…10 Years Forward…


“Homecoming”

I’m honored to do Genie’s hair. Brings back memories of doing hair while Derek and I were both in college. He was finishing up his Bachelor’s in Religious Studies and I was getting my Master’s in Education. I worked at a high end salon, so I was racking in a lot of dough. Derek was working two jobs on top of going to school. And when I wasn’t at the salon, I was taking care of our girls… we barely saw each other.

But now, I work at Brink as a Math Teacher and Derek works at a Christian School as a Chaplain. He still works at warehouse some nights and on the weekends, but we’re not crazy busy like we used to be. He’s currently working on his Masters and wants to get his Doctorate eventually. I’m amazed at where we are!

“Wha-la!” I say spritzing her tight, pulled back bun with hairspray to hold it in place all night. I really didn’t do anything fancy.

She stands up and gives me the mightiest hug for the skinniest girl. Then she holds my shoulders and looks me in the eye, “I had a dream you and Derek had a baby boy.”

With an eye roll, “Derek and I are happy with both our girls… we don’t need anymore kids.”

We really couldn’t afford that right now.

“I’m just saying… he’s adorable! He looks like Papa Trick.”

Julie is pasty white with straight black hair and hazel eyes. Priscilla has straight red hair and ice blue eyes with freckles. She’s trying to tell me Derek and I are going to have a kid with brown skin and curly hair? HA!

“What are you smoking?” I joke.

“I know this is hard to accept but accept it!” She says keeping her cheery smile. She takes her navy-blue ball gown off its rack that helped it hang on the door of her closet. The bell of the gown embellished with faux diamonds and pearly-looking jewels. The sleeves of the gown matching blue but also see-through.

“I’ll wait for you downstairs with everyone else.” I say as I leave.

I was prepared to go through the whole safe sex talk. I know that makes me a little hypocritical as a Christian… but I think it’s better to have that conversation, but Genie’s pretty on fire for God… which I know we’re all prone to falling and sinning at times, but her heart desires what God wants for her life. At least I’m pretty sure, if her heart isn’t in that place, she is a GREAT actress.

In the foyer, Bobby lectures Oliver, Genie’s date, about when to be back and all the things father’s lecture their daughter’s date about. I picture Derek doing the same thing in like seven years when Julie goes to her first school dance. O my God! That’s only seven years away… I feel OLD. Okay, I’m only 26, but I have a 9-year-old! All my friends are just getting married and starting to have kids…

Xzavia, Bobby’s wife, has Albany on the home video-chat system. She’s away at college in Columbus, OH… That’s so far away from us, but we’ll see her at Christmas.

I purposely step in the line of sight to steal the attention.

Albany: Savvy!

Me: Hey Al!

Albany: I miss you.

Me: I miss you more! I can’t wait for Christmas… why aren’t you coming home for Thanksgiving again?

Albany: I’m going to spend it with Philip’s family. They’re right here in town.

Me: Aw… I forgot you have a serious boyfriend. Stop growing up! Just stop!!!

Albany: Whatever! You can take it.

Me: No, I can’t… (I get all teary-eyed.)

Albany: Are you crying? Are you finally pregnant again?

Me: Did Genie tell you about her dream?

Albany: No, we were praying for our families in class last month and I had a vision of you having a boy. He looks like your dad, just a lighter version. His curls are so gorgeous. You’ll finally have a kid that looks like you.

Me: (Trying not to be offended I say🙂 Julie and Priscilla look like me! We have the same eyes and noses.

Albany: Whatever, your son is gorgeous! I can’t wait until you find out your pregnant.

Me: D and I are done having kids!

From the top of the stairs, Genie yells, “No, you’re not!”

Looking at Albany on the hand held  video-chat sphere, Xzavia comes to my rescue, “Stop pestering her. Prophecy can change according to obedience, are you sure you were released to share that with Savvy right now?”

Albany: (wincing from shame) Oops. Sorry Savvy. I love you.

Clearing her throat loudly and theatrically fake, Genie directs everyone’s attention to her. We applaud her and tell her how beautiful she is as she descends the stairs. She walks up to Oliver, who nervously tells her how pretty she is. He puts the red rose corsage he brought on her right wrist.

In front of the door, she stands locking elbows with Oliver. Oliver’s black bowl-cut hair is slicked with a lot of moose to stay in place. He wears a gray suit with a navy-blue bow tie and a burgundy dress shirt. They smile for photos. I don’t get why Genie died her beautiful blonde hair jet black, but she wanted a different look. I never pictured Genie dating a Native American, but they look cute together. I for sure thought she would date a Mexican with her love of Mexican culture.

I remember when she was tiny playing princess in Bobby’s living room! I can’t handle this!!!

After pictures, I swoop in and hug her not wanting to let her leave. I whisper in her ear, “Guard your heart…” She totally knows what I mean by that.

Derek is the youth pastor at church, that we all go to together, and he preached a sermon about sexuality and purity. He preached when we guard our hearts we’re holding dear all the promises of God, and when we trust God and follow in His precepts, when we receive God’s promises it gives glory to God and prevents us from damaging our souls or hurting others. He emphasized sex out of marriage compromises our relationship with God. Because we’re designed for marriage and only meant to have sex within marriage, doing it outside of marriage damages our heart, but within marriage sex ignites our hearts and helps us build healthy concepts of commitment, love, and intimacy. I wish I heard a sermon like that as a teenager… Even though Derek and I didn’t have sex until our wedding night, this night ten years ago, which was like 4 months after Julie was born… I think Derek and I would have just had a smoother first year of marriage, if we heard the message he preached on “Guarding Our Hearts” at Genie’s age…

“Can you let go now? I don’t want to show up after all the fun is over.” She says loudly.

I release her drying my tears on my sleeve.

“Oh, Happy Anniversary! Why are you hear and not with your husband?” Genie wonders.

“He had to work… we’re gonna celebrate next weekend. Thank you.”

Bobby embraces me on the left and Xzavia embraces me on the right, as we stand outside by the door and watch the young couple get in Oliver’s mustang and drive away to one of the best nights of their high school career.

“Belated Happy Anniversary”

Half awake I feel a warm light appear in front of my face. The smell of pine firewood hits my nose and I perk up suddenly opening my eyes. To my wonderful surprise, it’s Derek holding a new candle of my favorite sent to my nose. I look at the alarm clock and it’s 4:13 am. He must have just gotten in.

“Happy Anniversary… Have I told you lately… I love you so much.” He set the candle down on my night stand and kisses me.

He breaks away and goes to stand up, but I hold him by the head, “Are you coming to bed?”

“I’m all sweaty and musky from lifting packages all night. Don’t you want me to shower first?”

“You can shower afterwards.” I kiss him back.

He pulls away to gain clarity, “You mean I’m actually getting lucky tonight?”

“So, you don’t want to then?” I tease.

Quickly, he stands up and whips off his shirt and then leaps over me and lands on his side of the bed. His long locks cover his face like a curtain. I turn over and I hover his head. I wipe the hair out of his eyes, strand by strand. For a good while, we just smile and stare at each other. He doesn’t look that different than he did 10 years ago. He’s a little thicker. I remember after military school for two years he had a six pack but now it’s a pouch… I’m very grateful he isn’t going bald like his dad…

But beyond his looks, I’m so in love with who he is on the inside now. I love the man of God he is. I love the father he is to our girls. I love the type of son he is to his parents. The type of brother he is to his siblings and to mine. I love the kind of neighbor he is to everyone around us. I love how he treats me like I’m his queen, but he leads me like a king. I love him more than I did yesterday. And yesterday, I loved him a lot because he picked up an extra shift at work to earn more money for our family vacation next June.

He lifts his head to kiss me, but I back up.

“What? You changed your mind?”

“Genie, Albany, and Xzavia have had visions of us having another baby… and I know we can’t really afford that right now?”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on going unprotected tonight.”

Yeah, we’re that couple that still uses condemns… Birth control makes me sick… we tried many different kinds but I’m one of the women in the world that gets terribly sick under hormone manipulation… and neither one of us like the idea of getting fixed… I’m usually pretty good about tracking my ovulation and make sure we avoid making love on the days I ovulate to be extra safe, but I don’t know… I kind of want another baby.

“You don’t have to tonight… if you think we can manage the expenses as they come up…”

“Oh, we can handle anything together. Are you sure?”

“Yeah…” I say right as I kiss him.

“The AMAs”

Tyler Swipe, who some how transformed into a pop star after rising to fame as a teen country star, announces who the New Artist of the Year is, “Kaylie Johnson!”

Julie and Priscilla leap off the couch and start jumping radically all over the floor. Julie does a somersault in between the coffee table and the TV yelling, “SHE DID IT!”

“Aunt Kaylie won! Aunt Kaylie FREAKING WON!” Cillie shouts exuberantly.

I’m like crying… This is the moment she’s been working for the past ten years. She moved to Nashville after high school. She would call me after every rejection, every fallen-through deal, and every disappointment for encouragement and prayer. When she took the huge risk to transition from a Christian artist to a Secular artist, she got a lot of criticism from our circle of Christian friends. But last September, her album dropped and beat out some of the top artists in the country. Her single “Love & Freedom” still sits at number one. Her album is the most downloaded across all platforms. Over half the songs on her album have been featured on TV shows, and in films…

Kaylie wears a stunning red dress, he long hair in a fancy fishtail braid, with sparkles and jewels woven in. She hugs the songtress Tyler Swipe and accepts her AMA.

Crying joyfully, she wipes her tears, “O dear Jesus my Messiah… I don’t have any words… but… Thank you! Thank you God, thank you to my producers Lauren and Ed, to all the musicians who played on this album… thank you to Neill, my husband… I love you honey… Oh, and I have to thank my bestie- Savvy! I’m so grateful for this and I would not be hear today if I did not trust the path God sent me down. My glory is God’s glory. Oh- and thank you Julie and Cillie, your prayers got me through- now go to bed!”

