What if? The alternate version of Never Alone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 37 (v.1) - Chapter 37

Submitted: April 16, 2011

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Submitted: April 16, 2011

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It was like someone died, at my house. Even though two months had passed, Mamma and Daddy could barely even look me in the eye.

I still couldn't believe how stupid I'd been. How could I not have seen this possibility? I'd destroyed my family, singlehandedly. Even at the very worst of times, we were always close. Always relatively happy. We may not have had alot of things, but we always had each other.

I stayed hidden in my room as much as humanly possible. I still had to come out to eat and use the bathroom, though.

Every time I was in the same room as Mamma or Daddy, they'd watch my every move. It was like they were trying to figure out how they could have missed it before.

And the most agonizing part of everything was that I knew they were blaming themselves much more than they were blaming me.

After that first night, Daddy didn't yell anymore. I wished he would, though. It was preferable to the painful silences and heartbroken expressions whenever I was around.

I hadn't been able to correct their assumption about Ben being the father, yet. I still fully intended to tell them the truth, but right now I could barely find the courage to open my mouth at all around them. And I knew telling them that, would just hurt even more. If they were this hurt, thinking that I'd gotten pregnant by Ben, they'd be completely devastated to learn that the father was actually Josh. At least they'd liked Ben before all of this. They hated Josh.

On top of that, they'd notice that he wasn't in my life any longer.

No, I was definitely going to wait a while to break that horrible news. I just hated that they thought so badly of Ben.

I made up my mind though, no matter what, I'd never tell them the whole truth. I knew if they understood what really happened, they'd blame themselves completely. They'd think they failed to protect me.

I'd rather they think that Ben and I just couldn't help ourselves or even that I was some enormous slut, sleeping with everyone, than have them think that.

Outside of school, I didn't do alot or see anyone very much. Daddy had un-grounded me a while ago, deciding instead that I had a curfew of 8:00. I guess he realized that it was basically pointless for me to be grounded, now. He'd really just done it to do something. To punish me. But being grounded didn't bother me. I didn't have much of a desire to go anywhere anyway.

I didn't like to go out, because even if people didn't know me, they could tell I wasn't exactly old enough to be a mother and they would stare at me and whisper. I didn't really want to go to my friend's houses anymore because I knew what their families probably thought of me. And I hadn't been able to even bear the thought of seeing Ben's mom.

Basically, going out was more of a punishment than staying home was. At home, I could hide from everybody.

Anna and Morgan came over sometimes and stayed with me in my room - the living room only rule was apparently just for if Ben or the other guys came over.

Mostly, though, I was alone. I did my best to stay unnoticed and not ask for anything. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that all the time.

I felt particularly destestable when I'd  had to ask Mamma for some money for new clothes.

Thanks to Anna, my pants mostly still fit. But I'd outgrown almost all of my shirts. My stomach seemed to be growing by the minute and I felt absolutely enormous. I couldn't believe I still had another three months to get even bigger.

I'd always hated asking for money, but now I felt utterly wretched doing it, considering the reason. I couldn't expect Anna to supply me with an entire wardrobe.

Mamma had just looked at me with the hurt expression that I'd seen her wear so much lately and gave me money, without saying a word.

I'd quietly thanked her and felt like apologizing again. I must have said 'I'm sorry' a million times and it never seemed to make much difference. If anything, it made things worse, so I stopped saying it.

I just wished that there was something - anything - I could do to fix things, even a little. But there was nothing.

All I could do was try my hardest to never disappoint them again.

Right now, that meant finishing high school. So, I worked harder at it than ever.

I did exactly as Daddy said. Embarrassing as it was, I went to the principal, first thing and asked him what I could do. He said I should try to keep coming as long as possible and then they'd let me do a homeschool type thing.

I felt very lucky that they were willing to work with me. I didn't know what I would have done if I had to go back and tell Daddy that they kicked me out. I couldn't stand the thought of disappointing him any more than I already had.

I was determined to finish the year like everyone else. Or almost. I couldn't really wear the uniform anymore since my belly was too big now and I couldn't participate in gym any longer. They let me use the hour as another study hall instead.

I came straight home, after school, every day and devoted all my time to my school work. I managed to get my grades up pretty high and even got ahead in some things.

Aside from my friends sticking by me, my grades were pretty much the high point in my life. Everything else was a disaster.

To most people, I was now 'the pregnant girl', if they were being nice. Something that wasn't really all that common outside of my group of friends, who I was unbelievably thankful for.

People I'd never met before, now felt like they could say anything they wanted to me. I'd had to hold Morgan back a few times when she tried to defend me.

The absolute worst was when I had to see Josh or Matt, because they knew the truth and weren't shy about making comments, no matter who was around. And being that it wasn't that big of a school, I saw them quite a bit.

