Chapter Thirteen ~ Everything Changes

Chapter Thirteen ~ Everything Changes

A Chapter by aubreydiamond

STOP!!!!!’ I screamed.

Everything happened so quickly.

Aroha! You need to calm down!’

The doctor was yelling from somewhere close - It was hard to distinguish what was happening around me amidst the ocean of blurs.

I can't do this!!!’ I cried out. ‘I don't want to do this!’ I was still looking for Luke, reaching for his help. But I couldn't find him.

‘What's going on?’ Another voice started. A second doctor had apparently entered the room.

‘She's gone into panic mode,’ the other said. ‘I need to get the clamp out…’

I couldn't move; my body was stuck and I felt like I'd detached from my whole being, watching through my rolling eyes as I tried my hardest to steady myself.

One of the doctors sat at the end of the bed and began to reach for the clamp still sitting inside of me. My legs impulsively acted and kicked her away from me with strength that came out of nowhere.

S**t!’ She yelled, trying to break her fall as she crumpled to the floor.

My head spun in circles, and I felt myself roll sideways until I managed to force my conscious back into my body. It took a few disorientating seconds but I began to feel my body and limbs spark back into life. My abdomen was still completely numb, but I could still feel tightness and a tension that I had to get rid of. I reached between my legs as felt the cold hard plastic contraption protruding out of me - I fiddled with it desperately until I felt it release.

NO! Wait!’ The doctor cried, seeing what I was about to do. But it was too late; I ripped led the device out and threw it into the floor. I screamed in pain as my whole body ignored the anaesthetic and seared with pain as if my organs had been pressed on a hot plate. My head felt ridiculously light, and I could barely make out the doctors face as he rushed over to me to hold me to the bed.

‘You need to stay still,’ he growled at me, using his strength to forcefully hold me to the bed.

‘… Off …’ I groaned. ‘Get… off…’ I could barely speak. I had no other strength to charge my voice that I was speaking in barely a whisper. His grip only tightened, and all I could do was cry for help.

The female doctor had frantically rummaged around in a drawer nearby and pulled out a fresh syringe and began to walk near me.

‘Administering midazolam,’ she said, and lowered the needle towards my thigh. I fought their physical strength and medicines with every ounce of my being. The thick hands on my shoulders began to hurt as they pushed down too hard - but it only made me retaliate more. I flailed my free limbs about as much as I could so they couldn't inject me against my will.

‘Hold her still!’

I’m trying!’

I was desperately trying to push them away from me so I could escape. I didn't care that I hadn't done what I came here to do, I didn't care that I was in pain, and I didn't care that I was still pregnant. I had to get out of here.

I remembered what Rose told me:

“You don't have to do anything than any doctor or nurse tells you to that you're not comfortable with, okay? This is your body, your temple, and if anything doesn't feel right, you have the power in this situation. Don't be afraid to let your voice be heard. This is your decision after all.”

I reached for the Rose Quartz around my neck and imagined myself harnessing Rose’s energy to do exactly what she told me: let my voice be heard.

GET OFF ME!’ I screamed at the top of my lungs. I pushed my heel as hard as I could towards the female doctor and kicked the syringe out of her hand, sending it flying across the room. Both pairs of hands released me, and both doctors stepped back in fright.

‘Miss Hinerangi you are in serious pain,’ the woman doctor started, stepping closer to me.

‘Don't f*****g touch me,’ I hissed at her. I rolled to my side to try and bring myself to a sitting position but lost my balance and slid off of the bed onto the cold hard floor. I yelled in pain as my hip smashed on the linoleum, and both doctors rushed to help me to my feet.

There was a great commotion outside of the room and I heard voices shouting and chairs scraping along the floor. The next thing I knew, Rain and Juniper had burst through the door looking ready to attack.

‘GET THE F**K AWAY FROM HER!’ Rain screamed, walking straight for the male doctor and swinging his fist right into the doctor’s face. He pivoted on the spot before falling into his desk in a great heap. The other doctor backed away from Rain in terror, but both he and Juniper had rushed to my side.

‘What the f**k happened?’ Juniper spat at the doctor as they scooped me up from each side. She was livid - I’d never seen her this angry before.

