Chapter Two ~ Juniper Berry

Chapter Two ~ Juniper Berry

A Chapter by aubreydiamond

Maybe I could have cared more that it was a beautiful day, that the sun was shining and most people had smiles on their faces, but I genuinely couldn't bring myself to give a f**k right now.

The journey from the gas station was quite easily the longest walk of my life. Amidst my hurricane of thoughts I kept catching myself holding my middle with both arms, and the occasional funny glance from those passing by who were clearly reading my worry-stricken face. But I didn't care… mostly.  I had too much going on inside of my brain, and I was just trying to focus on getting to my destination without toppling over someone or something.

Lazuli’s was a tiny café on the east side of town. It perched on the side of the highway, so it barely received the attention and money that it deserved, but it had easily become my favourite place to go to when I wagged school or got into a fight with mum or just needed somewhere to be.

I passed the familiar second hand shops and lawnmower repairs until I met the indigo blue cube of a cafe slotted right on the edge of the small stretch of shops. It always looked so out of place but that was one of the many things I loved about it. Just seeing it made me feel a fraction better. Just a fraction.

I turned the door handle and gave the stiff door a gentle kick as we had all learned to master over time. The familiar scent of old wood and coffee filled my lungs and brought me back down to earth. My eyes welled up just being somewhere safe and familiar.

The actual café was a tiny box of a room with only two tables up against the counter with barely any space to get up and down from. The walls were an ugly collage of magazine photos that I'd helped cut out a few years ago. We may have intentionally hidden some of our own photos amidst the disorganisation too, just for a laugh. The main focus of the café though (or at least my favourite part) was the mini courtyard to the side of the indigo cube. It only consisted of two picnic tables, a cheap blue tarp as a ceiling, and a knee-high fence separating the courtyard from the footpath. The brick wall dividing the property off from the neighbouring street behind was covered in colourful graffiti art done by random local artists. It really was just an amalgam of random s**t all compiles together, but I wouldn't change a thing about it.

‘Hey, Aroha,’ a dreaded and tattooed boy behind the counter said to me. I'd realised I was staring into space as he raised his thick eyebrow in a much kinder way than the girl at the gas station did.

‘Hi Carzel,’ I said.

Carzel was one of the two employees at Lazuli’s. He was one of the kindest and gentle-natured boys I’d ever met, and that's hard to come by these days. I’d gotten to know him pretty well since this place had become my haven, and he'd always make us feel at home and would never act as if we were overstaying our welcome. Kinda hard to when you're one of the very few regular customers. I often wonder if my $5 here and there for coffee was keeping the place running.

Are you alright?’ He asked.

No, I'm really not f*****g alright.

‘Yeah, I’m okay. Can I please have a coffee?’

‘Sure,’ he said unconvinced. ‘Two sugars, right?’

‘Maybe give me five today.’

Carzel laughed and flicked the switch on the silver grinder, filling the room with the screeching sound of coffee beans being crushed. I was serious about the sugar.

‘I'll bring it over to you, doll. Berry’s sitting outside.’

I gave him a smile that silently said ‘thank you’ and walked through the open door to the little courtyard.

And there she was. On the furthest table from the door, a girl with long rich ringlets of fiery red hair sat hunched over a notepad; ink pen in one hand doodling away, while the other was pressed up against her cheek, scrunching her abundance of freckles into an adorable concentrated face. But this broke as soon as she realised I was there.

‘Arie!’ She gasped, dropping her pen onto the table and leaping from her seat.  This is Juniper, my best friend. Or as I like to call her, Juniper Berry. Or just Berry.

‘Are you alright?’ She had pulled me into a hug before I could respond, and when we separated she held my forearms tightly and looked deeply into my eyes.

What was it about best friends when they just know something’s going on? They can take one look at you and sense that something’s out of balance, or better yet tell you what's wrong before you know yourself. But this time round, I knew she wasn't expecting what I was about to tell her.

‘I didn't like that text,’ she said gesturing me to the table. I sat down across from her, and she pushed her sketchpad out of the way. ‘I could feel something wasn't right.’

‘Thank god you were here,’ I smiled weakly. She looked very unconvinced by it.

‘Synchronicities,’ Juniper said. I stayed quiet for a moment, still mulling over the thoughts in my head. Juniper was analysing me with her magical emerald eyes, which were masters of reading people emotions and feelings. It should be easy for me to tell my best friend something like this, but even my own brain doesn't seem to have the courage to string the words together.

‘What's going on, Arie?’ She sounded very concerned this time. ‘You're not yourself today. I could feel something this morning when I woke up,’ she said rubbing her lower belly. I gulped.

I just need to say it.

‘I'm pregnant,’ I breathed. I looked down into my lap and didn't look up immediately. When I did, Junipers mouth was partly open as I could tell she was processing what I’d just told her. Jesus, I’m still processing it.

