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I didn't sleep well. I tossed and turned, flipping from side to side, trying to get comfortable enough to get a little sleep before work. However, after tossing until roughly three in the way-too-early morning, and hearing Lottie groan twice, I finally decided to slip out of bed and quietly meander to their sitting room. Every time I fell asleep for even the shortest amount of time, I had the same nightmare, on an endless loop. I was running from something I couldn't see, holding my baby to my chest. I was afraid, clearly whoever or whatever was chasing me was something which I was no match for. I heard myself saying I had to "get to the lake", but in my conscious state I couldn't figure out why. I don't even remember ever even spending hardly any, if any at all, time at a lake. But, every time the dream ended with me falling and the giant monster lunging towards me. Then I would wake up, gasping for breath and fumbling for reality. One doesn't get much sleep when boogey men confiscate your state of mind. So, I found an old magazine, curled up on the couch wrapped in an old blanket that looked handmade, and read about different events happening around the world.

I learned that there was a celebrity who was wearing jewelry that was worth more money than it would take for me to go to university. Twice. I also learned what fashion trends were currently "in" and who was dating the in world of the rich and famous. When it came down to it, nothing in the magazine seemed even remotely realistic or the least but relevent to my life. I wasn't going to be buying an outfit that cost an paycheck. I started to wonder how the girl with the university tuition jewelry would deal with a situation like mine. I imagined the headlines now about how she would be a "teen mum" by an "unifentifitrd young man". In my world, people were going to criticize, gawk at and belittle my life and situation more and more as my secret began to show between my hips. I imagined little old ladies in the supermarket whispering to each other about the "lack of respect" girls in my generation had for ourselves. How we had "no self control", did it "like rabbits" and how we would "shag anything that said we were pretty". They would put down my parenting skills before they had even began. On the other hand, the celebrity, had she been in my situation, would be on magazines, and getting huge checks for the first pictures of her baby. Media and spectators alike would be on the look out for a "baby bump" practically from the moment the misfortune of a condomless night took place. In her world, she would have mad a mistake that was actually a blessing and people would admire her for "stepping up to the plate" and becoming a mother. I knew I would be shunned. I certainly wouldn't get magazine covers and be paid millions for a picture of my child. I could already feel the stares, already see the noses shriveling in disgust..the rich and famous would see this as a chance for a young girl to take responsibility and prove herself and her baby's father would probably "realize his love for her" and they would get their cheesy white horse happily ever after.

Unfortunately for myself and the little person growing inside me, we wouldn't be getting a fairytale. We would get stares, poverty, and eventually my child would grow up to resent me. Wonderful.

I put down the magazine after a while, when I realize I've been far more caught up in my own thoughts that have veered from the magazine. The more I think about the future, the more I'm afraid of it. I can handle people talking about me, they do it anyway, but it still cares me to no end to know what I'm responsible for this child. Would I end up being like Savannah? Raising a fatherless child, struggling to even feed my baby?

I knew it was too late to change my mind, but a part of me couldn't help but wonder if I was being selfish by having this child in the first place when I knew what kind of life he or she would be destined for.

*

"Taylor, honey, time to get up, I don't want you to be late."

It took me a minute to realize the voice was coming from Lottie's mom and it took me an additional few moments for my disoriented brain to realize I had fallen asleep on the couch at some point during the wee hours of the morning.

"Thanks," I mumbled, rubbing my eyes with my hands.

I didn't even work until late evening, but it was considerate of her to try and help any how.

When I made my way out of the sitting room, I was led by the ache in my stomach once my nose filled with the delicious aroma of bacon. My stomach and feet seemed to know where to go before my mind did. But when I meandered into the kitchen and saw a table full of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and assorted juices, it was all I could do to keep from salivating at the mouth like a canine. My meals normally consisted of something cold and out of a can or a sandwich if I could afford the meat. This was the penacle of delicacies to me.

"Sit down, dear, have a bite to eat, you must be starved," Lottie's mom instructed. "You're practically skin and bones. Let momma put some meat on you."

Ha.

Not for long I won't be, with or without you. Because I was already starting to bloat and get the hint of a belly, so I knew I wasn't gong to have one of those one in a million freak pregnancies girls end up on television for where their body shows no sign of pregnancy. The bloating, puking, nausea, and mood swings were enough that a blind man would know.

As I took a seat next to Lottie, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of family. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn't had a solid meal like this in months, maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, or maybe I was just a bizarre freak, but by the time everyone had made it to the table, I was crying. And not just a couple tears falling from my eyes, I'm talking full-on, hole in the dam, waterworks flowing from my eyeballs.

Perfect.

