Chapter Seven ~ 22 Amber Grove

Chapter Seven ~ 22 Amber Grove

A Chapter by aubreydiamond

We drove for about ten minutes before Zeb pulled in to Amber Grove - a quaint little cul-de-sac on the other side of town surrounded almost completely by free-growing trees and forestry. All the houses were oddly shaped and coloured, completely unique to their neighbours on either side. It’s nice to see so much diversity in one place, especially as we were still in Raumu.

We passed long driveways, tall fences and funny shaped mailboxes until the car came to a halt outside of number 22. The letterbox had been painted lilac with an array of flowers painted over the base colour, and the surname ‘Crescent’ in nice handwriting just below the numbers. Make-shift-mobiles made from plastic bottles and recyclable materials were hung over a rickety fence propped up by a thick ivy bush holding it in place. Everything about this screamed Rose.

We all climbed out of the flash car that looked rather out of place here, and approached the driveway that descended down a slight slope, gravel crunching between our feet.

When the house came into view, I remembered how much I adored coming here; the little cottage itself was a mix-match of various blues and purples that looked like someone deciding between shades had ended up choosing them all. Stain-glass flowers, dragonflies and mandalas hung from almost every free inch of veranda, and a floral-mote around the whole house gave it the feel of a witch’s hut that had intentionally been left to grow wild and untamed.

‘Welcome back, team!’ Rose was standing on the little deck, hands outstretched to the three of us with a warm motherly smile. I walked straight to her and took the hug on offer. Was it bad that I felt more willing to hug Rose and not my own mother? Not at all. Rose has this energy about her that you can't help but feel safe in. Even Zeb, who is not a hugger, gives Rose one every time they see one another. If that's not respect, I don't know what is.

‘How are you going, darlings?’ She said, squeezing Zeb’s bony shoulders tightly.

‘Okay,’ Juniper replied. ‘It was a… nice service.’

‘Good, I’m glad.’ She said, turning to me. ‘Best as it could be?’

‘Yeah,’ I nodded, half-smiling. The day was still looming over my head, but I felt significantly lighter than what I did upon waking up. Letting your rage out at the beach surprisingly does you wonders.

‘Hey, nice necklace,’ Rose winked at me. I clutched the Rose Quartz around my neck.

‘Thank you so much. I really love it.’

‘Good. It was screaming your name at me when I was choosing. Glad you like it honey. Come in,’ Rose beckoned us inside, ‘we’ll have something to eat, aye?’

‘I should probably get going actually,’ Zeb said politely. ‘Damon will be wanting his car back…’

‘Oh, I'm sure he can wait a little longer,’ Rose said, ‘a funeral is a reasonable excuse, my dear. Besides you need something substantial.’

‘I'm honestly fine, Rosie,’

‘You're too thin!’ She exclaimed, clearly not taking Zeb’s polite refusal. ‘I could put my hands around your waist and then some! Come on, it's almost ready.’ She hobbled inside without another glance back, and Zeb, who couldn't say no to Rose, followed Juniper inside.

I felt my pocket vibrate, but not a single buzz, a constant flow of buzzing that could mean only one thing.

 

[INCOMING CALL - MUM

ANSWER / DECLINE]

 

With great satisfaction, I pressed the red button ending the call.

 

[MUM: just now

(7) Missed Calls]

 

I put it back in my pocket without another thought and followed my friends inside.

The main room made up a good half of their whole house. The small space acting as the living room, dining room and kitchen had a long shawl-covered couch propped up against an island-wall separating the kitchen, where a small dinky electric blue counter-top fridge, a slow cooker and a yellow oven sat beneath paint-chipped cupboards. The dining ‘room’ just beside the kitchenette had a beautifully ornate, polished oak table with four chairs that clearly belonged to different sets. There were even more stain-glass creations hanging from strange places, and succulents, flowers and hunks of crystals were popped on just about every counter, table-top and windowsill in sight. A single doorway to the left led down a tiny hallway branching off to three other small rooms and a bathroom. What it lacked in space it made up for with beauty and charm.

Juniper waltzed in ahead and dumped her bag on the couch before sitting at the table, eagerly waiting for her mother's cooking; the whole house was filled with the sweet smell of boiling broth and freshly chopped vegetables. Rose was well known for her ability to feed anyone and everyone in need, usually intuitively.

‘What're you making?’ I asked curiously. It hadn't occurred to me that I hadn't eaten properly in days until the smell hit my nostrils. It was amazing, I could've eaten a horse right now, but I ignored the aches until my stomach made the biggest, loudest and most painful lurch ever.

