Authors: Shelley Hrdlitschka
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Family, #Adoption, #Social Issues, #Friendship, #Pregnancy, #Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, #JUV000000
“How was the French exam?” her mom asked, glancing up from her chopping again.
“Not bad. I think I did okay.”
Her mom nodded. “And your report on
Of Mice and Men
? Did you get it back yet?”
“No, not yet.” Kia stabbed another pickle. “Is it okay if Shawna comes over to do homework tonight?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. How come I haven’t seen Derek lately? Isn’t his family back from their Christmas vacation yet?”
“Yeah, they’re back. But I’m not seeing him anymore. He’s a jerk.”
Kia knew by her mom’s wide-eyed glance that she wanted to hear more, but she’d never ask, and Kia wasn’t going to enlighten her. Kia continued eating pickles, unaware that her mom had suddenly stopped chopping and was watching her.
“Kia, the last time I ate so many pickles at one time was when I was pregnant with you.”
The fork froze, mid-stab. Kia retracted it from the jar with a weak smile. She noticed the puzzled expression on her mom’s face. “I guess that’s why I like them so much.” She flushed. “I mean, because you ate so many when you were pregnant with me.” She screwed the lid on the jar and put it back in the fridge. She glanced at her mom again, fully expecting to find her still staring, but was relieved to see that she was now pressing garlic cloves into the spaghetti sauce.
~ the trunk is straightening out
~ the elbows bend
~ spontaneous movement begins
~ size of a chicken egg
Two hearts beating ...
Inside of me.
Are they in unison
Or does each have its own rhythm?
“What a lovely surprise to see
.” Jade, counselor at the Planned Parenthood Center, reached across her desk to grasp Derek’s hand after shaking Kia’s. “So many teenage girls come alone, or with their mothers.”
Jade was a black woman with an enormous, booming presence. Her cropped hair was graying at the temples and she wore flashy, dangling earrings. A thick gold ring pierced an eyebrow, and a dozen or more bracelets tinkled on her arm whenever she moved. Kia liked her immediately.
“I look after my own business,” Derek said, dropping into a chair beside Kia.
“That’s how you see this?” Jade asked him, her eyebrows arched. “As your
“What else is it?”
“Well, let’s talk about that.” Her deep brown, long-lashed eyes settled on Kia. “You’re here because you’re pregnant and you want to discuss your options.”
“She knows what her options are,” Derek interrupted. “She’s here because she had to come here to book an appointment for an abortion.”
“Is that right, Kia?” Jade asked.
Kia shot Derek a look, but then turned and nodded at Jade. Dr. Miyata had urged her to get a counseling appointment as soon as possible, so she’d phoned the Planned Parenthood Center, the appointment was set, and Derek had reluctantly agreed to drive her.
“Terminating your pregnancy is not your only choice, Kia.”
“I know that,” Kia answered.
“Can you tell me why you think it is the best option for you?”
Kia glanced at Derek. She was just about to answer when he interrupted again.
“Because she’s only sixteen! What other option does she have?”
“Many girls choose not to terminate their pregnancies, Derek. Some of them put their babies up for adoption, and many others keep them.”
“Well, they’re just stupid!” he spat. “Kia wants to get an abortion and get this over with.”
“Okay, Derek,” Jade said quietly, “I think I now know exactly what
think Kia should do. Now I need to hear Kia’s opinion.”
Derek slumped back in his chair with an exaggerated
sigh. He stared out the window.
“Kia,” Jade continued quietly. “Before you got pregnant yourself, how did you feel about abortion?”
Kia considered the question carefully. “Well, first of all, I never thought it was something I was going to have to face. We used birth control.” She glanced at Derek. He pointedly ignored her. “But I was assigned the pro-choice stand in a debate we had in my sex education class.” She shook her head, remembering. “It was weird. By the time the debate was over, everyone was all emotional, even though we were given our positions.”
Jade nodded. “It’s a controversial topic.”
“But I guess I believe every woman should have a right to decide for herself what to do.”
“Okay,” Jade nodded. “And Derek tells me you’ve chosen abortion for yourself. Can you tell me why you feel that is the best choice for you?”
Kia glanced at Derek again and found he was now staring at her. She tried not to let him intimidate her, but it was hard. “I guess,” she stammered, “it’s like Derek says: I’m too young.”
“What’s wrong with being a young parent?”
“Well, I want to go to college ...”
“You still could.”