As if I needed another example of why people suspected I was on drugs or at least thought I was extremely weird.

"Taylor? Honey, are you alright?" Lottie's mum said worriedly, scurrying to my side in seconds and wrapping one arm around my should comfortingly.

I nod, hurriedly wiping away tears that have started sopping my face. When I can speak, I muster an "I'm fine, really," but anyone with half an ounce of brain residing in their skills would know I was obviously upset.

Mental breakdown at the breakfast table: check.

Safe to say my morning was starting off swell.

"Taylor, you know whatever is going on, we're here for you. You know that right?" she said as I struggled to speak over that lovely lump that had decided to take up camp in my voice box.

Honestly, crying was bad enough, but then that lovely lump of muteness had to meander into my throat and chill there, preventing much speaking, as if the situation needed to be made any more awkward.

Thanks, big guy. Always got my back, huh?

I swallowed as hard as I could and without giving the room another once over, unable to make eye contact with any of the shocked breakfast para takers, mumbled I needed to be excuses and sprinted like an Olympian to the bathroom.

Wow. I probably couldn't hate myself more at the moment. I mean, these people offer me up a place to stay in their home and I cause I big dramatic scene at the breakfast table. Not to mention the fact that that scene stemmed from the fact that I was harboring a child inside me, unbeknownst to them. Needless to say, I felt like the biggest burden to ever awkwardly grace the face of the European continent.

Being the mother that she is, Lottie's sweet mum was outside the door within a minute or two, politely asking if she could come inside and talk to me about the fiasco. (Although she didn't personally use the word fiasco, that was my own utterance). I told her to come in (in such a weak voice that I should be ashamed of myself and hide in shame).

Now, let me just say that I'm not the type of girl who breaks down and cries any time the world doesn't cater to her every whim. But, one can only take so much before they lead to let it all out and cry.

Lottie's mum, or Angela as she had been insisting I call her since I hit puberty, say down quietly in front of me, and gave me one of those talk-to-mummy-darling looks.

And I cried.

Of course.

Because apparently that's all I was capable of doing anymore. Crying, weeping, sobbing, recreating The Trail of Tears, the works.

"Taylor I don't think I've ever seen you cry until today the entire time you and Lottie have been friends and now you've cried about a dozen times since you woke up. What's going on sweetie? Is it your father? Parker? Work? You can talk to me."

"No," I wiped away the tears from underneath my eyes. "It's not that."

Even though there was part of me that a as always hurting over my interesting family situation.

"A boy? Honey, if you're crying so much over a boy then this boy doesn't deserve you. If he's willing to let someone as-"

"It's not a boy."

She thought this over for a moment and then her eyes lit up and I saw her mouth drop open a teeny bit which she quickly shut again.

This was it.

She knew I was pregnant.

Here comes the tongue lashing and the second time I would kicked out of a home.

I bit my lip and tried to mentally prepare myself for the coming speech.

"I'm sorry, honey, I just never really expected this," she said sincerely.

I gave out a pitiful guffaw, "Me neither."

"Did you not think you could tell me, honey?"

"I was afraid of what you would think," I said, still refusing to meet her gaze, positive it would be one of judgement.

"Honey, you've been like a daughter to me since Lottie introduced you as her best friend. Mothers don't abandon their daughters. Especially over something as minimal as this."

"Minimal?"

I hardly see how an illegitimate pregnancy at the tender age of sixteen qualified as a 'minimal' event.

But to each their own I suppose.

"Yes, minimal, sweetheart. There are people out there dying from disease and famine, this is hardly something to feel ashamed of."

"I suppose you're right," I sigh. "I just can't help but know this is a mistake."

"Honey, this was out of your control!"

Um.

I suppose once you reach a certain age you no longer spend a lot of time in the bedroom, but I still figured she would at least know the basics of sex and pregnancy.

"Mrs-"

"Angela, honey," she corrected.

I didn't want to call her that, it felt wrong and disrespectful, but with how well she was taking it I felt I should at least respect her wishes, "Angela, I have to take responsibility for this."

"Honey, honey, honey," her pet name of choice was truly beginning to get under my skin, "Stop blaming yourself. You should be happy."

"I'm sixteen. Why should I be happy about this? Not to be total downer but..."

"Sixteen or sixty, love conquers us all and becomes something out of control."

Okay.

I'm lost.

The idea of a sixty year old 'doing the deed' and getting pregnant was bizarre. And I don't know what 'love' has to do with anything.

"I just never expected this," I say due to the loss of appropriate responses I could come up with.

"Even though you'll probably receive some backlash, in the long run you'll have someone beside you that you can love and that's beautiful."

"Maybe. If they aren't so ashamed of me they leave me the first opportunity they get."

She crinkled her eyebrows together, "if they leave they just aren't the right one for you."

Now it was my turn to be confused, "I know I'm not the expert but I mean, I don't think it's like a toy store where I can refund and exchange. Pretty sure who I get is who I get."

That probably sounded snarky but I didn't mean it to be but at this point it was like she was talking in tongues half the time.

"There are, how do they say, plenty of fish in the sea. You'll find someone else, sweetheart. You're beautiful and intelligent and loving."

Maybe instead of talking about the fetus casually hanging out in my womb, we were discussing James. Maybe she was talking about him. (True, she didn't know his name but it's not like I impregnated myself...that would be truly weird.)

Going with my assumption she was discussing the impending father to be, "I just don't know."

"I know. But obviously someone is making you have all these feelings and realizations, so they must be someone special."

"I guess," I say.

This whole conversation was hardly making any sense.

Maybe she was on drugs.

"I know you feel like you have to hide this, but you don't have to hide from me. I want you to be able to share things with me and y'know talking can help you realize things you wouldn't until you hear the words aloud. How did you two meet?"

"Work," I say honestly, "not like I go out every night to meet new people." I laugh.

"Does this mystery person have a name?"

Well duh, his parents didn't assign him a number.

I really need to learn how to control my sarcastic nature. It just flows out of me.

But on the bright side I have become slightly better about not saying every single thought that enters my head.

"James."

She looked puzzled by this for a moment this smiled, "Well, that's new. But a new generation means new names, eh?"

She's definitely under the influence. James is one of the most common, old names out there, pretty sure.

"What?"

"I just mean I had never met a girl named James before," she smiled. "But I'm sure she's lovely."

Whoa whoa whoa, stop the train.

"What? James is a boy!"

"But I thought..." She trailed off.

Clearly neither of us have been on the same
page.

Seeing that I was dumbfounded, she continued, "Sweetheart, is this not about you being gay?"

If I had been drinking, I would have spewed everywhere.

My life, ladies and gentleman.

"You think I'm gay?"

"Well, aren't you? If this isn't about a boy and you're feelings of shame...that sounds like a struggling gay teen darling."

I laughed.

Probably not the most opportune or appropriate thing to do but I couldn't help but laugh at the pure irony of this. If only my situation was as simple as that. If only I was gay.

"I'll support you, honey, you don't have to worry about that," she continued.

"I'm..not...I'm not gay." I said as I slowly came to a halt with the hysterical laughter.

"Honey, then what's going on?"

I gulped, but knew I had to come right out with it at this point, "I'm...pregnant."

Annnnd she stared at me.

By the look on her face, she had heard it as me telling her I was growing a horn on my bum as opposed to a child in my uterus.

Time stopped, I'm pretty sure.

"Oh, Taylor, no. No. Please tell me this is a very bad joke," she pleaded and for some odd reason, perhaps the lighting, I could have sworn her eyes were starting to shine with tears.

Oh no, the tears would surely be on their way now.

"I wish I was," I say, shaking my head.

"I didn't realize you were seeing someone," she said quietly.

Well, hello, wave of shame. Lovely to see you again.

"That would be because I'm not..."

Her jaw squared, "this James guy left you because you're pregnant? Where does he live? He's about to be one sore little...what kind of selfish-"

Whoa, mama bear has claws.

"He didn't leave me because I'm pregnant. We were never together, it was a one time thing."

"Oh, Taylor, honey, what good could that possibly have done?"

"It just happened," I say, once again not meeting her gaze as I deliver the classic line every teenager has given their parents when they tell them they're pregnant.

She sat there for a minute, seemingly thinking over what to say next, "Well, telling you that you made a mistake won't do much because it won't take it back and that's the last thing you need right now. So, I'm not going to do that."

"Thank you."

"Instead, I want you to know that I'm supportive and won't turn you away or treat you any differently than I did a week ago."

"Thank you, that means everything to me."

"Is that why you've been staying here? Are you afraid to tell you dad? I know he's not the brightest sunflower in the patch, but..."

"He kicked me out. He knows and kicked me out."

This seemed to visibly anger her. From everything I had gathered over the years, this conversation in particular, she was very much the mama bear who would die to have her children be happy. Finally, she calmed enough to grab my hands and and force me to meet her gaze.

"You have a tough road ahead of you, darling. You created a tough pavement, but you're the strongest young lady I've ever met, and if anyone can do it, you can."

Traditional speech, but it still warmed my heart up a bit.

"That means a lot," I say quietly.

"Have you told the father?"

"Yes, he knows. And yes, he wants to be involved."