The girls freak out they got mentioned on national TV.

God’s goodness can be overwhelmingly beautiful.

“Cash Moneymaker, Future NBA ALL-STAR”

“Let’s go defense!” I blare at the top of my lungs.

“Cash Money!” Trick hollers.

It’s nice that we’re all here. Derek, my girls, Bobby, Genie, and Xzavia, Netty, and Deshaun, and Arnie and Jessica. Trick too, my dad, who is the best. I still can’t bring myself to call him dad like Netty and Arnie, but he’s cool with me calling him Trick. So… after Julie was born, I did start writing him letters, but even after he got out of prison we didn’t connect until my grandma, his mom, got sick. Julie was five and Priscilla was three. Julie has always been close to my grandma since she was born, so over the last week of her life we camped out at the hospital and Julie bonded with my dad right away. I knew there was no way to avoid him anymore.

Cash takes after his dad. He has a beautiful set of curls and yet, he shaves them all off to sport a bald look… He’s so tall for 13… 6’0”! College scouts are already recruiting him. He plays varsity for the high school he’ll be attending next year as point guard. Last week an analyst on ESPN brought him up and says he’s the second coming of Kobe Bryant…

Watching him on the court dazzles us.

One-minute left in the 4th quarter, we’re down by two points, and the other team has the ball. Cash didn’t play most of the game because he hasn’t been listening to the coach. He’s in right now, because he’s the best player defensively and offensively. He’s also the number one stealer in the region right now.

Sure enough, Cash steals the ball from the opposite team’s point guard. He drives to the hoop. On his way up for a lay-up he gets fouled, but he still makes the basket. He makes the extra point putting the team ahead by one.

 The clock slowly whines down, between the fouls and the time outs and the free throw shots, from both sides.

Ten seconds to go, we’re down by two, our ball. Full court pressure after the ball gets passed in to Cash. Cash spins around his defenders and rushes to the top of the key at the three-point line, he pops his shot off and it goes in putting us up by one!!! Yes.

They put full court pressure on the other team and the clock runs out before they cross over to their side of the court. We WON!

The whole family high-fives and hugs as we cheer about the victory. Cash leaves his teammates to join in our family hug. We don’t care that he smells and is drenched in sweat. We put him in the center of us and smother him with love!

This is one portrait of family I never pictured. I wanted a close family like this my entire life, since I was a little girl. We are far from perfect. We fight a lot and get on each other nerves, but there’s no doubt any of us love each other. We are all alcohol and drug free. We spend every holiday together. We get together once a month and we take giant family vacations together. We attend the same church. We live in the same city, and whether we’re blood or not, because we’re family, we’re there for each other, no matter what… All things are possible with God.

And my nephew will make it to the NBA if my prayers have anything to with it!

As we release Cash to go back to his team, Trick announces, “Pizza on me at Mama’s EVERYBODY!”

Trick does really well financially. He wrote a book about his life and his conversion to Christ while he was prison. He goes around the world sharing his testimony and preaching the gospel. And last month he just sold his book’s rights to Pureflix so they can make a movie about his life. Makes me wonder if I should write a story about my life… no one would believe I’m not on drugs, not a smoker, and not an alcoholic. That I’m a teen mom that lives in upper-middle class with a Master’s Degree. That I’m married to my childhood sweetheart. That I survived rape, kept and raised my rapist’s baby, and put my rapist behind bars… No one would believe my story.

“I Miss You”

Ten years ago today, a time of tremendous gloom

I sat in your hospital room

I witnessed you rededicate your soul to the One

Who bled, died, and rose again for you- the Son

Messiah Jesus- our glorious savior

Who won your heart through a painful cross labor

I’m at peace knowing you’re in paradise

I can’t imagine the glory you know and the size

Of the smile on your face

In that wonderful place

I have so many unfulfilled wishes really

I wish you got to hold Julie and Cillie

I wish you were there when Derek and I said I do

I wish I could hold you and kiss you and tell you I love you

I don’t really remember telling you that

And even though you put me through a lot of crap

I’m so grateful we had that best time together

For your finale in life, that it was better

Than our ugly beginning

I know you know in life now I’m winning

But with all my blessings- it doesn’t change this fact

I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU.

“Truth Prevails”

I stare at the letter from Kurt. He got sentenced for 15 years but he’s up for parole due to good behavior. He claims to have found Christ and his letter is filled with a long-winded apology. He wants me to be a character witness for him at his hearing! I believe he’s changed, but I don’t want to help him get out sooner. He wants to meet Julie too.

Now, we’ve told Julie that Derek isn’t her birth father. We told her that Kurt was and that he wasn’t a very good man and he was in prison for something bad that he did. We did not tell her about the horrendous act that led to her conception. We’re waiting until she’s older and more mature to handle that reality. We’re not lying to her, we’re just withholding part of the truth.

For the past year, I’ve allowed Julie and Kurt to exchange letters, but Julie’s never expressed she wants to meet him. She’s never referred to Kurt as her father. She tells her best friend Stacey that Kurt her is sperm donor dad. She came up with that take all on her own, after she watched a PBS special about IVF and egg and sperm donating in America, and how laxed our restrictions are on how often people can donate their genetic material. She may be 9, but at times she’s like 30.

I don’t know what to do… I don’t think I can handle this right now. Christmas is coming up, Derek and I just found out we’re pregnant for a third time- I really don’t why I let my sisters manipulate me into this pregnancy, and I have the classrooms from hell this year!

God, what do I do?

GO.

I laugh.

Julie walks past me and sits down at the kitchen table, and she set her backpack on the tabletop. Cillie follows her lead and sits next to her. They pull their school iPads out and log in to start their homework.

I snap out of it and put the letter in the junk drawer.

“What do you both want for a snack, before dinner?”

“A peanut butter and banana sandwich.” Julie asks.

“That’s weird!” Cillie says sassily to her big sis. “I just want PB&J mommy,” in a sweet girl tone to me.

That was Kurt’s favorite snack…

“Have you ever had a peanut butter and banana sandwich, Julie?”

“No, but Daddy Kurt says it’s is favorite snack and he misses it.”

“How come Julie has two daddies and I just have one? Paulie has two daddies too, but they live together, but he doesn’t have a mommy… that must suck.”

“Cillie, watch your mouth.”

I try to process Julie calling Kurt dad and wanting to eat a snack like him as I gather the ingredients. It’s so much easier to talk about forgiveness and moving forward when you don’t have to face the person who hurt you… I mean, I know I don’t have to worry. He has to register as a sex offender and he can never be alone with Julie, but I can’t stop my heart from racing with panic…

DON’T BE AFRAID.

Yeah, I don’t have to be afraid.

“Ooo! There are beautiful angels surrounding you mommy!” Cillie exclaims. She’s a seer. She sees angels all the time and she’s been getting visions about her baby brother like crazy. She told us his name the other day, Rodney, which before then we couldn’t choose between that name or River for a boy and Delany or Laney for another girl. We’re very private when discussing baby names not revealing the name until the seven month, but with prophetic kids and family members you can’t keep anything secret.

“Yeah, mom, God sent His messengers to help you be okay with Daddy Kurt’s letter. So are you okay with going to see him?” Julie wonders…

The mail was in the house, waiting on the kitchen island counter when I got in the door… The girls came in after me and there’s no way Julie could know about the letter let alone know what it was about…

Okay God… I will go… I’ll speak on his behalf but God… just keep me sane and my girls safe…

Both my girls get up and race over to me. They hug me as I start crying.

“It’s okay mommy.” Cillie says.

“You don’t have to go if it’s too hard.” Julie says.

Laughter tickles our hearts and as I crouch low we just keep laughing in the Holy Ghost. They smother me in kisses on my cheeks. Then Julie hands me the kitchen hand towel to wipe my tears.

“I’m okay… How did I get blessed with the best girls?!”

“Because God is too good!” They shout in sync.

…Back to the Present…


“God is Too Good”

I want to write a poem but I can’t really settle on rhyme and meter… But just thinking about God’s goodness, blows my mind… I went to church with Derek and Kaylie last week and I learned why awful things happen to people.

We live in a fallen world and we all have free will, because God loves everyone unconditionally, He will not override anyone’s freewill. Unless we submit our will to pursue after His will, is when He’ll interfere in our affairs and impact the earth because He gave authority of the Earth to us.

When we have relationship with God and we live our lives for Him, we build the Kingdom on the Earth. Through loving people like He loves us is how we change our world and bring people to Him. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to listen and to trust Him and have faith everything we go through has a purpose that will make God’s Kingdom bigger. As believers we are one big family and our job is to add to the family God has designed and to build a home for God on the earth.

I have to forgive the jerk, Kurt- I have to forgive Kurt… Because Jesus died for all of us, he deserves forgiveness. I have no idea how I can forgive him… but I know with God… anything is possible.

I think last night I had like a vision of my future… Ten years from now… I don’t remember anything but the names of my kids… I think… nope… I don’t remember. I have immense peace! Whatever life throws at me, God is with me, and He will never leave me or forsake me!

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me.

And I must be this way because Netty’s been praying for me… probably Derek’s prayers too… And well Kaylie’s as well… who cares! Jesus is the best friend I’ve ever had… greater than Derek and Kaylie put together.

I don’t hate my life anymore. I’m sad my mother is dying. I’m sad I don’t know my dad. But I got this hope, knowing everything is going to get better. I have a purpose now. And that purpose is living life with God, after all He made humanity because He wanted to enjoy community with us (Rev. 4:11).

I think I’m going to write a book about my life… or at least blog about it… so if anyone suffered like I did or do… they know there’s real hope. Not the kind of hope where you wish for things to be better, but with hope that confidently knows something better is COMING!


Author’s Note

Originally, “Bussing It” was going to be 12 parts. But I cut it short, when I incorporated the flash-forward, I felt like it offered enough to showcase the direction Savvy was going to take with her life.