‘Last minute panic,’ the female doctor said, breathing heavily. ‘We couldn't calm her down and she became very violent. She was refusing our help.’

The male doctor was getting to his feet while wiping blood off of the corner of his mouth. He looked furious.

‘I'm ringing the police,’ he said shortly.

‘No you f*****g won't,’ Rain snapped.

‘And you're gonna waltz in here and take a patient away mid-procedure?’ He growled back at Rain. ‘She's still under local anaesthetic and has potentially done herself some internal harm, so I suggest you put her back on the bed right now.

Juniper and Rain looked at one another, before completely ignoring him and helping me out towards the waiting room.

‘Um… where do you think you're going!? Bring her back here. Now!’ He yelled. Juniper halted where she stood, turned on the spot, let Rain hold me steady, and walked right up to the doctor with an index finger pointed right into his face.

‘Listen here, mate. This is my best friend, so I won't be letting any a*****e with a white coat and a medical degree tell her what she can and can't do. How f*****g dare you order her to get back up there? When it comes to dealing with an abortion, whether or not any woman decides to keep it, it's not and never will be your F*****g decision as to what they decide to do. Got it?’

‘She is still clearly in pain! You can’t expect me t-’ he started, hand reaching for the phone.

GOT IT!?’ Juniper boomed at him. She watched his hand hover over the phone, ready to dial the cops. But incredibly, he lowered his hand and turned to the female doctor, twitching.

‘Where do you wanna go, Aro?’ Juniper asked me. ‘Home?’

I nodded, unable to say or do anything else. As long as she took me away from here.

‘Fine. Leave,’ he spat. ‘But if either three of you ever come back to this hospital, I'll deny each and every one of you my service.’

‘With f*****g pleasure,’ Rain replied, helping me walk out into the waiting room. Juniper followed closely behind us, and triumphantly slammed the door to the room shut, leaving the two doctors inside to themselves.

The entire room was looking at me. I had one arm around Rain’s neck, and the rest of my body slumped low to the ground. Rain had to use all his strength to hold me up, as I couldn't even keep my legs straight: everything felt like it was made of jelly.

Juniper came to my aid to help Rain carry me to the exit, but this ended up taking twice as long as expected. So Rain removed my arm from around his neck, and bent over to hoist me up in his arms. I felt every muscle in my body release as he took the job of carrying my weight for me, and I was able to slump into him.

The receptionists, patients and doctors were all watching with worried expressions as Rain carried me down the hallway, in the elevator and back out into the main lobby. But no one stopped him.

‘June!’ He called out to his sister, ‘did you grab her clothes?’

‘Yep, got them.’

‘Do you wanna help dress her and I'll bring the car around?’

‘Of course.’

Rain lowered me into an armchair near the entrance and broke into a run as soon as he made it outside. Juniper wasted no time in dressing me. I felt decrepit and embarrassed sitting naked in the lobby but I admired through my drugged up thoughts how Juniper got me back into my clothes with no questions asked and in record time.

Luke…’ I whispered.

‘Pardon?’ Juniper said softly. ‘Are you okay?’

I saw him… I… it was him.’

‘You saw him? Where?’

Just before they… I… it was - him.’

Juniper didn't ask any more questions. She helped me to my feet and very slowly guided me towards the main doors. By the time Rain had arrived back in the lobby we were already there and ready to go.

‘Let’s go,’ he said. I tried to carry myself forward towards the car, and I was doing okay until I let go of Juniper to carry my own weight. My hips and legs completely gave way and I crumpled towards the floor, Rain catching me before I fell.

The last thing I remember is being carried in his arms again to the car, and the cold night air meeting my skin as I looked up at the dragon tattoo on his neck that was looking back at me.

Then, everything went black.

 

*

 

He had such a little face; round like a beautiful piece of fruit with chunky rosy cheeks and big eyes. His skin was so smooth, and a soft olive tone. Watching the way he clasped and unclasped his little wrinkly hand was so mesmerising - just as much as all his little noises and isms. I loved watching him.

“He’s beautiful.”

Luke was sitting to the left, gazing. His face wasn't in pain, and he was no longer crying. He looked happy, content, pleased even. His little facial mannerisms even reminded me of the baby.

“You did it,” he said, smiling.

