Julia sat in the uncomfortable plastic chair, staring at the plain white walls, counting the seconds on the clock and waiting. She was so nervous she couldn’t sit still; she kept crossing and uncrossing her legs, tapping her fingers and twirling her hair. She wanted to leave. Just sitting there was making her sick. She felt like she might throw up any second.
But just as Julia was about to stand and leave, her doctor sauntered in, sat across from Julia in her comfortable looking computer chair, looked her in the eyes and said the four words that would change her life forever.
“The test is positive.”
Julia immediately thought what any teenager in her position would think, “how did this happen”, “it can’t be true”, “it was just one time”, “why me”. All these thoughts were spinning through Julia’s head like a tornado through a trailer park! She couldn’t make them stop, no matter how hard she willed herself.
Nevertheless, she knew what, when, where, how and who it happened with , she knew it was true and she knew that just because it only happened once that didn’t make it inconsequential. The only thing she didn’t know was why, why her, why now, why, why, why? The questions haunted her like a ghost that never slept… constant, never ending.
Julia had begun to cry; she buried her head in her hands and started sobbing. When she finally looked up after what seemed like hours of sobbing, but was probably only minutes, Dr. Martinez was staring at her with a sad expression on her face.
“You have options,” the doctor said, genuine concern apparent in her voice.
“None that will make my life any less over.” Julia had replied.
She stood up, walked out of the office, slamming the door as she went and to the nearest bus stop. It hadn’t really hit her yet. Acceptance of this seemed impossible. She finally tried to understand, and realized that she couldn't. She made herself think the word if. If it were true... What was she going to tell her parents? What about school and all of her dreams? How was she going to tell Rick? With each question the tornado got bigger and bigger.
At that moment, she detested herself for letting this happen, for being so weak. She knew that she would soon be exiled from her family, her school , her community, church and maybe even her friends.. She knew that all she would have left was Rick…Maybe.
Her mind was erratic with all the worry, she knew Rick would do the noble thing and marry her, that he would accept the permanence of the test results. No matter how life altering they were. But could she accept it? Was she ready for this? Was she strong enough? She wasn’t sure she could make it through this. The feelings of dread and hope were omnipresent.
When Julia got on the bus twenty minutes later, she went straight to the back and sat by an open window. She knew she was going to tell Rick first, he would help her see the bright side to this situation… If there was one. The only obstacle there would be his parents, they had never liked Julia, they told Rick that she was “from the wrong side of the tracks” and she knew this would be all they needed to convince Rick that they were right. It was true that Rick’s family had money and Julia’s didn’t, but that didn’t matter to Julia.
Julia decided to just call Rick, she knew that it would be better face to face but she couldn’t wait any longer, the waiting was slowly driving her insane. He reacted exactly how she thought he would, he told her they would get married, buy a house, be a family and live happily ever after. But Julia wasn’t interested in fairy tales, she wanted to know about their parents, school, college, dreams, jobs and money.
“We’ll make it work,” Rick told her, “screw our parents. All we need is each other”
Julia was about to argue with him when she was flung out of her sit and to the floor of the bus. Her cell phone went flying out of her hand when she hit the floor. She tried to stand up but she was suddenly struck again. Julia did not understand what was happening, why everything in the bus was flying around, why she couldn’t get her balance. Finally, everything was still, Julia tried once again to stand up, when she got to her feet she understood what had happened. Another driver, right where Julia had been sitting, had hit the bus. Julia knew she had to call 911, there were people on the bus that would need medical attention, and Julia was one of them. But she couldn’t find her phone anywhere.
Julia heard the sirens then and she knew help was coming. She touched her leg, and felt the wet on her jeans. She looked down, confused, and realized she was bleeding. Julia began making her way to the front of the bus so that she could get to an ambulance. Tripping while she clumsily climbed around the people on the bus, she finally made it to the front of the bus. The pain in her cuts became the dominant feeling, aside from the panic and confusion. Julia saw the paramedic....Everything that happened next is all a blur. Julia got loaded into the back of an ambulance; the paramedic started asking her a bunch of questions.
“Rick! Please call Rick!” Julia kept repeating.
When they got to the hospital, things got even more hectic. Doctors were yelling for IVs, this test, and that test. All Julia remembers is telling anyone that would listen to call Rick; she knew he would be worried about her. She could remember talking to Rick on the phone when the accident had happened.
With that thought Julia couldn’t help but remember that night a few months ago, she was at a party with her friends, Rick couldn’t make it and she was upset. She had gone into a room to get away from everyone and everything, after she had been there for a while some guy had come in, at first she had no idea who he was, but as he got closer she saw his face very clearly. He came and sat next to her on the bed, when she tried to get up he pushed her back down, “no, don’t” Julia remembers telling him, begging him not to do what she knew was coming next. He didn’t listen, he kept going and Julia couldn’t stop him, he was too strong and she was too weak. She blocks out the rest, it hurts too much to remember.
A couple of hours later, after the doctors had finished taking all of their tests, Rick walked in. Julia’s eyes instantly filled with tears, she was glad that he was there, the doctors would be back any minute and she needed his support. Rick walked over to Julia, put his arms around her and just held her.
“It’s okay” he whispered, “everything’s going to be just fine.”
“How do you know for sure ?” She had asked him, doubting it was true.
“’Cause we’re together and that’s all that matters.”
About five minutes later the doctor had come in and introduced himself to Rick. He explained to them all the precautions that they would have to take, that this was a life time commitment, how and when to take the HIV medications. He had told them that Julia would be fine and she would be discharged in the morning.
Julia looked at Rick and thought about how he was right, about how they didn't need anyone besides each other. Love conquers all it never fails. Why should it fail them now? "I love you," he whispered. "With all my heart," Julia finished. She breathed in deeply and prepared herself for the rest of the struggles for love that still had yet to come…