A few weeks before my senior year, I called a clinic from a payphone and found out I was pregnant. I processed the news alone, July’s humidity running down my back and laying thick on my skin like beads of guilt. The Florida sun spread yellow over everything, all bright sky and silence, and the asphalt steamed thick like the coals of a firewalk. There was much to think about, but I didn’t want to think. I just wanted to breathe.
Room to breathe had been the quest of my junior year. I’d gone looking for it in some pretty dark places and found it, but the freedom I’d found wasn’t as comfortable as I’d expected. It was the kind that quickly sours, the kind that requires hiding the truth and hiding from it. Hiding magnified the darkness and further complicated my sadness. A pregnancy, though – well, that complicated everything.
An unplanned pregnancy is typically complicated, especially for a 17 year old who had planned to go to college, but there were other complexities, too. My boyfriend was an addict, something I should have considered long before, but ignored instead. I worried the Christian bookstore where I worked would cut me loose rather than keep an unwed mother on the payroll. But most worrisome of all was my dad’s job – he was a pastor. Our whole lives had been ministry, and small, unplanned lives popping from the bellies of pastor’s daughters had been known to ruin ministries. Or so I’d heard…
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