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C O A S T

C O A S T

A Story by Mindcaster
"

In a desperate attempt to scrape together college money, 18yo Jodi Coast signs up to be a surrogate mother, while also dealing with the realization that no one in her life can reciprocate love.

"

C  O  A  S  T

 

 

 

“Um. Hi. My name is… Jodi. This summer I’m gonna have a baby for some lesbians, so that I can go to college.”

            Dead silence, just like I expected.

            “I’m eighteen,” I said, as if it mattered.

            Mr. Parsons, the man in charge of motivating our depressing little group of high-school failures looked like he was ready to tear his hair out. Aside from being the only summer school teacher in Rock River, Mr. Parson doubles as the guy who proselytizes outside of the local Presbyterian church and begs children to “save themselves” for marriage.

            I guess I forgot to mention that this is a surrogate pregnancy and therefore, coital relations were not necessary. My bad.

            I took my seat and watched as Julia Smith stood up to explain her summer plans.

            “Hi, my name is Julia and this summer my parents are taking me to California to work on my singing.”

            The boy beside her stood up.

            “I’m Rob and this summer I’m going to work at my dad’s law firm as an intern…”

            “I’m Beth and this summer I’m going to visit my grandma in Kentucky…”           

            “I’m Hailey and this summer I’m going to be a lifeguard…”

            “I’m Daniel and this summer I’m not doing anything…”

            I sighed, heavily and looked down at my math book. Funny, how they forced me to go to summer school and then refused to actually teach me. It wasn’t like I needed to know about Beth and Hailey’s summer plans. I needed to learn Algebra II. That was it.

            Somewhere inside of me, E.T. slammed his foot into my rib cage, making me cringe.

            “Are you alright?” Julia Smith gawked. I was used to people’s funny looks but Julia’s was by far the worst. She’s got these big, bug-eyes and when she get’s creeped out she kind of squints them up and twists up her mouth and looks really freaky.

            “I’m fine…” I said, slowly.

            “Are you about to give birth?” Julia asked.

            I was overwhelmed by the urge to flee the classroom. To return to the bedroom, in my air-conditioned apartment, was my greatest desire. No gawking. No starting. No veins pulsing in Mr. Parson’s head. Just me and Jude and then mom in the afternoons. Sounded like heaven.

            “I’m fine,” I said, shortly, turning back to my math.

A moment later, the twelve ‘o’ clock bell rang and I sprang from my seat.

            “Ah, ah, ah, Judy,” Mr. Parson’s said, getting my name wrong for the thousandth time. “The bell doesn’t dismiss you, I do.”

            I slumped back in my chair, unhappily. When I was a kid, I had this crazy notion that after my eighteenth birthday, I wouldn’t have to put up with s**t like this anymore. I remember having these elaborate fantasies about walking out in the middle of class or saying something mean to someone I didn’t like" someone like Julia Smith" and then, when asked for an explanation, Fantasy-Me would always just say, “I’m an adult” and all would be forgiven. As if, being an adult was a get-out-of-jail-free card for any crime.

            It still shocked me, sometimes, how very wrong I was.

            In actuality, it seems like my life has gotten worse since my eighteenth. Starting with the day of my birthday" almost seven months ago" when I signed the contract that would chance my life, f**k up my body, and… hopefully, get me out of Rock River.  

            Maggie and Eloise promised me thirty-thousand dollars and a way out. They just wanted to rent my uterus for nine months. Big deal, right?

            Right.

            The next week, they brought me into a doctors office, did a thousand tests and then the rest is history.

I thought that things would get easier. I thought that maybe, by getting pregnant, people would stop handing me pamphlets that said things like: UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING: FOR AN UDDERLY GREAT EDUCATION! written in Comic Sans.

            As a general rule, if Comic Sans is really the most exciting font your college-level design team can come up with, I don’t want anything to do with your college.

Besides, every time I got one of those stupid pamphlets, I got the overwhelming urge to scream, “I AM NOT STAYING IN WYOMING! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”

It’s like all the adults in our little Rock River bubble are determined to cage us here. They do everything in their power to push and push and push their little agendas and make sure we never leave. It’s disturbing, actually.

Anyway, getting pregnant didn’t help. Now, all of a sudden, not only was I finding little pamphlets on my desk before class, I was also finding invitations to church events I didn’t want any part of.

            I swear to you, if the “I’m an adult” thing really worked, I would have punched Mr. Parsons in the face a long time ago.

            Finally, after what seemed like ages, Mr. Parsons stood up and told us we could leave. I collected my belongings" a water bottle, Jude’s jacket, and a Napoleon Dynamite bobble head that I left in my locker on the last day of school. God, I’d mourned that thing. There was nothing better than sitting in the dark, with a headache, watching Napoleon’s head bob up and down until I fell asleep.

            On my way out of the class, someone caught my arm.

            I turned to see Mr. Parsons.

            “Judy,” he began.

            I frowned. “You mean Jodi.”

            “Judy. Right.” Mr. Parsons laughed. “I was wondering if I could talk to you for a second?”

            “No,” I said, expressionless. “I really have to go. My cat… I forgot to feed him.”

            “Oh, this will only take a second,” Mr. Parson’s said, shutting the door behind him.

            I shuddered a little bit, wondering if Mr. Parson’s was creepier than I thought. Wasn’t there a rule about students being alone with teachers in classrooms? Wasn’t that against the law or something?

            “Judy, I’d like to talk to you about a possible position for you at the church,” Mr. Parson’s began.

            I laughed, awkwardly. “Um. No offense, man, but I’m not exactly the worshipful-type. You know, I once"“           

            “" Theresa would like to give you some mothering classes,” Mr. Parson’s said, cutting me off. “We truly believe that together we can steer you onto the right path.” Then he reached out, with one disturbing, old, lonely-person hand and touched my stomach. “The path to motherhood,” he whispered.

            “Whoa!” I shouted, jumping back about ten feet. “I don’t really know you that well, so I wouldn’t expect you to know this, or anything, but I have a huge phobia of people touching my stomach. I think it started when I was camping once, and Jude" that’s my brother" he poked me in the stomach with a stick and"“

            “" Please consider my offer,” Mr. Parson’s said. “This is your child, Judy. You can’t just… hand it off to some strangers.”

            “Hey!” I said, defensively. “Maggie and Eloise are not strangers. They bought me, like, six DVDs and a Blu-ray player the other day! Would a stranger just randomly buy me a Blu-ray player? I don’t think so!”

            Mr. Parson’s looked confused.