Jesus, was that you?’ Zeb said looking slightly mortified.

‘Yep, I’m fine.’ I lied.

‘Doesn't sound too fine,’ Rose said ladling whatever was in the slow cooker into three bowls. She picked them up one by one and brought them over to the table for us. ‘Dig in. You all need it.’

We all pulled our chairs closer to the table and looked down into the ceramic bowls; noodles and an assortment of veges swam about in a steamy, sweet smelling broth. Rose placed a pair of chopsticks and a fork beside each of our bowls, and finished each bowl with a fried egg on top. (‘For protein.’ She said.)

If I could swim in it I would have. I picked up my fork because I still can't properly use chopsticks and started piling mouthfuls in. I didn't care how hot it was, having something with substance that tasted so good in my body was a really welcome feeling.

Zeb and Juniper were both rather quiet as well as they shovelled in their noodles. Clearly they both needed it too, because in what felt like a single minute, three empty bowls were pushed into the middle of the table against the huge salt lamp, and three simultaneous sighs of relief came out of our mouths.

‘I could eat ramen for the rest of my life.’ Juniper exclaimed, pretending to fall asleep at the table.

‘Where did you learn to make that?’ I asked Rose.

‘I wouldn't call it a real ramen,’ she said, taking our bowls from the table. ‘But I learnt a thing or two living in China for several years. The Chinese really know their food! Incredible, some of the things I saw them cook.’ She dumped the bowls in the sink and came back to sit at the table.

Another vibrating sound erupted, but this time it was Zeb’s phone, faced down on the table top. He looked at the screen, groaned, and then answered.

‘What?’ He said coldly. ‘Yes I’ve got it… I'll come back soon… soon… chill out dickhead, I'm not far from home… yes… yes!

And with that, the conversation was over.

‘Damon wants his f*****g car. I'm gonna have to shoot, sorry guys.’

‘It's alright,’ I said, getting to my feet and pulling him into one of our forced hugs. ‘Thank you for everything today.’

‘All good,’ he said casually. ‘I'll see you tomorrow maybe. Flick me a text. Thanks for the food Rosie, you're a gem,’ he hugged Rose and made his way out the house to the driveway.

Love you, chicken!’ Juniper called after him, grinning.

Yep,’ Zeb called from outside. He hated when Juniper did that - precisely the reason she did.

The engine of Damon’s car started, and took off down the street and out of earshot. All I could hear for a few moments was the gentle sound of wind chimes coming from somewhere down the hallway. This house had the amazing ability to make you relax, and I was quite happily giving in to the temptation.

‘How are you feeling, sweetheart?’ Rose asked me, leaning in closer to the table. She was peering at me over her glasses, like she could see something that others couldn't. I swear Rose was a full on witch, the good kind though.

‘I'm alright,’ I said. She raised an eyebrow stating she didn't believe me. ‘No really, I am. I feel a whole lot better than I did this morning… and yesterday.’

‘You're a brave soul. Did seeing him off help?’ She asked.

‘Kind of, I mean, I still miss him. I don't know if that’ll go away. But I'm okay. It's set in stone now, and I don't want to spend my time feeling miserable.’

‘Atta girl,’ Juniper grinned, grabbing my forearm in support from.

‘It takes a great deal of courage to bounce back from loss,’ Rose said, ‘some people never do. They can turn to all sorts of things to try and numb the pain.’ She wiggled the gold ring on her finger as she spoke.

‘I guess it helps when there are other things you need to focus on,’ I joked.

‘You're a wise young woman, Aroha. So many others your age wouldn't stick through with school, although it's changed a lot since I was there. It'll pay off for you in the long run.’

Bless Rose, but I didn't mean school work at all. At this point I'd kind of pushed my education to the bottom of my priority list, and had virtually forgotten about it. I had a baby inside of me that I had to tend to.

‘Rose, I’m pregnant.’

If there was anyone in this world who I could turn to after Juniper, it would be Rose; the most cool, calm, collected, non-judgmental and supportive woman I know. But just from the look on her face told me that she hadn't expected me to say this out of the blue. She was quite silent as she seemed to calculate everything in her head.

‘Oh, Aroha…’ She breathed, her hand slid across the table and grasped my wrist in the same way Juniper just did. ‘And you’ve been dealing with all of this at the same time as Luke’s… oh,’ the twinkle of tears in her eyes told me that she had just realised that Luke was the father, and how much of an ordeal I'd had going on inside of my brain. Yet it was odd how easy it felt to tell her, it had only been a few days of these emotions yet I'd been able to somewhat process and come to terms with a lot of it. But that didn't mean that I cared any less, whatsoever.

