Mum sat opposite to me in the over-sized, beige armchair, staring at me with mixed emotions across her face. I was sat in the centre of the black, leather, three-seater couch with my knees pulled to my chin and my arms wrapped around them, hugging onto them tightly. Neither one of us spoke.
I could still smell the stench of vomit as it danced around my nostrils, after embedding itself onto the surface of my skin, clothes and hair. I tilted my head towards the sleeve of my jumper and inspected it, inhaling the vile odour. My face screwed up and retreated quickly; I wouldn’t be doing that again anytime soon.
“You ought to change out of that, Casey,” Mum began, breaking the silence. I looked up to her and saw the disappointment in her eyes… her disappointment in me, “the smell will cling for weeks if it’s not washed.”
“I’ll change out of it in a minute. I just need to think right now…” I murmured back. Yes. I did need to think… think about my future… think about my future with…it… thisthinggrowing inside of me… this thing thatdependedon me for survival… I wasn’t ready to be a mother just yet; my own mother knew that very well, too.
I hadn’t realised I’d been crying until Mum had me wrapped in her arms, my head against her chest, and my vision blurring through the wet moisture escaping from my eyelids. I dreaded to think how much tolerance she must have to be able to stand the smell that lingered.
“We’re going to get through this, ba–honey.We’re going to make everything better again. I can make an appointment at the clinic for you, if you’d like, then you won’t have to worry about it anymore. It’ll be as if it never happened.” Mum’s words shocked me. What was she saying? Just get rid of it? Act as if it never happened? How could she suggest such a thing? I wouldalwaysknow about this… I would always know that I would have killed my…baby.
“No,” I told her, shaking my head, “I don’t want to kill it.”
“Casey, you’re fifteen-years-old. You’re not ready to be a mother.”
“No, I’m not ready to be a mother, but I will one day and I don’t want to get rid of it and then find out I can never have any more children. Y’know? These things happen… people can become infertile from abortions.” I looked into her eyes, trying to make her see sense to what I was saying. She sighed and hugged me tighter. This wasn’t the response she thought I’d had and I knew she was disappointed with it.
“I’m sorry. I just don’t want to see my baby girl being forced to grow up so fast. I don’t want you to have to repeat what I had to take on.”
“I know, Mum. I know.” I’d known for years – since I was quite young, in fact – that if my grandmother would have allowed her to get an abortion, she would have without a second thought. I hated when she would get mad and curse herself for getting pregnant so young – if at all! I knew that deep down she did love me though… way,waydeep down.
“Have you had any ideas of what you want to do, if you’re certain you don’t want to terminate the pregnancy?” she asked, pulling out of the hug and placing her hands firmly on both of my shoulders. She attempted to smile, but with failure. I played along and raised the corners of my lips slightly.
“I don’t know,” I said truthfully. I didn’t want this…baby… but I didn’t want to lose it either. It was confusing. I couldn’t live with it, but I couldn’t see myself living without it, “what about adoption... that isn’tfulladoption?” Mum looked at me oddly.
“Sorry?” she asked, confusion spread across her face.
“I’d like to have the… baby, and let someone else look after it, but allow me to visit it regularly and be a part of its life. And then, when I’m older and more responsible, I can raise it from then on.” I hadn’t realised just how organised my mind had become within the last five minutes. How I’d gone from not wanting it to, now, wanting to somehow be a part of its life. It was a mystery, but one I was willing to overlook.
“Are you trying to say that you’d want someone to be a fosterparent?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.” I could see in Mum’s eyes that she thought I’d be making a mistake by doing this; she’d much rather I put it up for full adoption… or just got an abortion, like she wanted me to.
“Whatever. It’s your decision. But how are you going to react when you’re friends start asking about your sudden weight gain? It’s not like you can just disappear off to, I don’t know… Scotland for nine months and then move back and act like nothing’s happened.” my response to Mum’s suggestion (though she had originally intended for it to be metaphorical) was an intrigued stare.
“Why didn’t I think of that before?” I answered, standing up from the couch and walking towards the fireplace.
“Think of what?” Mum asked confused, “What did I say?”
“That we should move to Scotland…” I began, turning back to face her, just to be interrupted with an abrupt reply,
“Scotland!? Don’t be daft! I didn’t mean itliterally. You can’t just move to Scotland and then just move back in a years’ time and expect everyone to remain in ignorance. People would get suspicious. And what about my job? And your exams? Don’t you care about them?”
“Of course I care about them, Mum. I can simply enrol in a school up there until I finish my exams and you could easily get transferred to another branch somewhere in Scotland.”
“Oh yes, because it’s that easy to get a job in the first place,” she responded sarcastically, “and what about the house? I’ve worked hard to be able to afford to live here. I’m not going to just sell it and then struggle to find somewhere if we came back; not that I’m agreeing to go along with this silly plan.”
“You don’t have to sell up. You could put it up for rent for a year and then we can easily move back. Likewise up there, we could simply just rent a place out for a year and then come back home easily.” I could hear the desperation in my voice and how whiney and childish I sounded. But mum had to agree to this… for me… for my unborn child… for her unborngrandchild.
She sighed and got to her feet. My eyes followed her; pleading her to do this one thing for me… this onelittlething… she took hold of the phone on the coffee table and tapped in a phone number, placing it to her ear. I could hear the ringing. Who was she calling? The ringing stopped and a faint answering machine message played through to her. When a beep sounded, she spoke:
“Hi, Joseph, it’s Michelle Stewart here. I just wanted to call and ask if you had any positions anywhere in Scotland, preferably near to Glasgow. You see, I have a family emergency to attend to which will require me relocating for a year, at the most. Please could you call me back as soon as you’re able to? Thank you, bye.” And she hung up. I smiled to myself. Mum turned to face me too and returned the smile, “Now don’t you dare say I never do anything for you!”
“Thank you,” I answered appreciatively, feeling my eyes well up all over again, “why Glasgow in particular?”
“I had an uncle that lived up there many years ago and, when he died, he said that it could be used by any of us – me, Aunty Jane and whoever else – whether we went on holiday or decided to move up there. I thought, maybe, it would be better than paying rent every month.
“I need to ring your grandmother to check it’s alright to use it, which I’m sure it will be, but when she hears about you… I don’t even want to go there!” She smirked and turned to leave the room, through the door to the left of where I’d previously been sat. I placed my hands on my flat stomach and smiled again. I was going to be a mother… somehow… someway. This was really happening. I’d never guessed anything like this would happen to me, before now, and still couldn’t quite bring myself to believe that it was. I was going to have a…baby! A real baby! My own flesh and blood… mine… nobody else’s… ababy.
“Don’t forget to tell the father! He has the right to know!” mum called from the other room. My eyes widened. The father… oh sh–