“But it would be way harder, financially and everything.”
“That’s true. Any other reason?”
“I still want to party with my friends.”
“And you think that if you were a parent you wouldn’t be able to do that?”
“Okay, that’s valid. Anything else?”
Kia was keenly aware that her answers were sounding pretty lame, if only to her own ears. But she continued. “I don’t want to disappoint my parents. That’s a biggie.”
“They don’t know?”
Jade nodded sympathetically. “So that’s why continuing with the pregnancy and choosing adoption isn’t a good choice for you?”
“Uh-huh. And anyway, it would be way too hard to give up a baby.”
“So,” Derek said, looking at his watch. “I’d say those were pretty convincing answers, wouldn’t you, Jade?”
Jade ignored Derek. “Anything else, Kia?”
Kia regarded Derek. Inspired by Jade’s ability to ignore him, she decided to add one last item to her list. “And when I do have a baby some day, I want to have it with someone who loves me,” she said, meeting Derek’s startled gaze.
“Sounds like a good plan,” he said coolly. Then he turned to Jade. “So, do
make her the appointment?”
Jade nodded. “Okay, if you’re sure about your decision, Kia, you now have two more choices. You could have the procedure done in a hospital where you would be put under a general anesthetic. In other words, you’d be put right out. You wouldn’t remember a thing. Or your second option is to go to a clinic where a local anesthetic is used, and you’re awake throughout. This is a little quicker, and the recovery is easier as well.”
“The clinic, I think,” Kia said. “I’ve never been put right out before. The thought of it gives me the creeps.”
“Okay, then I’m going to give you some pamphlets to read while I go and see about setting up an appointment for you. You have to know exactly what is going to happen, and sign a permission form, indicating that you understand the procedure. Any questions?”
Kia shook her head and began to read the pamphlets.
Jade was back a moment later. “How does January the eighteenth sound?” she asked.
Kia looked up from the paper in her hand. She swallowed hard. “Fine, I guess.”
“Are you finding that material a little hard to read?” Jade asked quietly, studying Kia’s face.
She nodded. “A little.”
Derek cleared his throat impatiently.
“But I’m okay,” she added.
Jade handed Kia some more paper. “The directions to the clinic are in here, as well as the permission slip you need to sign. If you have any questions at all, either of you,” she added, including Derek, “please don’t hesitate to call.”
Derek pushed back his chair and stood up. “Finally. C’mon, Kia, let’s go.”
But Jade blocked the doorway. “Kia, part of the reason for this counseling session was for us to go over birth control methods. For the future.”
Kia stood beside Derek. “Not to worry,” she said. “I won’t be back. Trust me.”
“Well then, maybe Derek and I should have a talk.”
“Very funny, Jade,” he said, trying to get by her.
“I wasn’t trying to be funny, Derek,” she said, stepping out of the way.
Is the date of my death already determined?
Like the date for the tiny soul living inside me?
How long will I get to live?
Who decides when it’s over for me?
She lay on the narrow table, staring up at the abortionist. His eyes were ice-blue, and his smile mocked her. She’d had the injection, the one that was supposed to be a partial anesthetic, but she couldn’t move her tongue, her mouth, her arms or legs. She began to panic.
Suddenly he had a scalpel in his hand and was pulling the gown away from her chest and abdomen.
“What are you doing?!” she wanted to scream. She tried to pull the gown back over herself, but she couldn’t move. “I’m here for an abortion.”
“You’ll never have to worry about getting pregnant again, Kia,” the blue-eyed doctor told her, gawking at her naked body. “Not when I’m finished with you. And then everything will be okay. We’ll sew you back up and then off you go.”
The panic intensified. She shook her head from side to side, but the doctor just stood there, smiling down at her, the scalpel poised above her belly.
“Are you sorry now?” he asked, touching the point to her skin.“
“Sorry for what?” she wanted to say, but she couldn’t use her mouth. She screamed a silent scream and the knife plunged into her.
Kia woke with a jolt and glanced at the clock on her night table. The scarlet numbers glowed in the pitch-black room. 3:14. Sitting up, she groped for the switch on her reading lamp, knowing the light would help diffuse the images from the nightmare more quickly.
She took a deep, ragged breath and leaned back on her pillow. She’d been having a lot of nightmares, but this was the worst one yet. With a trembling hand, she picked up a pen and opened her journal. She waited until the feeling of panic subsided and then wrote whatever came to mind.