“I’m coming too.”
His hand reached out to mine. The freckles from the summer sun crept onto his hands, giving them an almost boyish look. Then again he was more a boy than a man.
The light color of my skin clashed with his as I took it, so he could help me off the bench. I stared at the colors. Would the color have only reached a light tan like mine? Or a dark freckled look of Aric’s?
“You sure,” I said. There was no emotion in my voice. Ever since I had made the decision, everything went blank.
Aric nodded slowly, his mouth turned down on the corners. I followed him into his small car, a gift on his seventeenth birthday. I could barely drive, I had just turned sixteen two months ago.
The street was quiet, nobody was doing anything on a Sunday. They either were lounging around or in church. I gently laughed at that. On Sunday, this was so wrong.
I looked down at my attire. The yellow sundress was probably too short and a bit too low for church, but I knew it wouldn’t have been a problem. They would have been glad to see me for once. I hadn’t been to the church since I was a little girl.
Religion didn’t play a big part in my life anymore, but I still believed in God. The only opening was on a Sunday though. I had to take it before it was too late.
Grabbing my hand, Aric tried to give me a comforting squeeze and whispered my name, “Cassandra.” The most I could do was let him hold it. He didn’t let go. He knew I didn’t blame him.
Would it have inherited his father’s deep green eyes, or my light blue ones? I would never know.
I forced myself not to grab at my belly. It was flat, but I knew if I waited, it would expand with life. Something growing and finding ways to open its eyes. Truly it was a miracle.
A miracle I was going to kill.
I winced. Kill was the word my counselor, for those few weeks, told me not to use. A better decision was the healthy way to look at it. I wasn’t only saving myself, I was also saving it, he had said. I didn’t admit I started referring to “it” as my baby.
“You know I love you, no matter what, right?” Aric asked. He looked at me with worry in his face. Whenever he got worried his jaw would tense and the skin would flex over it. Before I would rub it away, now I wasn’t sure what to do.
I squeezed his hand. My stomach was rolling, I couldn’t speak. His eyes were sad. I pretended not to notice.
Aric and I were the only ones who agreed with each other, nobody else understood. It’s better for you Cassandra. Don’t be selfish, you have to think of Aric. That line was repeated as much as the It’s better for it. You couldn’t take care of it anyway. I hated those words.
The parking lot was mostly empty with only a few cars parked in the employers’ spots. It was Sunday; nobody came to this clinic on Sundays.
Daisies were open in clusters, dotting a field to the right behind a tree. I thought of a seed burrowed in the dirt, only getting moisture when it rained. It was amazing that it somehow was able to bloom without nurture. A miracle.
Aric cut off the engine and slowly got out to walk to my side and open the door for me. He was always a gentleman. Still to this day he didn’t let it slide.
I fell in love with Aric when I turned fourteen. My eyes were already set on him to be my first serious boyfriend. I had dated before, but they were all small flings with a few kisses. Aric was going to be different.
He was clumsy, but somehow managed to still look like everything was intentional. Aric seemed to be good at everything. Our getting together was quick and we stayed like that. I still loved him, nothing had changed my feelings. Besides maybe feel like he was the only one there, who knew me.
I climbed out of the door and Aric hesitated. I saw his arms twitch like he wanted to pull me into a hug. I knew it would make things worse. He obviously did too. Instead he grabbed my hand and walked into the clinic.
The weekend had been wet; an early summer rain was just passing through. I stayed over at Aric’s for the time. His parents were constantly leaving us alone.
Aric had climbed on top of me and wrapped me in his arms as always. This wasn’t the first time we had sex and that somehow made it worse.
“I love you Cassandra,” he said, a grin across his face.
I giggled at him. We went through this every time. “As I love you Aric.”
Aric held the door open for me. I shook my head and he went in first, protecting me with his body.
The waiting room didn’t smell like the usual disinfectant. Instead it had a low light and was rather cramped. I went to the desk to grab the paperwork I needed. Aric stood with me the whole time.
I was crying against the bed. Not silently, but big heavy sobs that were threatening to drown me. The door opened. Aric swore and ran to me.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, pulling me into his arms. I was so much smaller than him; it wasn’t that difficult to pull me onto his lap and wrap me up.
I couldn’t speak and instead held out a white stick showing out future. It was just like the movies, like all the books I had read, feeling sorry for them. Now it was my turn.
He only held me tighter.
“You have to sign this form, that one, and finally look over this pamphlet for the after care,” the desk attendant said in a cheery voice. I stared blankly at her. I wanted to scream and yell. I wanted to just shriek I’m killing my baby today! Don’t you understand? I didn’t though. I walked back to my seat holding it all in.
