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"Parker, hurry up, you're going to be late for school!"

Correction, he was already late for school.

Double correction, he was going to be extra late considering that it took fifteen minutes to walk there and school started five minutes ago.

Now, I know it's still summer. But, with me working all day and no one around that's capable of watching him, he goes to a family friend's home run tutoring thing. She had essentially a whole classroom worth of children and tried to get them "ahead of the game" for the coming school year. He didn't like it at first, but he had made friends and that made him not make a fuss about going.

I set the pan I had been scrubbing in the drying rack, relieved that my load of dishes was finally almost all clean. For a family of three that ate a lot of leftovers and and fruits that didn't require silverware, we sure did dirty a lot of dishes. It was like laundry; I was never out of laundry which also didn't make sense since all our clothes combined could fit in a large suitcase, easily.

I couldn't continue thinking about the odd occurrences of life for long because thunderous footsteps came towards me, resulting in an eight year old standing before me in a scuffed pair of tennis shoes, a pair of knockoff shorts and an old, work t-shirt with a guy kicking a soccer ball on it. Despite the outfit that looked ready for athletic period, his hair looked very damp and was slicked back.


Leave it to Parker.

I held back my laugh, simply relieved that he seemed ready for school.

"Have you got all your things?" I ask, eyeing his backpack sitting on a stool next to the kitchen table. He just looked around, and when he saw the back pack he seemed to put two and two together and picked up the backpack, slipping it on one shoulder.

"Ready!" He announced cheerfully.

Relieved, I shuffled him out the door quietly, trying to make sure dad didn't hear the noise and wake up and wishing I had remembered to silence Parker from running in the house, although correcting him would not have done much good seeing as everything you tell him goes in one ear and out the other. When I got in last night, sometime after midnight, I did my nightly routine of looking in on Parker, kissing him goodnight and then quietly slipping off to take a shower and then go to bed. For some reason though, I couldn't fall asleep and found myself thinking about my scan. I had heard a heartbeat inside me. There was a peanut sized human being living in me. The thoughts of this peanut kept me up for quite a while, so I knew when my dad wandered in at half three, drunk as a skunk and knocking over everything in the kitchen on his way back to his bedroom with one of his ever classy "lady friends" that stayed over more often than not. I always figured they were too drunk to realize he wasn't worth their time. Love em and leave me was his motto, apparently.

This was obviously not the time to present the news of my peanut to him. One, he was drunk. Two, he had a woman over.

"What do you think I should do?" Parker asked with an exasperated sigh.

He was a dramatic child.

Wait.

Had he been talking to me?

I had been so caught up in my thoughts of previous day/night, I hadn't realized we were already half way to his school.

"Wh-what?" I asked, confused and not having a single idea what he was on about.

He gave a heavy sigh, "Okay. So, last week I ate lunch with this girl, Laney, in my class and now everyone is saying she's my girlfriend!"

Oh the troubles of an eight year old.

I guess at that age girls still had cooties?

I held back my laugh, "Is she your girlfriend? Eating lunch together...sounds pretty serious."

"What! No, that's disgusting!" He replied indignantly, dramatically shaking his head and rolling his eyes, "I only are lunch with her because she had peanut butter cups and you KNOW how I like peanut butter cups!"


"I think that in Greece, peanut butter cups are the food of love, you know."

Okay, it was a lie, but his reaction was worth it.

He skidded to a stop and gave a loud "WHAT!", his eyes growing big.

It was easy to cause him distress.

"Yeah, so she's basically your girlfriend now."

He groaned, "Well how do I break up with her now?"

We went on the rest of the way to school with him going through the ever complicated relationship trials of every right year old boy. Boys ears lunch with girl and BOOM instant relationship, and apparently that is a bad thing because not only are girls "only half human" and this particular girl has a blue pencil box and blue is a boy's color, apparently.

I may have a peanut sized piece of life sitting in my uterus that had the potential to leave me homeless, but that was nothing compared to my eight year old brother's relationship crisis.

I walked him to his classroom, against his will, and when I saw that he made it to his desk, I started to leave, but stopped when I heard "Miss Bowie!" being half shouted in my direction.

Just keep walking.

No.

No, that's rude.

Turn around.

"Yes?" I spun around, trying to put a smile oh my face, but it wasn't hard to hide my annoyance. I only had a half shift today and was eager to get it behind me, but it seemed I needed to talk to Parker's teacher, Mrs. Rogers, first.

"I'm sorry to bother you," she said, rushing towards me, her squat legs shuffling surprisingly quickly in my direction. "I've been trying to reach your father, I need to have a conference with a guardian."

Of course you do.

Because my father is ever willing to participate in those sort of things.

"My dad is sick, is there any way I can do it?"

I noticed as she squared we jaw, and saw her tossing the idea around in her head. Classic. "I suppose..."

Already running the risk of being late, I didn't let her change her mind, "Great."

"Does next Friday at noon work for you?"

No day works for me.

"That's great," I say.

Now please let me leave and get to work.

"Great," she says. "I just think there are some things we need to discuss."

"Happy to," I said.

After a few more painfully stretched minutes of small talk, I finally was able to slip away and run to work.

On the way to work I was given yet another reminder of my impending motherhood when I rushed past a breakfast shop, smelled the eggs and then immediately found myself heaving into the nearest garbage can. My baby was already a rebellious little thing and had decided it didn't like the majority of foods I used to enjoy. Thank you, child.

When I finally got to work, happy that I only had a five hour shift, there were already a few customers in there, mainly chattering amongst themselves. I tied my apron around my waist and took the orders of the customers.

The morning went on without a hitch, surprisingly. I only threw up two more times, thank you, child, and only suffered one mild mood swing. Okay maybe 'mild' is a matter of opinion, but you would get upset too if you had a customer that was having lunch with his sister for the first time in 2 weeks. It was a sweet reunion so I may have cried a little. Or a lot. Either way, no biggie.

I had the afternoon free for the first time in months and while I should have spent that time doing one of three things: one, tell my dad that his first grandchild is currently loading in my womb (although I would probably need to phrase it differently), two, I could take the preemptive strike to already pack because after event one happened, I would be looking at being homeless, three, I could just take a walk and spend some time in my own head.

I chose option three.

Telling my dad about his impending grandchild and preparing for homelessness could wait for another day. With how intoxicated he was the majority of the time,
he wouldn't pick up on it for a while, more than likely.

So, I just let my feet wander and they seemed to subconsciously guide me to the park.

The same park where James and I had come eight weeks ago, that's fateful night.

I wandered over to the swings and set myself down, lightly kicking myself off the ground and swinging back and forth. I had been coming here when I had spare moments ever since I was a little girl, it was where I came to clear my head and get away from everything for a while.

I remember once I came here when I was about thirteen after my first boyfriend, a bloke named Sam who I had only 'dated' for three weeks, broke up with me. I stayed on those swings for hours, thinking about how much my life sucked and no one would ever love me again and blah blah blah. That weekend Lottie let me come over and we drowned ourselves in ice cream and frosting and talked about how much boys suck (she had also suffered a heartbreak, she found out her then boyfriend Michael had gotten a little friendly with a fellow dance team
member). This place was just my go to place when I had stuff to think about.

And I do believe that having a tiny person being held inside my body for the next several months qualified as something that needed to be thought over.

I wonder how I'm going to look pregnant? I had seen many a pregnant mum come through for a bite to eat at the cafe and had learned there were quite a few different ways to carry your baby...

Taylor, back to reality.

Big. Picture.

I really needed to focus on how I would tell my dad. He may be a drunk that could barely remember his name a large portion of the time, but he still was sober enough of the time to find out. He had accused me of it before and had threatened me within an inch of my life, so this was not going to be a sunshine and roses type of conversation.

Maybe I could tell him that I was just getting fat?

No. Because when there was a baby he might get a little suspicious.

I didn't have time to think about this anymore because the next thing I knew I heard "HOT CAFE GIRL!" and a boy with caramel skin had plopped down next to where I had sat down on the grass.

I laughed, "Fred, I've told you my name is Taylor. Say it with me. Tay-Lor. Taylor."

He shrugged, "Ah, but mine is so much more inventive. Yours is so...unoriginal."

"SO sorry to disappoint," I laugh.

Normally when I'm in the park and enjoying my happy place I get upset when other people show up, but for some odd reason I was enjoying his company.

"Fred, what are you doing to Taylor?"

Of course.

James was there.

Fred threw an arm around me and looked at James with a smirk, "I just thought a pretty lady like herself deserved an honor such as my presence."

I faked gagging sounds because I am mature woman who was motherly material.

He threw a hand over his chest, "Ouch, Bowie, that really hurt me."

James sat down on the opposite side of me and I was reminded of just how much I loved his eyes.

Taylor, FOCUS.

"So," James says, "is there any particular reason you're sitting on the ground of the park by yourself?"

"Just cleaning my head," I say honestly.

He nodded, "Fair enough. Gotta have some time to yourself, can't be fighting off blokes all the time. Especially when you know you've already met the best." He smirked.

"And who would that be?"

He looked around, and then gestured towards himself and I laughed.

"Okay," Fred said, jumping to his feet, "I can see in the third wheel here, so I'm gonna take off, try and find some babes of my own to impress."

"No, stay," I insist.

"Really," he argues back, "it's fine. There are unsuspecting ladies out there about to have their world rocked by the one and only. I'll catch you later."

He left, with no argument from James, who then turned to look at me, "Alright, go for it."

I furrowed my brows, "what?"

"Have your way with me, right here in the park."

The boy remembers. Oh god.

I laughed, "Moment has passed."

"Dang," he says lightly, "I'll guess we'll have to make other arrangements to do something."

"Something?"

He broke out in a grin, "Taylor Bowie, head out of the gutter! I meant something casual to fill the afternoon."

"Oh," I say, embarrassed.

"I'm starved, care to get some lunch?"

"Lunch sounds divine."

No, I don't know why I chose the word divine. I could have chosen good, great, delicious, etcetera, but no, I had to go for divine. I have issues.

An hour later we were seated in a restaurant I had never been too and were eating our meals, trying not to choke because we were laughing a lot. And I mean, a lot. People probably suspected drug usage.

"Okay," James says, twirling his pasta onto his fork, "If you could do anything, anywhere, what would you do and where?"

"That's easy," I say, "I want to go to Greece and swim."

He raised his eyebrows, "Really?"

I nodded, "It looks like paradise. Beautiful waters, gorgeous white buildings...I could stay there all day. Swim, paint, the works."

"You paint?"

"Not nearly as much as I would like to, but yes."

"I didn't know that."

"There's a lot you don't know about me, James Potter."

"Alright," he leaned back in his chair. "Give me an example."

"Oh no," I say, smiling, "you don't get to go twice in a row. It's my turn now."

"Go for it."

"What do you want to do with your life? What you wanna be?"

He opened his mouth to speak and then quickly shut it, his eyes showing me that he was clearly thinking, as if he couldn't honestly tell me.

"I think I want to go into the world of law inforcement. My dad does that and it's pretty interesting. I think I'd like it. So, after the end of the school year, I plan to work for him. See if I can do it."

"That's surprising," I said.

"Why?"

"I don't know, I just had you pegged for one of those guys who says they're going to play rugby professionally."

"Rugby? Please." He dismissed the idea with a simple hand gesture.

"You don't like rugby?"

"It's alright, I guess," he said. "Just muggle sports are so-"

"Muggle?"

"Erm, that's what people at my school call sports that are widely, mainstreamly popular," he said quickly.

I didn't entirely believe him, but hey, he was the one attending a smarty pants private school, and I dropped out at 15. So, I guess he would know what he was talking about.

Quickly we moved on from his flub and kept
talking. We probably stayed there a couple hours before politely being asked to leave since we had long finished our food and were still taking up a table.

We went back to the park the rest of the night and the whole time I was, for some reason, very aware of the fact that I was pregnant and had the opportunity to tell him. From what I knew, he was a good, cool guy. Maybe I should tell him?

That was when the guilt came back.

He was a good, nice guy and seemed to have a great future ahead of him and I could take that all away and ruin his life. I may have ruined mine but I didn't think I could handle ruining his too.

After it was dark, I told him that Lottie had asked me to help her clean up - lie - so I had an excuse to keep him from walking me home because I didn't want him to see where I live and I didn't want my dad to see him. I had hoped that the walk home would take longer than it did because I didn't want this night to end. When we got there, we went inside and with Lottie back in the kitchen, probably on her cell phone texting one of her many suitors, he didn't immediately leave.

"Soo," he said with a sly smile, playing with my hand, "I guess this is goodnight?" He sounded disappointed.

I nodded, "I guess it is."

He let out a sigh, "I mean, unless you wanna come back..."

"I appreciate the offer, but I don't think so."

He held up his hands, "hey, totally your call. But you're missing an epic fooseball tourney between Fred, myself and our pal Teddy."

"That's tempting, but I still have to pass."

"Fair enough," he said. "I can see this is a loosing battle. If I can't convince you though, I really must go, but you know where I'm staying. Come by any time."

"Maybe I will."

"Maybe you will," he leaned in and kissed me lightly. Nothing overly passionate, just a light kiss that made me see stars and my head go fuzzy.

When he pulled back I know he saw the look on my face and he smirked, "Goodnight, Taylor."

"Goodnight, James."

I couldn't help myself but to watch as he walked out out of the shop. He turned and waved and I waved back and I couldn't ignore the knot that had formed in my stomach. He was leaving and there was a good chance I might not see him again. He seemed to be a good guy. And I was willingly letting him walk away. It was wrong. I knew it. I was robbing him of his child, if he even wanted it, and I was robbing my child of a father. Could I even do that? Was that even legal?

I didn't love him. He didn't love me. It wasn't about love, it was simply hormones and the realization that on the slim chance that he did want to be involved, I was taking that from him.