When I looked back down, there was no baby in my arms. Just a big, round pregnant belly. Luke wasn't there either. Again, I was by myself. But it was silent and peaceful, and there was no chaos. I drifted backwards as if floating through water until I came to rest gently on solid ground…

 

*

 

The rough sound of tires on gravel filled my head when I peeled my eyes open. I was moving, and I could feel myself laying on something cold. After aimlessly gathering the thoughts I had, I realised I was laying down in the back seat of Rose’s truck on the way back from the hospital.

Juniper and Rain were sitting in the front two seats, and by the glance I got from their side profiles they were in a hushed conversation. I pretended that I was still fast asleep while craning my neck slightly so that I could hear what they were saying.

‘What is she going to do now?’ Juniper said a note of worry in her voice.

‘Do you think she’ll keep it?’ Rain said.

‘I don't know… Maybe? After everything that's happened this past month - she’s been through enough. I don't know what I'd do if I were in her shoes.’ Juniper paused for a moment. ‘I wish there was something I could have done to help her.’

‘Why do you think she panicked?’

‘I'm not sure... could be a lot of reasons… oh, Aroha.’ Juniper sniffled.

I could still picture Luke’s distraught face in the very back recesses of my mind - the memory of him wasn’t going anywhere. But it wasn't as present as the happier one I had just dreamed.

‘That better not come back to bite us on the a*s,’ Rain said. ‘Doctors have lawyers and all those kinds of people in their pocket.’

‘F**k them,’ Juniper piped up. ‘They were a******s and really rude and forceful with Aroha, by the sounds of it - Poor thing. We should have one up on them now.’

‘I don't want to fight those jerks.’

‘You already did, egg.’

‘With the paperwork s**t I mean.’ He said. ‘When we came out of the room, did she seem… hurt to you?’

‘Physically, maybe a little. I don't know if they put anything else in her other than numbing.’

‘Not like that. I don't know... something was off about her.’

‘Hospitals will do that to anyone. I still feel weird.’

‘No, like different. The doctors didn't seem to freak her out - just made her uncomfortable if anything. She could handle herself - mostly. I felt like there was something else. She had to of been triggered by something. She seemed set on getting it done - why last minute panic?’

Juniper didn't say anything for a moment.

‘It might have been Luke,’ she said quietly. ‘It's been a huge process for her, I can't imagine what she must have been feeling or thinking. But she said she - saw him when she and I were in the lobby. I don't know if she said it because she was disorientated or if seeing him made her disorientated. But do you think… maybe - she saw his spirit?’

‘S**t… Um, I don't know. I mean, it's possible? Right? We’ve seen things before - so has mum. Maybe he came to her because she asked him to come in her mind? I don't know… F**k man…’ Rain sighed. ‘How can one person experience so much in such a short space of time? I'd go mad.’

‘As stupid and cliché as it sounds,’ Juniper said, ‘it can happen to the best of people - the ones who don't deserve it.’

‘It shouldn't - it's not fair,’ he said angrily.

Juniper hesitated again; I could tell she was eyeing her brother for the vigour he was displaying in his words.

‘What's going on with you two?’ Juniper asked.

‘What?’ He sounded shocked. ‘Who?’

‘You and Aroha.’

‘Nothing, why?’

‘I'm not an idiot, Rain.’

‘I didn't say you were! Nothing’s going on between us, we’re just, friends. I mean, she’s your best friend, but she's a family friend. Look, she's going through a s**t time right now, she deserves a bit of respect from the people around her right now, alright?’

‘Damn, Rain, I was just giving you s**t - sheesh. I agree with you!’

There was an awkward pause between the two siblings as we drove. I wanted to make a noise so they knew I was there but I didn't want them to know I’d been listening to them talk.

‘I know she will be okay, but I hope she gets through this,’ Juniper said quietly. ‘If she does… she’s going to have a baby. I mean, out of anyone I know that could do it it'd be Aroha, but still I can't believe it’s happening. A baby…’

Holy s**t.

I was a mother to be.

Walking out of that hospital room without going through with it meant that I was still very much pregnant, and that was most likely my one and only shot at changing that situation. Though I knew that if I wanted to leave that appointment what that would mean, the reality of my decision didn't properly hit me until I heard someone else say it: I'm going to have a baby.

I'd pictured it, I'd thought about it, I'd imagined what would have happened if I decided not to have an abortion in my mind many times before, s**t I've even dreamed about it many times, but I never thought I'd end up there this soon. But here I was. And after all the strife and struggle I'd been through to make it all come to an end, it was really only the beginning.

‘She’ll be a great mother,’ Rain said.

Suddenly my stomach came back to life as if Rain’s words had activated it. It began rumbling and bubbling and was trying to come out. I lurched forward immediately, feeling the bile in the back of my throat. Juniper jumped when she realised I'd lurched up, but frantic to make sure I was alright.

‘Are you o-?’

‘I'm gonna be sick,’ I said. ‘Pull over!’

Rain immediately but his foot on the brakes and car skidded to a halt on the gravel. I swung the door open with all my might and leapt out of the car into the cold night air, falling to my side as the anaesthetics reminded me they were still in my system. But there wasn't much time, I hoisted myself up by my arms and vomited all over the concrete road in front of me.

Juniper had gotten out of the car and ran over to pull my hair out of my face before I had a chance to do it myself. A few more waves of nausea-induced vomit erupted out of me, and Juniper rubbed my back continuously as I did.

‘You okay?’ She asked. I gave her a thumbs up without turning my head to her as I didn't know how finished my stomach was rejecting itself. But eventually it ceased, and Juniper helped me to my feet. Taking it slow, I regained a bit of strength in my core and found I could hold myself up and walk back to the car. It was much warmer inside than outside, but I still couldn't help myself shivering uncontrollably.

‘Here.’ Juniper pulled off her sweatshirt and wrapped it around my legs and feet which were exposed, then grabbed a blanket was sitting on and gave it to me to wrap around myself. ‘Rose is always prepared,’ she smiled.

‘Thank you,’ I managed to say to her, as Rain indicated from the side of the highway back onto our route.

‘What do you need hun?’ Juniper asked. ‘Food? Water? Sleep? Shower? Cup of tea, even?’

Though these all sounded good, for the first time in a while, I felt like something I hadn't had in far too long. Something I’d taken away from myself.

‘Home.’ I said. ‘Could you please take me home?’

‘You still wanna come back to mine?’

‘If it's okay, I'd like to go back to my own house. I think I wanna see my mum.’

‘Of course,’ Juniper said softly, smiling at me widely. She turned back to face the front, and I rested my head behind me on the headrest, letting my eyes fall shut.

I'd never been this fatigued before; it was incredibly debilitating to say the least. I'd been through it all, and experienced so much of a shift that I'd forgotten what it felt like to be grounded, and secure. The only place I wanted to go and let myself fall apart is my home, and though it came with my mother there wasn't any other thing I wanted in the world right now other than my own space. I knew Juniper understood that without having to explain it, and I was forever grateful for everything she and her beautiful family had done for me - but it was time for me to go home.

I barely moved or spoke for the rest of the journey. I didn't even notice the time pass until the car began to turn frequently and eventually stopped gently outside of what i immediately recognised as my house. Mums car was parked in the driveway, and an instant bolt of chills fell down my spine. I knew she was going to be here, but it still made me nervous.

Juniper and Rain both waited patiently for me until I took off my seatbelt, then hopped out of the car to help me onto the curb.

‘Do you want me to walk you up to the door?’ Juniper asked gently as she took my hand.

‘No, it's okay. Thanks Berry. I can feel my hips now so I should be fine.’ I croaked, placing both feet on the ground.

‘You sure you're alright?’ Rain asked sounding unconvinced I could make it to the door.

‘Yeah, I'm okay.’

‘Are you sure you don't want to come back and stay with us?’ Juniper said. ‘You know you're more than welcome to stay for as long as you need. We love having you.’

‘I know, thank you,’ I said politely. ‘But I kinda need to be back home - at least just for a little bit. Feel like a bit of a drifter if you know what I mean. Need a bit of routine.’

Juniper nodded understandingly and gave me a gentle but embracing hug. I squeezed my arms around her as much as I could manage and stayed in the hug for as long as possible. Junipers hugs were legendary, and we always kept them going for as long as possible.

When we broke, Rain had grabbed the box of Luke’s things out of the back seat for me.