‘Do you… do you know what you're going to do, sweetheart?’ Rose asked. It was the million-dollar question I’d been waiting for.

‘No. Not really. I haven't really had the chance to think about it until now I guess. I found out I was pregnant about an hour before I found out about Luke. It's been a lot to think about.’

‘Oh absolutely, darling. Fair enough,’ Rose said with gusto. ‘I can't believe you're going through this pain, dear. It’s enough to break people for good, yet here you sit, the mature young woman that you are. You are strong, my love. Very strong. And we are always here for you if you need anything at all, please don't hesitate to ask. You’re family to us too.’

‘Thank you Rose that means a lot.’ I said. Why couldn't Rose have been my mother? She was that incredible woman everyone needed in their life to make you feel sane.

‘Is it okay if Aroha stays with us for a bit?’ Juniper asked for me.

‘Of course!’ Rose said as if she thought that was already happening. ‘You can stay as long as you need, darling.’

‘Thank you. I'm not speaking to my mother at the moment.’

‘Oh?’ Rose said looking both unsurprised and intrigued, ‘she didn't take the baby news very well I'm presuming?’

‘I haven't actually told her.’

Juniper and Rose both looked nervous, they knew my mother almost as well as I did, and this kind of news would be enough to kill her where she stood. But the longer it was kept from her, the bigger the eruption.

‘She was a nasty b***h when I told her Luke had died. She didn't seem to care how I felt, so I told her I needed space. I guess I'll tell her when I'm ready, but I don't want to think about her at the moment.’

‘Don't worry about her,’ Rose said. ‘She will understand eventually. It's out of her hands anyways.’

‘All the more reason for her to be a psycho,’ I said. ‘She hates anything she can't control.’

‘All the more reason to not worry about it right now,’ Juniper piped up. ‘Deal with your feelings, and your baby. It doesn't have to involve her until you want to share it with her.’

‘Exactly. You've been through enough, dear,’ said Rose. ‘Give yourself some time to think.’

They were right. I pushed my mother out of my mind, rather easily, and focused on these two beautiful women beside me who were helping me in the way that family should.

‘I have a friend of mine who works in the Raumu maternity ward? If you want to I could reach out to her and organise anything you need, but only if you want to, Aroha, take the time you need to decide,’ Rose said.

S**t. Hospitals and doctors and latex gloves in places they shouldn't be, I hadn’t really prepared myself for that side of things. I'd never been in hospitals much, but had enough times to know how gross and uncomfortable they made me feel. One way or another I was going to have to cross paths with it, and soon.

‘Thanks Rose, I'll have a good think and get back to you.’

‘Sleep on it dear,’ she continued, ‘it's been a long and hard day. Get some rest and we’ll tackle it when you're refreshed. You have to look after yourself first and foremost.’

 

Juniper showed me to her bedroom which was essentially a queen sized bed with half a metre worth of floor space to move. Multi-coloured shawls with ethnic patterns were draped from the ceiling all over the walls and more crystals and succulents took up all surface space. Juniper liked to call it her Burrow.

After we dumped our things on the bedroom floor we got changed into fresh clothes, removing the energy of the day on our outfits. The five thousand dollar check fell out of my pocket when I was changing. I put it in my bag to remind myself to deal with it later. Once dressed in a clean outfit I felt a little more animated, so we decided to go for a sunset-walk down to the park just down the road. Whenever we had sleepovers as kids we’d religiously spend our evenings at this same park until it was too cold and dark to be out alone. It was funny we were going back, a lot older with completely different things going on in our lives.

The park itself was tiny and a bit pathetic, sitting in a sloped bank almost completely hidden from street view. When the sun started to set it always fell into a pool of cold afternoon shade that the mosquitos absolutely loved. But it was the perfect place to be right now.

There were a few kids playing at the park with their parents, so Juniper and I sat on the park bench built into the slope and looked out to the hills beyond.

I let out a sigh; the day had come to an end, but there was still so much more ahead of me.

‘When you said you felt Luke,’ Juniper started after a moment, ‘how did you know it was him?’

‘I don't know… I could just, feel him. It was like that feeling you get when you know someone is behind you, but it was like… familiar.’ If anyone would understand what I was saying without raising an eyebrow, it was Juniper.

‘It's not uncommon to connect with spirits when you're grieving.’

‘Or carrying their child?’ I said.

‘Exactly. Did he give you any kind of advice or anything?’

‘I'm not a medium, Berry,’ I laughed.

‘Right… sorry.’

