I had the cab drop me off down the road from Kurt’s house and walked the rest of the way. I nervously walked up the porch steps and knocked on the front door. Please be here, Kurt.
When I knocked on the door, his mother answered. She gave me a bland look before looking over to Kurt’s door. “Kurt!”
A minute later, he came out, his hair tousled. I could see he was surprised when he saw me. “Oh, hey, Nora.”
“Hi. Can we talk outside, Kurt?”
He shrugged and walked out onto the front lawn. “Lawn” being something of a loose term. Uncared for, most of the grass had receded, giving way to the dirt below.
“Look, Nora, I like you and all, but we’re not getting back together.”
“I’m pregnant,” I blurted.
His eyes widened, looking at me in shock. “You’re what?”
“Pregnant. I took a test. I’ve got morning sickness. I’m pregnant.”
Kurt walked around the yard. “Well, that sucks, but I don’t know what you expect me to do. I could spot you a little money, I guess, to take care of it.”
Take care of it? At first, his meaning escaped me, but then I realized what he meant. I glared at him. “This is your baby, too, Kurt. You’re responsible.”
He rolled his eyes at me, like I was a silly child. “I’m not raising any kid. We had some fun together, but it’s over now. This is your problem.”
He started to go back inside but I stepped in front of him. “That isn’t how it works! You didn’t want to use protection, so you’re just as responsible as I am.”
“Except I’m not. You’re the one who’s got to incubate that thing – or get it sucked out of you. One way or the other, I don’t care. Even if you sue me for paternity, you’re not going to get anything.” He swept his hand towards the trailer. “You can’t take what isn’t there. Good luck, Nora. See ya ‘round.” With that, he went inside and shut the door. I heard the lock click behind him.
I wanted to drop to the ground and cry. I could feel the tears burning my eyes, ready to be shed. I sniffed, trying to hold them back. I wouldn’t give him that satisfaction.
I walked down the street and sat down on a bench where I could wait for a cab to take me home. He had used me. He’d known he could get whatever he wanted from me if he just paid me a little attention, pretended that he was interested in me. A sob threatened to force its way out of my throat but I choked it back. I felt dirty. Sullied. Worse than if I’d laid down in that dirt yard of his and rolled around. All that time Josh was having drama with Alison, I’d thought I was safe from that kind of thing, cocooned in the worlds that my books offered. Yet here I was. Pregnant at sixteen years old.
I got into the cab and gave the driver my address. I stared out of the window as we drove. When I got home, I had no choice; I had to tell Mom. We’d have to go to the hospital, probably with Aunt Shirley, and get an official test done. And then I’d have three choices. Option one, I could get rid of the baby, as Kurt suggested. It was so abhorrent to me, I didn’t really consider it at all. Option two, I could give the baby up for adoption. Or, option three, I could keep the baby. I might be able to have some semblance of a normal life if I chose the former option, but would I be able to give my baby up after spending nine months nurturing it in my body? At the same time, could I burden my mother with another child in the house if I chose to keep it?
I was still circling those options around in my head when the driver dropped me off at home. Rubbing my eyes against the unshed tears, I went inside. I went upstairs and found Mom painting.
“Mom,” I said softly, “I need to talk to you.”
When she saw the look on my face, she immediately set down her brush and sat down on the loveseat with me. “Nora, what is it? What’s wrong?”
My lower lip trembled. “I made a mistake, Mom. A really, big mistake.”
“Whatever it is, we’ll fix it,” she soothed.
I shook my head, tears finally starting to leak down my cheeks. “Mom, I’m pregnant.” I burst completely into tears.
I heard her shocked inhalation. But then her arms came around me, and she hugged me tight. Her gentle voice whispered soothing things into my hair. I cried and cried until there were no tears left in my body. When I cried myself out, she took me into the bathroom and washed my face, just as she used to when I was a child and still learning to do things for myself. Then she took me downstairs to my room and tucked me into bed. I knew we needed to talk – I tried to talk to her, but she just shushed me and told me to sleep. That we’d talk later. Emotionally and physically exhausted, I fell asleep.
As evening closed around the house, I sat on the bed I shared with my husband, Carter. I stared at the wall across from me, playing over in my head that afternoon. My baby girl was pregnant. At sixteen. Of all the things I had worried for my daughter, this had never been one of them.
Carter came into the room, looking tired. He had spent the late morning and early afternoon at the park with the twins, only to come home to have me tell him that Nora was pregnant. “The twins have had their dinner. I’ll make sure they have their baths in a bit.” He sat down beside me. “How are you?”
“I don’t know.” I leaned into his side. “I just…how could this have happened? To Nora, of all people. When Josh was having his falling out with Alison, I could almost have expected this from him – almost – but Nora? I never even dreamed this would happen.” She’s just like me. Falling for a man she shouldn’t. The thought reminded me of Houston. “Oh, Watcher, I’m going to have to tell her father.”
“We’ll deal with that later,” Carter said softly. “I wouldn’t put that high on our list of priorities.”
He was right. First thing tomorrow, Nora and I were going to have the talk she’d been too distressed to have today. Then we were calling Shirley and getting her tested. “I’m just so…” I started before stopping myself. Given how pitiful Nora had looked this afternoon when I’d put her to bed, it felt unfair of me to say what I felt.
Carter nudged me with his shoulder. “Say what’s on your mind, Haddie. It’s just me in here.”
I sniffed back frustrated tears. “I’m just so angry! I’m so mad at her, Carter, I can hardly stand it. She’s smart. She’s too smart for this to happen to her. And I feel bad for being angry because I can see how miserable she is. But that doesn’t stop it. I’m so angry. And disappointed. I’ve never been disappointed in Nora in my life.”
He rubbed my back and pulled me under his arm. “It’s okay to feel that way. It was irresponsible of her. But she’s also a teenager, like you said. Just sixteen. She’s a shy teenage girl who got used by a pretty face.”
I dashed my fingers under my eyes. “I know. Believe me, I’m pissed as hell at that boy, too.” I sniffed softly again. “I have to be supportive of her. This isn’t something that’ll just go away because I want it to. She’s going to have to decide what she wants.” I couldn’t pressure her to do anything with this. I wasn’t even wholly positive what I wanted her to do. She had to make up her mind on her own. Whatever she decided, whether I agreed with it or not, I would support.
“I know you’ll support her. You can be upset, even angry, and still be supportive.” He kissed my hair, hugging me tightly. “Whatever happens, it’ll work out. It’s going to be alright, Haddie.”
I leaned into my husband’s arms, inhaling his familiar scent. He had always been the sunshine lighting up my world. Now I would need his light more than ever.