‘You sure you’re alright to carry this?’ He said.

‘I'm fine,’ I told him firmly. Juniper giggled. ‘Thanks for being a good person, Rain.’

He brushed the comment off modestly with a flick of his hand, and I leaned in to give him a hug too. He really listened to me when I was down and said some really sweet and helpful things - I owed him my appreciation because he too had helped me through this experience just as much as Juniper or Zeb or Rose did. And where we all come from, you show your thanks with a big hug.

‘I'll be in touch soon,’ I said to Juniper, making my way gently up the driveway.

‘My people will call your people,’ she laughed. ‘Get a good night’s rest!’

The two hopped back in their car and waited until I'd managed to climb the steps before starting the ignition and turning back out onto the road. I stood on the front porch waving to Juniper’s silhouette until they’d vanished into the night.

Once I was by myself, the cold night air hit me along with the panic of being back here after what I'd just gone through. And I knew there was no hiding from it - I wasn't in good shape, and if I knew anything about parenthood it's that mothers intuition is a real thing, and my mother would sense this the moment she saw me. I had to tell her before she figures it out herself.

Deep breath in, deep breath out. Three times. I let the cold air fill my lungs and the pit of my stomach until I felt clear headed enough to reach for the door, and knock.

It was like slow motion; I knocked and waited in the familiar anticipation that felt much longer than what it probably was. A silhouette appeared at the end of the hallway, and my mother's figure came into focus as she neared the door, walking with hesitation as to who was knocking on her door this late at night.

‘Aroha?’ She said as the door opened, revealing her face. She wasn't wearing any makeup, and she was dressed in her nightwear, but looked wide awake. She smiled for a moment once she registered it was me, but then studied my face and my posture and everything about me, and her smile faulted. ‘What's happened? What's wrong?’

I pushed forwards and gave her a hug, a real hug, dropping the box of Luke’s thing on the ground in the process. Immediately I began to cry, and sob into her, only the way a child would to their mother. She quickly embraced me back and took most of my weight in her arms but still managed to stand as I broke down. I could feel her heartbeat through her chest in shock, but amidst her confusion she was rubbing my back and rocking slightly. She pulled me inside gently, dragging the box with her foot and leaving it at the front door as we walked down the hallway and into the lounge where we both sank into the couch nearest.

I was still sobbing, and she was still comforting me, stroking my hair and pulling it out of my face saying ‘shh’ gently with each circular motion of her hand. Her motherly touch was bringing all of the sadness and pain inside of me to the surface and expelling it out of my body, even the parts that I didn't allow myself to release.

‘Aroha, what’s going on?’ She said eventually as I started to calm down. She needed to hear it now, or else I was going to spiral into an unknown vortex of confusion and lies. I needed to own my truth.

‘Mum, I'm pregnant.’

‘ … ‘

Her mouth was ajar, but there was nothing coming out. She just looked at me. I couldn't read it; I couldn't decipher if this reaction was from anger, sadness or disbelief, or all of the above - But it was definitely from a place of absolute shock. She looked like she was struggling to find what very little words she had to say, so I started talking before she had a chance to.

I unveiled the truth about my situation over the last month to her, and started right from the island party, to the gas station pregnancy test prior to Luke’s death, working my way through the funeral, Valerie, the doctors and the abortion that I didn't go through which meant I was in going to have a baby. Her face visibly became more upset as I opened up to her, clarifying her fears that there really was something painful happening in my life that I wasn't telling her about. But I did my best to explain why I didn't feel like I could come to her, or even be around her, and I think that hit her harder than the rest. But regardless, she still sat there in silence, listening to me as I talked, cried, talked and cried some more until I'd completely caught her up. Even then though, she was speechless.

I stopped talking for a moment to let her process the heavy load of info. I could see her figuring it out in her own head; her fingers were rested on her temples and she was rubbing them as she thought. She often did this when she was trying to calm herself down - I couldn't blame her for being confused, upset or angry. I would be if I were her. I just wanted to hear what she had to say.

‘Are you going to say something?’ I pleaded. ‘Anything? I thought you’d be angry with me - furious even.’

She took a deep breath and slowly turned to face me. She didn't look furious as I was expecting though, she was simply looking at me with an expressionless face, though her eyes read sadness.