‘It was definitely something else though... I’ve never felt that low before, but almost immediately afterwards I felt - better. It was like I just needed to know that he was okay, and I mean, he is now right? He's in somewhat of a better place, I like to think. Better than here anyways, away from all that s**t he got caught up in.’

‘Absolutely,’ Juniper grinned with tears in her eyes.

We sat together in silence for a moment. I hope whoever it was that took Luke’s life was feeling s**t for taking away someone's ability to live, but I knew that it would have just been another day's work for the gangs. They wouldn't have thought twice about it, and considered it another job finished. But remembering Luke's face the last time I saw him, tired, run down and exhausted from being hunted made me think in some fucked up way, that he can properly rest now. Maybe I’d just continue to tell myself this as it was comforting to imagine him happy, relaxed and free. Life is a strange experience.

‘I still don't know what I'm going to do, Berry.’ I was rubbing my palms over my stomach, which was feeling harder than normal. I had to put my thoughts and feelings about Luke into a box and slide it aside for the time being. Now was really the time to start thinking about this baby, and where the f**k I'm going to go from here.

‘Well, you've been thinking about it right? Non-stop I imagine.’

‘Honestly, no. Not at all,’ I said. ‘I'm constantly reminding myself I'm pregnant, but I can't bring myself to decide which path I'm going to go down. Just thinking about it gives me anxiety. I don't want to go through this, but I have to.’

‘I'm here for you, Arie,’ Juniper slid closer to me and grabbed my hands, holding them tight. ‘We’ll plan it out together, okay?’

Juniper was my rock. She was the best thing in my life right now, and I have no idea what I'd do without her. We both knew Zeb wouldn't handle the baby stuff very well, as much as we’d both love to see the look of horror on his face.

‘So,’ she continued. ‘Have you thought about keeping it?’

Wow. The words “keeping it” was like an electric shock. Yes, the idea had almost crossed my mind but I had pushed it away before it got a chance to come to fruition. Up until this moment.

‘Uhh… I haven't… I don't know, Berry. Keeping it would mean becoming a full on mother.’

‘Well, yeah. You've always wanted kids right?’

‘Not until I was in my late twenties, at least.’

‘I mean, it could be your only opportunity to start raising a family?’

‘I suppose it could… but could you really imagine me, pregnant as, shopping for cribs and clothes and making a baby room and telling relatives and choosing names and all that crap? I can't. I don't know if I have it in me yet.’

I watched as the young boy and girl ran up and down the playground while their mother pretended to be some kind of monster chasing them from below. The kids were belly-laughing as the mum growled and roared, the father grinning as he watched his family from the side.

‘Of course you do,’ Juniper said. ‘If you really want to do this you will find the strength. And f**k what other people say; like I told you the other day, this is your body and your decision to make. Anyone else's opinions are irrelevant, even mine!’ She grinned. ‘You're the only person who knows what you need best, and you don't need to let people, even your mother, tell you what you need.’

I thought about this for a while. I knew she was dead right; I didn't have to let anybody else's view on my situation decide what I choose to do. But the thing is I don't know what I need. As much as i know I need to make a decision by myself, I wanted someone who knew better than me to tell me what I should do.

I can’t imagine myself as a mother. I have always wanted children but it was something I imagined would come much later in my life, not when I was seventeen and about to start my final year of school. It's that classic cliché they've made hundreds of books and movies about, and I'm that main character that's caught off guard when her whole life is turned upside down. As cliché as it is that's a f*****g intense role to play.

There were other options though. Options that I’d always been aware of but didn't feel the hard reality that came with it until it was presented before me. I knew a few women that have had abortions, and it's something that stays with you forever. But they were at stages of their lives where they simply couldn't factor in having a child to raise, and I fully understand and respect the ability to make such a choice now, because at the end of the day, you're giving your entire life to this growing human being that represents everything about you in a whole new and unique way. It’s so beautiful but I can't help but find it f*****g scary.

But what was I supposed to do? Keep it a secret and let it grow until it’s unquestionable what is happening to me, and then act like nothing happened? Give it up for adoption? There was so much to consider in the long term commitment to something like this. I don't feel like I'm ready for that.

‘Whatever you decide, I'll support you either way.’ Juniper said, breaking the silence. ‘I won't say anything to anyone regardless of what you have to do. And if you do decide to keep it, I call dibs on godmother.’

‘I don't know…’ I started. ‘It's this whole other lifestyle that I never thought would happen. Raising kids, single mother, all that stuff. How do I know if I'm ready for that?’

‘I guess if you know, you know.’ Juniper said plainly

I didn't know. That was the painful reminder. How confused and unsure I felt about it all. But I guess that in itself was my answer - I wasn't ready.

