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Left in the City
“Shawna, will you watch the baby for a little?”
Auntie Jean threw her baby on my lap and ran off before I could say no. The truth is that I hadn’t held a baby in years. I looked down at Baby Earl, into his big, blue eyes that stared blankly into mine. Even though he didn’t know his Auntie Shawna very well, he still cuddled up in my arms and cooed as he grabbed onto my long, dark hair. He was a cute little thing. Even the spit bubbling from his mouth onto his rosy cheeks was adorable.
A sudden fury of guilt and sorrow filled my being. I had a baby once. It’s been over two years and I still think about him every day. I don’t know his name, where he is, or what his life is like; all I know is that he exists. I gave him up the day he was born, left him right at the hospital. I never wanted to, but I was seventeen and there was no way I would ever be able to take care of a baby all by myself. Especially when the father wasn’t around to help.
The father was an idiot named Chaz. He was an older guy, twenty at the time, and he never cared about me at all. But I was young and stupid and I loved him anyways. He always reeked of cigarettes and hair gel, that is, when he was actually around. Most of the time, he was out on that dang motorcycle of his with his hideous black, fringed leather jacket, riding out to God knows where. One day, he left for good and never came back. I never had the chance to tell him that he got me pregnant. I never told anyone.
They’re fighting again. My parents fight like fools every night over the same old thing or something even stupider. Tonight is about who forgot to put the butter away and who didn’t let out the dogs.
That’s the problem about living in this small, hick town in Virginia. People don’t know what to do with themselves because there isn’t much going on out here at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the average sixteen-year-old. I go to parties, get wild, do everything those city kids do. The only thing I haven’t done yet is get a boyfriend. I’ve only had one in my whole life and that was Billy Winkel in fourth grade. All we did was kiss on the lips. I wish we did more, because my friends are always romanticizing about the long, perfect nights they have with their boyfriends. I wish I had a story to tell.
The fighting was growing louder and fiercer. I couldn’t take it any longer, so I packed up some clothes and snuck out the window to my best friend Shelly’s house. My parents wouldn’t even notice that I was gone. I might as well live with Shelly at her house, because her mom treats me more like a daughter than my mom ever has. She cooks me my favorite macaroni and cheese, sets me up a bed whenever I spend the night, and one time she even knitted me the most beautiful dress that I’ve ever worn. Sometimes I’d stay up at night and just talk to Shelly’s mom about things that I haven’t even told Shelly. She’s like the mom I never had.
I got to Shelly’s as she was heading out the door. She was wearing the outfit she always wore whenever she wanted the boys to look at her. It was a dress to her, a shirt to me, and showed off more of her body than anyone needed to see. “Oh, well, hey Shawna! I wasn’t expecting you. Your parents fighting again?”
“Yeah, worse than ever. Where are you headin’ off to?”
Her eyes widened. She got closer so that we were face to face. She lowered her voice to a whisper. “You haven’t heard? There’s a big get-together outside Barnabee’s old Barn. Everyone’s gonna be there. Momma doesn’t know about it so go hurry up and get your stuff inside before she wakes up.”
The get-together wasn’t anything like I had expected. Most of the people there were older, probably around their twenties. It was like boys still had cooties. Girls were huddled in packs, pointing and giggling at cute boys. The guys didn’t even seem to notice the girls, just smoking cigarettes and playing guitar.
“Oh my gosh, well take a look at that.”
I looked at Shelly to see what she was talking about, and followed her eyes to the most handsome man that I’ve ever seen. He had jet black hair that was gelled back so slick that the moonlight reflected off of its shine. His eyes were dreamy, a baby blue that sparkled even in the darkest night. His leather jacket fit his toned body so perfectly that all I could think about was my arms wrapped around it as we rode off into the night on his motorcycle.
“Shelly, who is that?”
“Why, that’s Chaz Mitchell! You’ve never heard of him? He’s the most attractive man in all of town. Fine, isn’t he?”
I nodded. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. After about five straight minutes of staring, Chaz finally caught my eye and flashed a smile. I couldn’t believe it. I giggled a little. He walked towards me. My heartbeat quickened. I was more nervous than ever. The last time I talked to a boy was, gosh, it might have been Billy Winkel!
“Hey there, pretty lady.”
It was our sixth month anniversary and Chaz was ditching me again. We were supposed to have a delightful picnic out in the sun, but Chaz had a plan of his own. It was no surprise that he didn’t show. It’s more of a shock when he actually does show up. He’s so attached to that motorcycle of his that he never even has time for me. He never even tells me where he drives that old thing. For all I know, he could be riding off to another girlfriend’s house and I would have no idea. One time, I caught another girl riding the back of it out towards the next town over. When I asked him about it, he told me it was none of my damn business.
I sat by the window and stared out at the road, waiting for Chaz’s possible arrival. As crazy as it may seem, I really do love Chaz, despite how bad he treats me. He tells me that one day we’ll leave this town and ride away together just me and him. We’ll live happily ever after.
That night, Chaz didn’t come until well after midnight. He said he was helping his granny move furniture around, but the stench of liquor and cigarettes that was dispersing off his body was so strong that it was obviously another one of his lies. Even so, I kissed him and just did what I always did, which was to pretend that it never happened.
We made love for the first time that night.
It’s been three months since I’ve heard from Chaz. I sat at my window, staring out at the empty dirt road as if my stare would somehow make him appear. He left town after the night of our sixth month anniversary and no one has seen him since. I’m so mad at him that I can’t even think about him. He promised me a future and all he left me was a pregnant stomach. Well, I wasn’t positive that I was pregnant, but I’ve been missing my periods and my stomachs grown a little bigger than it should be.
I was young and scared, and not ready for a kid at all. I knew I was pregnant, but for goodness sake, my boyfriend just left me and I have barely been speaking to my parents. I can’t raise a baby all by myself! I quit school once I met Chaz, and I’d have no time for a job once the baby came. Everyone would just look at me differently too. I was always the good kid, the sweet Shawna that never did anything wrong. I know a bunch of girls that have gotten pregnant, but they all marry the fathers of their child. How good would I look with Chaz leaving me to raise the baby all by myself? I never even got the chance to tell Chaz he was a dad. I hated him. He left me alone and poured lies into my ears for six months and I was too ignorant to realize it. Now I was just a lonely, pathetic pregnant woman.
Ever since I’ve known that I was pregnant I haven’t been the same. I have mostly been cooped up in the house, just hoping that it would all just go away. I could never tell my parents about it. It would only stir up another argument that would go on for days. I couldn’t tell anyone; except one person.
Shelly was out for the day, so I went over to her house to spill the news to her mom. I needed advice and Shelly’s mom was the only person I’d ever be able to talk to about something as serious as this. She said that if I wanted to keep it a secret, I could stay at her sister’s apartment in the city when my stomach got too big to hide. I could have the baby at the hospital out there and leave it for them to put up for adoption. The plan seemed more than perfect, so when six months came around and my shirts could no longer cover the bump, Shelly’s mom drove me out to the city.