Thursday, August 9, 2012

WHITE TRASH IN THE SNOW (The pregnancy test) Chapters Twenty- Two and Twenty - Three


A novel by Allison published at


Tuesday morning, Cristol woke up forty-five minutes before her  alarm was to go off. She had to pee.  It was yet another sign, but she clung to denial.   I’m the Governor’s daughter.  I can’t be pregnant. That can’t happen to me.

Getting back in bed, she pulled the covers over her head.  Her mind wouldn’t settle down. She tossed, she punched her pillow, she groaned.  Stop worrying, she told herself. She’d missed periods before, and every time it turned out to be her irregular cycle playing a cruel joke. Even before she’d started having sex it was always a guessing game whether or not her period would come four weeks after the previous one. She envied the girls who could count twenty-eight days between each period. Even more, she envied the girls who were on the pill because they were regular and they knew they weren’t pregnant.  

Cristol once asked her mother about using the pill to get her menstrual cycle into a normal 28 -day rhythm. She might as well have said she’d joined ranks with the world’s oldest profession. Her mother started screaming and accusing. “Fornication is a sin! Fornication is a sin!”

Of course Cristol vehemently denied being sexually active, and launched into a tirade against her mother’s hypocrisy. “Really Mom? You want to talk about saving it for marriage? No one believes being poor made you pass up a church wedding. And Field was a seven pound preemie? Gimme a break. You know, I might be flunking geometry, but I can count. Field was born seven and a half months after you and dad got married and he was no preemie.” She might have gotten away with all of that, but, she got grounded for a week with the statement “Only a retard would believe you were a virgin when you got married. I bet you weren’t even a virgin when you were my age!” It was ugly. She knew she deserved more than the  grounding she got as a punishment. Especially since her parents went out of town and she threw a weekend party while staying home “grounded.”

Those simple problems seemed like nothing now; now that she might be pregnant.  She was tired all the time, wasn’t that a symptom?  Sparkler said it might be from a  lack of vitamin D because the summer days were already getting shorter. Or, she said, maybe it was because she was having a growing spurt, as evidenced by the awesome fact that she’d grown these huge boobs. Wasn’t that evidence that she was going through a normal metamorphosis from girl to woman?

Cristol hadn’t been able to find words to exactly describe to Sparkler, or even to herself,  what she felt.  Now that she lay awake, she concentrated on doing just that. She tried to  look  inside herself and figure out what was really happening. In her head there swirled a mix of fear, denial, and doubt.  That was easy enough to identify. But what was in her heart?  She lay quietly and pondered the question. Then she knew. She knew! In her heart she felt a stirring of love for the potential life that shared a small warm spot somewhere below her belly button.   She smiled. It was confusing.

Maybe it’s time to buy an early pregnancy test.  Maybe I should wait one more day, I’d hate to waste thirty bucks and get my period tomorrow. That would be just my luck.

The price of the test kit  made the free testing given at the Birthright clinic very tempting. But, at Birthright, they make you talk to a counselor who describes fetal development.  Then they give information about  abortion - in detail, covering all the possible complications.  As a Christian, Cristol had always thought that was a good thing – making girls learn the truth about the “choice” before they decided to take a life. Yes, a human life. That was what Cristol believed and that belief was exactly why she didn’t think she should have to sit through a movie and a counseling session at Birthright.

She’d been to church on two or three “Pro-Life Sundays.”  Those were days when an extra collection was taken up for the local Birthright clinic and the pastor introduced the clinic director and he and the deacons prayed over her.  The clinic director was, of course,  asked to share a few words, and the script always included phrases like “Life begins at conception” and “Abortion stops a beating heart.”  Today, those phrases held more meaning for Cristol than they had on those Sundays at church. 

If I go to the clinic, they don’t need to hassle me with that stuff, I’ve heard it a gazillion times.  Girls like me should just get to do the free pee test and get the results.

Even though her condition was uncertain, she was certain about one thing - she knew she was better than a lot of other girls who went to the clinic. Cristol Saplin was not the type of girl who would choose to have an abortion. “I’m not one of them,” she said out loud.

The other problem with the über Christian clinic was the risk of being seen by member of her own church who worked or volunteered there. If one of them called her mother, it wouldn’t matter how the test came out. Just like Field, she’d be sent away. Maybe Dr. Krebs has friends in Siberia. Gee, if I had a baby and got sent to Siberia, I’d have to keep him bundled up all the time. What fun would that be? Putting your baby in cute outfits  is one of the fun things about being a cool mom.

