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Before Emily

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I know what you’re thinking. You’re judging me. I can almost hear your angry thoughts as I walk down the hall. There’s a bad one. Couldn’t even use birth control. You’re standing there in your perfect little sweater vest and plaid skirt, and I am walking past you in a sweater vest that is size XL and a pair of pants that I had to get permission to wear. But even the sweater vest will have to be abandoned, because soon it will not cover my growing belly. You’re talking with your friends, and all of you are throwing me dirty looks. I know you have a boyfriend. I know you love him. Don’t think you are incapable of going too far. I just wanted to have one night of fun. I didn’t think this would happen.

I know you’re thinking: Why don’t they expel her already? Keep your hopes up, they still might. Or my parents will make me drop out. If you think I’m so bad, you should have seen the way I stayed up late, trying to figure out the gentlest way to tell my parents. You should have seen how I took all of that money that I had been saving for a trip to London and put it away for my baby’s future without a second thought. You should see how I’m staying at my part time job as a secretary, receiving more looks from snobs like you, and handling questions from the really rude ones that want to know who the father is. I’m certainly not saying. Let’s just say he’s out of the picture.

My boss keeps reminding me, “You know, my sister-in-law works at an abortion clinic. You should check them out.” Do you know how hard it is to nod and smile at the lady who thinks my baby should be killed? Yeah, you heard me right! I was paying attention during that ultrasound. I saw the way my daughter yawned, stretched, and wiggled her little fingers, just like she was waving at me. That’s a baby, not some blob of protoplasm. And her name is Emily Grace.

I bought her a bassinet at Goodwill, and I’m painting it pink. It will go in the corner of my room, right next to my bed, and I’ll paint her name on it, too. I would paint it on the wall, but I’m moving out just as soon as I can find a place. I’ll be a good mother. I can raise Emily right, I’m sure of it. I’ve been checking parenting books out of the library, pouring over them late at night, taking notes. I’ll make sure that she’s a happy, healthy little girl, no matter what I have to give up, and you’ll still be texting your friends or cheating on your calculus tests. I bet you’re even thinking: That kid is going to turn out just like her mother. But you’re wrong.

Someday, Emily will be standing next to me, and we’ll be waiting for the school bus. Her first day of school. She’ll have her hair in bows and be wearing a cute little dress. When that bus turns the corner and starts toward us, I’ll look her in the eyes and say, “Honey, I love you very much, but I want you to promise something for me. Don’t ever have fun.” Emily will probably laugh, thinking Mommy is making a joke, and she’ll go up those steps onto that bus, out into the big, wide world.

Only Mommy won’t be joking.




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