I was seriously thinking about Savvy putting her first child in adoption, but I decided against that. I felt like a stronger story of forgiveness prevailing that way. But I’m pro-adoption…

This story is the first Story Sunday where I have campaigned like crazy on social media and the first series where I was very adamant about being consistent. I only broke once by failing to post a part one week, but life happened and I didn’t plan enough to make up for it.

I’ve had this idea since 2012. There’s many different versions on my flash drives. The only part I used from those other versions are the characters and the stories that Savvy told her little sisters. In one version, I was going to have Savvy grow up to be a famous children’s author and I think based on this version, we can see she definitely followed some path of writing in life, but I left it very open-ended as to where that goes.

In all the other versions but this one, Savvy and Derek were going to break up and he was going to die in  a car accident and or a drug overdose. But I really fell in love with this idea of the two of them forever and never separating until death from a ripe old age.

Originally, she was going to be pregnant by Derek and not Kurt. Originally Kurt was really sweet and Bobby was the child molester, but somehow those roles changed and I’m okay with that.

As usual I have people getting saved in my story because salvation is the best and I love seeing the power of that even in a fictional context. I think I’ve used the power of conversion too much. For the next one, we’ll have a series with already saved people!

Thank you so much for reading this serious. If you loved reading it, feel free to share it with someone you think would enjoy reading it!

If you have any questions for me, drop them in the comments section, and I will respond as soon as I can.

I know Disney uses the slogan “Dare to Dream”… and I don’t know how long they’ve been using that, but I thought of the for story title back in 2013/2014, and I feel like I came up with it first… but I have no proof and I very well could be wrong. But I dare you to dream and to never give up on your dream, you have that dream for a reason, and you are meant to fulfill it. God will show you how to do it the best way! And if God crushes your dream, he has something better in mind because He knows you the best!

Best regards,

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“Dinner 38”

              Netty firmly believes the family that dines together, stays together. Eating dinner at the table isn’t up for debate and absences from dinner is only excusable when sick, out of town, at work, or invited to someone else’s house for dinner. I’ve been to 37 dinners since living with Netty and Deshaun. Tonight makes the 38th dining experience.

              “At the next visit, we’ll know the sex of the baby. We should have been able to find out today, but the technician couldn’t get a clear view… but everything else looks really good.” Netty says passing Deshaun the serving bowl of sautéed green beans.

              Dishing out a hearty scoop onto his light blue plate, Netty’s favorite set of dishware, Deshaun asks me, “What do you want, a boy or a girl?”

              I hate that question. I hate that I’m pregnant. I hate that I dream about having a little girl and treating her like precious gold. I hate that I’m afraid she’ll look exactly like the jerk and I’ll detest her existence and treat her like the scum of the earth.

              “A boy.” I lie.

              “Really?” Netty seems surprised.

              “A boy, you want a little D running around?” Deshuan hands me the bowl of green beans.

              The whiff of the veggies makes me super nauseous. Normally, I love veggies, but lately I only want wings and rice. I take a little bit because Netty will lecture me about how bad it is to eating according to cravings and not a well-balanced diet.

              “I just want a healthy baby.” I say honestly. “Maybe, we shouldn’t bother finding out the sex. Letting it be a surprise could be fun.”

              Netty nearly choked on her meatloaf at that thought. Netty plans everything to a tee. Knowing the gender will help plan for the baby shower, how to decorate the nursery, and how to pray for the kid’s destiny. Gulping her food, she says, “Well, if that’s what you want… okay…”

              That must be the opposite of how she feels on the inside.

              “What does D want, huh?” Deshaun wonders.

              “Um…” I can’t lie about this one. Netty confronted me in the car, on our way home from the doctor’s visit, asking me if I told Derek yet. I told her the truth, that I didn’t. I almost broke down and told her about the jerk, but I can’t. “I don’t know.” I shrug my shoulders.

              Deshaun chuckles when he concludes Derek knows nothing about the baby. He sighs as he bites the food off his fork. Though his mouth is closed, we can hear him smack his food as he chews. It’s super annoying. The baby flutters and kicks me as I eat the meatloaf. This baby is a total carnivore.

              Deshaun takes a swig of his beer from the green bottle. He sets his beer down on the table and after he swishes his gulp down, he asks me, “You plan on raising this baby on your own?”

              “I don’t even know if I want the baby, so I until I know what I want to do, I don’t see the point in telling him.”

              “He’s the father, he should know about his child.”

              “D’s no more ready to be a father than I’m ready to be a mother.”

              “You should have thought about that before being careless and getting knocked up.” Deshaun snaps.

              Crying, unable to hold them back, I plea, “May I be excused.” I wipe my suddenly runny nose.

              “You need to finish eating.” Netty mothers me.

              “I’m done. I feel sick anyhow.” Guilt like a brick hits me. I’m a horrible sister for lying to Netty and Deshaun. I’m a terrible girlfriend from hiding this pregnancy from Derek. I’m an awful person. “May I be excused please.”

              “Yes, you may.” Netty says.

              I wish I could just leave my dishes behind, but that isn’t earning my keep.

              While I rinse my plate in the kitchen, I overhear Deshaun rant how unfair I’m being to Derek. Netty defends me a little bit, but she backs off the more heated Deshaun gets.

              In my room, I lie on my side, like a good pregnant woman, and I wish I just knew what to do. I wish I could stop crying, but I can’t.

“Post Trevor”

Kaylie’s been a doll. To spare me from the horrors of bus travel as a pregnant woman. She picks me up whenever. I text her my location and she pops up there as soon as she can get there.

I’m surprised at how well she’s coping. She broke up with Trevor before she miscarried, but I really thought she would go running back to him after she lost the baby, but that’s not the case. I also thought she’d be in utter despair. Netty confessed to me the other night she’s had two miscarriages and she still grieves the losses. However, Kaylie’s thriving in school. Her dark brown hair chases her crimson hair away as time goes on. She brings her guitar to school and plays in the park before and after school. In Social Studies when we talk about politics she boldly tackles the topic arguing from a biblical viewpoint.

I sort of have no idea what happened to my second best friend. She continues to be a different person. When she smiles, it doesn’t seem fake. When she sings, her voice brings a peace. When she laughs, she makes me laugh.

In class and in the hallways, when Trevor tries to talk to her, she kindly says she doesn’t want to talk to him. But when we’re alone, she says nothing bad about him. She wishes nothing bad upon him. Kaylie has become a saint. Kaylie’s life post Trevor is great!

I wonder, would I fair in life so well post Derek?

“GPAs”

College GPA: 3.9

College Algebra: A-

College Writing I: A

High School, Junior Year GPA: 3.89

“FaceTime w/ Derek”

DEREK’S long locks are gone. He sports a clean cut, close fade. He looks well.

Derek: I miss you so much babe.

Savvy: I miss you too.

Though SAVVY is burning up under a pile of covers, she makes sure to hide her bulging belly.

Derek: So my mom picked up a lot of extra shifts, because a lot of nurses took the holiday off, so… she isn’t coming out for Christmas after all.

Savvy: That sucks hon, I’m sorry to hear that.

Derek: No, this may be a good thing. Maybe my dad will let me go visit my mom and then I can see you.

Panicking, SAVVY blurts-

Savvy: NO!

Derek: (confused) No?

Savvy: Like I miss you like crazy. I really do. But you look really good… I can’t really remember the last time you looked so good, so happy…

Bashfully, DEREK smiles as his cheeks flush red.

Derek: I am happy. I’m really happy. Do you know why?

Savvy: Why?

SAVVY waited for him to be romantic and to say something along the lines of seeing her face, but what he said surprised her and made her angry.

Derek: Jesus the Messiah.

Savvy: (rolling her eyes) Really?

Derek: Yeah, like um, last week, before I got released for Winter Break… in our last chapel service I accepted Christ Jesus and invited Him into my heart… Like I have no doubts anymore God is real.  I don’t have nightmares anymore. I don’t want to get high anymore… and um… (whispering) I don’t think about sex all the time or look at porn anymore. (Returning to normal volume) And I don’t feel alone anymore… I have this peace constantly that doesn’t make sense. God is SO AWESOME.

Savvy: I’m happy for you… I’m happy that you’re doing so well.

Derek: Why don’t you believe in God?

Savvy: What?

Derek: I mean, do you believe in God, like Netty does?

Savvy: No. I don’t but I haven’t really bothered to study religion.

Derek: But knowing God isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship with Jesus.

Savvy:  I kind of don’t feel like the preaching right now and if that’s all you want to talk about, maybe we should just talk another time.

Derek: So you’re going to ask me to not talk about something important to me because it makes you uncomfortable. I asked you a question just trying to learn more about you so maybe I can help you and you want to avoid it…

Savvy: You want to know why I don’t believe in God?

Derek: Yeah, why?

SAVVY pushes off her heavy blankets and points the phone at her stomach as she pulls up her flannel shirt.

Savvy: Because I got fluffing raped by my mother’s boyfriend and I’m stuck having the jerk’s kid. (Pointing the phone at her cigarette burns on the upper part of her abdomen) Because my mother abused the crap out of me. (Crying, and yelling, she holds the phone back up to her face) Because you got taken away from me, the one good thing in my life and now there’s more than a physical distance between us. It’s like I’m not important to you anymore. I don’t believe in God because I have nothing good going in my life and I haven’t really seen anything to convince there’s such a thing as a good God because life sucks. I wish we had fluffed and I wish I was pregnant with your baby, because at least I would be excited about this and maybe I would have you back in my life and maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t feel like dying. Like I hope I die giving birth because I don’t want to live anymore, but I can’t kill myself, because I don’t want my mother to have the satisfaction of getting rid of me nor due I want my sisters to miss me… and truth be told I’m scared as SNIFF of death because I can’t help but think you and Netty might be right, God is real and because I HATE HIM SO MUCH FOR MY CRUMMY LIFE I’LL GET STUCK IN HELL. This life is hell enough. I don’t want to live forever in hell, but if God is real He better do one good thing for me. I don’t know what that is… but it better be something fluffing good. And you know what, I get enough God Talk living with Netty, so I don’t want to talk to you until we can just be ourselves and talk and if you can’t be the new you without Jesus Fluffing Christ, than I don’t want to talk to you. GOODBYE Butthole!