Allowing herself to wallow in the distraction, she imagined holding a soft, cooing bundle of joy that smelled powdery sweet. The details were blurred around the edges and everything was pastel-pretty, secure, loving and peaceful. Being pregnant would be a blessing. It would be awesome. God’s plan for my life. Mom says nothing is a coincidence, so…yup, if I’m pregnant it’s  definitely God’s doing.

The conclusion that a pregnancy was an act of God freed her from blame and responsibility.  She embraced it. If God wants me to have a baby, I will.  Every baby is  a gift from God.”  She caught a glimpse of her smiling self in her dresser mirror. Why, I think I’m glowing. I’m prettier than Maple! Being a teen mom can be God’s will. I mean, really, it’s like, what he chose for his own son.

She liked these thoughts. They felt good. If God let his own son have a teen mom, it’s good enough for my kid, too.  Besides, God will help me be the best mother ever. Well, the second best mother ever, otherwise I would have lived two thousand years ago.

She laughed softly at her own cleverness. A weight had been lifted. She was optimistic, even thrilled about prospects of settling into domestic bliss with her boyfriend and a baby. Wrangler will be a great dad. I hope I really am pregnant!  How awesome that would be!

Her cozy vision was pushed aside rudely when she remembered the way her mother looked when she carried Pride. Good grief! She’d been as big as a moose, and waddled like a penguin. Would Wrangler still love her when she got that fat?

 There have been lots of pregnant girls in school, and I haven’t seen any who  got as big as Mom was. Is that kind of thing inherited? The  thought that she could be predisposed to look like that was a frightening thought. For once, she was happy that she had Grandfather Heat’s horsey features rather than looking like her mother. Her mom and Maple looked more like Grandma Betty, and only Pride looked anything like Tad’s side of the family. Ha! Maple may be pretty now, but someday when she gets pregnant, she’ll look like a pig. I’m lucky after all.  I’m not anything like Mom.

Visions of Rachael’s pregnancy with Pride paraded before Cristol. So many times, Rachael had rubbed her big belly saying, “There’s no hiding it, like a balloon that’s been blown up before, it’s just poppin’ right out.” It was typical of Rachael, enjoying being a big presence in any room. But this particular memory took Cristol into a dark place with the recollection of her mom saying that in front of some of friends of Cristol’s and Field’s. On the day this happened, Sparkler was among those hanging out at the Saplins.

The problem began innocently when Tad said, “Girls, that right there,” pointing to his wife’s belly, “is why you don’t want to swallow watermelon seeds.”  All the kids were too old to believe that, but, being kids, they laughed.

Rachael laughed, too, and responded cleverly,“Pay no attention to him. He’s kiddin’ ya. Only seeds in me are from him.” It was a bit risqué, but either the girls were old enough to understand and laugh, or they were too young catch on. Either way, there was no harm done.

Tad followed up quickly. “Time will tell,” he said, and winked.

“What’s that mean, Tad? That makes no sense.” Rachael was no longer laughing.

“Just sayin’ it’d better look like me!” His eyes twinkled. He had missed the danger signals.

“What?  Are you…is that..” Rachael sputtered.

Her loss of words made Tad laugh all the more.“C’mon Rachael. If anyone understands what that means, it’s you.  Don’t get  mad at me, get mad at-”

“Shut up!” As soon as the words were out, her eyes cut toward the girls. She repeated the demand, adding a coating of loathing. “Shut your big mouth.”

“Oh, please. Nobody ever believed that old story, anyway.” Tad was on a roll. “With Field you got so big, you broke the springs in the car. Told everyone you were – ha - - only six months! Everyone expected you to pop out a set of triplets.”

That was when Cristol learned a family secret. Mom was pregnant before they got married! That night, and for many days and nights thereafter, Cristol pieced together the tell-tale signs she’d missed. It became clear; so clear she chastised herself for having missed it. Her mom loved attention, loved to tell stories about herself, and loved to glamorized and embellish, while pretending to be humble. Cristol, Field and Maple had grown up hearing bedtime stories about Rachael.  The one where their mother was co-captain of the high school basketball team and lead them to the State Championship had been Field’s favorite. Cristol and Maple were inspired by the beauty pageant tales and spent afternoons play acting with their mom’s Miss Azzolla crown and her ribbons from statewide competition. Even Field liked that story when his mom got to the part where “Mommy loses to an Affirmative Action contestant.” That was the cue for the children to boo and hiss, and throw pillows at each other. Cristol didn’t know what Affirmative Action meant, but she understood was something bad.

