People react differently to becoming new mothers. Casey is torn between her youth and motherhood and unsure which path to choose. Will she choose freedom, over the future of her child?
When you love something, you’ll do everything in yourpower to ensure that, that thing stays safe and protected by anything and everything that could possibly harm it.
If it was a family heir-loom, you’d have it wrapped up in tissue paper, inside a cardboard gift box, ready to be passed down when you’re old and wrinkly.
If it was your secret stash of chocolate, you’d hide it at the back of the fridge so that nobody can find it, but yourself.
If it was your child, you would risk your own life… if not the life of another you loved, just to ensure that your child remained safe.
Even if it meant, breaking your own heart…
CHAPTER ONE - LITTLE PINK CROSS
You know that you’re in trouble, when you’re sat in the school toilets, crying over a little pink cross on a stick that you’d peed on five or six minutes before. You’re in trouble for actually being in the situation in the first place as well as being in control of what you do as a result of it.
I don’t like being in trouble. I’d always been a right swot during my primary years and early comprehensive years. Why had this have to happen to me? Why now? I wasn’t even sixteen yet! And the school year had only just started. My big year…my exam year…and I was knocked up before I’d even had time to settle in.
I was… I couldn’t even bring myself to think the word in my head, let alone say it out loud. It was far too painful.
The ringing echo of the school bell rang through my ears, interrupting my thoughts. Lunch was over, and I had to get myself to my next lesson. Art… he’d be there. I couldn’t go, not just yet. I needed to tell someone. Anyone! But who? My friends would already be in their lessons by now – they were like that – and there was no way I could tell any of the teachers without them blabbing off to someone. No, I couldn’t tell anyone… but I had to!
I reached down to retrieve my bag off the floor, pulling it onto my bare lap and unzipping the clasp. I hunted through its contents in search of my phone.
‘Where the hell is it?’ I thought to myself, still clinging onto the plastic pee stick in my hand.
My phone found my hand eventually; it had been at the very bottom of all the junk I brought to school, as usual. I replaced it in the bag with the pee stick, making sure that it was right at the bottom and out of sight – I’d deal with it later – and zipping my bag right up again. I stared down at the phone in the palm of my hand, not wanting to touch it, just like the pee stick. Who was I supposed to call? How was I supposed to say it? I hadn’t a clue. I was too scared to do or say anything.
Every sound, thought and emotion stopped dead in my mind, with the rhythmic ‘tick, tock’ of the girls’ toilet clock echoing through the room. Lessons would be well underway now. Ten, fifteen minutes or so… something like that, I didn’t care about the time just then.
More time passed. The toilets, the school, the atmosphere remained silent. What was I seriously going to do?
My phone buzzed to life then, screen flashing and vibrating violently in my hand. It had made me jump slightly causing it to crash to the floor. Both of my hands shot straight to my mouth, jumping to conclusions, scared to know who had found out and what their reaction had been. I wasn’t scared about damaging my phone, it was practically indestructible; the amount of times I’d dropped it were unbelievable.
However, I did reach down and take it in my hands once more. I slid the phone open and read the name flashing across the screen… Mum… I pressed enter against all other thought, terrified at what I would read. The text message opened and I took a deep breath before reading the words properly:
WHERE ARE YOU? SCHOOL JUST RUNG SAYING THAT YOU'RE NOT IN YOUR LESSON. MUM X
I stared at the screen, surprised at the speed in which they’d gotten in touch with my mother about my absence to Art. They were getting better. My fingers punched the number keys to reply:
IN THE TOILETS. FEEL SICK. CAN YOU PICK ME UP PLEASE? NOW?CASEY X
I hit send and waited. I hadn’t exactly lied to her. I did feel sick and had actually been vomiting every morning for the past week. Morning sickness, I presumed… Mum text back:
USUAL PLACE. 5 MINS
I slid my phone back onto lock and shoved it into the front pocket of my school bag. I stood up. My trousers and knickers were still slumped around my ankles, so I hoisted them back up securely around my hips. I slung my bag over my shoulder and left the stall I’d been hiding in. The room had remained empty – good!
I pulled opened the heavy door cautiously, making sure that no one was around in the corridors, pacing myself at a steady speed as I made my way to the back gate, next to the port-a-cabins.
Once I’d stepped over the barrier between school and the real world, I quickened my pace to get to mum as soon as I could. I rounded the corner and could see her lime green Mini Cooper parked a short way down the street, hands firmly grasping the edge of the steering wheel. I stood completely still, just staring at her, the expression in my face blank. I felt queasy… and my stomach suddenly churned and…
Mum came rushing to my side, placing one hand behind my back and another pulling my hair away from the vomit coming out of my mouth. I could taste the salty tears mixing in my mouth.
“There now, baby, it’s ok.” She soothed, rubbing my back gently. That just made me cry more… baby… I chucked up violently, the taste burning in my mouth and the smell causing me dizziness and making me feel even sicker. I was gently manoeuvred over to the car, mascara stains blackening my cheeks.
Mum buckled me in, as I lay curled along the back seat. I hadn’t even realized the car was moving until the breaks slammed down hard at the traffic lights. My hand automatically stuck to my stomach. I clutched onto it, coming to realization of what nightmare I had gotten myself into. My mouth opened, but no words came out. I imagined the tiny heartbeat relying on me – me! – for survival. I found my voice, which came out in a tiny whisper: