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“I know she’s dumb, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love her!” I was telling my other best friend Jake as we walked down the sidewalk on the way to his dorm room.  I was visiting him for the weekend because I hadn’t seen him in a long time.  I was in love with him; he knew that.  He was in love with me; I knew that too.  He puts more emphasis on the “was” in that sentence than I do.

-line break-

We never dated, so there was no crazy breakup or anything. We had a couple of months of hand holding and more cuddling than usual and then one night when I’d drank almost a whole Nestle water bottle of 5 O’Clock Vodka and the effects were wearing off, I’d gotten the courage to tell him I loved him.  He’d dropped me off at my house and we were standing there in my mother’s hair salon, just enjoying each other’s company.  We actually got into this awkward hug sort of thing when we said goodbye, because neither of us wanted to leave, but neither of us had the balls to do anything either.  “It’s now or never,” I told myself. We were both standing there, my arms reaching clear up in the air to hug around his neck.  He was a lot taller than I thought he was. He must have grown a few inches while I was away. His arms were around my waist, holding me tight to the potbelly he had never been able to get rid of.

“Jake, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“No really, Jake, I love you.”

“Yeah, I love you too.”

“Oh... really?”

“Yeah, you’re the most wonderful, fantastic, awesome person I’ve ever known. And even if we don’t end up dating—”.  I should have noticed that part, but I was too caught up in what my best friend was saying to me. “—I’ll still think that.  Cuz really, you’re a great person.  I know you don’t believe that all the time, but you are.”

I leaned up then and kissed him.  It was awesome.  He kissed me some more after that, and then he actually did have to go or his mom would get upset.  He was staying at home that weekend and his mother was very overprotective.  Fortunately, she loved me so all he had to do was say that he got caught up talking at my house and she’d cut him some slack.

It never worked out.  I’d gone back to school when the weekend was over and he’d called me the one day to say that he was scared it would ruin our friendship and he didn’t want that.  So, of course, that put a bit of a damper on our friendship for a while.  We’re starting to get closer now, but I don’t tell him all of my deepest darkest secrets anymore. It was like betrayal, especially since he’d started dating someone a week or so later.  I hated her.  Not because she was with him, but because of the way she treated him.  That doesn’t matter though.  That is not the story I’m here to tell.

-line break-

Jake and I were discussing my other best friend, Brittany. She had been in a whole mess of trouble before.  It was as if trouble just followed her around. Here’s some of her stats: she’s been raped about 4 times, she’s had 2 suicide attempts, she’s been physically and emotionally beaten by  one of her boyfriends, she’s got a very over-protective mother and step-father who are getting a divorce, and a very under-protective father who just remarried.  Oh, and her father is transsexual, which is not something she ever thought she would be adjusting to, but he has a lot of cool clothes that he lets her borrow.  She just met him last year and she is living with him now so that she doesn’t have to live in the dorms of the college she is going to. Her latest thing is with her current boyfriend, Zach. This story starts with April Fool’s Day this year.

We’d been carrying on and laughing through text messages about how we were fooling people into thinking that I was pregnant. It was funny because I was a virgin, yet some people still believed it. She said her dad, Mike, had called her boyfriend who was in California at the moment because he was a semi driver.  Mike had told him that Brittany’d fallen down the stairs and was at Allen hospital.  She sent me his number so I could text him later and act like I was freaking out and wondering if he knew.  She scared me then though, when she said that since I had just taken picture of the box for the pregnancy test, she might need to use it in a week or so.  I sent her a message “What!?!?” Apparently, she’d been off birth control for 3 months.

-line break-

“And that is not a girl who should ever go off of birth control, Jake!”

“I know.”

-line break-

The last time Zach had been home, for only two hours mind you, he didn’t have a condom with him. He didn’t pull out either. Brittany was apparently fine with this.

I’d gone on with my day for a while, watching Mandy Moore in How To Deal and wishing I could look like her. The usual. Then I got another text from Brittany. She was crying. Zach had called and was very mad about Mike’s little joke.  He’d stopped speaking to her, wasn’t answering her calls.  I texted him for her, but he didn’t answer me either.  Crying over a boy was a normal occurrence for her, so I wasn’t too concerned.  Then it got worse.  I’d gone back to watching a little more of the movie when Britt had actually called me.  Her voice, while already gravelly when she was normally talking, was softer and whinier. I figured it was just her crying about Zach not answering her calls still. “He’ll get over it in a little while Britt, he’s just upset because he cares about you and didn’t think the idea of you getting hurt was funny.”