‘I'm not angry with you, Aroha,’ she said softly. I'd only rarely heard her speak this gently. ‘But i am incredibly disappointed with you. You know this means you've practically washed your final year of your education down the toilet.’ She took a deep breath in, and exhaled while rubbing her eyes. ‘But… I’d be a hypocrite if I told you that you should've been smarter…’

I didn't understand… I gazed over at her; she appeared almost defeated as she spoke, looking into the wall before us with a tired and surrendering gaze.

‘I… I don't know what you mean?’

‘How do you think I got pregnant with you?’ She said.

‘I… was I a complete accident?’

‘I mean, most people don't plan to have their children. It just sort of happens. It did to me.’ She took a deep breath in. ‘But i was young too, had too much going on at once.’

‘How… did you know you were ready?’

‘I didn't. I wanted an abortion - you father wanted me to keep you to Start our perfect family… only smart thing he ever really did.’

‘Why did you decide to keep me? Why couldn't you go through with it on your own terms?’

‘I wanted to try,’ she said quietly. ‘But I also wanted to make him happy. And I couldn't to both. By the time I realised he was a liar and good for nothing it was too late. We had a baby, I was a mother, and his happiness was only temporary. He packed his things and left not long after that and I've never seen him since. That being said, after he left he’d given me the greatest experience of my life.’

‘Being single?’ I asked.

‘Being a mother.’

I couldn't believe I was having this conversation with my mum. She had never spoken about my father openly, and she's certainly never been someone I could turn to for comfort about most things in my life. Yet here I was, opening my heart out to her as she did to me and in turn we shared a very similar and life-changing experience. I saw her in a different light now - we had more in common than I ever realised. I guess we were both just too stubborn to share it until now.

‘I knew the minute you were born that I wanted to protect you from all of the crap throws at you in life,’ She said, swearing freely for the first time in front of me. ‘I wanted to protect you from harm by any means necessary. I see … I see now how carried away I got - and how much I smothered you. I know you're mature and old enough to handle yourself, you always have been. But as a mother it's hard to let go of your children to let them experience life when you've been hard-done by. I didn't want the same thing to happen to you, but I can't help but feel like some of this is my fault.’

She sighed into her herself, and slouched forward wiping a tear away from her eye. I leaned forward and out my hand on her knee, the way Juniper would to me.

‘Mum, none of this is your fault. You can't be angry at yourself.’

‘But i am. I can't be angry with you though,’ she said. ‘I know what you're feeling. I know what's going through your head - I've been there before and it's not easy. And I know you didn't ask for it to happen.’

‘No, I didn't,’ I said. I could feel my eyes welling up again. ‘What do I do?’

‘Do you want this baby?’ She asked me seriously.

‘I can't get rid of it, not after tonight. So… I guess... I do.’

‘Then we’ll get through this.’ She grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly. ‘I'll support you in any decisions you make. I may not have been the perfect mother, but I'll damn well try to be a good grandparent.’

I never thought I'd hear those words come out of my mother’s mouth. She suddenly looked stronger, more animated and was sitting up a lot straighter. This was the Mum I knew; strong willed, determined and able to do anything. But she was still a newer version of herself, just like I was.

‘I'm really scared,’ I said to her.

‘I'd consider you a fool if you weren't,’ she said, smiling to herself. ‘You will get through this, one way or another.’

I had a whole newfound appreciation for my mother and the hardships she’d been through in her life; the last thing I'd expected coming home tonight was this interaction, but I was so grateful that it happened. A massive weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and my whole being felt so much lighter. I wasn't hiding anymore, and there were no more secrets.

I was so touched that mum had agreed to stand by my side through this. It made me feel so much less alone without Luke, knowing I had a support network that were close to me and close to home. She could empathise with me in a way that many others wouldn't know how to, and that was something I genuinely cherished.

Mum had begun to bustle around the kitchen preparing some dinner for me, as I was apparently too pale for her liking and reeked of malnutrition. I had to laugh to myself as she hurried about semi-frantically. She was going to make sure I was doing everything correctly the whole pregnancy; I could just see it now. But like our relationship, we could work on that. For now it was important to me to enjoy this special moment with her.

