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Thursday, August 9, 2012
WHITE TRASH IN THE SNOW (The pregnancy test) Chapters Twenty- Two and Twenty - Three
WHITE TRASH IN THE SNOW
A novel by Allison published at ThePalinPlace.blogspot.com
Tuesday morning, Cristol woke up forty-five minutes before
heralarm 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 alack 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 tolook 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 kitmade 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’sdefinitely
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? Thethought
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
“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.
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
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 thefloor 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
doorof every restroom stall – or at
least every stall in the girl’s restrooms. “If it’s anO 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
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, andshe 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.