‘I think…’ I sighed. I took a deep breathe in, ‘I think I'm going to get an abortion, Berry. I don't think I can raise a child.’

Juniper sat in silence with me for a moment, hand on mine. The family at the park had started walking back to their car to go home.

‘Do you want me to come with you?’ Juniper asked.

‘Yeah… please. I don't know where to start, or where to go.’

‘We’ll talk to mum tomorrow. She’ll completely understand, don't worry Arie; she will know who to call to make the appointments. We’ll get through it together.’

There was so much love and appreciation inside of me; I didn't know how to express it in words. I just leaned over and gave Juniper a tight and powerful hug. The hugs that only best friends give each other when they are both truly grateful for one another.

‘I love you, Berry,’ I sobbed.

‘I love you too, A-plus,’ She grinned, squeezing me tighter. We sat together for a while longer, talking and giggling until the temperature dropped noticeably quickly, and it was time we made a hasty return back to number 22. We gazed at the stars and Juniper pointed out the constellations just as we did when we were little.

 

The lights were on in the house when we arrived back, but no one was home. There was a note on the table with Rose’s familiar linked handwriting:

 

Just gone for a walk, was too nice of a night not too. The leftover noodles are in the fridge if you get hungry. Be back soon. Probably not soon actually but I won't be far away :) xx - Rose

 

‘You still hungry?’ Juniper asked.

‘Nah, I’m good. Thank you though, that first bowl almost put me to sleep.’

‘Mum knows how to make a mean feed!’ She laughed. ‘Should we watch a movie?’

‘Yeah sure, that sounds great actually.’

A bit of mind numbing entertainment is some of the best therapy you can do with your best friend when everything is a bit crazy.

Once we’d chosen a movie to watch (Nausicaä) Juniper went to the kitchen and made a pot of tea, and came back with two cups. It was a kind of jasmine green tea, and it smelt beautiful. She made herself comfy on the couch next to me while the tea brewed, and the movie began to play on the tiny screen before us.

I don't really remember watching the movie, just the faint sound of voices and action as I closed my eyes and listened. I'd seen this film a few times with Juniper, so I could picture exactly what was happening as I heard it.

I slumped over into Juniper and found myself using her side as a pillow. She put her arm around me as a boyfriend would do when his girlfriend fell asleep in his lap, but in a more special best-friend way. It didn't take me long before I felt myself drifting, and couldn't hold myself awake any longer…

 

 

Slam!

I jerked awake, almost knocking a succulent off a coffee table with my foot in the process. The ranch slider had been opened and shut with a lot of force, and a tall figure was taking off their boots by the door.

It took me a second to click that it wasn't Rose, but her eldest child and Junipers older brother, Rain. He had clearly finished work late and was eager to remove his fluoro-yellow overalls and relax. He worked on roads and constructions sites, and had done once he’d dropped out of school at fifteen. He fumbled around with his uniform until he noticed that he wasn't the only person in the room.

‘Oh, s**t!’ Rain whispered, ‘sorry, Aroha - didn't mean to wake you up.’

‘It's all right,’ I said, rubbing my eyes. Juniper was fast asleep beside me. ‘What time is it?’

‘Just after ten,’ he said. I could see him analysing me and figuring out why I was here. I'd known Rain almost as long as I'd known Juniper, but we had never been close friends, just acquaintances as my best friend’s brother. He was nice, though kind of rough and messy in his appearance, you could tell he was the most humble out of his friends, who liked to drink, smoke and party their every waking moment of their days.

‘You don't usually stay here this late?’ He said sitting at the table to kick his chunky work boots off.

‘I know,’ I replied, ‘I've got some s**t going on, don't really wanna stay at home right now.’

‘Fair enough. Paula up your a*s?’

‘Yep.’ Even Rain knew what my mother was like.

He looked at me for a moment, twiddling his thumbs. I’d always thought that Rain was quite good looking; piercing blue eyes with sharp cheekbones, shaved head, ear-stretchers and a Chinese dragon tattooed on his neck. But I could never really look at him like that; it felt like I was looking at a cousin. And he was my best friend’s brother after all.

‘I'm sorry about Luke,’ he said solemnly.

‘Thanks.’

‘I was going to come to the funeral today, but I didn't think it was my place. Didn't know the guy that well, just knew people who did.’

‘You missed out on an odd day. It was… interesting, to say the least.’

‘No one rose from the dead?’ He grinned. He had an even cheekier smile than Luke did.

‘No,’ I smiled. ‘Not unless you count Valerie.’

Rain snorted with laughter when I said this.

‘S**t, she actually went?’ He said in disbelief.