She came back with a plate full over leftover roast chicken and vegetables from last night that she'd reheated for me. It was no Rose-meal, but I certainly ate it with gusto, not realising how hungry I was until I started eating. Mum sat with me until I'd finished the whole place, taking my empty dishes away for me and popping them in the sink.

We sat for another half an hour or so, talking to one another, until my lack of energy reminded me I needed to rest. She helped me up the stairs, carrying the box up for me, resting it on my bedside table. My clothes from the other day were exactly where I left them, crumpled in a heap on the floor - she hadn't found the slip. Not that it meant anything now.

‘You need anything else?’ She asked me from my door. ‘Hot drink? Hot water bottle perhaps?’

‘No, I'm okay. Thanks mum. Just gonna have a shower and go to bed I think.’

‘Okay. Well, I'm just in my room if you need anything. Goodnight honey.’

‘I love you mum.’ I said. She paused where she stood, half in my room mid door-shut. I wasn't sure she was going to respond, but I heard her short breath and the door creak.

‘I love you too, Aroha.’ And the door shut.

It was good to be back in my own room. Juniper’s room wasn't any less comfy than this; it was just nice to be back in my own sacred space after so much time had passed. It was warm, tidy and familiar - my mother's handiwork; it was amazing how magical a mother's touch was. Rose has it, my mum has it, heck, even Valerie has it - maybe I could learn a few things off of them.

I walked into the en-suite and turned the shower on full blast as hot as I could handle it, ripped off my clothes and submerged myself under the heated water pelting down upon me - I forgot how much I loved this shower. I stood underneath the pressured fountain for probably close to twenty minutes until my fingertips began to turn into prunes, and the whole en-suite looked like a steamy sauna. I dried my hair first and then my body, taking my time and being extra gentle as I began to notice how tender and sore my body felt after its ordeal.

In the mirror, I caught sight of myself from the side; and I don't know if it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but I could see the ever feint bump that was my belly, slowly growing. I stared at it. If I had gone through what I was planning on doing, it would no longer be there.

I put my hands on my centre and pressed my warm palms into my skin. I was so close to being rid of this baby, and I really thought it was what I wanted. But I didn't know what I wanted all along. Was there a part of me that really did want to keep it? If so, it won. And Now I know I made the right decision, because I was so thankful for my mother, for Juniper and Rain for everything they did tonight. And I was thankful for Luke, who may not exist anymore, but still came to me when I asked him to. Now he would always live on through me.

I walked out into my room and removed my towel, replacing it with nothing but the oversized hoodie sitting in the box of Luke’s things. It was so big on me that it almost fell to my knees, but it felt like I was wearing a big blanket - a cosy, warm and familiar feeling blanket.

I turned all my lights off except the lamp on my bedside and hopped straight into bed. The combination of heavy blankets on my freshly clean skin was the most magical and comfortable feeling in the world. I relished in reuniting with my bed for a few moments by sprawling out as much as I could, soaking it all in.

Remembering to text Juniper, I pulled out my cell phone and pulled up a new message:

 

[New Message - TO: BERRY

 

Hey Berry, just wanted to text and say thank you to you all for being there for me - especially you. I feel heaps better about it all - I told mum I was pregnant. She took it better than I thought she would - and I think me and her are okay now. I'll probably stay home for a bit, but will be needing to see you and Zeb soon enough xx don’t wanna go without my best friends for very long. I love you so much! Xxx

 

P.S - you should just tell Carzel how you feel; otherwise he might never cotton on. Lol. Love you xx]

 

I sent the message and then continued to craft a similar but more personalised message to Zeb too, thanking him for his incredible loyalty and his unwavering ability to make me laugh when I was really not happy. They were both the absolute personified definitions of friendship, and I planned to keep them around me for the rest of my life.

Once I'd put my phone down, I reached for the box of Luke’s things. I rifled through it looking for the photo album, pulling it out and slamming it on my lap. I began to look through it again, really taking my time to look upon the photos, progressing page by page, photo by photo.

Luke really was handsome; his chiselled jaw and rough features always contrasted magnificently with the blue of his eyes and the wispy blonde in his hair. I wondered if our baby would take after me or him. It was an odd think to think, but chances are they’d take after him. It made me wish that he was here to experience it with me, but Juniper always said those that we love never truly leave us. It was comforting to imagine him watching over me and the baby, keeping us safe and protected. He was our guardian angel now, and i think I was ready to really accept that.