SAVVY hangs up the phone and throws it on the bed. It bounces off and falls to the ground. Fortunately, she didn’t crack the screen of the caseless phone.

“Family”

My family is fluffed up. My Aunt Betty had her son, Arnold Patrick Moneymaker, at the age of 16. Arnold’s father, Patrick was 18, but in the state of Arizona it wasn’t illegal for them to be together. Jewel was 9 at the time. A few years later, Aunt Betty had Annette Devlin Moneymaker, at the age of 19.

Aunt Betty and Jewel had really, scary religious parents- Catholic I think… and very racist… because Patrick was half black, he was not good enough to be with their daughter… When Aunt Betty got pregnant, they kicked her out of the house. Patrick played the good guy, he married Aunt Betty and they got a one-bedroom apartment…

Arnie was 6 going on 7, Netty was 3, and Jewel did something monumentally stupid. She seduced her brother-in-law and conceived me at the age of 15, but that ugly truth didn’t come out until I was like 2, when Aunt Betty and Patrick got divorced and he shacked up with Jewel for a bit.

I don’t call him dad. I call him Trick… all three of us do… He is currently serving time for smuggling drugs and weapons across the border. I have no idea when he’s getting out. Occasionally, he writes me a letter. I never read them. He left Jewel when I was 4, and I barley saw him… I don’t really know him.

Oh, and Arnie, at the bright age of 18 had a baby with is 17-year-old girlfriend, Jessica… Our family is just cursed. I swear there’s some bored, spoiled woman fictionally writing about my life on her tiny little blog… Because according to Netty, God is good and if He gets credit for my crummy life, I’m having a hard time believing the Man in the Sky is a good guy.

Albany was born when I was 7… to Bobby Church… and Genie is supposed to be Bobby’s- according to Jewel, but according to Bobby he is not her father, yet, he won’t do a DNA test to prove it. He wasn’t that bad. He swore worse than Jewel, drank a lot more, but he never beat anyone up… Jewel would beat on him. I really thought they would forever be miserable together… but Jewel caught him cheating and kicked him out. Three days later… she brought home the jerk.

“Nurse Netty”

“OW… Holly fluffing CRISP!” I scream.

“I need to make sure they’re clean.” Netty says as she washes my feet with a warm, rough wash cloth.

The soles of my feet sting like a fiery bee sting multiplied by a thousand.

I ran for as long as I could and then I walked. By the time I got all the way to her house the sun rose. Deshaun had already left for work and she was up… probably praying… I don’t know…

Now that she’s done cleaning my feet, she applies this fancy cream from the hospital… it’s actually super soothing… It must have a pain-killing agent in it.

The wooden toilet seat is finally starting to hurt my butt… I readjust to get comfy and she snaps at me to stay still as she holds gauze to my left foot and then she wraps it snuggly in white bandages.

I look up at the skylight. The foggy glass makes it impossible for anyone to see in clearly and for anyone to see out. The pastel green wall and matching tiny, rectangular tiles are pretty. I want a bathroom like this when I have a house one day. Well, if I ever have a house one day…

Gently, she sets my left foot down and picks up my right foot and rests my heel in between her knees, which she sits on upon the floor, at my feet.

I’ve always been jealous of her straight brown hair and light green eyes, and white-person complexion. She has a peach-earthy tone, but no one knows she’s part black. She looks white, so does Arnie. They look like twins, except for some reason he shaves his head completely bald and he doesn’t have a receding hairline. Maybe it’s because he’s a hipster. He sports a full beard that is weirdly red instead of brown, which he grooms and uses beard oil to keep it kempt. Moronically, he wears non-prescription glasses. Yes, the man collects fakes glasses, some of them lens-less, just to wear as a fashion statement.

“Savannah, why are you ignoring me?” Netty asks as gets of the ground slowly, groaning lowly like getting up is a real struggle.

“I’m sorry… What did you ask?” Wow… where is her attitude coming from? I got a lot on my mind. I can’t focus.

“Why did Aunt Jewel kick you out?”

I want to say part of the truth. I hit her and I burned her hand… If I tell her the full truth, I’m scared… Netty is so by the book about everything… What if she makes call the cops? I can’t do that. I won’t.

No. I need to lie altogether… at least until I figure out what to do.

“I’m pregnant…” Okay, I tell the truth a little.

I get to stay honest. I don’t need to say anything else. She jumps to conclusions like I knew she would. She’s convinced Derek is the father. She’s disappointed in me.  So disappointed she repeats it, “I’m very disappointed in you.”

That’s not fair! Oh wait, she doesn’t know everything, but I thought the God she served knows all, why isn’t He telling her the truth? Fine, she can feel however she wants about me.

I stand up only to experience shooting pain on the bottom of my feet. “Can I barrow a pair of shoes please?”

Fortunately, we’re both a size 7.

“You’re not going anywhere. You can stay in the spare room.” She holds out her elbow for me to take. “Let me help. Lean on me.”

I want to run, but I’m too exhausted. I want to cry, but I’m all cried out. I want to punch her in the face, but she doesn’t deserve it. I want to set Jewel on fire, but that is psychotic. I want to die, but then Albany and Genie would be sad. I want to be with Derek. I wish I knew where he was, because I would hitchhike my way to him. I’d repay my drivers however needed… H O W E V E R  N E E D E D.

We wobble to the end of the hall and across from the home office, we enter the spare room. The walls are a pastel yellow and the carpet is a plushy, thick cream. The room is tiny. A twin bed rests under the window and a tall, cherry wood dresser stands by the door next to the closet, with white wood sliding doors. A light blue quilt with a lavender flower pattern sits at the foot of the bed made with white sheets. The sunlight leaks through the cracked blinds, making the room cinematically inviting.

Side by side we sit on the bed.

“I remember like a few months ago… we had that really deep conversation over coffee and you were adamant you and Derek weren’t having sex… is Derek the father? You can tell me anything, you know that right?”

Instantly, my sight blurs from my newfound tears… Apparently, I can cry… still…

She swoops me into her embrace and I can’t let go. This attention feels amazing! Like I wish my mom had a nurturing bone in her body but she doesn’t… because all I really want is my mom… why can’t Jewel be my mom- like why can’t she love me like a good mom?

I want to tell Netty about all of it, but I can’t. I won’t… I’m tired…

“Get some rest,” Netty says in the threshold of the door. She adds, “Let me know if you need anything.”

I don’t bother to get under the covers. I grapple the pillow in my arms and lay my head on the mattress. The refreshing smell of detergent relaxes me a bit.

“Derek Phones Again”

Derek: Happy Thanksgiving!

Savvy: I can’t believe you’re not here.

Derek: Yeah… hopefully mom will let me come back for Christmas.

SAVVY panicked by the thought.

Savvy: I think it’s cool that your mom flew out to your dad’s so you could spend Thanksgiving with your whole family. If you had to spend Christmas like that, would that be so bad?

Derek: (Sighing) I just miss you like crazy… I miss Kaylie and Trev too, how are they?

Savvy: Um… not super great…

Derek: Why?

Savvy: Well, Kaylie wanted to place the baby in adoption and Trevor wanted them to keep the baby, but it doesn’t matter now…

Derek: (Shocked) She got an abortion?

Savvy: Ah… no… she um… miscarried… And Trevor’s trying to make up with her, but she’s totally cut him out of her life. To her they’re over… I kind of think it’s a good thing…

Derek: (Agitated) But isn’t she rededicated to Christ? How will Trevor get saved if she cuts him out of her life completely?

Savvy: She can barely look at him without thinking about the baby she lost. Give her some time Derek.

ANNETTE opens the door to make an announcement.

Annette: Dinner is ready and we’re ready to eat.

SAVVY sits up suddenly, muting her end of the phone call.

Savvy: Can you just save me a plate? I don’t know when I’ll talk to D again.

Annette: Did you tell him about the baby yet?

Savvy: I don’t want to tell him over the phone.

Annette: You need to come eat with us now and then do your homework. He can callback another day.

ANNETTE leaves the door open disappearing around the corner and down the hallway. SAVVY moans in a harsh hush tone, SUPER angry at ANNETTE and her dumb house rules to always eat dinner together. SAVVY unmutes the call.

Derek: Babe are you there?

Savvy: Can you call me tomorrow or soon? I have to go.

Derek: Um yeah… do I call this number?

Savvy: Yeah, this is officially my new number… I’m on Netty’s plan now.

Derek: Jewel is allowing that?

SAVVY freezes. She doesn’t know what to say to that. DESHAUN, ANNETTE’S husband peaks into the room. The black man stands tall at 6’5” and he’s a very muscular Firefighter. He keeps his head bald because he has a bald spot. He doesn’t have any facial hair though.

Deshaun: (Intimidatingly) Didn’t your sister tell you dinner was ready, and didn’t she tell you to join us?

Derek: Who is that?

Savvy: Yes, sir. I’ll be right out.

DESHAUN remains standing in place, glaring at SAVVY, waiting for her to move.

Derek: Is that the jerk?

Savvy: No. I love you, bye.

SAVVY hangs up on DEREK. She gets up and walks up to DESHAUN. She follows him to the dinning table.

 “Alone”

I couldn’t feel more lost. I’m like a ghost in my own life. I’m there but I can’t connect to anyone or anything. Derek’s been gone for a month. I haven’t heard from him. I don’t know if he’s in the looney bin or in GI JOE school. I. WANT. TO. DIE. But I can’t… because one day Derek is coming back and if I’m not here… I don’t want him to feel like this forever… Being alone, sucks.