            “All I’m saying is that this is a child of God, Judy. God put this baby inside of you so that it could be yours.”

            “Wait, wait, wait!” I laughed. “Sorry to break it to you, Mr. Parsons, but God didn’t put this baby in me. Dr. Teleman did and that was scary. I almost cried. So afterwards, Eloise gave me twenty bucks for the vending machine. Twenty bucks!” I cried. “Who even does that? I ended up with nineteen dollars in quarters and I didn’t want to hang onto them so I gave them to Jude. He’s saving up for a new frog terrarium. See, ours has this crack in it and the other day Kermit nearly killed himself because"“

            “" What are you talking about?” Mr. Parsons cried. He looked horrified. “I am trying to discuss the Lord’s plans and you’re going on about… frogs and vending machines?”

            “Well, actually, Kermit is a Toad but Kermit the Toad doesn’t sound very nice so we just pretend he’s a frog…”

             Mr. Parsons shook his head. “It" It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just… take this pamphlet.”

            He thrust a tiny piece of paper in my hands.

            Church Parenting Classes with Theresa! 

         I scowled. Comic Sans.

            “Something wrong, Judy?” Mr. Parsons asked.

            “Its Jodi,” I sad, turning to leave the class. “And get a new font!”

            Mr. Parsons opened his mouth to say something, but I beat him to it.

            “And not Papyrus either because everyone hates that one, too!” I shouted, running from the school.

 

My family does not view me as pregnant. They view me as a human shelf.

            “Hey Jodi,” Jude said, passively, when I opened the front door. He put an empty Snapple bottle on my stomach, which promptly rolled off and crashed onto the floor.

            “Jude!” I groaned. “You know that only works when I’m sitting down.”

            “Sorry,” Jude said. His eyes were locked on his Nintendo DSI.

            I glared. “Well aren’t you going to clean up this mess?” I asked, pointedly.

            “Can’t,” Jude said. He didn’t bother to look up from his game. “I’m about to rescue Princess Peach. Can you clean it up, Jodi?”

            I sighed, defeated. “I can’t bend down the far anymore. We’ll just have to wait for mom to get home.”

            Jude nodded, but didn’t say a word.

            I walked over to Kermit’s terrarium, and lifted up the lid.

            “Hey, buddy,” I said, when he greeted me with a croak. “Hungry?” I turned to Jude. “Hey Jude, did you feed Kermit?”

            “Couldn’t,” Jude said. “Do you understand how hard this level is? I’ve been working all day.”

            “Oh,” I said, flatly, sprinkling a dozen live, wriggling meal worms into Kermit’s cage. “Well, remember to hit save. I don’t want another meltdown.”

            I walked over the fridge. Actually, walked might be a bit of an exaggeration. In the past few weeks, my walk had dwindled down to something of a waddle.

            “Hey, Jude?” I called.

            “Mmm?”

            “I have a meeting tonight,” I said, going through the pre-wrapped sandwiches and leftovers mom kept in the fridge. “I’m going to that new Chinese place with Maggie and Eloise. So you’re going to need to take yourself to the park.”

            “Alright.”

            There was a silence.

            “But Jodi,” Jude said, stomping into the kitchen. “I thought you hated Chinese food?”

            “I did,” I said, biting down on a piece of celery. “And then I got pregnant.”

            “Oh,” Jude said. “So now you eat, like… everything, right?”

            I frowned. “Yeah. I eat, like everything, Jude.”

            “Oh.”

            My brother Jude, is not like most nineteen-year-olds. Jude has aspergers. Bad. Which essentially means that since we were kids, he had to be extra careful about everything. He had a lot of trouble at school" kids picked on him.

            So he retreated to the world of video games, and we haven’t really seen him much since.

            Jude has this whole schedule set up. Every morning he gets up, watches Tom and Jerry, smokes a cigarette and drinks two cups of orange juice. Then, he plays video games until I get home from school. Then" no matter the weather" Jude has to go to the park.

            I don’t really know what Jude does at the park. I usually just sit on one of the benches and talk to this old man named Michael Aims who feeds birds there. Mike’s got a lot of weird stories about World War II and stuff that I kind of like listening to. Only problem is, he takes every single criticism as a racial insult. Like once, I told him that his story about rescuing twenty-thousand Jews from a concentration camp all by himself seemed kind of “crazy” and he called me a, “white supremacist” and stormed away. Of course, he always comes back the next day with another story, but his outbursts are still kind of annoying.

            The weird thing about Mike is" even though Rock River is a tiny town" I never see him anywhere but the park. He’s never at the grocery store, or the Presbyterian Church, or the retirement home, or the gas station, or the drug store where old people get their meds and young people like Julia Smith go to buy cough syrup in bulk.

            Nope. Old Mike is always alone at the park, waiting for me.

            “Make sure you tell Mike where I am!” I called out to Jude.

            No response.

            I poured myself a bowl of goldfish crackers and walked out into the living room.

            After much pleading, I finally convinced Jude to pull himself away from his Nintendo DSI long enough to watch a movie with me. I let him pick the film. Jude doesn’t really like anything live-action unless it’s Blues Brothers, so he picked The Land Before Time.

            I cried four different times during that stupid movie. At first, I thought it might be because I’m pregnant and emotional. But lately, I’ve started think I might be depressed, so that could be it, too.

           

 At dinner, Maggie and Eloise fought over who got to sit next to me.

            Well, actually, that’s not fair. They fought over who got to sit next to my stomach.

            It’s a sad, sad day when a girl’s stomach becomes more valuable than her personality, I thought to myself, while Maggie and Eloise did that thing that adults do when they’re fighting and they don’t want other people to know. They were both smiling and saying things through clenched teeth in an oh-so-innocent manner.

            “I think maybe I should sit next to Jodi,” Maggie said. “There’s a draft over there and you have a cold.”

            “No I don’t!” Eloise said, her eyes wide. “I’m perfectly fine but you might be coming down with something. Remember how you said you had a headache?”           

            Maggie laughed that kind of laugh that is secretly an angry laugh in disguise. “I took an aspirin, sweetheart,” she said. “I’m fine now.”           

            While they were distracted, I climbed into the single chair on one side of the table.

            “Look guys!” I said, like the helpful little fairy-child I am. “Problem solved.”

            Maggie and Eloise both looked disappointed.

            “So, Jodi,” Maggie said, resting her head in her hands. “What’s new in your life? Any boyfriend?”           

            “Or girlfriend,” Eloise said. “We shouldn’t discriminate.”           

            I stared at them blankly. “Not really… but my English teacher did give me some interesting looks today.”

