IFW # 04 / 07~ # 04 A new story of 1,000 to 1,500 words / # 07 Revise A Story
|Sharon stood by the window of her best friend's bedroom. She stared through the rain streaked window and down into the backyard. She watched a squirrel dart around the oak tree. Lost in the scene, she didn't hear her friend approach.|
"Sweets, your parents are here." Tabitha gently stroked the damp strands of Sharon's long, dark blonde hair.
Sharon looked at the plus sign on the pregnancy test tube in her hand; then she turned to see the collage above the antique highboy. Each picture and memento depicted a different moment in the first ten years of her friendship with Tabitha. The collage was a reflection that hinted at the dreams and secrets they shared in their protected world of privilege and opportunity. Steven, Tabitha's brother, had made two of them as gifts when they graduated the eighth grade.
"I can't believe this is happening," hugging herself, Sharon crushed her varsity sweatshirt that she wore. She shook her head as memories flooded through her mind. Feeling Tabitha's hand on her shoulder, she took a deep breath. "It feels like a nightmare."
"I know, Sweets," Tabitha said.
"David said that things like this don't happen to kids like us." Sharon's voice trembled as she wiped away the tears.
"But they do." Tabitha embraced her, rubbing her back in comfort.
Her Mom knocked on the door and peered in. "Sharon, your parents are waiting."
"It's time." With a sigh, Sharon stepped from the window and wiped away the last of her tears. She nodded then, clutching the test stick, followed them downstairs.
Laughter resounded from the dining room where her parents waited. The room grew quiet as they entered, raising Sharon's anxiety.
"Talk about dramatic." Steven sat at the end of the table. A large cloth covered the surface to protect it while he cleaned his camera equipment. He looked up from his work and Sharon met his eyes as she stood next to her Mom.
The corner of his mouth twitched with a smirk and he winked. His support helped ease her tension. At the sound of the doorbell, the dog barked. Steven removed his silver framed glasses and left the table.
"So, what's this about?" Sharon's Dad sat back, loosened his tie, and looked from one girl to the other. His polished nails drummed on his coffee cup.
For Sharon, her tension intensified every sensation, from the tick tap of her Dad's nails to the aroma of the different aftershaves and perfumes. Her stomach churned with nausea and she turned into her Mom's embrace. "David and I had a fight."
"Is that all?" her Dad asked.
"Jacob!" Her Mom chastised him with a sharp tone. She rubbed Sharon's arms. When their hands bumped she noticed the pregnancy test. "Oh Sharon, no."
Sharon drew back and shook her head. "It was just one time. I didn't plan it."
Her Mom embraced her, keeping silent to contain her own dismay.
"He might have," Tabitha said.
"Tabs, that's enough," her Mom said.
"What?" Tabitha asked. "I'm just saying that he might've planned it. Guys will say all kinds of things for sex. And I wouldn't put it past him."
Sharon's Dad stared at the floral centerpiece on the table. "Where's David now?"
"We've called twice and left messages." Tabitha sat in Steven's chair. "If they're home, they're not answering."
"I don't understand this." Sharon's Mom shook her head. "You're only sixteen; you just finished your sophomore year."
Her Dad looked to her with a grimace. "Sweetheart, you've made your choices. If you think you're mature enough for sex then you're mature enough to face the consequences.”
Before she could respond, Steven returned, escorted by a Rottweiler. From behind him, damp and cold from the rain, came a teenage boy. David wore a grey sweat suit over a white t-shirt. He pulled out an envelope from inside his jacket and dropped it on the table in front of Sharon.
"What's this?" she asked.
"It's my parent's solution and I agree." David stood with his hands on his hips as he looked to Sharon. "No one wants to see you give up your dreams or your future."
A cold chill went through Sharon like a wave down her back. She picked up the envelope. Inside, she found six fifty-dollar bills. She froze, staring at the money.
Tabitha gasped. "Are you asking her to get an abortion?"
"No." David shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "I'm saying that's what's going to happen. It's what needs to happen."
"Waite a minute!" Sharon looked to each of them in desperation, and settled on her Mom. "It's my body and my baby. Doesn't that make it my decision?"
"That is the mode these days." Steven mumbled as he sat down and returned to work on his camera equipment.
"Sharon, it's for the best." David tried to approach her, reaching out to touch her. "You've got a promising future; don't throw it away because you made a mistake."
"You made it with me." As the tears swelled in her eyes, Sharon stepped back towards the entry.
"Be reasonable," David said. "It's like my Dad said; right now a baby will only get in the way."
"You're a monster!" She ran out of the house, slamming the front door.
"Sharon wait!" Tabitha jumped to her feet and started after her as Steven moved to stop her.
"Let her go." Their Mom's tone startled him and gave Tabitha the chance to slip out with the dog beside her.
As she had many times before, Sharon found her way to the beach. The breeze tangled her hair as the waves crashed against the shore, barely reaching her feet. Seagulls flew overhead, crying.
Sitting on the sand, Sharon pulled her legs up to her body and wrapped her arms around them. She bowed her forehead to her knees and cried.
Tabitha sat beside her and hugged her. "Tough corner, huh Sweets?"
"I thought he loved me." Sharon shivered from the memory of David's words. She looked up to her friend. "It's not just my fault."
"I suppose he does, in his own twisted way." Tabitha tucked a stray lock of hair behind Sharon's ear as she offered her an impish smile. "Unfortunately, the toad has a point about your future."
Sharon took a deep breath and looked out to the glowing pastels of the Gulf beach sunset. "Do you agree with him?"
"Only about that. As far as the baby goes…" Tabitha gently nudged her. "I think you have another option." In a flash, she tossed a tennis ball sending the dog chasing it into the waves.
Sharon wiped away her tears and faced her friend. She saw the familiar glint in Tabitha’s eyes that spoke of secrets to tell and keep. "I'm listening."
"Place the baby for adoption," Tabitha said.
Looking back over the Gulf of Mexico, Sharon remained quiet as the idea played in her mind. With Tabitha waiting patiently, they watched the sun's pastel magic fade as the orange globe dipped below the horizon.
Sharon placed a hand on her stomach and thought about the tiny life inside her. "I can't do it Tabby." she whispered as she felt the tears return. "I'm not sure I can keep it but I can't destroy it either."
Tabitha hugged her again. "Then place the baby for adoption."
Sharon shook her head. "Let strangers raise my baby?"
Tabitha pulled away from her with a broad smile. "I was adopted and I'm okay."
Sharon gaped at her friend's revelation. "No way, you look so much like your mom. It doesn't seem possible."
"Trust me." Tabitha tossed another tennis ball that sent her dog back into the water. "Now, let's look at your options. You can take Toad's money and have the abortion. Or you can keep the baby and your family might support you. If not, you could try to get on government assistance and raise the baby yourself." She smiled again with that twinkle in her eyes. "Or you could place the baby for adoption. It's not a selfish deal. Your baby lives and you live on."
"It's a huge decision." Sharon picked up the third tennis ball and rolled it back and forth in her hands. She let it roll from her hands down to the waves where the dog picked it up. "Does he ever bring them back?"
"Nope, not one, not ever." Tabitha offered her hand and they got up together. "Come on, let's go back to the house and talk with my Mom. She can tell you all about my adoption."
Sharon nodded, knowing it was going to be a talk that would impact her decision. They stood and Tabitha whistled for the dog to return to her.