“Kaylie and Trevor”

Passing the joint to me Kaylie says, “He’ll be back, but I think it’s fluffing bark-sniff you can’t talk to him. If I were you, I’d march over to Alexis Fabry’s house, kickdown the fluffing door and make that blick tell me how to get in touch with him.”

I just pass the joint to Trevor without taking a hit. I don’t really like smoking marijuana… I only do it because Derek likes to.

Trevor takes a huge drag and exhales a huge plume of smoke in my face… The secondhand high offers a decent buzz right now.

“I can’t believe his parents. Their such fluffing helicopters.” Trevor huffs. He draws his knees to his chest and uses his knees to rest his crossed arms.

Kaylie takes the joint out his fingers. She lays down on the floor, fully intending to finish what’s left on her own.

Derek and I met these two at Brink on our first day. For as long as we’ve known Kaylie, she keeps her pixie cut fiery crimson red and she’s got snake bite piercings on her bottom lip. She dresses like a steam punk princess with a very gothy edge. I don’t know how she can wear long ruffled sleeves all year long in the desert, and long leather boots that go up to the knee, with nearly four-inch heels. She’s really short and Trevor is like basketball star tall… I guess she just tries to catch up. Though with her porcelain complexion, her style of clothing suits her… is that racist of me to think?

Trevor is like Derek’s twin. They both have long hair past their shoulders, that they never wash. They wear vans and loose-fitting jeans or long jean shorts. T-shirts about any legendary rock or metal band and hoodies, even when it is as hot as hades out. They both skateboard too. Though lately, Trevor’s been really into BMX. He even competes in BMX tournaments out in the boonies and up on the mountains. The main difference is, Trevor is like the Mexican version of Derek. Brown skin, black hair, narrow brown eyes… but I’m not sure if Trevor is Mexican… his mom is White and I don’t think he knows who his dad is…

“I get where they’re coming from, it just sucks…” I say as I lie down next to Kaylie. I snuggle her like she’s a body pillow. It feels cool to be this close to a warm body that isn’t a little person.

“Are you coming with us tonight?” Kaylie asks blowing more smoke in my faces.

We both cough because the room is super stuffy now.

“I don’t know… I’m on thin ice with my mom… I guess if she doesn’t have a problem with me staying at your house this weekend… again… for the third time in a row…”

Tonight, Stefan Troy is throwing a costume party at his house in honor of Halloween. Everyone is going to be there. Trevor is supplying the party favors and by party favors that means DRUGS… lots and lots of drugs… all kinds…

I have no idea where Trevor scores such a variety and he sells to a lot of people. I know I shouldn’t hang around him, but other than Derek, Kaylie is one of my people and I don’t get Kaylie without Trevor.

“Babysitter by Default”

“I don’t know what the fluff you do over at the blick’s house, but you ain’t going this weekend.” Jewel said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“All weekend [the jerk] and I have to work the night shift. You need to be here with the little sniffs so nobody calls fluffing CPS on me. Those sniffs sleep like bricks. I know they’d just sleep right through. It’s those fluffing new neighbors thinking their holier-than-fluff and sniff, snooping around and I know, if they knew the sniffs were here alone… I’d be fluffed sideways to TIMBUKTU.” Jewel said.

I didn’t argue.

She added, “The only fluffing thing you’re useful for is being the mod-sammed babysitter.”

Jewel and the jerk left for work without feeding us dinner. It was late, but I couldn’t let my girls starve. I made the Babysitter Chef Special: Box Mac N’ Cheese with Hot Dog Slices. Albany ate like the chunky girl she is… she eats her feelings… and had like all that helpings minus one for little Genie. I didn’t eat because I wasn’t hungry.

Albany took a shower while Genie and I played dolls. Genie doesn’t make Barbie and Ken have sex yet, so she’s still pure and innocent. I try to do everything I can to keep her that way. Life sucks the more you get know about it. After Albany was ready for bed, I said she could watch TV while I gave Genie a bath.

Genie loves to take baths. She loves to swim too. I guess she just loves water. Once Genie gets in the tub with suds, it’s super hard to get her out.

After I get her dressed in her pink night gown, I collect Albany and we all climb into bed together. I didn’t change out of my day clothes and they didn’t ask me if I was going to change. We lied there while I told them the same story about The Yellow Butterfly. They fell asleep at the same point they always do, before I get to the good part. I don’t remember the good part anyhow…

“The Flu”

Poor Albany’s home with a stomach bug, people at our schools must think we’ve taken an extra-long break. Veteran’s day was yesterday. I’m afraid she got the bug from me. I’ve been hanging out with Kaylie a lot, and for the past week she’s been sicker than a dog, but she’s functioning day to day. Her mom won’t let her miss school unless she has to go to the ER and our school is really good about forcing us to make up the hours we miss. Kaylie figured if she was going to suffer, why not suffer through school. But Kaylie finally gave it to me, and I was sick all-day yesterday.

Jewel never let me come out my room. Albany was a doll and switched out my buckets of barf. Her penalty for nursing me back to health was getting cursed with this sickness.

Genie’s had it made though. Jewel and the jerk allowed her to sleep in their bed, with them.

I feel way better today. I think I’m well.

The acidic, musky smell of Albany’s vomit from the garbage bin at the foot of the bed triggers my gag reflex and I find myself rushing to the toilet to offer the contents of my stomach. After I brush my teeth, I go back into the room with toilet paper plugging up my nostrils. The refreshing whiff of crisp toilet paper beats smelling of puke. I take her puke bucket and empty it in the toilet. I disinfect everything with name brand foam cleaner that kills 99.9% of all germs. I wonder if they say that so you don’t sue when you get sick. Truth is, if you get sick, it’s because the germs are already in your system before you took preventive measures or is the company using an honest statistic to advertise their product?

When I bring her puke bucket back, Albany demands I tell her a story.

“I thought you hated my stories.”

In a pouty, moaning voice she confesses, “No I don’t.”

Sitting beside her on the bed, I stroke her bright blonde hair. Her feverish, brown eyes gape at me. She waits for a story to bore her to sleep.

“Which one do you want to hear?”

“The cowgirl one…” Albany pouts.

Okay… that one I remember well. In a cheesy, southern accent, I tell a story, “Gee and Al were just two girls who loved horses and lassos. They may have walked like cowgirls, talked with a twang in their accents like cowgirls, and dressed like hootin’, tootin’ cowgirls, but they were not cowgirls…”

“Not the Flu”

Jewel and the jerk picked up last minute nightshifts. Albany is still sick, so Genie will sleep in Jewel’s bed, Albany will sleep alone in our bed, and I will sleep on the couch.

After just recovering from being sick, and after figuring out my college math and college writing assignments, and after taking care of a sick child all day, I am ready for sleep. I don’t even need the white noise of the TV.

I freak out when a knock on the door wakes me up. It’s 11 pm at night. Only cops and Derek come knocking on my door that late at night… Okay, the cops have never visited us at this apartment yet, but we’ve only been hear a year… anything can happen…

I stand at the door, hesitating to unlock it. My phone rings and it’s Kaylie FaceTiming me. I pick up and see nothing but black.

Her voice echoes as she asks, “Can you let me in already?”

Oh, it’s her knocking on my door.

I let her in and I’m surprised to see her dressed like a normal person. Blue jeans, a blank white tee, and a maroon hoodie that says “fearless” on the back of it. The snake bite piercings are out of her lips too. Weirdest of all, she has tennis shoes on… Something is super different with Kaylie.

Closing the door and relocking it, I ask her, “Are you okay?”

Kaylie holds a plastic convenience store bag in her hands. She paces back and forth, in between the couch and the coffee table.

“Jewel and [the jerk] are at work right now, right?”

I nod.

She reaches in the bag and pulls out a perfectly unopened pregnancy test. I don’t even know what to say. She thinks she’s pregnant?

“I don’t think I have the flu… if I did… I should be over it by now, but I’m sick all the time and certain smells make me sick. I’m tired all the time,” she sighs. That is true, a few days ago she kept falling asleep in class. “And my boobs really hurt… I get migraines lately a lot…” she went on and on and she said she googled all her symptoms and she’s either pregnant or has brain cancer. God, I want neither to be true, I definitely don’t want her to die, so I hope she’s pregnant if those are our only two options to pick from.

“Don’t you and Trevor use like all the free condoms we get from school.”

“Of course, but when we don’t have any… you know… we just pull the goalie…”

I smack my face accidently as I sigh dropping my head into my palm… How dumb is SHE?!

I’m super curious though, why she is not dressed like herself. “Why are you dressed like a normal person?”

Kaylie stops moving. With her back to me, she states, “Because I threw out all my goth and steam punk clothes.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m reinventing myself.”

“Why? Just because you might be pregnant.”

“No… I have a different reason.”

“What’s that?”

Kaylie faces me. She lifts up the pendent on her black thread necklace of a silver cross. “I rededicated myself to Christ. I believe again.”

Whoa… I never knew Kaylie ever believed. I know her parents are incredibly religious, but Kaylie never said she ever believed. She just mocked her senile parents for believing in “the Man in the Sky”. They are a little long in the tooth to be parents to a teenager, but I give them respect for putting up with Kaylie and never hitting her. She could murder someone and they would probably take the blame for her.

“And I needed to get away from all the negativity in my life, I felt like my clothes were a huge part of that. My old clothes from middle school are all I have until I go shopping with my mom.”

She goes on to explain that it happened last night at church. For once, she went with her mom, and she went to youth group instead of sitting in regular service. During the end of the service, the youth pastor was praying for people and she stopped in the middle of what she was doing and pointed at Kaylie. The youth pastor said something no one knew… not even me and Kaylie tells me everything… and then the pastor told Kaylie her destiny… that she’s called sing in the Kingdom. Kaylie said she didn’t open up her voice once to sing last night, but she can sing better than Beyoncé… sorry Queen B.

“Okay… okay… but what makes you think you might be pregnant and why can’t you take that test at home?”