            It was meant to be a joke, but no one found it funny.

            “Honey, are you being harassed?” Maggie asked, reaching over the table and grabbing my hands. “Eloise was harassed as a when she was your age. Eloise, tell her the story.”

            Eloise wore a somber expression. “I was in college when the man at the Mongolian Grill"“

            “" I was just joking!” I said, quickly. Call me crazy, but I didn’t really want to hear Eloise’s Mongolian-Grill-sexual-harassment story.

            Maggie and Eloise exchanged a pained look and then burst out fake-laughing.

            From the outside, I’m sure the three of us seemed like a really weird mix. Maggie was short" maybe four eleven" was a million little, brown corkscrew curls. She’s bouncy and happy and wears clothes from the juniors department. Eloise, on the other hand, looks like a major badass, straight out of Terminator or 28 Days Later or something. She’s got eyes" like snake eyes" and she wears leather jackets and big boots and her engagement ring looks like a knuckle-duster. No one messes with Eloise.

            Their personalities, on the other hand, completely contradict their looks. Maggie is a neonatal nurse and one of the most serious people I’ve ever met. Eloise, on the other hand, is some kind of hipster-artist-slash-environmental-activist with interests in marijuana and ukuleles and Doc Martens.

            I like them though. In that kind of you’re-nice-to-go-to-dinner-with-every-once-in-a-great-while kind of way. I like their dynamic, I guess. They balance each other out.

            And they don’t live in Rock River. So that’s good.

            I ordered some orange chicken, which came with a dirty look from Eloise who actually introduced herself to me as ‘Eloise the vegan, pansexual, libertarian.’ She thinks eating meat is, “conforming to the industry” or something.

            But I like orange chicken.

            It occurred to me then that I was shivering. This place had to be about thirty degrees cooler than it was outside. I found myself wishing for heat and humidity.

             “How is summer school going?” Maggie asked. “Are you going to graduate?”

            I nodded, taking a sip of my ice water. “I’ll be free by fall.”

            “Right after the baby comes,” Eloise said, smiling.

            Maggie looked down at her cell phone. “Did you get the voicemail I sent you?” she asked. “Eloise and I made a doctors appointment for you for the eleventh at five-thirty. Are you free then?”

            I nodded and pretended to check the calendar on the super-high-tech cell phone Maggie and Eloise bought me after I was impregnated. I didn’t actually know how to use the calendar function, but I liked the idea that I looked busy to them.

            “I… should be free that day,” I said, putting my phone away.

            “Great!” Maggie beamed. Then she leaned in close to me.

            “You know,” Maggie began. “Eloise wanted to take you to some herbal doctor her friend Zac recommended. That guy does acupuncture and he’s not even licensed. I talked her out of it. You really dodged a bullet there.”

            I laughed, awkwardly. How was I supposed to respond to that?           

            “Thanks…?” I asked, pathetically.

            The waitress entered arrived a moment later with our food.

            “Here you go,” she said, smiling extra-wide at me.

            Probably because I’m pregnant, I thought.

            Eloise eyed my chicken, suspiciously.

            “That’s going to damage the baby’s soul,” she said, shaking her hair.

            Maggie just rolled her eyes.

 

At home, mom was as high-stung as ever.

            “Jude get you socks off the couch and clean up this glass,” she said, dashing back and fourth like a mad woman.

            Jude, of course, did not budge from his place at the table.

            “Hey mom,” I said, dropping my heavy messenger bag down by the door.

            “Oh hi Jodi,” mom replied, sounding more stressed than happy to see me.

            “What’s wrong?” I asked, following her into the kitchen.

            “Oh it’s just Taylor,” she said.

            Mom’s business partner, Taylor, was undoubtedly a pain in the a*s. The guy was nearly seventy years old and still owned the dry cleaner where my mom was employed. He spent all day standing by the window, whining about something or other.

            He was the only old guy I’ve ever met who really used phrases like, “Kids these days…” and “In my day…”

            He annoyed everyone and was stubborn as hell, but everyone kind of felt bad for him because his grandson, Jeff, died in Iraq two years ago and he took it really hard.

            So we all let him snap at us and tell us how useless we are, for the sake of being polite. Once we were back home, though, where our words were protected by the safety of our own walls, it was hard not to complain.

            “What did he do today?” I asked, leaning against the doorframe and taking a bite of an apple.

            “Oh, he yelled at that poor McDougal boy,” she said, shaking her head. “What’s his name again?”

            “Justin,” I replied.

            Justin McDougal used to sit behind me in sixth grade and jab his mechanical pencils into my back. When I finally got fed up and told our teacher, he and all his friends branded me, ‘tattle-tale’ and uninvited me to all of their birthday parties, making me into sixth grade loser-extraordinaire.

            It was hard to sympathize with him.

            “Anyway,” mom breathed. “Justin came in today to get his sister’s prom dress taken in and Taylor told him off for bringing in such delicate fabric. Apparently, it’s just too fragile for us to work with, but I don’t think that’s true. I could have fixed that dress up in an hour…”

            “Well, did you say something to Taylor?” I asked.

            Mom didn’t answer. She was rummaging through the day’s mail.

            “Mom?” I said. “Did you say something?”

            “Oh, what honey? I wasn’t listening. I can’t talk right now. I have to call the pharmacy.”

            Mom hurried over to the telephone and left me alone with Jude.

            “Hey, Jodi, look at this,” Jude said.

            I walked over to sit beside him.

            “High score,” Jude said, pointing at his Nintendo DSI screen.

            “Good job, Jude,” I said, patting his back. I decided not to point out that no matter what, he’d always have the high score, since his game was one-player. No sense in being a killjoy.

            “Ugh,” I groaned suddenly.

            “What is it?” Jude asked, not looking up from his game.

            I grabbed Jude’s hand and placed it on my stomach.

            “Feel that?” I asked. “That’s E.T.”

            “E.T.?” Jude asked. “Like that movie I hate.”

            “Yeah,” I laughed. “Like the movie you hate. I call it E.T. because it’s like… an alien that invaded my body, you know? Its like"“

            “" Jodi, stop talking you’re making me lose.”

            I stared at Jude, a little take aback.

            “Okay,” I said, finally. “Sorry.”

            I got up and walked to my tiny bedroom, collapsing on my bed.

            The Napoleon Dynamite bobble head on my nightstand nodded in approval.

            “G’night, Napoleon,” I said, turning off the lights.

            I watched the shadow of his big, plastic head; bob up and down until I fell asleep.

 

The next day at school, I found Julia Smith crying in the bathroom.

            “Oh Jodi!” she cried, when I walked through the door. Her eye make up was running, making her bug-eyes look more distorted than usual. “How do you to it?”           

            “Do what?” I asked.

            “Be pregnant!” she cried.

            I frowned. “I don’t really know,” I said. “I just kind of sleep and eat and get paid. That’s it. Why?”

            Julia sobbed into my sweater.           

            “I’m pregnant!” she cried.

            I stared at her.

            “You are?” I asked. Julia was president of the celibacy club. That would be ironic.

            “I’m sure I am!” Julia cried.

            “Did you actually have sex with someone?”

            Julia sniffed. “No.”

            I raised an eyebrow. “Then how did you"?“

            “" The hot tub,” Julia sobbed. “Rob’s parent’s hot tub.”

            I blinked, rapidly, trying to get that image out of my head.

            “You’re not pregnant,” I said.

            Julia’s eyes lit up. “I’m not?” she asked. “How do you know?”

            “Because that’s all a myth. Unless there’s something you’re not telling me, there’s no way you’re pregnant.”

            Julia shook her head.

            “Oh thank God,” she gushed. “I would hate to be pregnant, Jodi! I would hate to be like"“

            She stopped herself, but not soon enough.

            “Like me?” I guessed.

            Julia’s eyes went wide with terror.

            “Oh, you know I didn’t mean it like that,” she said.

            “It’s fine,” I shrugged. “I totally get it.”

 

Matthew" Taylor’s other grandson" invited me to help him clean out his backyard. He offered me fifty bucks. I think he knew I needed something to do.

            “Hey Jodi!” he said, when I walked around back.

            “Hey,” I said, trying to open his gate.

            “Oh, let me get that,” Matthew said, rushing to help me.

            “It’s really okay,” I said, when he opened it for me. “I’m really fine.”

            “I know,” Matthew said. “You just looked like… I don’t know. Like you needed help, or something.”

            I decided not to respond to that.

            Matthew’s backyard was a wreck.

            “Where to we even begin?” I asked, hands on my aching back.

            “Let’s get the pottery out of the way,” Matthew said. “Sorry. My mom hasn’t really cleaned up out here since…”

            “Since Jeff died?” I guessed.

            Matthew nodded. “Yeah. Since then.”

            I started by collecting a couple of half-made bowls from the corner of the yard, trying to remember everything I knew about Matthew’s family.

            He was the younger brother" the youngest, actually. His mom, Molly, was a single mother who’d had a series of miscarriages both before and after his birth. Before Jeff died, she used to set up a stand every summer beside the dry cleaner’s and sell pretty pottery and beaded necklaces that she made in her backyard.

After loosing Jeff she became something of a reclose who rarely left the house. Because of this, Matthew was forced to pick up a lot of the slack. He dropped out of high school inexplicably mid-senior year and started working for Doug Riley down at the convenience store. All his friends were going to college in the fall, but not Matthew.

            Matthew was going to be one of the poor, desolate souls stuck in Rock River.

            Standing here in his backyard, picking up broken beads and half-baked clay bowls really got to me.            

            These were the skeletons of Molly’s past. This pottery was her life.

            And she’d abandoned it.

            What happens to a person when they abandon their life? I wonder. Do they all become like Molly? Do they all leave skeletons in their backyards and retreat into their homes?

            I wondered what I would be like when I left Rock River. I would be leaving behind everything I knew" my whole life.

            And I didn’t want to become a reclose.

            “Here, I’ll take that, looks kind of heavy.” Matthew stepped closer and picked up a half-made Buddha figurine.

            Suddenly, the back screen door opened a crack, sending all of the porch’s faded, sea shell wind chimes tink-ing in the breeze.

            “Matty?” a soft little voice called. “Who’s out there?”

            “It’s just me, Momma,” Matthew said, walking towards the door.

            But it was too late. Molly saw me, and I saw her.

            Matthew cast an embarrassed glance in my direction, as the full impact of the situation sunk in.

            There was a bandana wrapped around Molly’s bald head. Her eyes were red and puffy. Her hands shook like those of an old woman.

            But she was hardly forty.

            “What’s she doing here?” Molly demanded, fear in her voice. “What’s she doing here? No one’s supposed to see me.”           

            And then, much to my horror, she began to cry.

            “Shh… Shh… Momma. It’s okay.”

            Matthew pressed his mother’s head into his shoulder and rocked back and fourth, slowly.

            Molly let out a sob like I’d never heard before.           

            “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry!” she cried.

            I got the sense then that Molly wasn’t talking to Matthew or I.

            Maybe she was talking to Jeff. Or maybe she was talking to all the babies she never got to have.

            Either way, she scared me. She stood there and cried and cried and Matthew didn’t pay any attention to the girl he’d invited over to clean.           

            Then suddenly Matthew said, “Momma, it’s time to go inside.”

            “No,” Molly pleaded. “Please. I don’t want to…”

            “Momma…” Matthew said, in a warning tone.

            “Matty please.”

            “Momma, you know it can’t be like this,” Matthew said.

            Molly reached out and slammed her shaking hands against the doorframe.            

            “Please!” she screamed. “Please! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

            Matthew reached down and effortlessly lifted his disease-addled mother in his arms.

            He carried her back into their dark house until all I could hear was her screaming.

            I turned and ran.

            The next day, when I fount fifty bucks under my apartment door, I had no doubt about where it came from.

            But I didn’t want his money.

So, I flushed it down the toilet and then I screamed into my pillow until Jude came in to tell me to quiet down, I was making him lose his game.

            “I think I’m depressed,” I told him, weakly, tears rolling down my face. “I think this place is killing me, Jude.”

            But part of having aspersers means that you can’t understand.

 

The next day I went to see Old Mike in the park.

            “Jodi!” he called, when I arrived. “Missed ya’ over the past few days. Where ya’ been?”

            I collapsed on the park bench beside him. “Oh you know,” I said, passively. “Here and there.”

            “Here and there,” Mike repeated, chuckling. “Well, how’s yer’ baby doin’?”

            “Not my baby,” I corrected him, for the thousandth time. “Be he’s doing good.”           

            “He?” Old Mike said, his eyes wide. “I though ya’ didn’t know.”

            “I don’t,” I shrugged. “But I think it’s a he. I do today, anyway.”           

            “Always changin’ yer mind,” Mike laughed. He tossed a handful of crumbs at the pigeons.

            “Jude’s taking some pictures today,” I said, in an attempt to start conversation.

