As soon as Brian left for work,  Jen excitedly got her journal and the two letters.   She had them in her hands when the phone rang.    It had to be her sister or her Dad because no one else would call her this early and she thought about not answering.   She had an idea about the letter and she wanted to check something she had noticed.   On the chance it was Brian though,  she thought she should pick up.   

"Jen, It's Dr.Laurie,  How is your nose?"

"Oh much better.   The swelling has gone down and it doesn't hurt as much." Jen said.  

"Well,  I actually called to tell you that you are pregnant."

"Pregnant?"   Jen asked.   

"Yup"  Dr.  Laurie said.    "We ran a blood test.   If a woman of childbearing age so much as walks through my office,  I pretty much do a pregnancy screen.   With any woman the sooner we know the better  but especially with your situation .    Your nose fracture wasn't consistent with your story.  Sorry.   Jen,   I know and you know.   I want you to come in tomorrow."

Dr. Laurie sighed.   She seemed  annoyed and impatient which wasn't like her.   No one was better at detecting a  slight chill in someone's tone than Jen.  

"Okay."  Jen said.   She was so surprised that she didn't know what to think.    She felt like she had done something wrong and that idea over road the importance even of this  life changing information.   

"Look,   I don't want you to tell Brian until I have seen you.     I didn't want to tell you this on the phone today because I didn't want you to tell him until we had gotten a chance to talk about things.    But I had to call you and warn you not to take anymore of the pain meds I prescribed."

"Oh I only took one that first night."    She lied reflexively.   She hadn't taken any.   Brian coveted pain killers and sometimes she wondered if he hurt her when he wanted another prescription.      

"Good,  that won't make a difference.   Take Tylenol for pain from now on.  And promise me that you won't tell him until we have talked about what you are going to do.  We have to plan how you are going to protect yourself. "  Dr. Laurie sighed again with that same tinge of annoyance.  

"I promise."  Jen replied.   She sounded perfectly agreeable but she felt a little irritation in return.   No one could hide her emotions better than Jen either.    She could tell Dr. Laurie didn't believe her.   She was just protecting herself.    If she told Brian and he beat her,  Dr. Laurie could always say that she specifically told her not to tell him.    Maybe I will tell him she thought.   She certainly didn't feel bound to a promise made under duress. 

"Take this number.   It is a domestic abuse hotline.   I have already called them and they can get you a bed tonight if you need it."  

After Jen hung up she looked down at the letters still in her hand and felt foolish.   They had engrossed her just moments before.   Now she looked at them and almost couldn't remember what they were or what they had meant.   She looked at the trash because suddenly she just wanted them out of her hands but that didn't seem right either but she wasn't sure why.    She put the journal down on the counter, opened it and put the letters inside.   She did it respectfully as if the items belong to someone else and they did belong to someone else she realized.    She was reading someone else's mail.    It seemed like an epiphany with larger implications. 

She looked around the room.   Nothing belonged to her.   She was standing in Brian's kitchen carrying Brian's baby.   Just like the dirty dishes in the sink didn't belonged to her,  the baby didn't either.    She looked at the dried egg smeared on the plate and wondered if that belonged to her.   Surely the dried egg on the plate belonged to her. After all  it was her responsibility to rinse it down the drain so it must be hers,  she reasoned.    The idea made her laugh and the sound surprised her.    The room was quiet again.     She shook her head.   She couldn't keep going down this path or she would end up like her sister,  or worse like her mother.     She was the sane one after all.   Jen kept things together.    

Then it came to her.   I will pray.   She walked to the bedroom because the kitchen didn't seem right.   It was too bright to pray in the kitchen.    She went to the bed and knelt to pray like she had done when she was a little girl.   She bent her head and spread her arms out in front of her and rested.    No words would come so she prayed a psalm she remembered.     

"Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted." 

The End

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