“I don’t want to unload this drama on my parents unless I’m actually pregnant. They’re so happy I gave my life back to Christ… They actually look at me like they’re proud of me now… I don’t want to lose that unless I know I have to…”

“If Jewel finds that box, and thinks that I’m pregnant-,” before I could tell her the ugly truth, Kaylie assures me that she’ll throw it out when she leaves.

We go to the bathroom together. I stand with my back against the wall as she does her thing, peeing on a stick. I’m so nervous. I’m totally freaked out Jewel is going to stop home on her break and she’s going to see us and lose it… I’m also scared about the results. Now that Kaylie’s a believer, she’s not even going to think about abortion, which is fine… it’s her body… but Trevor would make an awful dad. He sells drugs… he gets high all the time… and he’s a jerk… I over look his jerkiness for Kaylie’s sake and I try to compare him to Derek, but he’s not Derek—he’s only Derek’s Mexican look alike. Well, there’s adoption… That might not be a bad choice. I’m sure her parents are going to push for that anyway with their good ole Christian values.

Kaylie sits on the toilet, with her pants up and the lid closed, holding the test as we wait for the results. The timer on my phone goes off and I ask, “So?”

She stares at the test. Way too curious to wait I go over and look at it and read upside down…

“Pregnant…” I sigh.

It’s not like I didn’t see that coming.

Kaylie puts the stick in the box and she tosses the box in the bag from the store. She sets the bag by her feet. I crouch to get eye level with her. I rub her knee trying to be comforting but I feel like I’m epically failing. “We will… figure this out…”

“I’m not getting an abortion.”

“Okay.” I say.

“I can do this…”

“We’ll do this. I’m a great babysitter.”

“No. I’m not raising the baby. I’m going to place the baby in adoption.”

Wow… this is easier than I thought to talk her into adoption.

“But I need you to remind me I want to do this… the adoption thing… when the baby is born… I might want to change my mind, but I can’t, okay?”

“Savvy!” Albany whines knocking on the bathroom door. “I feel sick and the bucket is full…”

Kaylie and I stand up together. We rush out of the bathroom to let the Puking Queen in.

I ask Kaylie if she wants to stay the night, but she says she needs to go home and figure how she is going to tell her parents. She hugs me like she might not see me for a while. I hope they don’t do the cliché Christian movie thing and send her away. That would be SO LAME!

She kisses me on the cheek and I kiss her back.

“Love you girl…” I say.

“Love ya. Thank you so much. You’re a lifesaver.”

“Savvy!” Genie yells. “My tummy hurts!”

I roll my eyes. I hate that Jewel isn’t here to parent her own kids! I hate that my sickness made them sick. And I pray to the universe Jewel and the jerk get sicker than dogs.

“Coming!”

Kaylie sees herself out as I rush to little Genie’s aide. In the hallway, before I can reach her, she pukes on the floor… Thank God the hallway is tile.

“Derek Phones”

Derek: Hey babe…

Savvy: It’s so good to hear your voice. Are you okay?

Derek: Same. I’m good.

Savvy: So… where did you end up going?

Derek: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.

They laugh.

Savvy: (interpreting his joke) Military School. That’s good, right?

Derek: Yes, miss.

Savvy: Miss? You’re brainwashed already? That was fast.

Derek: Uncle Sam’s a good motivator.

Savvy: I miss you.

Derek: I miss you too.

Savvy: I love you.

Derek: I love you.

Savvy: We should have made love.

Derek: No! I mean… I’m glad were waiting. I don’t want you to be scared… Have you thought about talking to someone?

Savvy: Talking to someone about what?

Derek: Why you cry at the thought of having sex… like maybe you’re a lesbian.

Savvy: Ew! I mean… no disrespect, but I like men. I mean, I like you. I love you.

Derek: Then why do you cry when we almost go all the way?

Savvy couldn’t tell him why. She couldn’t talk about it. Not even to him. Not to anybody.

Savvy: I’m just scared about getting pregnant… My mom was 15 when she had me. Aunt Betty was 16 when she had Arnie, and 19 when she had Netty… Kaylie’s 17 and pregnant.

Derek: What?! Is Trevor the father?

Savvy: Of course, she’s faithful… My point is, I don’t want a baby any time soon and like the women in my family have the worst luck.

Derek: Netty’s not a mom yet.

Savvy: She’s different. She’s a God Girl.

Derek: About that…

Savvy: About what?

Derek: God… do you think He’s real?

Savvy: Um… I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. Do you think there’s a God?

Derek: Yeah, but doesn’t Netty tell you about God all the time?

Savvy: She talks about God a lot, but she lets me talk about whatever and never judges me… Like she’s different than a lot of religious people. She’s cool. Why are you wondering if God is real?

Derek: The Chaplin is really cool here and I went to Chapel last night… It’s just made me think about a lot of things… This is going to sound nuts, but I think God wanted me here at this Military School. And I think God wants me to reconnect with my Dad. I hated him when he left. I hated him more when he got remarried. And I really really hated him when Shay was born… but like after Chapel last night… I don’t hate him anymore. The Chaplin prayed for anyone who hated their father, whether they went to the altar or not, and like I woke up today and I don’t hate him. Tomorrow him and Shay are coming to visit.

Savvy: If God is real and he wanted you there, why would he take you away from me?

Derek: I don’t know… I’ll be back soon…

“Fluffed Up”

A light, small box inside a plastic bag whaps me awake and Jewel hovers over me on as I lie on the couch, comfortable nestled in the crevice of the seat cushions and the back cushions.

“You fluffed up, BLICK!” Jewel yells.

“What did I do?”

Throwing the box wrapped in a bag at me, she explains, “You didn’t think I wouldn’t find this hiding behind the toilet. You fluffed up and got knocked up you little blick.”

“It’s not mine. It’s-,” She slaps me across the face before I could explain.

I get up off the couch crushing the box in my hands trying to stop myself from hitting the woman that gave me life. As calmly as possible I say, “I’m not pregnant. I’ll pee on a stick to prove it.”

“Okay,” she says as she grabs me by my ponytail and she drags me to the bathroom. She throws me to the cold, hard tile floor toward the sink cabinet. “In the back there’s a couple of boxes. Take them both.”

I take them both out and set them on the countertop near the toilet. I take one out and ask, “You’re not going to ask why the one you found is positive.”

“Shut up and take a new test.”

Fortunately, I do have to pee. I wonder, “Can I pee on both of them at the same time?”

“Don’t be a brilliant-butt with me you sniff… Take them both however the fluff you need to.”

I unwrap the second one and I sit on the jon. “Is pee going to get on my hand because that will just be gross?”

Jewel glares at me with death. I hold my breath as I pee on both sticks and yes, pee got on my hand. I set them down on the counter as I wash my hands. Jewel picks them up and walks out of the bathroom.

Where is she going? I hurry to follow her. She paces the living room floor, holding two peed-on-pregnancy-tests in one hand and a newly lit cigarette in the other. I sit back down on the couch. My eyes are so heavy and I’m so tired. I can’t wait to fall asleep and for this drama to be over.

Unexpectedly, after a few minutes, after she looks at them both, she throws them at me and yells, “GET. THE. FLUFF. OUT!”

Okay, my mother is officially insane. I’m not pregnant. I can’t be. Derek and I have never had sex. Derek and I have never had sex…

I got my period though… It was lighter than usual. Brownish… but it’s like that sometimes. No… like… the jerk sucks but he’s not stupid…

I pick up both tests and I can’t believe what I’m reading. Both say I’m pregnant… these have to be old or something. These are false positives. I’m not pregnant!

I stand up, “Something’s wrong. That test wasn’t mine. I swear.”

Jewel lunges at me with a raised hand ready to slap me but she doesn’t. She puts her hand down. “I’m not going to feed another fluffing mouth around here. As long you’re pregnant, you can’t be here. You have 10 minutes to grab what you can and just get out… I don’t want to see your fluffing face again.”

Crying, I explain everything. How the test she found belonged to Kaylie, and Kaylie’s going to put her baby up for adoption. I tell her I can do that too. Or I tell her, I’ll get an abortion.

She slaps me twice, first across the face with her palm, then her backhand came for my other cheek.

“You wouldn’t like it if I killed you, would you? If you get an abortion, you better not show your fluffing face at my fluffing funeral blick. Your Derek’s problem now. Get out.”

Jewel slowly walks away from me.

“It’s not Derek’s. Derek still thinks I’m a virgin… that way at least. It’s Kurt’s…”

Jewel doesn’t look back at me. She rushes down the hallway. She busts through the one of the doors. I rush to see which room and I’m heartbroken to see she chose the wrong room.

The girls are up now. (Since Genie is sick, I laid her down next to Albany.) Crying and scared. Asking Jewel what’s going on. I stand in the doorway and I watch my mother pack my backpack. When she’s done, she throws it at me with one of Derek’s hoodies. She shoves me out of her way. In the hallway, she gets in my face and loudly whispers, “It’s one thing you’re knocked up, but it’s another thing to fluffing lie to my face so you can manipulate me to help you murder a baby. I know Kurt hasn’t been fluffing you because he fluffs me every chance he gets. He can’t keep his hands off me honey, and whatever tricks you know, I’m whole lot better, because I’m the original. Not some watered down, fluffing stained, negro sniff.” She spits in my face. “I don’t know what ungrateful blick you are, but you’re no daughter of mine. GET. OUT. Before I throw you out. I don’t really care what you do, but if I were you, I wouldn’t kill that sniff you’re carrying because that may be the only thing that will ever love you.”

“Oh… is that why you kept me? Because I would love you?! Well, I don’t. I HATE YOU JEWEL AND I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL!”

For the first time ever. I slap her and I take the cigarette out of her hand, turn it around and burn her palm. As she hollers from the pain, I take off running. I don’t even put on my shoes. I don’t throw any pants on. I barge out the front door. I run down the stairs and I run as far way from Jewel as I can.

“The Boogie Man is Real”

The Boogie Man is Real.