            “He is?” Mike asked, with that genuine old-man excitement. “Where is that little fool? He didn’t say hi to me today!”

            I craned my neck to see around one of the large oak trees. “Oh, he’s somewhere. He’s got the camera Eloise gave me. I told him to take some nice, artistic shots.” I laughed.

            “Who’s Eloise again?” Mike asked, focusing more on the birds than me.

            “She’s one of the baby’s moms,” I explained.

            “Ah,” Mike said, smiling. “Nice to have a mom. How’s yer’s?”

            I shrugged. “She’s stressed out.”

            “Stressed out?” Mike asked. “What what’s there to be stressin’ about?”

            I gave another shrug. “Everything, I guess. She just… has too much time on her hands, so she get’s over-involved with everyone’s life. And that means drama. And drama means stress.”

            Mike nodded. “Drama means stress,” he said, like it was the truest thing in the world. Maybe it was.

            I reclined against the back of the park bench and watched him scatter crumbs across the cement.

            Then I finally asked.

            “Got any good stories for me today, Mike?”

            Mike didn’t answer for a minute. I could tell he was preoccupied with the birds and all.

            “I went to my doctor the other day,” Mike said, finally. “Gotta get some sleeping pills cuz’ I’m havin’ them World War II dreams again.”

            “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, scattering some crumbs, myself.

            “Well that’s fine,” Mike said. “Problem is, my doctor says I’m gettin’ too much sun.”

            I frowned, glancing around our shady place. “Too much sun?” I asked. “There isn’t any sun around at all.”

            “Well that’s right,” Mike nodded. “But my doctor still insists…”

            I rested my head on my hand. “Who’s your doctor, Mike?”

            “Dr. Washington, down on Airport Road.”

            I frowned. “Dr. Washington? Mike, I think you might be seeing a bad doctor…”

            Mike’s eyebrows shot up. “A bad doctor?” he asked. “Well I’d argue, Dr. Washington is the finest doctor in town.”

            “I’ve never heard of him,” I said, stubbornly.

            “Well, that’s cuz’ he’s black,” Mike said. “White folk don’t go to black doctors, don’t ya’ know anythin’?”

            “That’s not the way it is anymore,” I pointed out. “White people and black people… they can go wherever they want. Doctors have to treat everybody.”           

            Mike gave a dissatisfied grunt. “Shows what you know,” he mumbled.

            I sat forward, offended. “It’s true, Mike. I swear. The ultrasound technician Maggie and Eloise take me to? She’s black. And so is one of the doctors at the office. I’ve seen him myself.”

            Mike chuckled. “Well, isn’t that something,” he said, with a little smile. “Maybe the world really is changing. Isn’t it nice when the world changes, Rosie?”

            Rosie. His daughter who drowned when she was only nine.

            Mike’s been doing this a lot over the past few months. One moment, he’ll be totally coherent, making conversation with me, and then a second later, it’ll be Rosie who he’s talking to.

            “The world changes all the time,” I pointed out. “Everything changes.”

            Mike nodded. “Everything changes,” he whispered. “And everything’s good…”

 

As we walked home, a thought occurred to me.

            “Hey, Jude?” I asked.

            Jude walked beside me, kind of stumbling every few steps because his eyes were glued to my camera screen, changing the settings.

            “Jude!” I said, again, waving a hand in front of his face. He grabbed my wrist and shoved it out of his way.

            “Jude, I have to ask you a question,” I whined. “Please?”

            “Please what?” Jude asked.

            “Please, can I ask you a question?”

            “Yes.”

            I sighed. “Will you answer?” I asked, annoyed.

            Jude shrugged, still refusing to pay attention.

            “Maybe,” he said. “What kind of question are you going to ask?”

            I paused, biting my lip. “Jude… do you… like yourself?”

            Jude didn’t say anything for a minute, and I was afraid he was ignoring me.

            “I don’t know what you mean,” he said, finally.

            I breathed a sign of relief. “I mean, do you like your personality?” I asked. “Would you like you, if you met you?”

            Jude shrugged. “I guess,” he said.

            I crossed my arms, as if I were trying to protect myself from some non-existent wind.

            “I don’t think I like myself that much,” I said, finally, as we weaved in and out of the shade of the trees.

            “Why not?” Jude asked.

            “I don’t know,” I said. “I just kind of hate everything. Including me. I don’t like being around myself. I’m a bummer.”

            Jude didn’t respond.

            Finally, I asked the question that was burning in my mind.

            “Do you like me, Jude? Do you like being around me?”

            For a moment, there was silence.

            “You’re a bummer,” Jude responded.

            And that was the end of that.

 

At home, our air conditioner was broken.

            “Sweet mother of God,” My mom moaned, fanning herself with one of her dry cleaning flyers. “How you kids stay in here is beyond me…”

            The tiny fan rattled by on its rotation.

            No one responded.

            “Well, alright,” my mom said, finally. “Jude, I left some tuna sandwiches in the fridge.”

            “Did you cut off the crusts?” Jude asked, expectantly.

            My mom sighed. “Yes, honey,” she said. She bent down to kiss Jude’s head, but he swatted her away.

            “Bye mom,” I said, passively, looking over Pregnancy Guide Book Maggie and Eloise had gifted me. I was holding it upside down, wondering if she’d notice.

            Mom just made a dissatisfied clicking noise with her tongue and walked out the front door.

            The fan rattled by on its rotation.

            “Oh, Jodi!” Jude exclaimed, suddenly. He got to his feet and ran over to me, Crayola marker in hand. He didn’t look me in the eyes at all.

            “What are you doing?” I asked, suspiciously, as he uncapped the marker.

            “I have an idea,” he mumbled, grabbing one of the laminated California Pizza Kitchen menus my mom stole years ago when we were too pour for placemats.

            He studied the map and then pushed my shirt up.

            “Jude!” I cried, jumping away. Then I realized what he was doing.

            “I’m just drawing,” Jude said. “It’s a map to your baby.”

            I frowned as he ran the blue Crayola marker over my skin.

            “Jude,” I said, warningly. “My phobia…”

            “I’m not gonna poke you,” Jude said, rolling his eyes. He rarely did that. Sarcasm was not Jude’s forte.

            He made a square on my stomach and then a triangle and connected them with a dotted line.

            The tip of the marker was about twenty degrees cooler than the rest of the house, so I just sat there.

            “What’s this for again?” I asked.

            The fan rattled by on its rotation.

            “It’s a map to your baby,” Jude said. “So everyone knows that it’s there. Otherwise, they might just think you’re really fat.”

            I tossed my head back and started cracking up. Jude gave an awkward laugh, too, which only made me laugh louder.

            Jude’s face fell.

            “Aw, Jodi, you flinched and ruined it.”

            I looked down to see one, smudged, half-made circle.

             “You ruined it…” Jude repeated, sadly.

            “I know,” I said, shaking my head. I was still smiling a little bit.

            The fan rattled by on its rotation.

           

That afternoon, Maggie and Eloise came to pick me up for my doctor’s appointment.

            “You okay, Jodi?” Eloise asked, when we pulled into the parking lot. “You haven’t said a word since we left.”

            I nodded, but didn’t say anything. Maggie and Eloise exchanged concerned looks.

            “You know I bet it’s her air conditioning,” Maggie said, like I wasn’t even there. “Maybe we should get her something. Like, a window unit. Just something to keep her cool until it’s repaired. I don’t think it’s healthy for a pregnant woman to be in such high temperatures…”

            Eloise nodded, and we got out of the car.

            Inside of the doctor’s office, I had to sit on a baby table and wait for the ultrasound technician to meet me. The whole place was like some kind of arctic tundra. Funny, how it seemed like everywhere Maggie and Eloise brought me was freezing cold. The opposite of my own, stifling apartment.

            “Are you ready to see your baby?” the technician asked more to Maggie and Eloise than to me.

            They both nodded eagerly. I nodded, too, but no one really saw.

            The ultrasound technician made me lift up my shift. What she saw made her gasp.

            “Oh,” I said, knowingly. “Yeah, I forgot to explain. See, my brother, Jude, has aspergers and he just kind of…” I trailed off, no one was buying it.

             “So, yeah…” I said. “Don’t worry about the drawings.”

            The ultrasound technician gave a little nod and then proceeded to pour the most disturbingly cold ointment onto my stomach, that made me long for my burning hot apartment.

            It occurred to me then that the ultrasound technician was not, indeed, black. She was Asian. I could swear that there used to be a black ultrasound technician here, but she wasn’t here today.

            “I was wrong,” I whispered.

            “Hm?” the technician asked.

            “Oh nothing,” I laughed. Then I looked back up at the ceiling.

            “She needs a window unit,” Maggie concluded. “It’s the heat. It’s killing her.”

           

The next day, after class, Mr. Parsons pulled me aside again.

            “Judy,” he breathed, shaking his head. “Matthew Galloway told me what happened.”

            Matthew Galloway? I thought.

            Oh. Matthew.

            I nodded, and tried to leave the room, but Mr. Parsons blocked me in.

            “You need to understand that what you saw was not what you think you saw,” Mr. Parsons explained.

            “I saw Matthew forcing his mother into the house. She has cancer,” I whispered. “It’s bad to do keep sick people locked up like that. Molly doesn’t deserve it.”

            I felt like a little kid again, about to be punished for something I didn’t do.

            Mr. Parsons shook his head. “No, no, honey. You don’t understand.”

            I shrugged. “What’s not to understand?”

            “Matthew is keeping his mother there for a reason,” Mr. Parsons said, like that made it any better. “Molly went against His will when she got her chemo therapy treatment. Matthew is just making sure she doesn’t upset God again.”

            “Upset God?” I asked. “What’s this have to do with God?”

            “The Galloway’s are Christian Scientists,” Mr. Parsons explained.

            I faltered. “Oh,” I stammered. “I… didn’t know that.”

            Mr. Parsons nodded.

            “Unfortunately, it looks like Molly is beyond help,” he said, sadly. “If the Lord wanted to spare her by now, he would have. But she went against His will when she got that treatment and now… he’s abandoned her.”           

            “I thought God was supposed to be forgiving?” I asked, innocently.

            Mr. Parsons shook his head.            

            “Judy,” he laughed. “You don’t know anything about God.”

            He handed me another pamphlet for parenting classes.

            “Tell your mother to pay her respects to Taylor Galloway at work tomorrow,” Mr. Parsons said. “I’m telling you all of this because Molly’s dead.”

 

I ran all the way home.

            “Mom!” I screamed, running up the stairs to our apartment. I bet I looked so stupid. Fat and pregnant and sweaty and crying. “MOM!”

            I threw open the front door.

            “What?” Mom snapped. “What the hell do you need, Jodi? I’m kind of busy right now, so if you could please"“

            “" Molly Galloway is dead.”

            “What?” Mom demanded, dropping the phone in her hand. “What did you say?”

            I sniffled, wiping my eyes.

            “Molly Galloway is dead, mom! She died! She had cancer.”

            Mom shook her head. “That’s not funny, Jodi. You tell me the truth! Taylor would have let me know if Molly had cancer! She would have…”

            I sobbed and leaned against the doorframe. I didn’t want to have to explain myself to my mother. Not now.

            Mom went dead silent. All the color drained from her face.

            “I’ll bring some flowers to Taylor,” she said, finally. The grabbed the half-wilted roses out of our table Vass and wrapped them in paper.

            “I’ll be right back,” she said, rushing out the door. “Take your brother’s chicken nuggets out of the oven.”

           

By the time I made it to the kitchen, the chicken nuggets were burnt black. I poured Jude some goldfish crackers as a substitute.

            “Sorry,” I shrugged, slamming the bowl of goldfish crackers down on Jude’s nightstand.

            Jude looked furious.

            “Jodi!” he cried. “I asked for chicken nuggets.”           

“I know,” I sniffed. “I know, Jude. They burnt. I’m sorry.”           

“No, no, no, no no, no, no, no, no!” Jude cried, throwing his Nintendo DSI aside. He tore at his hair, and slammed his head against the wall. “NO!” he screamed. “I asked for chicken nuggets! I want chicken nuggets!”

“Jude, I’m sorry!” I said. I was sobbing now. “I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to! It just happened and"“

“" NO!” Jude cried. He screamed and screamed and screamed. I knew this routine. It was a full-scale meltdown. Usually, when this happened, my mom would walk into the room and sit Jude down and reason with him. It was the only time she was ever truly patient with either of us.

But I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t be mom.

So, slowly, I walked out of the room and closed the door behind me. I laid down on the floor in the hallway and listened to Jude bang his head against the wall while I cried and cried and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.

 

Later that night, I heard the door open. Multiple footsteps rang out down the hall. There was a quiet sobbing. A man’s voice.

            Taylor.

            Never in my life had I seen a man cry, besides Jude, of course. I peeked out of the crack in my door and watched as mom offered Taylor the pull-out couch and started to brew some coffee.

