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“Get out of my house! You are no daughter of mine.”
Those were the last words I heard my mother say before she slammed the door shut in my face. Without hesitation, I loaded what little belongings I had into my old, 1998 Lincoln Mercury and then took off, not taking my foot off from the accelerator until the speedometer read ninety miles per hour. Only when my small, Michigan, lakeside village faded completely in the rearview mirror, did I allow the tears to fall.
Home. What was the meaning of that world? Was it a place full of joy and happiness, where the people you loved always welcomed you with open arms? Or, was it just simply a place of shelter? Well, I guess it didn’t matter to me, now. Now, I had no home. Now, I was all alone.
A startling boom of thunder echoed in the distance, bringing me back to cold, cold reality. With trembling hands, I pulled over to the side of the barren road, cut the engine, and watched through watery eyes as dark, intimidating storm clouds dauntingly forced their way into the soft, pink evening horizon. It was then that I felt the light, almost undetectable kick inside of me. With butterflies pulsing through my every nerve, I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and placed my hands on my stomach, massaging it gently.
My name is Emma Caroline Shields. I am sixteen-years-old. And I am pregnant.
The…incident…occurred four months earlier, on April 26th. Prom night. Even though I had only been a sophomore then, I had been lucky enough to get asked by a senior. I walked into prom in a beautiful golden-colored dress and an expensive, one-of-a-kind pair of stilettos. With my dark brown hair pulled up into a magnificently-styled do and my sharp green eyes dazzling with speechless delight, I had felt like a princess. At four-o-clock in the morning, however, I had stumbled drunkenly out of the after party in helpless tatters. I had made a regrettable decision that night, a decision that would change my life forever.
Sitting in the dead silence of the car, looking on solemnly at the slowly-brewing storm, the electrifying intensity of my situation crashed full force into me. I was going to have a baby. In five month’s time, I was going to be a mother. I didn’t bother to turn on the windshield wipers as the first little droplets of crystal rain began to pelt down on my vehicle, like tiny stones being thrown from the heavens above. No, instead I could only think about one thing: I was going to have a baby…I was going to have a baby… The situation was still so bizarre to me…so unreal…so…scary. When I walked into prom that night, I had no idea that I was going to soon be making such a grave mistake…a mistake that started to spin my world in the opposite direction; a mistake that, not only cost me my precious virginity, but also my beloved family.
My mother was a single mom. She worked three different jobs a week just to make ends meet. She gave her everything to my little sister and me just so we could live halfway normal lives. My mom gave birth to me when she was seventeen-years-old and my sister came into the world when she was only nineteen. Shivers ran down my spine as I remembered a few hours back, when I was sitting in my room, trying to strike up the effort to tell my mother my horrible, life-changing secret. I thought that when I told her, she would listen, she would understand. I thought she would help because, at one point in her life, she had been that frightened soon-to-be teenage mother, too. But, I was wrong. Instead of listening calmly, she had flipped out. She had kicked me out of the only home I had ever known; she had disowned me.
Another kick, this time stronger and more aggressive, vibrated through my tummy. I opened my eyes and gazed down at my stomach, speaking in a gentle, soothing tone. “Don’t worry, baby, I’ve got you. I’ll always have you.” I stroked the little creature in my stomach lovingly, choking back more tears as I did so. “Don’t worry, baby, I’ll always love you. Don’t forget that.”
Two Years Later
I sighed impatiently, glanced at the clock for about the hundredth time in the past fifteen minutes and then sighed again. Christy was supposed to have been at the shop twenty minutes ago to take the next shift which had officially started at four. Not only that, but I had to be at the daycare to pick up Abby in less than fifteen minutes. After another five minutes slowly crept past, I stomped my foot in frustration and stalked off towards the back office, where I knew Jilly would be waiting.
I flew through the office door like an angry hornet, not even bothering to knock. Jillian was sitting behind a desk, a pair of oval rimmed glasses set on the tip of her nose, doing taxes. I stormed into her line of sight, placed my hands on my hips, and stared my boss down, breathing heavily.
Jilly didn’t even look up, let alone acknowledge my presence. Instead, she just merely stated, “Christy is late again.”
“You’ve got that right,” I replied. Jillian flipped her long, sandy-blond hair over her shoulder as she finally looked up to meet my penetrating gaze. When she smiled warmly at me, I felt some of my sizzling anger evaporate and I couldn’t help but smile back.
Two years ago, on that awful day when I had broken the news of my pregnancy to my mother, Jillian Jenson had found me crying in my car during the middle of a severe thunderstorm. She had immediately pulled her own vehicle over, and, without hesitation, climbed into the passenger seat of mine. She just sat there, quiet as a mouse and as still as stone while I wept uncontrollably into the steering wheel. Over an hour later, when I did finally manage to recompose myself, she just said, “Come with me.”
To this day, I still don’t know why I chose to go with her. Probably because I knew I didn’t have anything else to lose. Or, maybe because when my frightened green eyes locked with her steady, observational blue ones, I knew I could trust her. Well, whatever it was, I was glad that I did.
Jillian was the owner of a small souvenir shop in her tourist-infested town. She lived in a fairly large apartment located directly above her shop. Not only did she offer me a job in her shop that would pay $9.50 an hour, but she welcomed me with open arms into her home.
Looking back, I realized how lucky I was. If Jillian hadn’t found me that one terrible night, I don’t think I would’ve made it. Jillian’s sincere love and caring for me made me think of her as my mother and my own daughter even called her “grandma.” Thanks to Jilly, I have been able to live my life.
I looked at the clock behind Jillian’s head and gasped. “Jilly, I have to pick up Abby in ten minutes and I also need to get to the market before it closes.”
Jillian pushed back her chair to stand up and chuckled good-heartedly at my exasperated expression. “Go, go. Abby always comes first, you know that. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up some baby carrots at the market. I had the last few for lunch.”
I laughed at Jillian’s relaxed tone as I accepted the car keys that she held out to me. “Thanks, Jilly, you’re the best.” Then, without waiting for her to reply, I sprinted out of the shop and to our shared, black minivan, almost running into a couple aggravated customers as I did so.
Twenty minutes later, after driving twenty-five mines per hour over the speed limit, running two red lights, and successfully accomplishing other such dangerous maneuvers, I had Abby all buckled in her car seat and was pulling into the marketplace. After untangling my whining daughter from the complicated belts and levers, I had transported her safely from the car and into a cart. I then began my adventure to the vegetable section.
Another fifteen minutes had passed before I finally found myself waiting in line for some baby carrots. While waiting, I watched my precious daughter in defined contentment. As soon as I had placed the first items in the cart, Abby’s fussy mood had immediately vanished and now I looked on in enjoyment as she fingered the green peppers and lettuce with the curiosity that only young children are lucky enough to acquire.
I was startled from my loving remedies when somebody tapped me on the shoulder. “Excuse me, but I was wondering how long the wait is for the baby carrots.”
The voice that had addressed me seemed oddly familiar and I scrambled through my thoughts, trying to remember where I had heard the voice before. When no memories came to mind, I shrugged my shoulders and smiled at the strangers as I turned around. “I have no idea. Probably five minutes or so…” I trailed off in shock when I realized that the woman in front of me wasn’t a stranger at all.
My mother stared back at me, mimicking my stunned expression to perfection. Her red, lipstick-plastered lips formed a gaping, round O and her greenish-blue eyes grew as wide as boulders. As I stared helplessly at my mom, I noticed that time had finally begun to take its toll on her. She seemed to have obtained permanent wrinkles lining her forehead and around her eyes and the skin along her arms had already begun to bag a little. Her eyes, which had once shone so brightly with everlasting life, had become just as dull as death itself. She had chopped her gorgeous, dark locks and now her hair hung blandly just below her ears.
As I stared at my mother, I knew that all the cold-blooded resentment and hate that had been burning inside of me these past two years should’ve exploded. At that moment, I knew that I should’ve been screaming at her, making her regret disowning, demanding what she had told people when I suddenly disappeared. But, I didn’t. Or, rather, I couldn’t. Instead, my muscles seemed to just freeze in place while the earth stopped spinning. I don’t know how long my mom and I stood there; facing each other in the tense stillness, while everybody around us milled about their own business. Finally, my mother’s gaze flickered to the cart, where my child was playing with the veggies, completely oblivious to the face that her real, true grandmother was standing in her very midst.
I tore my gaze away from my dear daughter and returned my attention to my long-lost mother. I watched in silence as she slowly made her way to the cart. Abby looked up at her grandmother’s timid approach and giggled, unaware to the face that this was the exact same devil woman who had betrayed her before birth. My mother hesitantly reached out a hand to stroke her granddaughter’s short, light brown hair and then kiss her cheek. Then, my mom looked at me, a wavering smile on her lips while she allowed the unbearable tears to trickle freely down her face. “Emma,” she whispered. “Emma…is this…”
I nodded my head. “Yes,” I heard myself say. “This is my daughter, your granddaughter. Her name is Abigail Grace Shields.”
My mother tore her gaze away from me to gaze back down at Abby. “Abigail Grace Shields,” she repeated softly. Lovingly. “Abigail Grace Shields. My granddaughter.”