At night, I try to sleep.

He emerges from the dark.

He lures me into the dark with him.

He puts the fear in me.

He makes me cry.

He steals my soul.

He robs my love.

Minutes feel like forever.

He leaves no bruises.

The Boogie Man is Real.

He’s inside me.

It’s my fault.

I’m dirt.

The Boogie Man is Real.

He haunts me.

I can’t say anything.

She wouldn’t believe me…

That the Boogie Man is Real.

“The Jerk”

The Jerk is Kurt.

Kurt Raines.

He is the Boogie Man.

He’s why I cried

When I tried

To make love to Derek.

Kurt took advantage of me again and again.

He was always safe.

Or so I thought.

I hate him.

I hate Kurt the jerk.

 

 

“Derek”

Love is a strong word. Well, it’s supposed to be a strong word. In many languages, there’s more than one word for love, because love between lovers entails a different meaning—a deeper meaning. Day three of being friends with Derek, I loved him. Not quite like a brother so I guess like a best friend.

We were 4 years old, at a daycare ran out of some old lady’s house. I forgot her name. I remember that the house had brown shaggy carpet, faded yellow flower wall paper, and the house smelled like old person and peppermint. There were 7 of us that stay consistent until we went to real school. I was there before Derek showed up.

I remember when Alexis dropped him off. She wore pink scrubs but I thought they were pajamas. As a kid Derek’s hair was bright, children of the corn blonde—so like platinum blonde— and long down to his butt like a girl. I kept thinking he was a girl for the first few hours we played together. I kept asking, “Why are you dressed like a boy? You’re so pretty.” And he’d snap back, “I’m a boy!”

I got put in time out for bullying him for his long hair. I had a reputation as a little rebel, so the old lady didn’t believe I was genuinely confused. At snack time, I was liberated from the prison of the boring corner, and she made me sit across from him. I gave him my banana as an olive branch hoping to establish peace. As we reached across the table, we locked eyes and he was the first person with blue eyes I didn’t hate or wasn’t afraid of because he was so sweet.

By day three at daycare together, we were playing together nonstop and begging our moms to go to Mickey D’s together. And I loved him. I didn’t get why, but I loved him.

We didn’t go to the same school until 5th grade. My mom moved us right next to an elementary school, which luckily for me was Derek’s school.

And of course, no one understood our friendship. They thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Sometimes we pranked new students and said we were siblings, and they would wonder, “Is Savvy adopted?” Like a mixed girl couldn’t be his fraternal twin sister? No one fell for the lie. My curly, maroon-ish brown hair and nearly black eyes and dark olive skin never tricked them. I found it funny, because I had two half-siblings that looked white and I really had two half-siblings that were fully white. No one believes I’m related to them either.

Derek’s parents went through a nasty divorce over the summer through middle school and Derek’s dad moved to California. The school year, Thanksgiving, and Easter he spent in Tucson, with his mom. The Summer and Christmas with his dad. And maybe it was a little ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ of us, but we talked on the phone all the time, we texted each other, and we messaged each other via direct messages.

It wasn’t until 8th grade, when we kissed… that we became boyfriend and girlfriend… And he is the love of my life. I will not live without him.

“O, Mother…”

“WHO the FLUFF do you think you are?” Jewel questioned me. “What kind of SNIFF is this?” She rhetorically asked throwing a bundle of condemns on the coffee table. All the pretty colors too, blue, purple, red, green… all the colors of the rainbow and a couple of dental dams too. You would think a mother like her would be so proud I’m so cautious with my sex life.

SMACK… across the face… Which stings bitterly… If figures a mother like her isn’t proud. Angrily, I choose to lie. It doesn’t matter at this point. She’ll treat me like she wants to treat from here.

“So my secret stash is not so secret anymore… oops…” I say with so much attitude I piss myself off.

SMACK… across the other cheek… She’s so caring to even out the pain of her punishment.

“Genie found that when that little SNIFF was helping put away your FLUFFING laundry little BLICK… She thought they were slimy balloons…”

I start laughing as Jewel proceeds to tell me Genie and Albany took some out of the package and blew them up like balloons… HOW HILARIOUS! Derek and I do that for fun sometimes after we get a fresh bundle from school. They pass them out on Fridays before every weekend after school. And we’re always allowed to stop by the counselors’ offices and ask for more. Our school is progressive. Then again, they have to be. Most of us are high school rejects: flunkies, addicts, juvenile delinquents, LBGTQ, or teen parents… some of us are more than one. There are a select few who are elites: home-school-sheltered, or chose-to-be-there… but they are the FEW.

“SHUT UP!” Jewel barked. I tried but I couldn’t.

For that she smacked me full force from every direction. In the face, on the head, in the throat, on my bare legs, with the front and back of her hand. The only thing that stopped her from using two hands was the cigarette in her writing hand.

Outraged I wouldn’t be quiet, she pulled me by the neckline of my grateful dead t-shirt and pulled down the collar, stretching it out to expose my shoulder. She threatened to burn me for the fourth time there, if I didn’t be quiet. Immediately, I stopped laughing, I STOPPED breathing, holding my breath to prevent myself from laughing.

She threw me up against the back of our black pleather couch. The coolness of the material soothed my stinging skin. She paced the living room floor, taking a drag of her cigarette here and there. For once in a long time, she didn’t know what else to say to me. Maybe she forgot why she woke me up at 3 am in the morning to discipline me.

This happened before I got home from my night class at the community college. The girls showed me their condemn balloons and I panicked she was going to beat the snot out of me there, right in front of everyone because I figured they were from my unused stash because I really am NOT sexually active. I don’t even masturbate like a normal teenager. I know… I sound like a total fiction character. I’m just not crazy about sex and I’ve seen so many pictures of STIs… I don’t want to take any chances.

But she let me eat my dinner. She let me watch TV with the girls. She let me get them ready and put them to bed. She let me do my homework in the kitchen. She let me get ready for bed. She let me say goodnight and go to sleep like there would no punishment for me.

Not until 3 AM came, after I had to hear her and the jerk screw on the other side of our paper-thin walls. After I heard them share some drinks in the living room and get high and screw again… I hope not on the couch where I’m sitting now. The girls sleep like bricks and can sleep threw a monsoon and/or a microburst. I’m the light sleeper. My sisters slept peacefully on our queen bed while I was awake for most the night. I had just fallen asleep because the all ruckus stopped and then I was woken up by a very angry Jewel.

She just yanked me out of bed, well, the half-naked jerk was ordered to sit me up, throw me over his shoulder, and carry me to the living room… He’s still in really good shape for an ex-marine. He went off to bed because he’s never apart of any disciplinary meetings and actions. She grabbed a fresh pack of cigarettes off the coffee table. Took a new one out, lit it with a match from her “Deus Dive Bar” matchbook, and threw both packages in the décor glass bowl in the center of the black, glossy coffee table. She pulled the condemns and dental dams out of her bra and tossed them on the coffee table toward me. Then she began her interrogation filled with physical torture.

She could just be pacing to psychologically mess with me. To confuse me or to keep me in a panic so I can’t anticipate her next move.

She stopped and faced me. She cocked her hip to the side and she crossed one arm underneath her chest, and she propped her smoking hand up via that elbow perpendicular to her free hand. She took a quick drag then she bent low and tapped her excess ash into the ash tray on the coffee table.

“I was 15 when I had you Savannah. FLUFFING 15 and I’ll be FLUFFED to have history FLUFFING repeat itself, you hear me?” Putting her cigarette in her mouth, only allowing the corner of her lips to lock it in, she walked away saying, “Find a better place for your MOD-SAMMED FLUFFING FLUFF STASH.”

“Bussing It”

Every day. To school- bussing it. To college- bussing it. To work- bussing it. To home bussing it. On the weekend- bus it to Derek’s- bus it to the mall- bus it to the game shop- skate shop- anywhere I want to go- bus it. PUBLIC TRANSIT SUCKS. Majority of the time it smells like sweat, urine, and unbathed hobo. Early in the morning, afternoon when high schools let out, and on the weekend during waking hours- the bus is FULL. Ugh?! And my 16th birthday is like not that far away… but will I get a car? No! I’m too poor for that😊 Will I get to drive occasionally- ha! I wish😊

I’m old enough for a learner’s permit and Jewel won’t take me to the DMV to get one. If I want one, I have to bus it there to get one… And who will teach me how to drive? Not Jewel, she has no time. Not the jerk, he has no car. Not Netty or Arnie because I like never get to see them. If Jewel knew I still talked to them I’m pretty sure she’d give me hell.

The real kicker is… Jewel hates lugging Genie and Albany all over the place and she doesn’t trust me to take them anywhere on the bus… so Jewel makes the statement like, “Sav you need to FLUFFING be 16 already so you can drive these little SNIFFs all over the place.”

What does that mean? She’ll teach me how to drive when I’m 16, or I’m just supposed to know how by then?”

I should be used to riding the bus. Both my life and riding the bus are very much the same in terms how I feel about them. I HATE THEM.

“Maybe Baby”

Tonight is the night! Jewel went to Vegas with the jerk for the weekend. The girls are going to bed at 9 pm and Derek is coming over. His mom is working the night shift at the hospital, so she’ll never know he’s not at home and because it’s our anniversary… we agreed it’s time to have sex…

Like, I don’t really want to completely. I mean I want to… I love him… everyone says you should be in love when you do it for the first time… but I don’t feel like I’m ready… This is huge! I show him like every day that I love him. I help him in class. I give him extra cash for the bus. I go with him to the skate park to watch him skate even though I think it’s totally boring. I pull him out of his funk when he’s depressed. I got a tattoo of his name that mom doesn’t know about for him… I go to parties with him and get high with him, and drink with him, and go down on him… because I would do anything for him. He’s my soulmate. And all I asked of him were two things, let me get good grades in school and let me not have sex all the way until I’m ready.

