If you were wondering where my Nano posts were over the weekend, I didn’t post anything because I was busy celebrating my 21st birthday. I was in the city with my mother. We saw the Kandinsky exhibit at the Guggenheim, saw Next to Normal and had a drink at the View, on the 48th floor of the Marriott in Times square. I was so busy that I didn’t write anything for Saturday or Sunday.
Today I finished off the scene that I had started on Friday.
It looked like everyone in class had their hand raised. Mr. Lopez scanned the class for a second before picking someone in the back. “Christina” Mr Lopez called.
“I don’t know if I agree with the idea… But I know if I were to have a child, I wouldn’t be ready. I mean I’m still in school, still living with my parents, I have no job.”
“So you agree with the Government’s position of forcing you to get an abortion?… if you were to get pregnant that is,” Mr. Lopez asked.
Christina looked away. “I guess so,” she sighed. “It’s not pretty to think about, but I guess what they do is necessary.”
“How can you say that!” Rebecca always participated in these discussions and sat up front. “I think the Government shouldn’t force abortions. I mean, there are ways to have the kid but not have to care for it. What about adoption?”
“The Government got rid of adoption because it was too traumatic for the mother and later on, the child,” Mr. Lopez reminded Rebecca.
“Right, I knew that. But what I’m saying is what if they got rid of the abortions and allowed the teenagers to carry the child to term and give them up for adoption?”
“There are more risks for complications at delivery then. The abortion is as much for the would-be mother’s safety as it is for preventing her from raising a child when she’s clearly incapable of doing so.” Peter cut in. He sat right behind her and would constantly argue with her. It was always polite, but Andrew sometimes their constant back and forth rather dull.
“But who’s to say who is capable and not? Who is allowed to make that decision?” Rebecca continued.
“Well, the Government.”
“Yeah so how do they decide?”
Peter turned to Mr. Lopez. “There are several factors the Agency for child welfare looks at. The primary one is whether the mother has money saved up or a job lined up. They don’t want babies born into families unable to afford to care for them. Another factor is what kind of support the mother has. Can she rely on her own parents?”
“So a 18 year old girl still living with her parents but already out of school and working, could in theory be a good mother?” Rebecca asked Peter directly.
“Yeah, I guess, but I would think that case is very rare,” Peter tried.
“But the Government just sees the risks and decides she would be an unfit mother. So they force her to have an abortion? Even if she wanted to get pregnant? That’s a life they’re taking away!”
“Not according to the Government,” Mr. Lopez cut in. “They only believe life begins in the mid to late second trimester.”
Andrew’s enthusiasm of coming to class quickly faded and he slouched in his seat. Of all the topics Mr. Lopez could have picked, he went and picked the topic that Andrew did not want to talk about at all. At least he was thankful that Eileen wasn’t in this class.
A Year Ago
Andrew was in love. Eileen was special. She was his first girlfriend that he had gone all the way with. They were serious.
His parents knew he was having sex. He had a bit of difficulty of telling them at first, like everybody else did. They were a little surprised that he wanted to have sex so soon but they understood. They had talked to him about always using protection and asked if Eileen was on birth control. Since she wasn’t, they gave him plenty of condoms.
One day after school, while his father was at work and his mother was out shopping, Eileen came over and they went into Andrew’s room. They started to make out and soon they were laying on his bed naked. This was not their first time. When the time was right Andrew grabbed a condom from his drawer and slipped it on. Then he slipped into Eileen and they spent the next few minutes in bliss.
But with a sudden jolt he knew something was wrong. He pulled out earlier than usual to a nasty surprise. The condom had broken. Eileen realized what had happened and started to cry. “Shhh… don’t be upset, maybe nothing will happen.” He lied to comfort her. He knew his body and he knew it was too late. There was only a slim chance that nothing would come of it. He had Eileen promise that she would tell her mother what had happened.
A few weeks later his phone rang. “Hello?”
“Where are you?”
“Do you want me to come over-“
“No! Please don’t. I’ll come over tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know.”
He breathed in, trying to control his voice. “Okay. Thanks for telling me. I love you.”
“I love you too. Bye.”
The next day they had a long discussion. Andrew had time to think about what was about to happen. After he had gotten over the shock of Eileen’s call, he realized he was excited. Eileen came over to his house and they went straight into his room.
“What are we going to do, Andrew? I’m scared,” Eileen sat on his bed. She was pale and tired. She said she hadn’t slept much that previous night.
Neither had Andrew but instead of feeling tired, he was running on adrenaline. “Do you want to have a – you know?” He wouldn’t let himself say abortion out loud because secretly he liked the idea of raising a son (or daughter of his own)
“I… I don’t know. Part of me wants to keep it. But then I realize that there would not be anyway we could raise a kid of our own.” Andrew got up from his bed and started to pace a little. “Andrew, we’re only kids ourselves!”
“But admit it, you’re excited.”
“No, just scared.”
“Have you told your parents yet?”
“No… Have you?”
Eileen was silent for a moment. “So…”
“Would you keep it? For me?”
“Eileen, this made me think about a lot of things. We could do it! I mean we’re almost done with our 16th years so we’ll be out of school a few months after you have the baby. I’ll get a job… we could really do it!”
“Please, just don’t tell your parents. You know what will happen if they find out. They’ll take our baby away! It’ll be our little secret!”
“Andrew…” He looked at her on the bed. “Okay. Our secret. I could never seem to resist you once you got the puppy eyes going could I?”
He laughed and got back onto the bed “No, you couldn’t. I guess I’m irresistable.” He kissed her “I love you, Eileen.”
“I love you too Andrew.”
