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My Name is Not a Prophecy
I wake up five past one in the morning to a serious and most unnerving case of nausea; my stomach twisting in a series of painful knots. My mouth taste as if I’ve been sucking on a hunk of aluminum foil and I recognize this as a sign that bile will soon rise to the surface. I’m ready to hurl… again.
I make a run for it down the dark hall that has never seemed longer, wasting no precious time. Cowered over the toilet, I heave the contents of last night’s macaroni casserole the toilet bowl, making an awful racket. My mind is wildly on tenterhooks; my heart racing at a most alarming speed as I anticipate the horrors of my future. My dreams are fading and fleeting. Rejection and dejection await me. I can’t run from it forever.
Suddenly, the bathroom light flips on, illuminating my atrocious circumstance.
“Angel? Are you sick?” My father looms in the doorway, his face contorted with worry for his idealistic daughter. At least I was… once.
He named me Angela, but Angel is more commonly used. As far as he and everyone else is concerned, my name suits me perfectly and prophetically; I’m a pure innocent angel. A perfect daughter and a perfect sister. A perfect student. A perfect friend and ultimate fiancée. I’m the perfect role model. I’ve fooled them all. Quite frankly, I’m a perfect fake; perfectly flawed.
I’ve let the lie progress for far too long, and finally the truth is demanding attention in the form of me hunched over a filthy toilet with vomit attesting to my biggest mistake. All the while my father looks on me with pity, completely consumed by it and not the least bit aware that I am not at all deserving of his sympathetic gaze. I brought this on myself… the headaches, the nausea, the puking… the SHAME. Feeling slimy, I burst into tears.
“What’s wrong Angel?” My father is at my side in seconds, wrapping his strong protective arms around me for much needed comfort I don’t deserve. I’m scum. I deserve to be scrubbed right off the face of the earth. How dare I accept this gesture?
“Dad.” I squeak. “I’m not sick—I mean I am, but… not with the flu…” I trail off as my voice is choked out by hopeless sobs of disgrace.
“What are you saying Angel?” My father’s complete oblivion tortures me, and his use of my pet name is really starting to grieve me.
I breathe in with difficulty, trying to prepare myself for the ultimate rejection and condemnation. When I tell him the truth, he won’t just see me through the eyes of a disappointed father, but also through the eyes of a disapproving Reverend.
“I’m pregnant.” I finally vocalized the most scandalous words a preacher’s daughter could ever utter. My world as I know it begins to crumble to its knees as soon as those words escape my trembling lips. My father stares at me dumbfounded and bewildered for an excruciatingly long, silent moment. When the shock subsides, he resumes his breathing.
“James?” He assumes, of course, that my fiancé knocked me up, but he is sadly mistaken. I can only wish it was James’ baby; that I was that innocent. At least, it would be innocent in comparison to reality.
James is the pure and self-controlled one in our relationship. He’s never once allowed our relationship to move past innocent kisses, all in the name of honour and respect. We were supposed to lose our virginity to each other on our honey moon. He’s the perfect blonde, blue eyed, Christian fiancé, and I cheated on him with a bad boy on a motorcycle. I met him in a bar, and he was sporting a white smile and a leather jacket, and he didn’t hesitate to flirt with an engaged woman. Somehow I let myself be flattered and I didn’t resist his advances. I complied with his desire. I am undeniably the worst Christian fiancée of all time.
I haven’t a clue how to explain myself. All I can say is that Bad Boy Tyson made me feel reckless and unpredictable; alive and free. His flirtatious company was exhilarating. He offered something James never has; freedom from the trap of perfectionism. But I can’t expect anyone to understand my need for such impulsive and irrational rebellion. My connection with Tyson isn’t something I ever over analyzed or attempted to comprehend myself, so I don’t expect anyone else to make sense of it either.