I may not have had a good life growing up, but I had always swore that when I did have a baby I would give them everything I never had.

"So," Lottie says, "did you tell him?"

I wanted to speak, but my throat felt chalky and tight, and for some reason I couldn't seem to open my mouth.

Okay, brain, time to speak.

Annnnd go.

Still no words.

Brain, we're going to try this again. Annnnd go.

Nope, no words.

Darn you, rebellious brain.

Fine.

I guess I'll just shake my head. My neck muscles have not developed a mind of their own, have they?

I shook my head.

Nope, they are still just brainless bones.

Lottie sighed, blowing a load of air out her nose and rubbed her temples, "Taylor..." she says with a disappointed sound to her voice.

Great.

Disappointment.

"I couldn't," I heard myself say quietly.

Way to be on the ball, brain. You're really on top of things.

"Why not?" She pushes, unable to see my side of things.

I sigh and lean on the counter, staring down at the granite, not wanting to look at her.

She had a point, I knew that. I wasn't stupid. But I also had to consider the idea that maybe it was selfish to tell him. He seems to have a great life and seems to be someone who's going to make something of himself. Did I have the right to possibly take that away?

Then I go back to the idea that say I never told him then my child would grow up with a single mum struggling to make ends meet. We'd live in poverty or mooching off friends - which I never accepted, I was not a charity case even though the eyes of others spoke differently. He/she would not have nice, new things that the other children had. Even worse, I looked at the prospect of living in a shelter.

I has been going over this same endless loop over and over in my head for the past two weeks straight, ever since I officially found out I can procreated, and still I had yet to come up with the right answer. Maybe because there was no right answer.

Honestly, I don't know how my brain still functions with how hard I work it. It's gears are probably rusty. I'm constantly thinking, deep thinking, not the kind of thinking you do to choose a pair of shoes. I has always been that way but since I discovered I was pregnant it just for so much worse and by the time this baby was born I would be looking at delivery/hospital bills as well as finding someone to be a brain donor. (Do they even make those?) If they do, I'll certainly need one. There's no way my poor brain will be able to recover from this nine month trauma.

Two months down, just seven to go, Mr. Brain. You're well on your way.

Great.

I have reduced my self to conversations not only with myself, but with a particular part of myself.

My mum surely must have smoked something whilst pregnant with me. I never knew her well enough to find out, but I suppose that had to be the case.

I suppose that all pregnant teenagers do what I am doing to a degree, but most probably don't refer to their brains with the name 'Mr. Brain.' Should I just name it? If I did I think Alf would be a good idea.

Oh gosh.

I just named my brain.

Was a loss of brain cells part of pregnancy? Maybe pregnancy included nine months of 'anything goes' thoughts - meaning anything can be thought of/spoken by the woman carrying the child, with no fault on the woman herself.

Okay.

I really need to get back to the big picture.

Lottie wants to know about everything between me and James. Lottie wants to know why I didn't tell him.

Okay, brain, please come up with a good excuse.

Please come up with said excuse...noooow.

"Helloooo, earth to Taylor!" I hear Lottie say, and it's safe to assume that she had called my name more than once before this.

"Huh?"

"I've been calling your name! Why couldn't you tell him? Are you going to see him again?"

"I just..I just couldn't." Wonderful answer, Taylor. Really, totally excellent, you should be a public speaker. Or, better yet, a philosopher. "I wanted to, but I just couldn't make myself. Besides, he goes back to school September 1st, and apparently it's a boarding school, so he'll be in school still when the baby is born and he wouldn't be around for the pregnancy anyway-"

"Who cares!" Lottie screams, looking at me with a look that I had often seen older sisters give their younger sisters and for once I was reminded that she was two years older than me. "Him being around for the pregnancy would be nice, yes, but what's important is what comes after. If you are having this baby, then he needs to be around when he/she is born."

I didn't notice I had started crying until she was done with her speech.

"I know," I sigh. "Why can't I just forget about it?"

"Forget about it? Forget...Taylor!" She sighed. "I love you, you know I love you and you're my best friend. But you have to realize that whether you like it or not, whether you wish you could take it back or not, you and James had sex and now you're carrying his child."

As soon as she finished the sentence, her eyes widened and she dropped her mouth open a bit. I followed her gaze and instantly felt sick for a reason other than 'morning' sickness.

As if my life was a cheesy, predictable comedy, James was standing there and the look on his face told me he had been there long enough to hear the last thing Lottie said and we just hasn't realized he was there.

"James," I choke out.

"I just came by to make sure you weren't walking home alone," he said so quietly it was hard to tell it was he who spoke.

"Thanks," I choke out, not knowing what else to say.

"You're pregnant?"

Shit.

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