I paced in my house waiting until my mom showed up to watch Liam. At the one end of the hall I was pacing was a mirror, which I stopped at repeatively to fix my hair, only to shake my head and make myself believe I was crazy. Joel didn’t want me.
The doorbell rang. I answered it and my mother embraced me in a hug, “Awww, my little Hazel has found a man…finally!”
“Mom,” I whined, “I didn’t find a man. Remember the fact that I have AIDS .”
“Oh don’t worry honey. There are such things as condoms you know.”
I rolled my eyes, “Can you just watch Liam until I get back home Mom?”
“Alright alright. Just don’t have too much fun on the first date.”
I slammed my door on my mother’s cackling laughter…
and then went slightly above the speed limit to get to Joel’s house as fast as possible.
Then when I was parked in front of his house my watch alarm went off, “Damn,” I murmured. I forgot all my AZT at home. I searched through my entire car: not one pill. “Screw it.” I said and walked to his door.********
I sat on the couch in Joel’s living room and held a napkin in my hand from dinner. My nerves were causing my hands to tear at the napkin and little pieces fell to his coffee table. I took in a ragged breath and said, “You know, you’ll be the only person that will know this, besides relatives and people who’s names begin with doctor.”
Joel took a seat beside me, “Then don’t tell me. I’m not forcing you to.” I knew I had to tell him. I had to warn him to not get affilated with me. “I was once different than I am now. I used to be much more rebellious and free. Then I…I was…oh God,” I felt a flashback returning. I was unearthing the terrible past that I buried years ago…and it was coming back with a vengeance. I mouthed the word.
Thankfully, Joel understood, “Oh God I’m so sorry. So so so sorry Hazel.”
“The worst part is, I’m not finished.”
Not by a long shot.
“For weeks, Joel, I had to deal with the embarressment and the pain of what had been done to me. It was like I felt dirty all the time.” I felt the tears welling up, “I could never laugh, never smile…until I found out that I was pregnant…the father being the man that hurt me. And to make things even crazier, I didn’t get an abortion. I kept the baby and named him Liam.” I smiled when I thought of all my beginning mess-ups as a mom.
Joel shook his head. My tears became angry at his body language, “What?” I hissed. I have told him this and now he was shaking his head. His eyes grew wide at my emotion change, “Oh I didn’t mean that. It is just amazing how emotionally strong you are. You’ve managed all of that and you can still put a smile on your face.”
It was my turn to be caught by surprise. I stared into his dark blue eyes, the ring of gold almost glowing in the semi-dark room.
Then I noticed how close our faces were, I could feel his breath on my face. We leaned in closer and…