I’d reached the last photo in the album; the one that captivated me the most. The happy ball-couple all dressed up to take each other to dance and celebrate with all their other friends and year-group. It felt like I was looking at two completely different people, as we were well and truly not the same people we were a month or two ago that we are now, never mind three years ago. I know I wasn't. I wanted to reach into the photo and give younger Aroha a hug, tell her that she is stronger than she realises and that she could get through anything, knowing what was to come in her life. I'd tell Luke too to own his honesty, and make every second of his life count. They might not exist now in this photo but they’ll always be a part of us.

I pulled the photo out to look at it up close. It wasn't the greatest quality camera but it was clear enough to see the trimming detail on my dress and the happy creases in Luke’s face as he smiled. I think I'll keep this one somewhere safe for a while, so I can use it as my reminder.

I rested it against my lamp on the bedside table and went to shut the album. But i noticed something inside of the clear sleeve I'd taken the photo out of. Behind the photo, sitting folded up was a piece of pad paper. And it had my name on it.

I recognised it as Luke’s handwriting, and my heart raced as I reached my fingers into the plastic sleeves and pulled out the note. It felt like it'd been folded up and put her a while ago, as it was stiff and discoloured. I carefully unfolded the paper, revealing a hand written note and began to read.

 

Aroha,

 

I don't know if you'll ever find this. I've written and re-written is so many times in the hopes I’d get to give it to you myself, but I guess I didn't know how to. Writing it down helps my mind work it out - I think.

I have HIV. I always have, and as far as i am aware I always will. I was born with it, and I never got a chance to avoid it. I've wanted to tell you since I realised what you meant to me, but I never knew how to explain something that I didn't fully understand myself. It was becoming a living hell to exist in a medical world that I had to abide by or risk jeopardising my health, and i wasn't going to drag you into it. You already had your mind and heart set on what you wanted to achieve out of your life, I couldn't bring myself to get in the way of your success.

But you were always my safe haven. The one person I could be with that allowed me to be who I always wanted to be - just a person. I think that's why I never really told you as well, you helped me feel normal - lead a life that wasn't plagued by white walls and prescriptions, and I don't think I'll ever know how to thank you enough for that. You were always too good for me, and I was the luckiest fool alive to be with you. I hope you know how much I appreciate you - it pained me every single day that I didn't have the courage or the self-worth to own up to my f**k-ups - keeping my truth from you being the biggest one. Maybe I will one day, and I'll be able to show you the rest of myself that I kept hidden for so long. Until then, all I can do is put my thoughts onto the paper in hope that this will somehow reach you - or if I have the strength to give it to you myself.

You really are the most magical thing that has ever happened to me. I liked to think one day we would get married or even have some children of our own. I could see that for us.

I don't know where I'm going with my life or what it is that I want out of it all, but one thing I know for certain is that you truly are my one and only love, and if I didn't find anything else that gave me the feeling of wonder and sense of belonging like you did, at least I know that I got to experience you, and us as a couple. That is something I'm truly grateful for.

 

I hope you know how wonderful you are.

- Love Luke x

 

I read it multiple times. Tears streamed down my cheeks silently, and when I'd finished reading for the fifth time, I held the paper to my chest against the Rose Quartz and squeezed it against my being as tight as I could.

If anything in this world right now could lift my spirits in an even higher way it was this letter - the confirmation from Luke himself I'd been craving for since I lost him. He wanted to tell me, always, but through his own mental strife he couldn't bring himself to do it, just like I'd suspected. The evidence was always there; Carzel knew what how Luke felt about it, and I know there was an element that Valerie did too. But until I read this note myself straight from Luke’s hand, it didn't sink in that he was really struggling that whole time, and his plan to tell me didn't go how he wanted it to. But I still managed to come to this conclusion, and I felt better about my life than I did a month ago in every aspect.

I put the note to rest against the light beside the photo, and snuggled down into bed, feeling good within myself. I'd come full circle to a place of contentment and peace.

It was a wonderful place to be.



© 2019 aubreydiamond


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Added on March 19, 2019
Last Updated on March 19, 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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