It was early autumn in her sixteenth year.
Megan sat in the chair facing the window with her legs pulled up to her chest, looking out at the large oak trees dropping their leaves. An orange and brown carpet covered their back garden.
Her mum pretended everything was okay even though it was far from okay. Her dad smiled when he saw her, but mostly, avoided her. It was as if he did not want to be in the same room as her more than necessary.
Although she tried hard, she could not stop the thoughts running through her mind.
Such a fitting word.
Fall in love.
Late at night when she could not chase these looping thoughts from her mind, she listened to her mum and dad talk about her through the thin wall separating their rooms. Her mum thought Megan was depressed, because, according to the wisdom of being a parent, it was the only reason for never leaving the house, spending more time than necessary in bed, and listening to the same songs over and over.
The reason Megan never wanted to leave the house since the cataclysmic end of her perfect world was so much more layered than just being depressed.
Her friends, the people she once considered as the centre of her entire world, gave her those looks now. Looks full of amusement, pity and shame.
It was still too new.
She had not yet accepted her fate.
Six months ago, her shiny, bright train packed full of dreams and hopes chugged along the smooth, flat tracks to Destiny. The scenery was beautiful—never a dark cloud, never a dark tunnel without a light at the end. It was a smooth ride, until… Until she fell in love and boy, did she fall hard.
She turned away from the window and scanned her bedroom. It was a typical bedroom, nothing to write about and no later than next week, when she had made her final decision, this ordinary room might become, depending on what she decided, her sanctuary for the next seven months. She doubted she could face the world once her body changed slowly, but surely. This was a condition she could not hide from the world unless she stayed within these four walls.
It was a decision she had to face, push through. The options had to be weighed. She knew what she had to do if she wanted her train to Destiny to get back on track. She knew it, so why was she hesitating? Why wonder, what if?
"Megan," her mum said as she knocked on the door. "Time to go."
Megan stood up from the chair and followed her mum to her car.
They drove along the quiet mid-morning road without saying a word.
Megan saw her mum chew her bottom lip. Her mum was bursting at the seams to voice her opinion, to tell Megan which choice to make, but Megan had to give her mum credit. For once, she did not interfere. She knew it was not her decision, not something she would have to live with for the rest of her life.
To help Megan make this momentous, life-changing decision, based on facts and not feelings, her mum had brought her here to St. Mary's Home for Unwed Mothers.
Her mum pulled into a parking spot in front of the red-brick building, while Megan pretended to look for her phone to avoid the inevitability of sharing her secret with strangers. She did not want more people to know about her condition. They would give her the same looks she now got from those who used to be her best friends.
As their eyes filled with judgement, so her mind would fill with thoughts of shame. She used to ridicule girls who fell pregnant at sixteen. She thought they were stupid. Had they never heard of contraception? Worst of all, she thought they were too easy to spread their legs. Now, she was in the same boat and she was not stupid, nor did she spread her legs too easily—she was too quick to judge.
"Do you want me to come in with you?" Her mum interrupted her thoughts.
"No, it's fine," Megan said.
"I love you," she said as Megan got out of the car.
"Love you too, Mum."
"I'll be right here if you need me," she said through the rolled-down window as Megan walked toward the steps leading up to a red-bricked wrap-around porch and a faded wooden door.
A boy was leaning against the red-brick wall with his back to the parking area, and as Megan reached for the doorknob, she glanced over her shoulder to find him staring at her.
He was tall and muscular with dark hair, straight and short. He looked about seventeen, maybe a year older, and he stood with his arms folded across his chest.
Megan looked away, conscious of her long list of inadequacies. The old tights she was wearing had a hole in the knee, and a used-to-be white T-shirt, which now had a tinge of grey, three sizes too big to hide her secret. She had not bothered to brush her shoulder-length brown hair, just pulled it into a ponytail at the back of her head.
She dared another glance back at him, while her hand turned the round doorknob.
He was still looking at her.
The door opened inwards and pulled Megan with it. She wished the earth would swallow her whole when the tip of her trainers caught on the edge of the threshold and her arms cartwheeled to keep her in an upright position.
The boy rushed forward and grabbed her around the waist to steady her.
Megan felt her heart sink when his arms wrapped around her just-starting-to show round belly.
His voice was low, smoky, and dead sexy. "Are you okay?" He asked, sounding worried.
Megan nodded and pulled away from him, without looking at him again. Sexy, hot boys were no longer in her immediate future, well, maybe, depending on the choice she made this week.
A nun came rushing down the dim lit hallway. She smiled a friendly smile too big for her face. "Megan, I presume," she said in a soft, demure voice.
Megan nodded. "Megan O'Brien," she confirmed to make sure they were both talking about the same Megan.
"Come, let's sit in my office." The nun walked into a big, bright room to the left. A cross hung behind the large desk, and beside it, there was a large bookshelf with old-looking books. She pointed to a chair as she moved around her desk to sit in her large chair. "Take a seat, Megan. Tea will be here soon."
The nun gave Megan a sympathetic look. "Finding out you're pregnant can be scary, but you will be okay, and there are people who can help you."
Megan swallowed the lump in her throat. "Okay." Her eyes focused on the brass nameplate on the desk: Matron Dougherty.
"While we wait for the tea, shall we discuss your options?" Matron Dougherty asked.
"Okay," she said, wishing she had told her mum to come in with her.
"There are two options. I know, you know there is a third option but, in all honesty, it isn't one I wish for you to consider when there are two good options. First, there is parenting, giving birth and raising the child yourself. Second, adoption, where you would give birth and give the child to someone else, forever."
There was a knock at the door and a young pregnant girl, about the same age as Megan, stood in the door with a tray. The girl had short, dark hair and the same blue eyes as the boy Megan had seen outside on the porch.
"Ah, the tea," Matron Dougherty said pleased. "Come in, Edwina."
Edwina walked into the room and placed the tray on the table.
Matron Dougherty leaned forward, lifting herself off her chair a little and poured the tea. She said, "Talking with someone about your feelings can be helpful. It's a really good idea to talk with your parents if you can. Chances are they care about you and want to help you."
Megan croaked, giving Edwina an embarrassed look, "My parents have been very supportive. My mum drove me here today."
The nun glanced in Edwina's direction. "I hope you don't mind, but I've asked Edwina to join us. She helps with our Support Group for Unwed Mothers, and I thought it might be easier for you to talk to someone your own age, who also knows about the conflict you're feeling, who won't be judgemental or try to pressure you into anything. No one should pressure you into making any decision about your pregnancy. Only you know what's right for you.”
The boy pushed himself away from the wall and walked over to Megan as soon as the faded, wooden door of the building closed behind her. He was much taller than her, but he kept his distance so she would not have to crane her neck to look him in the eye. "Hi," he said.
He was just about to say something else when Edwina came out of the building and stepped closer to them. "Just a second," he said, and turned his face to Edwina. "All done?"
"Yeah, we can go."
"Why do you keep coming here?"
"I don't know. It kind of helps me feel better… Helping others."
He leaned in closer to Edwina. "The only thing that will help you feel better is for you to move on. Coming here just makes it worse. Every. Time."
Edwina focussed her blue eyes on Megan. "Has this rude jerk introduced himself to you yet?"
He turned to face Megan and just looked at her.
"What?" Megan asked.
"Nothing," he said.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
He half smiled. "When God created beauty, it was meant to be looked at."
There was a brief awkward silence.
Edwina exclaimed with a soft laugh. "What a cheesy thing to say. Ignore my brother." She pulled on his arm. "We gotta go. See you next week, Megan and you have my number. Call any time."
"Okay," Megan said, looking at her mum waiting for her, and started walking.
"Can I text you?" He asked.
Megan felt flattered but she knew what happened the last time she fell for a charming boy's flirting. "You're a stranger," she said.
He looked confused. "No, I'm not. We've met. You know my sister." He gestured toward Edwina, standing beside him.
"What is your name?" She asked him.
"Marcus. Marcus Glynn. Anything else you need to know?" He smiled a crooked smile.
Megan shook her head and took the first step down the stairs. "Nice to meet you, Marcus, but I've sworn boys off for the time being. Maybe if we met before or even at any place other than St. Mary's Home for Unwed Mothers, who knows."
A look crossed his face as if he only then realised, he was standing on a porch in front of a home which helps and supports young pregnant girls. "Yeah. Who knows," he said, pulling his hand through his dark hair.