“It’s not that… Nikki, I just got a call from his wife.”

It was a joke, it had to be, we both agreed.  He was paying her back for the prank Mike had pulled on him.  She’d said they would be married for almost 8 years soon, their anniversary was in a few months.  She had just seen Brittany’s number on the phone bill a lot lately and was wondering who her husband was talking to so much.

-line break-

“What a dick!” Jake said. He grabbed a couple of beers out of his fridge.  “You want one?”

I nodded and grabbed it from him, reclining back on the big cushy couch in his living room so I could continue telling him the story. He sat down next to me so I shifted and leaned up against him.  I figured I might as well get comfy.

-line break-

Brittany called her back then and asked if she was serious, if this was some sort of sick April Fool’s Day prank. It was not a prank. Brittany’s boyfriend of three months now was, in fact, married. Actually, not just married, but they had children together.  They had a five year old boy, and his wife was pregnant.  Three months pregnant actually.  Brittany called me.

“Can you come pick me up? I’m at a birthday party and I just can’t fake being happy anymore. I’m sitting outside the AMVETS in their parking lot watching the guys playing baseball across the road.”

“Are they shirtless?”


“Oh, well then is it really worth watching them?”

“Not really, but there’s nothing better to do out here. Please hurry?”

I grabbed my keys and started heading out the door of my dorm room as I asked her for the directions.  Then I called my friend Katie to see if she wanted to ride with me and she agreed to meet me in the parking lot, since I was going to take the trash out on my way down and she was in that area already.  As we drove the twenty minutes there, I filled her in.

Pulling into the AMVETS, the first thing I noticed was that Brittany was smoking.

“Please dear God do not let that near my car. It will smell like smoke for years!”

“I’ll put it out, it will be fine.  I was really stressed!”

She got in and I started gagging a little because the smoke smell was infiltrating my nostrils. 

“Ugh! Can’t you leave that outside?”

“Can we go now?” She asked, ignoring my question.

I paused the car a bit while pulling out to see if any of the baseball-playing guys were cute.

-line break-

Jake snickered at me, bringing me out of the story for a second.

I smacked him lightly on the arm; I didn’t approve of his smoking habit either. Mostly because I was just waiting for the opportunity to kiss him again, and I didn’t want to taste the cigarette in his mouth.

-line break-

“So wait, he’s married? For real?” Katie asked.

“Yeah, it’s all real.”

She repeated most of the story, adding a few extra parts that I didn’t know about. Like about how when she asked to borrow my pregnancy test, which I’d forgotten about all about given the later events of the day, she’d been serious.
“Seriously, you were fine with not being on birth control and him not pulling out?” Katie asked her.

“Pulling out is NOT very effective either!” I reminded her.

Katie looked at me.

“It’s better than nothing though!”

In the backseat Brittany was crouched up in a ball next to the door.

“He said he wanted to have a kid with me.  He’d buy a house in the country for us, I could drop out of school, and he would get a different job so that he could be around more often.  We were going to raise the baby together.”

There was dead silence in the car for a second, then both Katie and I spoke at once.

“You were going to drop out of school?”

“A house in the country together?”

Brittany started looking embarrassed.  I was trying desperately hard not to bring up the fact that there was no mention of getting married in those plans at all. I knew both other girls in the car didn’t hold as much stock in that as I did, but I’d had the perfect nuclear family growing up and was raised that people were supposed to get married before living together or having children. Actually, before having sex too, but I was used to others not sharing that idea.

We took Brittany back to her dad’s house and played with her dog and her new puppy a little bit before driving back to school because it was suppertime and we were both starving.  We met up with my roommates in the Mensa and after getting our food, Katie and I filled them in.  There was a consensus:

“I hope she’s not pregnant!”

-line break-

I stayed over at Jake’s dorm that night, watching movies and talking about old times.

“What are you going to do if she’s pregnant? What is she going to do?” he asked me.

“Well, there’s always prenatal vitamins…” I started but I saw the look on his face.  “I don’t know. Help her through it? My roommates volunteered to help babysit. She can’t drop out of school though.  She’d never go back. Actually, she told me she was thinking about it anyway because it’s really hard for her and she can’t afford her car payment, credit card bill, and cell phone with the hours she’s getting now.  She wants to work full time to save up some money for next year and try school again then.”