They had managed to hide it from everyone for nearly three months. But then Eileen got horrible morning sickness and couldn’t keep anything down for three straight days. Weak and dehydrated, she had no choice but to go to the doctor. Andrew had stayed over her house those three days and had tried to get her to keep something, even water, down. But he realized that sheer willpower couldn’t help her. He went to school that morning while Eileen’s mother took her to the hospital.
That afternoon he got another phone call. Eileen was in tears. “They found out Andrew! They’re calling the government right now! They’re gonna take our baby away.”
It was like getting kicked in the stomach – all the wind was knocked out of him. “Shhh Shhhh calm down Eileen.”
“I can’t calm down!” She screeched into his ear.
“Can you come to my house?”
“I don’t know… Wouldn’t they know where I went?”
“Just make a run for it. Come to me. We’ll face this problem together, like we always have.”
“Ok.” Eileen hung up.
The next twenty minutes were the worst as Andrew waited in agony for Eileen to come. Finally she showed up.
“So what exactly happened?” he asked after kissing her on the cheek.
“The doctor knew right away what was going on. There was no way I could have hid it. He said he had to report it! He and mom went outside when I called you.”
He hugged her tightly. “It’ll be okay.”
“How do you know? They’re going to come after me! They want my baby!”
“I won’t let that happen. I love you and our baby too much for them to take you away.”
But their moment of respite was short lived. There was a knock on the door.
“Who is it?” Andrew knew very damn well who was on the other side of the door, but had to stall for time because he told Eileen to hide.
“Open up! Agency for Child Welfare.” Andrew had no choice but to oblige.
“What is this about?”
“Where is she?” The head agent asked. Four others had swarmed into his kitchen and started searching for Eileen.
“Eileen! Where are you hiding her?”
“I don’t know who you are taking about.”
“Don’t play games with me boy! We know she left the hospital without permission. Her mother said she would come here.” He stared down Andrew, making him feel very small. “Now where is she?”
Before Andrew could answer the agent there was a call from upstairs followed by a scream. “Sir! We found her!” The agents led Eileen down the stairs.
“No! You can’t do this! It’s not fair!” Andrew tried to hold Eileen tightly when they brought her into the kitchen. But the agents were too strong and wrenched her from his grip.
“Andrew! Don’t let them take me! Andrew, help!” Andrew tried to run after them but the head held him back. “Let me go! This isn’t right!”
“Who said anything about this was fair? It’s the law!” The head agent bellowed. “Let’s go!” They left Andrew in his kitchen, unable to tear away from the door way as he watched Eileen being forced into a black van and whisked away.
As soon as they were gone, Andrew called his father and told him what had happened. His father was surprised that Eileen had managed to hide it for so long.
“How could they!” Andrew roared to his father. He was angry at him for being unsympathetic.
“They had their right. You knew you were going against the law when you hid her pregnancy. What were you thinking Andrew? How could you have raised a child?”
Andrew was shocked at his father’s betrayal. “We could have managed…” was all he could say before hanging up.
Andrew didn’t see Eileen or heard from her for over a month. No one at school asked about what happened to her. Andrew’s father would not answer any of his demands or questions. For weeks afterwards, Andrew refused to speak to him.
Finally Eileen returned to school. Andrew ran up to her and kissed her. But she recoiled from his advance. “Andrew! What’s come over you?” She was puzzled by his display of affection.
“I haven’t seen you in over a month! I’m so glad you’re okay. I was really worried. No one would tell me what happened.”
Eileen was still really confused. “Um, thanks for your concern. But I just had a bad case of the flu -“
“That’s not what happened! Don’t you remember what happened?”
“No, now I gotta go and talk to my teacher. I was out for a long time and have a lot of work to catch up with.” She left him standing in the hallway, bewildered at her rejection.
He realized what happened after he finally asked his father that night. They had taken Eileen to abort her baby. Afterwards they modified her memory so she wouldn’t remember. She also didn’t remember Andrew as her boyfriend of almost nine months. Andrew was forbidden to talk about what had happened to anybody. If he did, they would come after him modify his memory as well. There wasn’t anything he could do.
Every time Andrew saw Eileen at school, he got angry. There was part of Eileen’s life that they had taken away and forced her to forget about it. He wasn’t able to be alone with her for a long time after that, which was fine with Eileen but tore him up inside.
Months passed and their friendship returned but still Andrew was uncomfortable around her.
“Robert,” Mr. Lopez called on the tall boy in the back who played on the school’s basketball team.
“It’s just wrong.”
“Why do you think it’s wrong Robert?”
Robert shrugged. “Dunno. It’s just wrong.” He was always doing that – picking a side but not elaborating why he did.
“Thank you, Robert. Anyone else have something to say?” Mr. Lopez’s eyes feel on Andrew. “Andrew, you’ve been unusually quiet this morning. Care to say anything?”
As much as Andrew wanted to denounce the policy and talk about Eileen, he knew he couldn’t. He struggled to find something else to say. “Uh… actually…” he trailed off
The door opened and an office aide came in. He handed Mr. Lopez a note and whispered in his ear for a moment before leaving just as quietly. Mr. Lopez read the note for a moment, before looking at Andrew again. “Uh, Andrew, it seems you’ll have to save whatever it was you were going to say for later. You’re requested in the office. Your father is here.”
Just as Andrew was going to try to come up with an answer, the door opened and an office aide came in. He handed Mr. Lopez a note and whispered in his ear for a moment before leaving just as quietly. Mr. Lopez read the note for a moment. “Uh, Andrew, it seems you’re saved. You’re requested in the office. Your father is here.”
Andrew quickly gathered his things and bolted from the room. He was relieved that he got out of the uncomfortable class discussion, but a wave of panic went through him. What if his dad wanted to ask him about Miles and the gang? Did he know Andrew was somehow involved? All Andrew could do was walk towards the office in the center of the building and hope that his father had no idea.