‘Yep. Fashionably late to her own son’s funeral. Didn't speak to anyone, just came and left. She doesn't seem to want to pay for it either. I ended up with the cheque to try and give to her.’

‘Jesus. You’d think with all her weed money she’d be able to. There are enough of us she sells to.’

‘You get weed through her?’

‘Yeah, that's how I know her. Me and about ten other of my mates get through her. She knows how to grow alright, but that doesn't exactly make her the nicest person.’

‘Yeah… I gathered that much already.’

He laughed, showing his uneven teeth.

‘You doin’ alright though?’ He asked. He was a very caring guy, just like his mother and sister, and wasn't ashamed to show his emotions to those around him.

‘Yeah, I’m okay. It's all been a bit full on but I'm getting through it.’ I put my hands over my stomach; I wasn't keen to share my pregnancy with everybody.

‘Good,’ he said. ‘If you ever need anything we’ve all got your back.’

‘Thank you, Rain.’

‘Right, I’m gonna have a shower. I'm knackered. Come and have a sesh if you want one, just knock on my door.’

He got up from the table and walked down the hallway into the bathroom, where the door shut and the sound of running water started.

I felt wide awake now. We’d fallen asleep for a few hours, and the movie had finished and reverted back to the DVD menu, playing the looping soundtrack. It was much darker outside now, and there was still no sign of Rose.

Juniper was snoring very softly beside me, sunken into the cushions of the couch and in dream land. She always looked peaceful when she was asleep, so I tried not to wake her. I could only imagine how tired she would have been too.

Careful not to move too much, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. I could scroll through Facebook and Instagram until I got bored or until Juniper woke up. But I didn't get very far past my lock screen:

 

[MUM: 40minutes ago

Where are you staying?

 

MUM: 34minutes ago

You could have the decency to tell me where you’re spending the night.

 

MUM: 24minutes ago

???

 

MUM: 10minutes ago

(2) Missed calls]

 

I groaned to myself. She was bloody relentless, and wasn't giving up until she got an answer. I'd happily ignore her, but that would mean asking for another load of angry messages and missed calls that I didn't have the time or energy for.

But if I wanted the space that I needed from her, I'd have to make sure she knew to leave me alone.

I unlocked my phone and began to reply.

 

[NEW MESSAGE: MUM

 

I’m staying with a friend, nowhere dodgy and nowhere I shouldn't be, so stop worrying and please just leave me alone for a while. I'll talk to you when I'm ready.

 

Sent.

Delivered.]

 

She wasn't going to like that. But I closed down the messenger application without another thought and opened up Facebook to mindlessly observe everyone else's lives from the comfort of the couch.

It was odd, even looking through the pages of people I knew felt different now. The ridiculous things they post about and share online now seems so stupid and insignificant; people bitching about one another because they said s**t about someone else who they shouldn't have, who’s screwing who, who knows where to find good weed, sharing their accomplishments and achievements as if the rest of the world cared anymore about it anymore than they did themselves. Maybe I'm just being a b***h, but it all seems so trivial now. I'd lost the ability to care about the crap people put on social media; there was just so much more important things to worry about than the outfits Hayleigh Spencer was posing in.

I closed down Facebook without looking any further in the newsfeed and put my cell phone back into my pocket. The teapot Juniper brought over was sitting untouched in front of us, stone cold. Feeling like the warmth of tea, I stood up and took the pot into the kitchen, emptied it and put the kettle on the stovetop to boil again.

While I waited I noticed a little photo frame on the windowsill of four people; a little and beautiful Juniper with long curly orange hair, grinning with a toothless smile and vivid freckles, standing next to her brother who was practically just a smaller version of the older Rain. Rose stood behind Rain with long, golden hair and a happy, content smile, head rested upon the shoulder of a handsome looking man in a tie-dye T-shirt, looking happily down at his family before him. I only have vague memories of Junipers dad, but just from the photos anyone could see how much of a kind soul he was.

He died of cancer when Juniper was only a few years older than her photo counter-part. If there was any family that didn't deserve to be torn apart by sickness, it was the Crescent family. He and Rose were like high-school sweethearts, and I could only imagine how world-shattering it would be to lose the one person who knows you better than you know yourself after so many years. I guess I could empathise to a point, but there was comfort in knowing that other people in my life had experienced the same thing, if not worse. It gave me a whole other level of appreciation for Rose, and the kind of strength required to get through such pain.

The kettle started whistling aggressively at me as it finished boiling. I took it off the red-hot element and poured it over the already-soaked tea leaves, filling the kitchenette with the scent of jasmine.