“That’s pointless though, if she drops out now, then she wasted this whole semester.”

“Yeah, I know.”

We lapsed into silence. We didn’t know how to help her out of this one.

-line break-

I said goodbye to Jake and gave him a big hug before leaving.  I drove back to school and got lost in trying to write papers for finals.  A day or two later, Brittany texted me.

“Can I use that pregnancy test now?”

“Sure, you could come after supper.  Or now, either way.”

“My tv shows are on tonight, I’ll come now.”

“I’m glad you have your priorities straightened out.”

My roommate came in then and announced that one of her friends from work was coming over for 20 minutes or so before her soccer game, and that my roommate had to go to work in a half hour.  I told her that Brittany was coming over and why.

“Tell her to hurry! I wanna see! I wanna see!”

I texted Britt and emphasized how she should hurry so my roommate could see the test before she had to work.

“Should I speed?”

“Yes. Well, okay, not through Taylorville because the cops there are jerks and not though town either, actually, because I can hear sirens out the window right now. So just get here fast.”

My roommate and her friend came and went, but she told me that if Brittany arrived and did the test within 15 minutes to call her or text her at work with the answer. I paced around the room for a while, cleaning like I always do when I’m nervous or mad or angsty.  My roommate’s boyfriend came in to get something and I jumped, half sprinting for the door.  Then I saw that it was him.

“Sorry! I’m not Brittany” he said, laughing at the look on my face and how I was crouched over like I was going to spring at him if he was her.

I paced some more. And some more. Brittany opened the door at 5:23, which gave her seven minutes to take the test.  I grabbed the pregnancy test and shoved it into her hands, ushering her through the door that she’d just barely come through.

“Do you have to pee? My roommate had to go, but we have have to call her with results before 5:30!”

Her phone started ringing, so I grabbed it and answered it, with one last shove at Brittany towards the bathroom.

“Hello?” There was a lot of sobbing on the other end. I looked at the screen, it was Brittany’s little sister.

“Ky, it’s Nikki. Brittany just went to the bathroom. What’s wrong?”

“Mom and Dad just got into another fight. Dad called mom a ‘crazy, stupid bitch’ and got all up in her face, so Mom slapped him.”

“Um, yeah, he deserved that.”

“Yeah, but he called the cops on her! She’s sitting in the cop car right now.  What if they take her away from us? What will we do?” She broke down into more fits of sobbing.

“Ky, that won’t happen.  It will be fine.  This will all blow over and your dad will drop the charges.  It’s going to be okay.  They won’t take her away.  It’s a first offense, they don’t take people away for that.  If anything they just pay a fine or something.  Mom will be okay.”

The way I fell back into calling her mom “Mom” like I used to in high school made her feel a little better.  She was basically my little sister too, I’d spent so much of my life in their living room and kitchen.

I headed to the bathroom with the phone.

“Britt, I hope you’re done using the bathroom because our sister really needs to talk to you.”

She handed me the pee stick (Ew!) and grabbed the phone.

I looked at it; it needed two minutes to develop properly. We walked back to my room, covering the test so that people wouldn’t stare. I looked out the window while Brittany talked to her sister.

“I’m going home tomorrow to be with them.  Mom said not to come today.”

“Well, tell everyone I love them. She’ll be okay.”

“I know.  I’m not going back for her; I’m going back for the girls.”

That made sense. Her little sisters were very immature for their age because they’d been babied for a very long time. They were probably really upset. Not that a mature person wouldn’t be, or that Brittany was mature at all.

We looked at the pee stick and hugged each other.

“Are you relieved?”

“Yes and no.  Part of me wanted to be, just so I could rub it in his face that he did this to his wife and he’d have to pay child support for 18 years.”

“Yeah…. Um, that’s not a good reason to have a baby. At all.”

“I know, that’s why I’m glad that I’m not.”

“You are? You sure?”

“Yes.  I’m still going to double check in a week or so though.”

I texted the answer to Katie, Jake, and my roommate because it was 5:32pm and I knew she’d kill me if it was only a few minutes into her shift and I didn’t let her know.

“Not pregnant.”

Okay, story over, talk time now.  Please ignore the underlined words, for some reason my word processor decided to track my changes and puts them in every time I copy and past, whether they're showing on the document or not. Urgh.