I am late for third hour Sociology
. I'm always sluggish just before lunch, when I can smell the pizza but can't taste
I'm alone in the hallway. I can hear roll-call from loud authoritative voices on either side of me. My teacher will understand my tardiness. Lately, my belly is my hall pass.
I am slow and uncoordinated and I can't see my ankles when I walk, but I can feel their full-jelly-bloat. The rest of me is still tiny. From behind I am still an adorable sixteen year old. But my ankles are like tree trunks. I can push a finger into my skin and it will leave a half-inch thick dent in my leg for hours.
It's one of those pregnant things. Like the fact that my sweat smells like raisins for reasons unknown. And my hair is dull. And I need butter pecan ice cream.
It is almost Christmas.
I will be a Mommy in less than a month.
I am studying for finals.
I am getting stuck in my desk.
The halls are getting longer with each passing week. I am out of breath. I am always thirsty...always peeing. My breasts ache, and my spine is a backwards C.
I am staring down the hall toward Mr. Studdard's classroom, hoping to get there before he starts talking. In these moments of quiet, I get a chance to worry. I start to see my "circumstance" the way everyone else sees it. And I don't like it. So I sing to break the thinking-silence... "It's been a long December and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last." and I want to believe it so hard that it comes true.
And I smile a little when no one is looking because I'm happy that this kicking, rolling, tumbling baby boy picked ME for some odd reason. That can't be a bad thing. It just can't.
So I am wandering, growing a little slower in my dreamy pregnant girl sway when I am intercepted. I recognize the woman coming toward me as the Special Education teacher, and I am preparing to explain my hall-lingering when she starts to speak.
"Excuse me dear. My name is Mrs. Johnson."
"Uh... Hi." I wait. She is fidgeting a bit.
"Well I've been meaning to introduce myself to you."
This is strange. I mean, I've gotten a lot of attention in the past few months... The Yugoslavian girls like to touch my belly without asking. The freshman boys avert their eyes and call me "maam". The boys who used to want to see me naked are shy and awkward when they speak to me, the principal pulled me aside to tell me, "You can stay, but don't make it look glamorous. Pregnancy is contagious." And the girls who caught "the bug" hate me because my partner didn't leave.
But this was different, I could tell.
"What I mean is," she continued,"I've been meaning to discuss your eyes glancing down to my... situation with you."
I can tell she is accustomed to using small words with her students. She is giving me time to process the word "situation." I realize this is her habit, but I am slightly offended, and it takes me a second to start listening to her again.
She is talking about her best friend. That she and her husband are professional, educated, in their forties. Do I know how hard it is to adopt a baby in this country? Money is no issue.
It can't be possible that this woman is asking me to sell my baby to her friend. It just can't be possible. So I wait...
And she is facing me, both hands out like she's been explaining basic addition and wondering why I haven't caught on yet.
"Don't you see what an opportunity this could be for you? What could you possibly have to offer this child? You'd be doing the right thing. You'd get your life back. And it would be an open adoption. You could visit anytime you like."
"No." I say. I want to grow ten feet tall and step on her. I want her head to catch fire. But I just say No.
Mrs. Johnson stiffens. She is pulling her superiority card. "I'm simply asking you to think about what's best for the child..." She begins her lecture when I can't help but interrupt.
"Do you think you're qualified to educate people?" I ask. I have offended her. I have offended HER.
"Listen here, young lady, there is no need for you to be rude. You're lucky I don't walk you down to the office right now for insubordination." She is jutting her neck out to ensure that I know she is in charge.
"You're right. I'm being entirely inappropriate." I say. Walking around her, I head toward my class, when she calls after me.
"You just remember this isn't like playing house, little girl. Just because you can make babies doesn't mean you should have them." She backs into her room in a stern-faced huff.
As I continue down the hall, a little stunned and unsure of myself, I run through the thousand defenses I would like to have given on my behalf. But I am tired, and have nothing clever to say, nothing that would change her mind about me or my "illegitimate" spawn.
My Sociology teacher, is looking for me in the hall. He is the only person who has ever looked me in the eye and said "Congratulations" instead of "Good luck." And I am reminded that I don't really need it.
As I take my place among my peers, the tap-tap-ping-flutter starts just behind my ribs. Baby boy has the hiccups again.
Maybe this year will be better than the last...
Song lyrics: "Long December" by Counting Crows/ "Recovering the Satellites" album