Rachael had favorite stories, too. The ones she liked best went back into Junior High years when she began courting popularity. With six other girls, she formed a club, the CAMPs – Cutest And Most Popular.  Buck Heat liked the team spirit and camaraderie he saw in his daughter and her group of friends.  He told them they should have uniforms, and he bought them matching t-shirts in bright pink. They spent a Saturday afternoon decorating the shirts, but they didn’t say CAMP, they said “WBTY.”  On the following Monday, they all wore their uniforms, and it didn’t take long for other girls to begin asking what it the four letters meant.

“We’re better than you!” The trap snapped shut on the prey. So satisfying. What Buck had meant to serve as uniforms had become gang member attire. Girls can cut their perceived enemies as deeply with words as any gang member using a switchblade, and the scars remain long after the initial pain subsides.

Even as an adult, Rachael was a regular member of a women’s group who called themselves “The Elite Seven.” They met for birthdays and told each other they were special. It was a pathological need.

Add it all up, and there was no doubt Field was a bun in the oven when Rachael and Tad  “eloped to save her parents the cost of a wedding.”  Most of the time, Tad went along with any history changing story his wife concocted. He’d been interviewed a few months ago for a story about the country’s five first guys – husbands of governors – and he used the old story, the same old spin.  "We didn’t have any money because it had been a bad fishing year. It only cost thirty five bucks to get hitched at the courthouse, so that’s what we did. "

The lie was saccharin-sweet. Fake sugar. Couldn’t anyone else see that her parent’s elopement was not based on frugality? Frugality doesn’t explain the story. Frugality isn’t a reason for not having your sister stand up with you at your nuptials. Frugality was the replacement for the real reason Rachael Heat and Tad Saplin eloped. A baby on the way was the real sweetener in that pot. 

Cristol thought her parents should have simply gotten married after high school. It would have made sense.  She and Wrangler were going to do that.. When you are in love, even two years seems like forever. Summer, 2009, right after graduation, she would be Mrs. Wrangler Strauss, Cristol Strauss, or maybe Cristol Saplin-Strauss.  She could make that decision later.

Happy thoughts were obliterated by the  alarm emiting annoying electronic beeps.  Rudely, reality returned.  Cristol threw off the covers and headed for the bathroom again.


The calculations Cristol worked on in math class had no relationship to the test being given. The only test the governor’s daughter cared about that day was one that she’d be taking that afternoon; one with a very specific pre-requisite – she needed to be seated on a commode.

While her classmates fiercely worked algebra problems, Cristol counted on her finger. “June 14 -  Aug 25 = 9 weeks.” Yup, nine weeks since her last period.  This was a record, even for her. Sometimes late, sometimes early, sometimes skipping a month all together, Cristol had to face the fact that it had never been nine weeks without unwrapping a tampon. Nope, not nine weeks.

The night before, when she should have been studying for the test, she trolled internet sites reading about menstruation, irregular cycles, ovulation, and pregnancy. She learned that a woman could be pregnant and still have “a light discharge” which could be mistaken for menstruation. Her last period had been very light.  At the time, she had thought herself lucky that she wasn’t pregnant from the Memorial Day weekend when she and Wrangler had the house to themselves for almost three days, and lucky that she didn’t have cramps,  and lucky not to have three, four or even five days of being one of the twenty-five percent of post-puberty / pre-menopause females that on any given day, any day of any week, are seeking out a bathroom every few hours. 

But now… lucky? Maybe not.

At least it would be Wrangler’s baby, almost for certain. She wanted to have kids with Wrangler some day, so if the countdown to someday had already started, so be it. She was mature. She’d done lots of babysitting for her sister and young cousins. She would be a great mom. And Wrangler would make a good dad.

“Tonight’s assignment is –“ the teacher was talking to the class, but not reaching Cristol, who  looked around the classroom, picturing what the rest of this school year would be like for her if …

She wouldn’t be the first in this year’s junior class to have a baby bump, other girls were already wearing sweatshirts and big tops and being excused in the middle of the day to go to their prenatal checkups. Already, Cristol was wearing loose clothing, trying to hide her water weight waist. If it were true, she would only tell her closest friends and swear them to secrecy.  But, this was all conjecture. She needed to do some more research, and she needed to get an early pregnancy test asap.