Aric put his arm around me and kissed my temple. I thought of that seed again. Seeds just suddenly opened and roots came out to hold them and give them nutrients. The earth was its mother. It wasn’t until they started to sprout that they became something, somebody. My baby wouldn’t be able to do that. My baby would never be more than a seed.
I let Aric hold on tighter to me, glad that he understood my feelings and my incapability of holding him. He always understood.
My parents and Aric’s sat at the dining room table all looking dumbstruck. I had finally blurted it out and Aric nodded. Confirming what they didn’t believe.
It seemed the head of the house had changed. My mother was the first to speak up. “You can’t keep it.”
Aric held my hand tighter. We had talked about this already and decided that we were going to keep it.
“I-“ I had started. It didn’t get anywhere.
Aric’s mom stood up. “Morgan,” she said addressing my dad. “I don’t want to offend you, but I completely agree with Lisa. She cannot have this baby!”
The men never talked. They just nodded and agreed with the women.
Aric cleared his throat. He had a commanding tone and could always make a room listen. I depended on him. “Actually, Cassandra and I were thinking of keeping it,” he confirmed.
Unfortunately it hadn’t worked.
The same lines were repeated. Too young, too irresponsible, and two good children not ready to have a baby. I wanted to lie and say we did it on purpose, but I didn’t think it would help.
The decision was made.
We were here. Finally in this room and I was going to do what I had been talking about for weeks now. I was getting an abortion. There was no way out of it.
I looked at Aric, his eyes shining, but doing his best to cover his emotions. He had accepted my decision to come here without an argument. He didn’t want to hurt me.
My dress brightened up the room. It seemed I was the sun. Pregnant women always glowed with happiness, but what happens if they were getting rid of their baby?
I bit my cheek and the blood flowed into my mouth. I had begun the bad habit as soon as I told my parents that I was going to have a baby. I was now keeping all emotions at bay, releasing one would just start a tidal wave and push everybody else over with me.
“Cassandra Phillips?” I looked up quickly. A smiling woman stood there. “You’re appointment is ready, please come in,” she said.
I stood up numbly. Aric gave me a reassuring squeeze. I followed her.
We walked into a room that looked like any other doctor’s room except it was more of a bed instead of a table. I stood there feeling childish, unsure of what to do.
She gave me the information of what was going to happen and then instructed me to get into a gown. “The doctor will be in soon,” she said smiling, and then closed the door.
Pulling off the yellow dress, I looked around. There were no mirrors. I decided this was good; I didn’t want to face myself before or afterwards. Maybe when this was all over I’d disappear with Aric and not have to worry about anybody, maybe lay in a field filled with life to bring ours back.
My fingers drummed on the side of my leg and I slowly let my hand reach my stomach, right where, in a couple of months, I’d feel my baby move.
The seed invaded my mind again. The before picture. Those bright daisies. The after.
I noticed the room was missing baby pictured. I conjured one up myself. A pale skinned child cooing and giggling came to mind. Aric holding our baby, smiling. All of those thoughts that I banished came through to finally land on me. Me with my stomach large with life. A little baby I was responsible for; growing and understanding. I was only sixteen and had my life ahead of me.
It’s what I wanted.
I threw the dress back on me and ran out of the door, nearly nailing the doctor in the face. It didn’t matter. I ran through the clinic as fast as I could not bothering to reply, not bothering to listen. I ran out of the doors and into the field.
The gravel tried to trip me up, but still I made it to the green grass where daisies popped up, life filling them. I fell to my knees, crying, and plunged my fingers into the earth. A mother for those seeds.
I cried for myself, my family, my Aric, and our baby. I cried for what they would say when I told them I wasn’t going to listen. I cried out about what I was going to do and then what I didn’t do.
Nothing was going to stop me from giving this baby a chance to grow.
I heard somebody walk softly through the grass and land in the soft soil next to me. Both of our knees would be muddy. I didn’t care, and I didn’t think Aric would care either.
He leaned against me muttering soft words in my ear. Maybe our future, maybe how worried he was, or maybe just how he loved me. It didn’t matter; I was only listening to the sound of his voice.
Aric pulled his arm around me, resting it on my stomach where my own hand fell too. I smiled through the tears.
“I’m keeping him Aric,” I said, no doubt in my voice.
I felt his tears on my shoulder. “I know,” he said, “and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
We stayed like that far longer than we should have. His hand on my stomach, my eyes on those growing daisies, and our future in our hands for once.
It might be hell when we get back home, but I didn’t believe either of us cared.