‘Whoa,’ she whispered. Her eyes were darting left and right as she made sense of the news. Soon she began nodding slowly, and leaned across the table to grab my shaking, sweaty hands.

‘I don't know what to do.’

‘You're allowed to not know what to do,’ she reassured me.

‘What the f**k am I going to tell mum, Berry? What's everyone going to think?’ I groaned. ‘What's this going to look like at school?’ The snarky remarks and disapproving looks of family and friends were stained in my mind. I couldn't shake the feeling of what everyone was going to think and say.

‘Aroha,’ Juniper said. She had suddenly adopted a very stern tone that she very rarely used. ‘F**k what anyone else thinks. You don't need anyone's approval or disapproval with something like this. This is your body, your decision. You're the only person whose opinion matters right now.’

I don't think she realised how much I needed to hear this. I couldn't help myself, the multitude of tears and panic I had bottled up over the past hour suddenly came loose and flooded down my face.

‘Aw, honey.’ Juniper got up from her seat and slotted in on the bench seat beside me, putting a skinny arm around me and pulling me into a supportive-sideways-best-friend-hug. This only made me sob even more. But she seemed to understand this without having to speak a word, and she simply let me cry while rubbing my shoulder. 

For about five minutes I cried. I didn't realise how much this had shaken me until I sat down to face the reality of it. I almost didn't want to accept it, and in some fucked up parallel reality in my head I'd hoped by the time I got to Lazuli’s I'd have woken up from this dream and been able to laugh about it. But no, this is very much real. I'm very much pregnant, and I really don't know what the f**k I'm going to do about it.

Carzel brought me my coffee which I'd completely forgotten about at this stage. He placed it gently on the table with his tattooed arm and walked back inside without another word. Carzel was always friendly and fun but he also always knew when we just needed to be alone.

Junipers grip on my shoulder hadn't eased up, but it was the firm support I desperately needed. Juniper was everything I needed right now. We had been best friends since kindergarten and moments like this remind me why I love her so much. Everyone needs a Juniper in their life.

‘Okay,’ she said eventually, reaching for my coffee and dragging it closer to me to encourage me to drink it. ‘Drink. You look like a ghost, you need something sweet.’

I had been wiping my eyes so much I'd forgotten that I was wearing makeup. I grabbed the teaspoon aside my coffee and looked at my reflection.

Yep, I'm definitely wearing mascara. You can see it smeared all over my round face like a panda. For someone with dark skin, I really was pale. My usual brown complexion was almost peachy, and my black hair that I’d straightened earlier that day was now doing its own thing. I looked how I felt, to say the least.

‘So,’ Juniper started, ‘what are your options?’

‘I haven't really thought that far to be honest,’ I sighed. ‘I guess I should probably talk to Luke.’

‘Is he…?’

‘He's the only person I've been with.’

‘True. Maybe once you've spoken to him it'll make it easier to decide?’

‘I hope so. I don't know…’

I didn't really want to tell Luke. But I also didn't have much choice. There was no doubt he was the father of this fetus, and although our relationship has been up and down over the years he's not the type of person to tell me what to do about it, he'd understand, once he gets over the initial shock of potentially being an 18 year old father.

‘You can do it, babe,’ Juniper said. ‘I'll stand beside you the whole way through. Okay?’

‘Thank you,’ I smiled weakly. Coming straight to see Juniper was definitely the right choice.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and opened the messenger app. I had to scroll a little ways down to find Luke’s conversation thread. The last message I’d received from him was just over a month ago, before we’d seen each other last…

[Hey, sorry if this is random. Could we meet up sometime today? I really need to talk to you.]

I stared at the message for a moment before pressing send. I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my rib cage. Maybe that would be a good thing.

I chucked my phone onto the table and sighed heavily. I don't know how things could get any worse. But believe me, they did.

Carzel came out from inside the shop. He'd been one of Luke’s close friends since they were at primary school, but they'd had a bit of a falling out not that long ago. Though Carzel wasn't the kind of person to let that affect his other friendships.

He stopped where he stood and was looking at us to try and get our attention without interrupting. It wasn't until I looked into his face that I realised he looked distraught. His skin was twice as pale as mine and he was on the verge of tears.

‘Carzel, what's wrong?’ I asked him. Juniper looked concerned too.

‘It's Luke,’ he said shakily. ‘He's been in an accident. He's dead.’


© 2019 aubreydiamond

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Added on January 28, 2019
Last Updated on February 23, 2019
Tags: drama, young adult, pregnancy, coming of age, fiction, life, death, love, birth, teenage, comedy, baby, friends, family, murder, drugs, swearing, course language, aroha



New Zealand

I come in peace! My name is Aubrey, I’ve been a creative witch for as long as I can remember. Writing, drawing and all of the creative outlets have been my source of magic since I could craf.. more..