The bell rang and she grabbed her things from the  floor by her chair. She checked her purse for the fifth time that morning, confirming the money was there. Wrangler had given her twenty of it.  Sparkler would be waiting by the door to the next class, the only one they shared.  The plan formulated on the way to school that morning was that Sparkler would say she didn’t feel well and skip class, leave the building, and go buy the home pregnancy test. kit.

Sparkler returned with the EPT most popular among the girls at AHS.   Everyone knew how to read the results, thanks to two lines some poetic vandal scratched onto the back door  of every restroom stall – or at least every stall in the girl’s restrooms. “If it’s an  O then it’s a no, If it’s an X, get excited."

Sparkler was anxious.  “Right now. Come on! I really want to know if my BFF is having a baby!”

But Cristol had no intention of dealing with the news, one way or the other, in school.  School was a place where she might run into Grandpa Heat!

Sparkler walked home with Cristol , but she couldn’t convince her BFF to let her come in.   Cristol watched out the sidelights of the front door until her friend was out of sight, then she went to the upstairs bathroom. The one she shared with Maple.

Counting the seconds helped her stay composed while she stared at the wet stick; …eleven, twelve, thirteen…something was happening…twenty one, twenty two…she stared at the blue X.  It was definitely a blue X. 

Her mind went numb. No thoughts. The silence in her head was like that deep quiet of a frozen lake at midnight – cold, dim, silent, and peaceful. Underneath the frozen surface of her consciousness, lethargic thoughts of unseen life existed without attention.

Cristol shook her head, snapping herself back from mental and emotional suspension.  She took a deep breath, exhaled, and looked into the mirror.  The eyes of the girl looking back were brown, soft, non-judgmental, scared, and sympathetic.  She watched as those eyes went through a series of rapid changes.  First, the furrowing of eyebrows accompanied panic, dismay, bewilderment.  Then becoming wide, her eyes popped above deepening crimson cheeks and pursed lips.  That face stared back at Cristol for two minutes, then, suddenly, tears spilled out over her dark lashes and ran down her face.  She looked away and sat down  on the edge of the Jacuzzi tub.  She didn’t fight the tears, or even wipe them away, but instead, allowed herself the rare occasion of an unrestricted emotional reaction. No one was home, no one would hear her sobs.

She was glad she was alone.  Alone was normal, and  she needed something to be normal while she dealt with the stick that said life as she knew it was over. 

Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. It is an original work, written by Allison, and published for the first time on the blog The Palin Place. 

All rights reserved.


Dis Gusted said...

awwwww - I almost feel sorry for her.....

nope. I don't, must have been something I ate.

Anonymous said...

That was interesting. Having never had the use of a testing device at home for my four, I learn something every time I read here. Having had 12 classmates go thru pregnancies before finishing high school, I can realize what they went thru when they found out. How sad and frightening. There was no clinic back then to go to either. Perhaps some others had gone thru an abortion and we never knew. I do remember being a waitress at the wedding showers and getting the lecture from the school principal on Monday mornings about thinking about what we wanted to do with our lives and having babies so young could ruin those plans. It was a badge of courage to be known as an "old maid"! Most never set another foot in our hallowed hall of education but 2 did come back until they no longer could fit in our desks. A baby arrived a few months later and they were already programmed to be the best mother in the world. They are still happily married and enjoying their grandkids and great grandkids. A few ended up divorced, remarried and happily lived ever after.

I don't think we will see this with "Crystal". Of course, it was a different time and none of my friends had a Governor for a mother or millions of dollars backing them. But, the emotions of teenagers seems universal over the many years. What they think is love, is infatuation and hormones gone a muck. Love is what you end up with after years of growing together.

The young trolls defending her just crack me up with talking about being loyal to her because so and so was cheating on her. There is no cheating if it is love. Life is just a soap opera to them...a stupid reality show. Wonder if they will ever grow up. Babies are not bargaining tools to get your way. It takes a lot of work and love for them to grow up and be a good person. It takes a lot of sacrifice by both parents to give them what they need for the rest of your life. A good parent never feels like it is a sacrifice as they love them so much.

Anonymous said...

From the first chapter I have had the feeling,that this isn't fiction. I know it's based on the witch and certain details are fact. It is more than that, it's about the small things, that you would have no way of knowing unless you were there or knew someone who was. Example: Tad's comment's about their first born early appearance.
I really enjoy reading your "story" it adds a lot to TGIF.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Allison.

I've just recently reconnected with a hi school friend who was in that same situation in 1956. She managed to stay married for 30 years before everything fell apart.

She's in good shape now, living on her own and seeing a grandkid grow.