When she reached the bottom of the steps, he called her name. She turned to look up at him and Edwina.
He asked, "Have you seen that movie called You, me and baby make three?"
Megan noticed Edwina nudge him with her elbow.
"You should see it," he said.
"Okay," Megan said. "I'll see if I can find it on Netflix."
"It's not on Netflix and I have the DVD."
"Are you offering to let me borrow it?"
"No. I am suggesting you watch it with me."
"I hardly know you, Marcus Glynn."
He nodded, walking down the stairs toward her. "And I'd like to get to know you, Megan." His shoulders filled out his black T-shirt with a game logo Megan had never heard of.
"If I didn't already make it clear, I am not interested in getting to know anyone. I am dealing with my own crap right now," Megan said as she turned away from him. She walked closer to her mum's car, leaving Marcus behind her. A weird mix of disappointment and anger started to well up inside her. She did not really know what the feeling was, just that it was overwhelming, and she wanted to smack Marcus Glynn for giving her hope. She reached for the handle on the car door and heard his loud footsteps behind her.
His hand grabbed hers.
She pulled her hand away from his but turned back to face him.
"I know what you're dealing with," he said. "My sister… Obviously... Look, we can be friends, you know, talk and hang out."
"I'm sure you have loads of friends and people to hang out with. I don't need your pity."
Her mum started the car and the engine idled.
"I have to go," she said, turning away from him. "See you around."
She sat down in the passenger seat and felt his eyes on her as he remained standing next to the car, but she refused to look his way.
Her mum pulled the car out of the parking spot and they drove away.
"Is that wise?" Her mum asked without looking away from the road ahead.
"We were just talking, Mother," Megan said with an exasperated sigh.
Megan cut her off. "Are you going to judge me forever for this one mistake?"
Her mum inhaled sharply but remained silent for the rest of the trip.
Megan felt guilty. She was taking her anger out on the wrong person. It takes two to make a baby. Donovan, the boy who charmed her pants off, literally, was the one who helped her make this thing growing in her belly.
Now, Donovan was one of those whom her world used to centre on, and he looked at her as if he never knew her, or loved her, or even cared about her, at all.
He should bear the brunt of her anger, but she could not face him. Donovan made her feel as if it was her fault and her fault alone. He was adamant when he told her he would not give up on his own dreams and demanded she gets rid of it.
When they arrived home, Megan went straight to her room and shut the door. She fell on to her bed and was asleep minutes later. She was always tired these days.
Her mum woke her for dinner, which was a quiet affair. The scraping of knives and forks against porcelain was especially loud tonight.
After she finished eating, Megan pushed away from the table. She asked, just to be polite, "Do you need any help with the dishes?"
Her mum shook her head.
"Okay," Megan said. "Good night, then."
Her dad's eyes softened when he looked at her. It looked as if he was going to say something, but he ended up not saying anything.
Megan asked, looking from her mum to her dad, "When you were pregnant with me, and if you weren't already married, what would you have done?"
Her mum asked, "What do you mean?"
"Parenting, Adoption or Abortion. Which one would you have chosen?"
"We didn't need to make that choice," her mum said.
"But which would it have been?" Megan insisted to know.
Her mum was getting angry. Megan could see her cheeks turn that scary hue of red. "If you want to know the truth, Megan. You are too young, too young, to be a parent. What about University? Your dreams? You have worked so hard at school since you were a little girl with just one goal in mind, and now? Now you want to throw it all away. All your hopes and dreams?"
Without thinking, Megan's hand came up to her stomach as if she wanted to protect the little one nestled inside her from hearing this conversation. "Would I really be throwing away my hopes and dreams? Why can't I still have them? Are you saying, you threw away your hopes and dreams when you had me?"
"No!" Her mum shrieked. "You wanted my opinion and I am telling you if I was you, I'd choose adoption or abortion."
Her dad lowered his head in the palms of his hands. He had always been a man of few words.
Megan turned on her heels and rushed down the hallway to her room before the tears welling up in her eyes could escape.
What if she regretted her decision?
What would she do when it was too late to change her mind?Copyright © Lynette Ferreira (published by Fiction for the Soul). All rights reserved.