"That's good! So many boys would have ran once you dropped the p word, if they even showed up again."

"I guess," I say.

"Honey, I'n trying to be positive here, but if you want a speech-"

"No, a speech isn't necessary."

"Okay, then. Now, what is you guys' plan? Marriage, living together unconventionally..."

This was yet another one of those moments. Where I would have spewed my drink every where had I been drinking one.

"What?"

"Honey, you have a child coming and a child needs a family."

"I barely know him!" I protest, climbing to my get awkwardly, feeling like my throat was on fire and was going to burn me alive.

"That was a personal decision, not the fault of your child. Now, you don't have to figure it all out right now, but pretty soon decisions will come and they'll come hard and fast. But, you're welcome to stay here until you figure that out."

I was at a loss for words. What do I say to that?

"But when the baby comes..." I trail off, knowing what the response would be.

"Then I'll expect you to to be settled. My house isn't equipped for a baby, honey. Not anymore."

Annnnnd there it was.

"That's fair," I sigh.

"Oh, honey," she pulled me in to a hug, stroking my hair while I sobbed into her shoulder because as we all know I'm a perfect crier now. "I'm so sorry this happened to you."

*

"Wait, hold on, hold on," Lottie said through fits of laughter, "she thought you were gay?"

I nodded, "Apparently. I mean if I had bedded a girl none of this would happen so I guess the universe is just extremely ironic."

By this point we were walking our fifth loop around the park, Lottie consistently being the more athletic of us and running ahead, chasing animals, and just overall being an energetic goofball, and I was kicking the occasional rock.

"That's kinda funny," she says. "I mean, if you were gay and pregnant, you'd be like a miracle."

Sometimes Lottie says dumb things.

"Gay people can get pregnant, Lottie!"

"How? I mean aren't there certain parts that are missing but completely necessary?"

I stopped her before she could continue, "They go to one of those sperm bank places, I suppose. I don't know. But gay people have children and I doubt they just sit at the park scoping, find one they like and leave with it like they're picking out a puppy from a pet store."

I guess that was strange analogy number five thousand seven hundred and two of the day.

"Yeah, that would be pretty weird. Okay, I'll hand it to ya, gay people can have kids."

"Children," I correct.

"What?"

"Kids are baby goats. Oh, you know what's it doesn't matter."

"Funny," she laughs. "Maybe this baby will be some sort of prodigy. End world hunger, cure cancer."

"All in a good day's work," I laugh.

"And think of how fashionable that child is going to be? Saving the world one scarf at a time it will."

Looking down at my rag tag attire, I shook my head, "Lottie, my kid doesn't stand a chance. I barely know how to match my own clothes!"

"And that," she ran up beside me, wrapping an arm round my neck, "is why that child has me, the fairy godmother... without wings and a carriage and wand and all that."

I smiled, "One thing about it, his or her life will never be boring."

"Never," she agreed. "But really, Taylor, what are you going to do about James? Do you guys have a plan or...?"

"He left for school, which apparently is a boarding school near...Scotland, I believe...anyway, and he won't be home until Christmas time, by which time I think I'll be around five, six months pregnant and resembling the allusive blonde balooga." I laugh, halfheartedly. "He gave me a way to get in touch with some bloke named Teddy, he's a cousin or a brother or something of sorts. From what I've gathered he has a pretty large family, so I'm not entirely sure. But he said I could get in touch with Teddy and who would help me and reach him and everything."

"Are you going to do it?"

"I don't want to," I answer.

"But are you? I didn't ask whether you wanted to. Your bloody independence would have you 'not wanting' help if you'd been attacked by a rabid tiger and left bleeding in a shark tank."

Okay, I am no longer the only one using bizarre analogies. Lottie just took the cake. Ignoring the analogy I just went straight to answering the question.

"I don't see what choice I have," I answer honestly.

"What am I? Chopped liver?"

"Lottie, I can't stay with you forever, even your mum said so. And I wouldn't want to. This is my responsibility."

"Fine," she relents, "but the door is always open."

"I know," I pull her into a hug, but she quickly pulls away, a serious look on her face.

"Taylor, you have to promise me something though!" She says urgently.

"Of course," I say, pretty confused.

"This Teddy guy...if he's cute then I expect an introduction!"

Lottie: a noun; someone who has her priorities in order. Only not really.

"I wouldn't dream of letting your perfect guy possibly slip through my hands," I laugh.

"As long as we have that clear!"

We strolled and talked for a bit longer until I couldn't wait any longer or I would be late for work, which was the last thing I would need.

One thing for sure, I have my work cut out for me these next few months, not withstanding the amount of work that comes after.

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