Josh was always very careful, of course, never to say anything that would connect him as the father, to anyone who might hear. But he found plenty of opportunities to make obvious comments in front of Ben. It was like he was still trying his best to get to him - going out of his way to remind Ben that I was having his baby. That I'd been with him.

I despised  him even more for being that constant reminder. I'd never felt anything close to the amount of hatred I had for him.

Ben tried to resume the role of my protector, but I refused to let him. As much as I really would have loved to see him beat Josh senseless, I begged Ben to ignore him. I knew, Josh was just trying to get a reaction from him and wanted to cause more trouble.

I also had a feeling that if Ben got started, he might not stop. He could actually kill Josh. If his hatred was even close to mine, it was highly possible. He certainly looked like he wanted to, alot of the time.
 
At the very least, he'd get kicked out. And honestly, Josh wasn't worth it.

But mostly, I didn't want anyone else getting the same idea that my parents had about Ben. So I made sure there was no way people could make the assumption that we were together. I never let myself get very close to him and I usually made it so that someone else was with us. I even asked Jordan to pick me up for school when he got Anna, like he used to, so people wouldn't see me and Ben coming in together.

Ben wasn't too pleased about my protecting his reputation the way I was. It wasn't that he was still trying to accept responsibility for my baby, he just said he didn't care what people thought.

I didn't either - about me. But I cared what they thought of him. I already hated the looks he - and all of my friends - got, just from associating with me. It would be so much worse if they thought we were together.

At least, all they mostly had to deal with were not-too friendly looks. I was the only one who people generally directed their comments toward.

Most people, at least. Stacey liked to say things to Anna and Morgan as well. And she'd attempted flirting with Ben a few times. I assumed it was to try to make me jealous, the way she used to do with Josh.

It still didn't really work. I knew that Ben was more annoyed with her than anything else. He'd gotten pretty good at brushing her off without being totally rude - ever the gentleman. But today, she just wasn't taking the hint.

I don't know if I was just extra hormonal or what, but I finally had enough. I generally tried to ignore her around Ben, since I knew she was just looking for a reaction from me - when it was just us, I'd gladly tell her off.

"Stacey?" I said, interrupting her irritating fake laugh.

She looked at me eagerly. Obviously, she'd been hoping for me to say something.

"I realize you're not that bright," I said. "But Ben doesn't like you. He's just too polite to tell you to go away. But I'm not." I paused. "Go away."

She smirked. "What's the matter? Jealous?"

"Of you?" I smiled. "Not at all. I was just trying to help you stop making an idiot out of yourself."

"You'd know all about that, wouldn't you?" She looked meaningfully at my stomach.

"Yeah." I admitted. "I do."

She seemed disappointed at my lack of reaction.

"I know about alot of things." I said. "And I'll tell you something else, since you're apparently too dumb to figure it out on your own, Josh doesn't like you either. He only likes himself."

"Afraid I'll move in on him, now that he dumped you?" She grinned.

"Yeah," I said sarcastically. "That's it."

She watched me, trying to figure out if I meant it.

"But, I'm confused, Stacey." I said. "I haven't been with Josh for quite a while. Months. Shouldn't you have 'moved in', by now?"

She glared and I knew that the fact that she wasn't with him, wasn't due to her lack of trying.

I just smiled at her until she went away. Hopefully, she wouldn't be bothering Ben anymore, at least.

I looked at him, expecting him to seem happy that she was gone. Instead he looked...almost upset.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing." He shook his head.

"You didn't want to talk to her, right?" I asked, confused. "I thought..."

"No," He said, smiling briefly. "I didn't."

"Then, what...?"

"It's nothing." He assured me again.

I just watched him curiously for a few more seconds before I noticed Morgan giving me a look similar to the one Ben was. I looked at her questioningly and she just shook her head, brushing it off.

What was wrong with everyone? Were they upset that I wasn't totally helpless anymore? That I wasn't afraid to tell someone like Stacey, off?

I thought about it off and on for the rest of the day. Mostly when I caught another one of those looks from Morgan. I didn't get it. What was so wrong with my standing up for myself every so often?

I went to meet Morgan after History, so she could drive me home.

We both got in the car, but she didn't start the engine right away and I looked at her.

She was watching me with that same look on her face.

"What?" I asked really curious now.

"Lizzie," She said. "You've...changed."

I raised my eyebrows and looked at my very large belly before I looked back at her. "Well, yeah." I didn't get what she meant. That wasn't exactly a news flash.

"That's not what I mean." She shook her head.

I just waited for her to get to the point.

"When I met you," She said. "You were this...shy, sweet, innocent kid."

"Yeah." I looked down. "Guess I'm not really any of those things anymore." I said bitterly.

I looked back at her when she didn't say anything. She was watching me with raised eyebrows, apparently unimpressed by my attitude.

I sighed. "Sorry."

