Authors: Melody Carlson
Tags: #ebook, #book
“Are you okay?” Wes asked. He’d invited himself to join her and her friends. Naturally she hadn’t told him no. Still, she knew that some friends were beginning to think they were really a couple, which was so not the case.
“I’m fine,” she snapped.
“Sorry.” He looked slightly wounded.
“Sorry,” she said more gently. “The truth is, I’m tired. It’s been a long week and—”
“Want to make a fast break and get out of here?” he said.
“Seriously?” Sophie stood up and nudged Carrie Anne. “Wes and I are getting outta here.”
“But the game’s not even—”
“I know.” Sophie rubbed her forehead. “But I have a headache and the noise is getting to me.” Now that wasn’t even a total lie.
“Okay.” Carrie Anne frowned. “See ya.”
As they walked across the parking lot, the night air felt cool and good against her face. “Thanks, Wes,” she told him. “I really was relieved to escape. But I hope I didn’t ruin your—”
“Hey, you know I’m not much of a sports fan.”
“Well, I know you’re not much of a sportswriter.” She socked him in the arm.
“Thanks a lot.”
As they got into his car, Wes asked if she was hungry. The truth was, she was hungry. But she told him no thanks and that she mostly wanted to get home. Fortunately he didn’t seem to mind.
“Thanks again,” she said as he pulled into her driveway. “And I’ll see you at Carrie Anne’s tomorrow night. It sounds like her mom’s got something really great for dinner.”
“Cool.” He smiled at her. “Can’t wait.”
She nodded and tried to look enthusiastic. Really, shouldn’t this be a fun time for her? Shouldn’t she be enjoying all this senior year stuff?
As she went into the house, she reminded herself that she wasn’t the only pregnant girl in their high school. Of course, the pregnant girls she’d noticed weren’t like her—not honor students, newspaper editors, or Christians who’d made abstinence pledges. As far as Sophie knew, the girls who walked around school with their pregnant bellies hanging out were known for sleeping around. They were the kind of girls you expected to get knocked up. And they acted totally nonchalant about it, strutting around in maternity wear like they were setting a new fashion trend.
Somehow Sophie knew she just couldn’t do that. As much as she liked making jokes at her own expense, she couldn’t bear to have her peers laughing at her—the way she’d seen them laugh at others—just because she was pregnant. So not funny.
“You look hot,” Carrie Anne told Sophie the following night. The two of them were dressed for the dance and standing in front of Carrie Anne’s mirror doing their final tweaks. They’d already spent the afternoon helping Mrs. Vincent with the dinner preparations, trying to make everything perfect, until she had finally shooed them away to get dressed.
Sophie studied herself in the mirror and had to concede with her friend. She did look unusually good in the simple black dress. “I was worried that it might look too boring,” she admitted. “But Mom talked me into it. She was so convinced it was perfect that she even paid for it too.”
“Well, it’s definitely hot.” Carrie Anne added another bobby pin to secure Sophie’s pinned-up hair. “And slimming too.”
Sophie’s hand automatically slid down to her midsection. Sure, she wasn’t really showing, but suddenly she was reminded of what was going on inside her body. It was funny how sometimes, even if only briefly, she would forget about it. She would be tricked into thinking she was just the same as ever. Just Sophie Ramsay enjoying being a normal teenage girl. Then something would happen or someone would say something . . . and she would remember.
Fortunately the dinner and dance proved to be fairly good distractions. Although Sophie wasn’t enjoying herself as much as she portrayed, it wasn’t as bad as she’d expected either. Still, she was glad when it was over with. It seemed that was all she lived for anymore—getting things over with.
“Thanks for going with me tonight,” Wes told her as he walked her to her door. Carrie Anne and Drew were still in the car, and suddenly Sophie felt nervous. She so hoped that Wes wasn’t going to ruin what had been a sort of okay evening by trying to get a good-night kiss.
“Thank you,” she told him, extending her hand as if to shake his.
He took her hand and made a goofy grin. “Good night.”
“Good night.” Then she pulled her hand away from his and hurried inside her house. Awkward moment averted.
As exhausted as Sophie felt, she was wide-awake when she finally got into bed. She felt restless and edgy and uneasy. Like something was about to happen.
Suddenly it occurred to her that her body could be telling her something. Like maybe something was wrong with the pregnancy. Like maybe she was going to have a miscarriage. On one hand, it would be such a relief. On the other hand, she knew it was wrong to wish for an innocent baby’s death simply to escape her own mistake.
Even so, she’d already done some research about this online. She had actually hoped to discover some simple solution to ending the pregnancy without having an abortion. Of course, she felt guilty at the hope she’d experienced when she discovered that miscarriages were fairly common, at least statistically. But her research hadn’t revealed anything terribly helpful. It seemed most miscarriages had to do with serious illnesses or DNA problems or aging. None of which seemed applicable to Sophie. She also learned that things like exercise, foods, or even sex do not cause miscarriage. Not that she was considering sex. But she had been open to a strenuous workout regime or eating weird foods—though now those things seemed pointless.
Sophie got up and turned on her computer. Once again she was surfing the Internet looking for information about miscarriages. Finally she found an article that gave her a smidgeon of hope. It seemed that stress could actually cause a miscarriage. Well, who was more stressed than Sophie? That had to be her answer. She read on to discover that her stressed-out body was quite possibly producing a hormone that could put her pregnancy at serious risk. She exited the site, removed it from her file history, and shut down the computer.
