lottie, he's my doctor."

"He's a young doctor though, not like my doctor - the sixty right year old Mrs. Bilson." She shuddered.

Dr. Ramsey was obviously young - and very easy on the eyes - but he was still my doctor.

Lottie always had a thing for older men though, so I couldn't say I found her infatuation with him to be out of character.

We made our way back because I still had to close that night, despite everything.

When I got inside, I was surprised to see that Mr. Acreman was still there, in his office. He normally left around five thirty, but was still here at seven forty five. I knocked and he let me in, quickly shutting a large filing book.

"Taylor." He greeted dully.

"I made my decision."

He suddenly was interested in what I had to say and leaned back, toying with his fingers as he waited for me to continue, "Oh?"

"I'm having the baby."

He raised his eyebrows, "You are?"

"Yes."

"Well, good luck to you both. My offer is still that you can keep your job until you are unable to fufill your duties."

"Thank you, sir."

"You're welcome. Now don't expect any special benefits or treatment, you still have a job to do. It's up to you to know what you're up for. Your job remains the same. I won't have a mistake cost me business."

Maybe it was hormones. Maybe it was "motherly instinct" I don't know, but this angered me. I wanted to tell him off for calling my child a mistake, but that would cost me my job and the last thing I could afford would be to lose my job.

32 weeks left. 8 months to go. Then I would be a mum. A single mum.

That was probably the scariest thought that had ever entered my mind.

I knew I had to tell my dad the next time I saw him, which would probably be tomorrow night when I came home to fix dinner.

So that meant I had less than 24 hours until my world completely crumbled. I may be wanting to have this baby, but I would definitely be the only one.

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