            Then, much to my dismay, she sat down on the couch and let Taylor" big, mean, old, Taylor" cry on her shoulder. He apologized promptly afterwards, to which she only shooshed him and whispered comforting words.

            I wrapped my arms around myself and went back to bed.

            Some, twenty minutes later, I heard mom check in on Jude. He was still whimpering for dinner.

            “Jude, honey, what’s wrong?” my mother asked. I could picture it so clearly. She’d sit down beside him, just like she did with Taylor, and then she would say all kinds of nice little things until he settled down.

            Five minutes later, Jude was quietly watching cartoons in his bed. All was well.

            Mom didn’t check in on me. I guess maybe she thought I was asleep. Or maybe she was just too busy. Whatever the reason, I was kind of okay with it.

            I just wanted to hide under my comforter until summer’s end.

           

WELCOME PARENTS TO GRADUATION!!!        

 

I stared up at the sign with unlimited disdain.

            Really, Mr. Parsons? Comic Sans? I thought. Really?

            To be fair, I don’t think Mr. Parsons was in charge of decorations. Actually, I think it was Julia Smith who picked out that disturbing little font type.

            E.T. slammed his foot into my stomach and I winced.

            “I’m okay,” I said, automatically. Julia relaxed beside me.

            We were standing out on the lawn, in ninety-nine degree weather. The humidity made everyone look disgusting. Faces were red. Hair was frizzy. Sweat was dripping down foreheads.

            Above us, the large graduation banner, signifying our reason for being here, glared down at us with judgmental eyes.

            See, this isn’t really graduation. Real graduation happened in May, when all of my classmates got up on the auditorium stage and gave speeches and got diplomas. This was just the makeshift graduation for those of us who couldn’t keep our grades up high enough to make it out with the normals.

            Now the auditorium was locked for the summer. And our certificates looked more like pieces of printer paper than the fancy diplomas my classmates got.

            There were some eleven odd, metal, folding chairs sitting in the beaming sun. No one had touched them yet. All the parents just kind of hovered around with their cameras and tripods, waiting to see who would sit down and burn their a*s first.

            I looked up at the cloudless sky and wished for sun block.

            “Jodi?”

            I turned around to see Maggie, carrying a heavy bag over her arm.

            “Oh, Jodi, you look gorgeous!” she gushed.

            I glanced down at my usual, baggy T-shirt and jeans. I wondered, vaguely, if she really thought I looked nice, or if she’d just never noticed that I dressed like this every day.

            “Thanks,” I said, awkwardly.

            Eloise appeared a moment later.

            “Sunscreen!” I gasped, plucking the bottle from her hands without asking. Whatever. I was her baby incubator. I had dibs on her sunscreen.

            “We thought today was an important day,” Maggie said. “We wanted to be here.”

            For the past week and a half, Maggie and Eloise made every excuse to come and “hang out” with me. I knew what it was about, of course. I was due any day now and neither one of them wanted to be away when I went into labor.

            Labor, I thought, with the usual sigh of unhappiness. That’s gonna suck.

            “Is your mom here?” Maggie asked, craning her neck to get a better view of the boiling-metal-lawn-chair section of the schoolyard.

            “She’s probably at work,” I shrugged. “She’ll be here soon…”

            As if on cue, I heard a voice crying my name.

            “Jodi! Joooodi!”            

            I looked up to see Jude, waving frantically as he raced across the lawn. I grinned, wondering where he left his Nintendo DSI.

            “Jude!” I cried. He gave me an awkward, one-armed hug. “What are you doing here so early?”

            Jude shrugged, rocking back and forth on his heels.

            “Mom bought you a cake,” Jude said, abruptly. “She got mad at me, though, because I ate some.”

            I smiled, happy he was even paying attention. “That’s okay. Was it any good?”

            Jude’s face lit up. “It was great!” he explained. “It was vanilla with chocolate frosting and I fed some to Kermit and he made this weird noise and"“

            “You fed some to the Toad?” I laughed, taken aback.

            Jude nodded. “Mhm.”

            Suddenly, he flinched, as someone tapped on his shoulder.

            “Um. Excuse me. Are you Jodi’s brother?”

            Julia Smith beamed up at him. She was talking really slow, like Jude was some kind of completely inept moron.

            Jude’s eyes shifted down to the ground, and just like that, he was gone. Lost again, in his own little world. I felt a sudden pang of hatred towards Julia Smith.

            “Yeah, this is my brother,” I answered, for him.

            Julia gave a sad ‘I feel sorry for you’ smile. “Is he the one that’s… you know?” she raised her eyebrows suggestively.

            “He has aspergers. Yeah.” I gave a tiny nod.

            “Ohhh,” Julia said. “Does he, like, talk to other people and stuff? Or is it just you?”

            I glanced over at Maggie, who was staring at Julia, her mouth agape. I guess no one told her that this was the way everyone in Rock River treated Jude. In such a tiny town, people were fascinated with even the slightest abnormality. And they didn’t even try to hide that fascination. I think that’s why Jude rarely leaves the house. He only likes the way people treated him at home.

            Like he’s normal.

            “Why don’t you ask him?” I asked.

            There was a silence.

            “Um. Uh. Jude?” Julia asked. “I was just talking to your sister and"“           

            “" Not now,” Jude said, harshly. “I’m thinking.”

            “Oh,” Julia said.

            Just shut up, Julia, I thought to myself.

            It wasn’t like Jude didn’t understand anything. He was smart, even if people didn’t give him credit for it. He could comprehend all the things Julia said about him. He could understand people’s tone of voice.

            He knew that she thought he was stupid.

            I wanted to scream at Julia" to tell her to leave us alone and to stop staring at Jude with her creepy big, bug-eyes.

            But more than anything, I wanted to shout at Jude.

            Just five minutes ago, he was having a normal conversation with me. Why couldn’t he act like that now? Around other people, he became a statue. As much as I hated to admit it, there was a part of me that was embarrassed every time I was forced to explain to people that Jude wasn’t a moron. Why couldn’t he just speak for himself? Other people with aspergers talked all the time…

            I got tired to making excuses for him sometimes. When he was a kid I’d say, he’s just shy. Now I told the truth: He’s got a problem.

            Either way, I always looked like a liar. Even shy kids" or kids with ‘problems’" could answer simple questions. I always felt like people were testing Jude and the intelligence I claimed he had.

            And when he couldn’t even make eye contact, people assume I was making things up.

            He really is dumb, they probably thought. Poor Jodi only defends the retard because he’s her brother.