I don’t even love him... that’s the worst part. I love James, but I was too selfish and needy to give him much thought when I was with Tyson. Tyson was simply feeding my need for recklessness. I like the instant gratification. I like feeling like a rebel and paying no mind to my conscience, and d*mning the consequences. I won’t d*mn a baby however… James’ heart will have to suffer enough. I won’t make my baby pay for my mistake as well; for my idiocy and selfishness. Yes, rebellion tastes sweet…right before it all goes sour.
“It’s not James’ baby.” I mumble.
My father’s eyes seem to double in size as they widen with horror. “Did someone take advantage of you?” He still can’t fathom that I’d commit adultery. My heart throbs painfully with guilt.
“No.” I whisper, feeling unbearably ashamed. “ I met someone… at a bar.” I wait for the news to sink in, but my father’s mind isn’t very absorbent.
“You cheated on James?” He asks in disbelief moments later. He waits for me to correct him and deny this to be true but I nod dumbly instead. Finally he accepts the ugly truth. He stands abruptly; creating space between us that I know can’t ever be eliminated now… and the distance isn’t just physical. He will never give up his shunning of my disgrace.
He shakes his head in open disapproval and obvious stress, trying desperately to control his temper. He fails. “I raised you better than that!” He explodes. “Do you have any idea how serious this is? What this could do to the church?”
I know very well. Our church is abundant in judgmental hypocrites who somehow think my level of perfection reflects the suitability of my father to be their Reverend. I understand my father’s anxious anger. I understand why this news is so unnerving. By ruining my reputation, I’ve also tainted his. He will be scrutinized by his own congregation. This is the weight I’ve carried throughout my life, with every choice I’ve made. I never wanted to disgrace him… so I did everything in my power to honour him; make him proud. There was no room for mistakes. Unfortunately, the burden of perfectionism has robbed me of the innocent, carelessness associated with childhood. Is that so much to ask for? A little wiggle room? A longer leash? The freedom to learn from my own mistakes? I suppose I’m learning from the biggest mistake I could have made now… I think the rebellion is mostly out of my system. I never want to do something this stupid again.
“What kind of example are you setting for your sister?” My father mutters with disgust, as I stare wordlessly into the toilet bowl, where my vomit still lingers. I feel as dirty as that. “And what about James. This is going to destroy him. What were you thinking?”
Thinking these are all rhetorical questions, I do not answer. I just cry. “I’m sorry.” I whimper.
“What were you thinking?” He demands again, rather impatiently.
“I wasn’t thinking.” I admit. “I didn’t want to think.”
My father shakes his head again. “Good Lord, Angel!”
The pet name incinerates my last straw. I can’t take any more pressure to be perfect. I can’t live up to my stupid name. The sound of it brings on a new case of nausea, and ignites a familiar angry flame in my belly, only this time it can’t be extinguished. I can’t ignore it.
“Stop calling me that!” I snap at my father; something I’ve never done before. I grasp at my dark tangle of hair like a schizophrenic freak, then standing on shaky legs, and flushing the toilet, I glare into my father’s eyes; blue just like mine. My eyes are the only feature I seem to have inherited from my dad. The rest of me is all my mother. “I’m not an angel.” I add bitterly. “And I’m sick of trying to be!”
My father’s shock is written all over his face, creased with tension. He’s no doubt taken aback by my uncharacteristic outburst. “What in heaven’s name has gotten into you?” he asks, flustered. “This is not how a Christian young lady should behave.”
“I never asked to be a preacher’s kid, Dad!” I spit. “I never asked to be Mom’s replacement. I never asked to be your perfect angel. I never asked for any of this!” I pause, shuddering form the chill of my own words. I can hardly believe I’m finally verbalizing my resentments. I wipe tears from my eyes with my sleeve, so I can glare more efficiently. “You put me on a pedestal against my own will. I’m sorry I can no longer stand on it.”
With that I stomp past my appalled father, and retreat to my bedroom. I cry for a long time, under the weight of my albatross, letting my pillow absorb every cold, bitter tear. All I can think is that I’ve been misnamed. I’m no angel. I’m not perfect. My name is not a prophesy. It’s a burden. And a curse.