The bathroom door opened and let out a puff of steam, followed by Rain wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. He walked across into his room and partially shut the door behind him. I forced myself to pay attention on the tea I was pouring before it overflowed, and I tried not to spill it as I walked back into the lounge, where Juniper had started stirring.

‘Mmm,’ she mumbled, ‘is it morning?’

‘Nope,’ I laughed, ‘it's almost ten thirty at night.’

‘S**t, I don't even remember falling asleep.’ She rolled around on the couch like a cat before getting to her feet and stretching widely. I offered her a cup of tea and she took it, downing it immediately followed by a very masculine “aaaah”.

Good cuppa, Arie.’

‘I only added water,’ I laughed.

‘Is mum home yet?’

‘No? Rain is though. He's in his room.’

‘Ooh I wonder if he's got any pot… hang on.’ She disappeared down the hallway and knocked on her brother’s door. ‘Geez, put some clothes on!’ She yelled.

‘What's up, ginger?’ I head Rain say.

The two siblings began chattering and mocking one another playfully as siblings did. I just sat in the lounge enjoying my tea quietly, until I started hearing bickering. I looked down the hallway to see what they were arguing about but I could see Juniper leaning through the doorway, having a normal conversation with her brother. Then they stopped talking, and they too started to hear voices that seemed to be approaching the house. It was coming from outside.

I stood to my feet just as Juniper and Rain appeared in the lounge sharing the same expression or confusion and curiosity. We walked towards the ranch slider and peered outside. It was Rose, she was standing with her back to the door. Her arms where moving very angrily as she spoke to someone we couldn't see.

Juniper slid the door open, and Rose turned to face us. She was red in the cheeks and looked angry and flustered. That's when I just about hit the roof; standing in front of Rose in her prim-and-proper office blazer, pencil skirt and heels was my mother, hands on her hips looking offended and on the verge of explosion. This doubled when she caught sight of me inside someone else's house. I was stunned and terrified.

Aroha Ra Hinerangi!’ She snapped. ‘Get in the car.’

I stared at her for a few moments of awkward silence. Here she was, yet again, barking orders at me like I'm her obedient dog who was going to do as she was told. This woman's lack of understanding was seriously mind-boggling to me. She knew exactly what we had done today, yet she took no effort to make her words or actions less malicious.

‘Did you hear me?’ She growled, ‘get in the car!’

‘No.’

‘ … No? I'm your mother, you do as I say.’

‘I'm not a f*****g child, you can't order me around like some servant.’

She looked shocked, my sudden use of swearing and rebelliousness was everything she'd tried to avoid raising me. Too bad she only made it stronger by trying to control my every movement, action, thought and breath.

‘You are a child. You're my child, Aroha, and you do not get to decide what's best for yourself. I know what you need, and you need to listen to me.’

‘Like a good girl?’ I snapped back. I'd had enough of trying to keep my cool. ‘Like some programmed F*****g robot with no brain? Well here’s the thing mum, I’M NOT YOUR PET! I can decide where I want to go and who I want to see because you don't f*****g own me. I own myself, and it's my choice what I decide to do with my life, not yours.’

Juniper was standing behind me, her hand on my back in support. Rain was standing to the side looking awkward, and Rose looked like she was ready to pounce on my mother. I wished she would.

‘Come home, Aroha. We can talk about this in private…’ She gave Rose a nasty side glance and looked back at me, then Juniper who was right behind me. My mother didn't make time for any of my friends, not even Juniper who'd proven to be the best of them all. I could feel Juniper tense up at my mother’s gaze.

Well?’ She snapped.

‘I think she's made her decision quite clear, Paula,’ Rose said with a very powerful tone added to her voice. ‘I suggest you respect Aroha’s wishes before this turns into something it doesn't need to be.’

‘I'm having a conversation with my daughter, Rose. Not you.’

‘You're attacking her on someone else's property,’ Rain piped up from inside.

‘She's been through quite enough for one day,’ said Rose.

‘Oh and what would you all know?’ Paula snapped. She was becoming noticeably agitated and angry with everyone here.

‘Your daughter just attended the funeral for her boyfriend. I would have thought you'd have been able to find some inkling of sympathy and respect for what she is going through,’ Rose said. Zeb would have cheered if he was still here.

‘I know what's going on, she did tell me thank you very much. What was I supposed to do? Bring him back from the dead? I'm not a miracle worker, I'm a lawyer. And I expect my daughter to understand that, rather than run away and act like a selfish little brat who demands to do stupid things that she knows she shouldn't!’

‘Wow. Mirror, mirror,’ Juniper said. ‘You really don't even know your own daughter, do you?’