            I balled my hands into fists at the mere thought.

            “Hey, Jude,” I said, suddenly. I smacked Jude’s arm, in an attempt to get his attention,

            “What?” he snapped. He was still looking at his shoes.

            “Why don’t you tell Julia here about all the math your remember from school?” I asked. “Julia never made it to calculus. Why don’t you explain some to her?”

            No answer. My face turned red.

            “Or tell her about one of your video games?”

            Silence.

            Julia laughed, awkwardly.

            “It’s okay, Jodi… he doesn’t have to talk.”           

            My face burned.

            “Jude, come on,” I pleaded, grabbing onto his arm. “Talk to Julia. Be polite.”

            Julia’s bug-eyes went wide. “No, no, it’s okay. Really.” She backed away.

            “Jude!” I shouted. “Just talk to her! Talk to somebody! Please!”

            Maggie rested her hand on my shoulder.

            “Honey,” she began. “I think you’ve gotten to much sun.”

            Too much sun, I thought. Like what Mike said.

            I hadn’t seen him in weeks.

            I wondered, briefly, if maybe he’d died. Like Molly Galloway. He was old enough. He could die any day.

            “Yeah, come sit with us in the shade,” Eloise offered, her tone friendly.

            Jude was still staring at his shoes.

            “Jude…” I whispered. “Jude, come on. Prove them wrong, Jude. I know you can. Jude.”

            Maggie tugged on my arm. “Honey, please,” she said. “All this stress isn’t any good for the baby.”

            “I’m fine!” I screamed.

            Everyone was staring at me now.

            Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my mother, standing beside Taylor. She was staring at me" finally.

            But she was horrified.

            “Jude, please talk to someone!” I begged. “Talk to anyone! Talk to Maggie! Talk to Julia! Please.”

            Jude didn’t speak.

            “Please,” I whispered into his shirtsleeve. How had things gotten so bad, so fast? Why was I crying? Why did this have to happen here? Why now?

            Jude didn’t say a word. He stared at his shoes.

            Disappointed, I slowly loosened my grip on Jude’s arm. I let my hands fall to my sides.

            “Okay,” I breathed, sniffling. “Okay. Okay.”

            Then I turned around, and slowly walked away from graduation.

            Behind me, I could hear the others calling.

            Jodi, where are you going?

            Jodi, what’s wrong?

            Jodi let us help you!

            I considered turning around.

            Then I realized that the voices were only a figment of my imagination. No one was really calling me.

            I was alone.

 

I sat at the train station, chewing on a granola bar. People rushed back and forth. Mothers yelled at their children to hurry up. Old men hobbled by with their canes. Everyone was either coming or going.

            The end of summer. Time to choose: stay or go.

            Everyone had a decision to make.

            E.T. jabbed his foot into my ribcage.

            “I know,” I said, passively. “Even you don’t want me, E.T. You probably want your moms, right?”

            I thought of Maggie and Eloise. Boy, I bet they were both pissed off now. I bet they were both regretting ever taking a chance on me.

            I smiled down at E.T.

            “I’ll bring you back, I promise,” I said. “Do you want to go someplace with me first?”

            E.T. slammed his foot into my stomach, disapprovingly.

            I sighed, taking another bite of my granola bar.

            “Thought not,” I said, chewing.

            I got to my feet slowly, resting a hand against my aching back. I could see the phone booth clearly. It was so close and yet, every step felt like a mile in this heat.

            I dropped a time in the slot.

            Stupid of your to storm away without your cell phone, I thought.

            “Jodi? Jodi?” Maggie asked, when she picked up the phone.

            “Hi.”

            “Oh thank God,” Maggie breathed. Then she shouted, “Eloise! Jodi’s on the phone!”

            I finished up my granola bar and wiped my fingertips on my jeans.

            “Listen, I just thought I should call to let you know that you’re baby’s okay and all.”

            Maggie sighed.

            “Jodi, where are you? We’re coming to pick you up right now. It’ll be okay.”

            I shook my head, then remembered she couldn’t see me.

            “Don’t come and get me,” I said.

            Maggie’s breath caught. “What?!” she cried. “Why? Jodi, what’s going on?”

            “I just… I need some time, okay?”

            Maggie laughed, angrily. “You can have time after I get my baby, alright? This isn’t some game for me, you know that? I know, for you, it’s all about the money but for Eloise and I"“ she tried to calm her breathing. “Jodi,” she began. “You have our baby.

            I stood in silence.

            “It’s not all about the money for me,” I said, which was partially true, partially a lie. The money played a bit part in my getting-pregnant in the first place, but now…

            “I understand that this is your baby,” I said, clinging onto the phone. “I understand that you love it already and you want it. I’m happy for you. Really.”

            Maggie didn’t seem to understand what I was trying to say. I was trying to make a connection. I needed someone" anyone" to understand that I loved them. I couldn’t make mom understand. Couldn’t make Jude understand. Couldn’t even make freaking E.T. understand.

            No one in my life can love me as much as I love them.

            I needed Maggie to get it. I needed her so bad.

            “Where are you?” Maggie asked, emotionlessly.

            I pressed my eyes closed.

Funny, how fast someone can let me down. Brake my heart. Whatever you want to call it.

            “I’m at the train station.”

            “Stay where you are,” Maggie snapped. “We’re coming.”

            Then she hung up the phone. I slouched against the wall of the phone booth and pressed my face against the knees of my jeans.

            Don’t cry, I told myself, though it was no use. I was already tearing up. Don’t cry. I’ll just try again.

            I thought about Jude. And mom. And Maggie. And Eloise. And the baby inside of me.

            I’ll just try again.

 

© 2011 Mindcaster


Author's Note

Mindcaster
THIS IS A 1ST DRAFT! Please try to look past grammatical/punctual errors. I apologize for those, but I wanted to get this online so I wouldn't accidentally lose it. Beyond that, I AM aware of the factual inaccuracies in this story. I know that it is highly unlikely that an 18-year-old would be chosen as a surrogate but (for the sake of the story) that needed to be possible here. Again, just try to look past it. It's fiction, after all...

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Added on April 2, 2011
Last Updated on April 2, 2011
Tags: pregnancy, surrogate, lesbians, Jodi, Coast, Small town, Sad, depressing, comedy

Author

Mindcaster
Mindcaster

Los Angeles , CA



About
Hello. My name is Mel Haskins. I write music and I write books. Sometimes I even write music about books. I'm kind of fanatic about the band Garbage, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Harry Pott.. more..

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A Story by Mindcaster