We were at a party last weekend. I told Jewel I went to Kaylie’s for the weekend, which was true, but we snuck out to go to Hayley’s party. She lives out in the Foothills. Her parents are loaded and she should go to private school, but the only high school that would take her was Brink, ours… She’s got a huge rap sheet. Her parents are gone so much they’re never around to even care when she adds to it.

A group of us were sharing some seriously good KGB via Hayley’s favorite bong… and some how the guys were talking about how gifted they were in their manhood. Everyone teased Derek saying he was the tiniest amongst the men and Derek got all defensive and pants’d himself to show the whole group how well-endowed he was… After that… all the girls from that group, even Hayley were flirty with him all night… Then it got around the entire school, and all day, everyday I have to watch girls flirt with Derek… in the hallways with small talk, in P.E. with their bodies, and in class by passing notes. Derek’s smart… he ignores it all as best he can and he shows me the notes so we can laugh about the girls… but I’m scared. If I don’t do more. I’ll lose him and he’s always been there. He can’t just stop being there.

So we were bussing it, after school, heading to my place and he told me to stop worrying about all the attention he was getting from girls at school. He reminded me that I’m his one true love. That we will be together forever. He reminded me our anniversary was Friday night and after being together for 3 years and knowing each other for 12 years… it was time… it was time to celebrate by making love. This was on Wednesday, I think… And originally we were going to do it at his house because his mom would be working, and I was going to use Kaylie as a cover and she was down with it as long as I promised to use protection, but when I went to ask Jewel to stay the night at Kaylie’s, Jewel announced her and the jerk were going to Vegas for the weekend.

“Tell us a story!” Genie yells from the hallway.

Genie and Albany come rushing around the corner, in their pajamas, all ready for bed. They climb on the couch, Genie to my left, Albany to my right.

Genie screams, “Tell us a story!”

“No, let’s just jump on the couch.” Albany says smiling. She faintly laughs as she stands up taking position. “We never get to when mom is here.”

Genie nods her hand and goes to stand up too. Expect, I fold her in my arms and sit her in my lap. Then I grab her by her arm pits and use all my strength and lift her in the air as I rise to my feet. “Let’s go jump on the bed.

As I rush to our bedroom, Genie spreads out her arms and yells, “I can fly!”

Albany chases after us and then passes us around the corner to the hallway to get to the bed first. When Genie and I get to the room, Albany is quite the gymnast doing back flips on the bed.

“Hey! No flips, just jumps!” I remind her to stay safe.

I toss Genie on the bed but I stay on the ground. I let the two of them jump their hearts out. Again and again they asked me to join them, but I stay firm and decline. If we break the bed, we’ll all get knocked around and burned for sure.

When they tired out, which was like two minutes later, they got under the covers. I tucked them in… and gave both those blue-eyed blondies a kiss on the lips goodnight. The light was off and the night light was on. I was halfway out the door when—

 “Story!” Genie yells.

“No!” Albany shouts back.

Genie and Albany enter a verbal fighting contest to see who could be the loudest and get their way. I flip the light back on and take a seat at the foot of the bed and yell, “SHUT UP!”

Albany jolts up and says, “That was creepy, you sounded just like mom.”

Genie adds, “Don’t do that again… please…” Covering half her face with the blue comforter. Then she chants in a loud whisper, “Story! Story! Story!”

“It’s time for bed.” I say.

 “Can you please tell us a story?” Genie asks with a gentle voice sitting up.

Albany rolls her eyes as she plops back down, “Fine…” she sighs. “Tell a stupid story. Just not the one about the cowgirls… That’s really stupid.” Albany covers her face like she’s a corpse.

“Which story should I tell Genie?”

“The Yellow Butterfly,” Genie says.

Albany jabs the air with her legs below the covers as she moans from frustration.

I rip the covers off Albany’s face and see Albany smiling. Albany is just giving us a hard time. She doesn’t want to go bed. She likes the idea of staying up all night just because mom isn’t here. I stick my tongue out at Albany as I throw the cover back over Albany’s face. I tell her to be quiet.

“You be quiet.” Albany sasses back.

“Stop it!” Genie shrieks.

“Both of you shut up or we all go to bed now.” I say firmly.

As if my words are law, neither speaks another phrase.

“Millicent, a beautiful Darlin of the Darlinquex Tribe, wanted to pick fresh wild flowers…” I tell the story of the Yellow Butterfly. It’s a story I made up myself since Jewel never buys the girls books. I don’t always remember it word for word, or even from plot point to the next, but Genie knows it well. Any time I spiral out of control off course, Genie gets the story back on track, nice and steady.

Before I find opportunity to tell the good part, where Millicent follows the Yellow Butterfly home, the roar of Genie’s snoring hits my ear, and Albany appears too quiet. Both of my sisters are sleeping. I’m free to wait for Derek.

Something is wrong. It’s 11 pm and I text Derek a bunch of times but I haven’t heard back from him. This was his idea… If he road his bike over, what if he got hit by a car or worse a bus. Maybe I should start calling hospitals? Or maybe his phone is dead… He never charges it… He always forgets. He’s like the only teenager on the planet not addicted to his phone… It’s weird. I bring my charger everywhere with me and I like never turn off my phone. I put it on silent. I never TURN. IT. OFF. NEVER.

Finally, at 11:13 pm there’s a knock on my door. Relief cools my nerves as I open the door to Derek, who steps into the living room fuming!

“It’s fluffing bark-sniff!” He yells.

I take his hands and put them on my waist, and I cup his face in my hands. Staring him straight in the eye, I ask what’s going.

We take a deep breath together and he rests his forehead against mine. He breaks into to tears and through his muffled groaning he explains… His mom didn’t go to work tonight. He was getting ready to come over and his dad and stepmom and half-brother were in the living room… waiting for him to come out of his room… They confronted him about some drugs his mom found… Weed and prescriptions pills Trevor gave to him… They found the condemns and his mother read his journal… about him wanting to commit suicide. All the drafts of letters he wrote to his family. All the ways he planned to kill himself… His journal had more disturbing things. Drawings and doodles of the creatures that tormented him at night. The confessions that he sometimes heard voices telling him to kill himself. His mom showed his journal to a clinical psychiatrist at the hospital.

Tomorrow his family is taking him to a really expensive mental facility in California. If he tests looney, he’ll be staying until he’s better. If he just needs anti-depressants and is not a threat to himself or to anyone… he’s going to military school…

I can’t stop crying. I feel like the floor got ripped from underneath me. We collapse to the ground and holding each other we cry.

Once we were all cried out. I move as he moved and we sit in the silence with our backs against each other. For some reason the warmth we generate is soothing… sort of…

“We could runaway.” I suggest.

“No… you’re going to college and high school at the same time… don’t run from that…”

“I don’t care. I don’t need school like I need you.”

“They’re just worried I’m going to be like Laney.”

Laney or Delaney was Derek’s older sister. His parents got divorced because she killed herself. They don’t admit that, but they were happy together when Delaney was alive and then they hated each other after she died. At first, they thought it was because of bullying, but then it turned out she had schizophrenia- which is incredibly rare in teenagers, especially teenage girls… but all her journals and some of her YouTube videos showed all the signs.

“But you’re not… You’re perfectly sane! You go to counseling…”

“Yeah… but I don’t tell that shrink SNIFF…” He confesses.

We both knew that. We were both afraid if he told his shrink all that he experiences, he would get sent away. Now our fear has come true.

I turn to his back… For some reason… I want to do it now. If we have sex, he’ll know that I’ll be waiting for him and we’ll be bound to each other in a closer way than ever before. I rise on my knees and begin to rub his shoulders. He looks up at me and says, “We shouldn’t make love… it will hurt more when I go…”

Like that really old Spidey Movie, I kiss Derek upside down… which is hard… but not bad…

As we break for air and Derek faces me and he asks again, “Are you sure?”

I nod. I’ve never been more sure than now. We continue, not even moving to the couch. I lean down on my back as he leans forward staying on top of me. But as things get intensified between us… I’m scared… I know this is different. I love him and he loves me. I just don’t think I’m ready for this.

Derek breaks up our make out session. He notices the tears streaming down my face. He sits up sighing. I jolt up wiping my eyes.

“It’s okay… It’s not what it seems like… I’m ready for this…” I reassure him. I run my fingers through his long, light brown hair as I go to kiss him again, but he turns his head making my lips land on his cheek.

“No… I think we should wait…”

I put my hand on his thigh, and I mentally prepare to satisfy him the second best way, but he brushes my hand away. He looks at me and stares at me straight in the eye, “I love you, Sav… Let’s just wait until we’re both ready.”

“Really?” I ask to make sure.

Kissing me softly as he rubs my back… “Yeah baby… Waiting for you will be worth it.”

All I can do is hug him. I’m so grateful for him. I don’t deserve him. I know I should have given him this one thing, but I’m glad he wants to wait until I’m ready. Not a lot of guys are like that…

“Promise me we’ll talk as much as we can?” I beg.

He kisses me on the forehead, then he goes back to holding me in a hug, “I promise.”


Thank you for reading “Bussing It” and  tune in next Sunday for another fresh installment!

Pretty soon I’ll be launching #ManuscriptMonday, where I’ll be posting a chapter a week, every Monday, to a book I want to publish. I’ll give you a hint: it’s a little sci-fi-ish… maybe it will be seen as dystopian but I can’t say that for sure. If you enjoy #StorySunday, I think you’ll enjoy Mondays more.

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Right now, every Thursday you can experience some #StorySundayThrowbacks. Every Thursday until the stories run out! It’s the 1 year anniversary since I began “+Positively Unexpected”, which is about Tasha living in a future wear getting an abortion is really complicated. Yes, I’m a pro-lifer, but I wanted to address the topic of abortion a little outside the box. Check it out if you’re interested. Part One is already back up!

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I’m excited to share my writing journey with you, and if you like what you read or think a friend would enjoy it, I’m asking that you share it, but you don’t have to… it’s up to you.

Much love,

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