Could that be what was happening to her? Was it possible that her body was taking care of this problem itself? She had read that one in eight pregnancies miscarried in the first trimester—and she had hoped that she would be that lucky one. She was still in her first trimester and would be for at least one more month.
If Sophie was still on speaking terms with God, she might’ve asked for his help in this. But, on second thought, God probably wasn’t inclined to listen to prayers from pregnant teenage girls who had broken their vows and were now desperately begging him to straighten things out. Or worse yet, who were hoping that a human life might end simply for convenience’s sake. No, that didn’t make much sense. As far as she knew, God didn’t work like that. But perhaps her own body would help her out of this mess. Because one thing she knew for sure, she was totally stressed. As weird as it seemed, maybe stress would be her new best friend.
Sophie felt a tiny ray of hope as she got back into bed. Who knew that stress could actually be good for something?
Although Sophie’s stress level felt higher than ever, sometimes so much so that she worried she was about to have a nervous breakdown, the next few weeks passed without the slightest sign of a miscarriage.
“So what are you kids doing for Halloween this year?” Dad asked her one night when her family of three actually sat down to eat a take-out pizza together.
“Oh, I thought I’d dress up like a pumpkin and go trick-or-treating,” she said sarcastically. “I’m like almost eighteen, Dad.”
“You keep pigging out on that pizza, and all you’ll need is to borrow my orange T-shirt to pass yourself off as the Great Pumpkin,” her dad teased.
She set down the piece and frowned. “Thanks a lot.”
“Lighten up, Bud,” her mom warned him. “Your waistline isn’t anything to brag about.”
“You making fun of my little old beer belly?” He winked at Mom. “And here I thought you liked it.”
“I’m just saying . . . The truth is, I think we could all use to take off a few pounds,” she said. “Maybe we should make a goal to cut back before the holidays hit and we all overdo it.”
“And maybe I should sign us all up for one of those reality shows,” he shot back at her. “You know, like
The Biggest Loser
. Only we could do one for families.”
“Count me out.” Sophie pushed back her chair and stood. “Aw, come on,” Dad said. “I was just kidding about the pumpkin thing. Finish your pizza, honey.”
“See what you did, Bud?” Mom shook her finger at him.
“I didn’t mean anything by—”
“Seriously.” Sophie faked a smile in hopes that her parents wouldn’t get into some big stupid fight over her now. “I
She went upstairs to her room, shut the door, went over to the mirror, and pulled up her shirt to stare at her rounded tummy. Her favorite jeans were too tight now, and even her usually loose khakis had gotten snug. According to what she’d read, she shouldn’t require real maternity clothes until her second trimester. But that was just around the corner now. In the meantime, she couldn’t go around busting out of her clothes. If her dad was noticing her weight gain, surely others would too.
Once again she went online, this time to a maternity clothes site. But everything she saw there seemed to only accentuate the pregnancy. What was up with these women showing off their bulging bellies? What she needed was a disguise. Baggy sweats seemed to be her best bet. And if her friends assumed she was simply putting on weight, so be it. That was preferable to the truth. Right now she couldn’t face the truth herself. How could she expect anyone else to?
She let out a long, exasperated sigh. Why was it that some women (ones who really wanted babies) experienced miscarriages, and others didn’t? What was fair about that? If God was truly the Creator like she believed—if he was the giver of life—why had Sophie wound up with this unwanted pregnancy, while other women who longed for children would never have any? And what about those who were grieving for babies they’d lost? How was that even close to fair?
Sometimes Sophie wondered how God could even sleep at night. Okay, she knew that he never actually slept at all. But how did he justify all of this?
Really, if God was as smart as she thought he was supposed to be, why had he designed females to be capable of reproduction while they were still teenagers? Seriously, what teenager was responsible enough to have and raise a child? Not her. And she was actually fairly mature for her age. Or so she used to think. But as she considered the other girls in her school—the ones who wore pregnancy like a badge—she only felt more confused.
Not that she had time to think about all those things just now. She had an op-ed piece due tomorrow and no idea of what to write about. She’d already covered most of her favorite hot topics.
Then it hit her. Why not write about teen pregnancy? She certainly had some opinions about that!
So she did. She wrote and rewrote and finally thought she’d said what she wanted to say: teens should not be sexually active because it could result in unwanted pregnancies, and teens were
mature enough to be parents. She didn’t spare anyone’s feelings in the piece. Good grief, she was lecturing herself as much as anyone.
But the next day, when it was time to hand her piece over to Mr. Young, Sophie felt unsure. Maybe she’d overstated it a bit. Been a little vehement.
“Are you giving that to me or not?”
“Oh.” She frowned down at the paper in her hand. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Sounds like you’re not too sure of yourself, Sophie.”
She just shrugged, then turned and went to her workstation. Soon she was lost in editing a poorly written assignment that Justina had turned in late.
“Interesting piece, Sophie,” Mr. Young said.
“What?” Sophie looked up from her computer screen.
“Your op-ed.” He shook his head. “Too bad you didn’t have much of an opinion on that one.”
“I didn’t?” She blinked.
“I’m kidding. You expressed yourself quite well.”
“But you could take some flak with that one.”
“And is that supposed to make me back down from my opinion?”
He grinned. “No way. You’re chief editor, Sophie. Your job is to call it like you see it. Controversy is what makes an editorial section interesting and outstanding. I hope we get some responses on this one.”
“Okay.” She nodded with satisfaction.