Paula looked horrified at Juniper’s comment. She took a shocked step backwards, letting Juniper’s words sink in hard. It was true though. She’d practically just described herself to us, while acting like the disrespectful child she was blaming me for being.

‘How dare you,’ she breathed. ‘I know my own daughter, I know what she is going through.’

 Oh how wrong she was.

Rose caught my eye and gave me a look that spoke a thousand words. Should I tell my mother I'm pregnant? Now would be the perfect opportunity; it would shake her to her core, knock her over the head and crush her dreams and expectations of me all at once. But I didn’t want to use this as leverage to get back at her, not like this. She didn't deserve the truth right now, not until she could prove she was willing to accept change. And I couldn't see that happening in the next five minutes.

‘I think you should leave,’ I said quietly to her. She eyed Rose, Juniper and Rain nastily before fixing her gaze upon me.

‘Aroha, please. Can we please just go home and sort this out?’

‘No. I'm not coming home. I don't feel at home there, I don't feel safe or comfortable or anything you're supposed to feel. It's not a safe haven, it's a tension trap.’

She just peered back at me, glassy eyed and motionless.

‘I've tried to make it a home…’ She whispered. ‘I've put thousands into that house for us. For you.’

‘And look where it got us?’ I snapped. ‘You don't know me. You don't know who I am or what I'm feeling, so stop telling me what's best for me when you actually have no F*****g idea what is going on right now. Please, just go.’

Paula stood rooted to the gravel, unable to move after I had spoken. She looked broken, a tear glimmered from her eyes. But she quickly and effortlessly repressed her emotion away, and her facials shifted back to anger.

‘Fine. Don't come crying to me when everything's falling apart. Just remember who brought you into this world, and who wanted to see you succeed, and maybe you’ll understand why I do things the way I do.’

She turned and began to walk back up the driveway. I couldn't help myself, I was so angry and frustrated that my brain seemed to be sending words to my mouth without my permission.

‘At least I understand why dad left now.’

Paula spun on the spot, and looked me dead in the eye, but I'd never seen anger like this. If she was any closer to me she could have stabbed me. Her gaze translated to pure rage, sadness and betrayal. Her fists were clenching and unclenching as she fought with herself to respond. Surprisingly, she turned and continued back to her car. The engine started and before it had a chance to settle she had sped off up the road with intense speed.

None of us moved. We watched the empty spot where Paula had just been standing for a moment until Rose turned and broke the static silence.

‘Are you okay, darling?’

I thought I was, but as soon as Rose asked me this I burst into tears. I dropped to my knees and sobbed into my hands, more out of frustration than anything. Juniper and Rose were both rubbing my back as I cried.

‘What a cow,’ Rain said in disbelief.

Rain,’ Rose snapped.

‘Sorry…’

‘It's alright,’ I sniffed. ‘She is a c**t.’

Rain and Juniper sniggered at this comment but Rose pretended not to hear it.

‘You two have a difficult relationship, and that's okay,’ she said kindly. ‘She’ll come round eventually, I'm sure of it.’

‘She won't,’ I said. ‘That was just proof she won't change. She doesn't care about me, she just cares about how I present myself and how I come across to adults so she can brag about my success to all her d****e-bag lawyer friends.’

‘I doubt she sees you as bragging rights, Aroha.’ Said Rose. ‘She just wants to be able to have a say in your life, which I can understand as a mother, I guess she just needs to re-evaluate her approach.’

‘I don't know… I thought I knew what she was like, but that was just…’

I had no words to describe my mother. I felt like I just saw the ugly truth of how she really feels about me, this whole Luke situation. And she still doesn't even know the half of it. How was I supposed to tell her now? Maybe I shouldn't, maybe I ought to just get it sorted out and keep it a secret? I don't know, thinking was beginning to hurt now…

‘Rain,’ Juniper said. ‘Do us a solid and go and get your bong, would ya?’

Rain immediately got up from the table and disappeared down the hallway.

‘Rose,’ I said when Rain was out of earshot. ‘I think I would like to get an abortion, if it's not too much trouble to help me organise.’

Rose put her hand on my shoulder:

‘You're sure?’

‘No… but yes.’

‘Okay,’ she breathed. ‘I'll make some calls tomorrow, okay sweetheart? We’ll get it sorted, don't you worry.’ She pulled me into a beautiful hug, just the kind I needed. It was strange, yet made complete sense that I felt more at home here with the Crescent’s than I did back home. That's saying something.



© 2019 aubreydiamond


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Added on February 19, 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


Author

aubreydiamond
aubreydiamond

New Zealand



About
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..

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