"When I met you," She continued. "I knew you didn't have the easiest life. Who does?" She shrugged. "But if someone just met you on the street, they wouldn't have known that." She said. "Because even though bad things have happened to you, you just...didn't let it touch who you are. You didn't let them change you."

"Is this because of what I said to Stacey?" I asked. "It's Stacey. You say stuff to her all the time."

"I know she probably deserved whatever you said and more." Morgan said. "And yeah, I'll get into it with her sometimes. But, that's me, not you."

"What? I'm not allowed to-"

"No." She said. "It's not that you shouldn't, but you wouldn't have done that before. You were too...nice."

I just looked at her, not really getting the point. So? I wasn't nice to Stacey, so what?

"It's like, you wanted to hurt her." She said. "To...share some of your own pain. And that's not like you."

"Morgan," I said. "I don't know what you're saying."

"Lizzie, before you used those bad things to make you stronger." She said. "You dealt with them and moved on. You didn't get...bitter."

I looked down, starting to understand what she was getting at.

"You promised me you wouldn't let him change you." She said.

I felt my eyes burn with tears. "Sorry." I said, not really feeling that sorry. "I guess I failed you, just like everyone else." Would there ever be an end to the ways I'd disappointed everyone?

"Lizzie." She said, again unimpressed by my attitude.

I looked at her. "I don't know what you want from me, Morgan." I said. "Am I supposed to just forget everything and move on? Say it's fine? That it's no big deal? Just get over it?"

"No," She said. "That's not what I'm saying."

I angrily wiped the tears away and waited for her to explain.

"I know you're angry, right now." She said. "You have every right to be." She blinked back her own tears. "I'm angry. I wish I could..." She took a deep breath. "I hate him. I hate what he did to you. He probably did...the worst thing you can possibly do to another person, and...he's just gonna get away with it."

I glared at the dashboard, not really seeing how this was helping me get over my hatred for Josh.

"I know it's still early." She said. "It wasn't that long ago and you feel like your life's over. But it's not."

I looked back at her.

"Lizzie, eventually, you have to find a way to move passed it. To let go of your hatred." She paused. "You're gonna have to find a way to forgive him."

"You've got to be kidding me." I said, in disbelief.

"Not for him." She said. "He doesn't deserve it. For you."

I shook my head, not wanting to even hear this.

"If you hold on to everything. If you get bitter." She said. "It's not gonna hurt him. It's not gonna do anything to him. It's gonna hurt you. It'll eat away at you like cancer."

"You don't know what you're asking." I said.

"It won't be easy, but-"

"Easy?" I asked, incredulous. "Try, possible. It's not possible."

"Lizzie-"

"Morgan, you don't know...he did some really horrible things to me." I said. "And I know, I let him. And I will hate myself for that, forever. But that doesn't make what he did, ok. It doesn't make it right."

"I know." She tried.

"He destroyed my family." I said as the tears spilled over. "They can't even look at me anymore."

Morgan just watched me.

"He took everything from me." I said. "He took my whole life. And I'm never gonna be able to forget that because I'm gonna be reminded of everything, every single day, when I look at my baby."

"I really hope I don't resent this baby." I said. "Because that'd be an awful thing for him. But how can I not?"

"You have to try." She pushed.

I shook my head. "I can't. I don't want to."

"Please, Lizzie? For me?"

"Morgan, that's not fair." I said. "I appreciate what you're trying to do. But it's too much. I can't."

"You can." She said. "You can do anything."

I just shook my head again.

"Lizzie, the fact that you did what you did, tells me you can do this."

I looked down.

"You did something that most people would rather die than..." She said. "And I'm guessing you'd have rather died."

I just stared at my hands. That thought never really entered my head, but when she said it, I knew it was true.

"But that wasn't an option." She said. "It was either you or your family and you chose your family."

"I was wrong." I said. "I was stupid."

"I know you were wrong." She agreed. "I still can't understand how you could..." She paused. "But you did. You didn't want to but you did. And you took responsibility for this baby. You told your parents, even though you knew it was going to kill them. You did it because you had to."

I didn't say anything.

"I've known some people who have had some really bad things happen." She said. "And the ones who hold on - who get bitter. Lizzie, they're miserable."

I put my hand to my head, still not wanting to listen.

"If you can't let this go." She said. "If you can't move passed it, he'll be able to hurt you forever. What he did...it won't be over. Ever. You'll take it with you."

"Morgan..."

"Just try, Lizzie." She said. "For me."

"I don't think I can." I said.

"Try."

I looked at her. "Morgan, I don't want to make more promises I can't keep."

She just watched me, waiting.

I took a deep breath and wiped my eyes. "Ok." I said, because I didn't even deserve her as my friend and she was so concerned for me.

I didn't think it would ever be possible, but for Morgan, I'd try.


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