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Math. I always hated the subject, But i loved how everything had a answer. How negative signs tore everything apart and plus signs brought everything together. This time, though, I wasn't as positive. I sat in the bathroom of Addi's Diner with a little pink box and a little plus sign to match. I couldn't believe it. No way; It was clearly a mistake. It was impossible. Well, almost. I felt a bubble of tears start to bubble at my through again. I was a straight A student, in choir and band, played volleyball, was leader of the student council, and was captain of the school newspaper. All in all a perfect role model. Things like this just didn't happen to girls like me. Babies didn't exist in lives like mine. What is Ty going to think? The very breath I had caught in my through as I thought about he would say. I couldn't bear to have him leave me. Not with a baby stuck in the middle. I was terrified, as I stepped out of the stall and then wiped my tears off my face. I tried to smile in the mirror but my face wouldn't cooperate. So I flung open the door and slowly trotted back to our table. “Hey," he said with a smile playing on his face. “Where have you been?"
“The real question is where am I going." I thought as I gave myself a answer to my own answer: Hell.
“To forever and ever land. With me." I didn't notice i said what I was thinking until he answered. His eyelashes batted like a girls and, like I always did when I was around him, I laughed. That was the thing about Tyler. He could make you laugh even if you just found out you have cancer and your dog was dead on the side of the road. He had eyes that where always dancing with emotion. Whether it was love, hate, regret, you could always see what was reflected from his heart. He began to eat his food then saw I wasn’t eating and said,” Are you not hungry , or is the food not good, or am I getting annoying?” I smiled and said,” I’m not hungry.”
“We can go home.” He suggested.
I shook my head,” No it’s all right. You can keep eating, I’ll wait.” This time he shook his head. “Nah. I’d rather eat cereal at home.” I was about to protest but he called over a waitress and asked her to bring him our bill. When the check came, I pulled out my billfold but his hand stopped me and he said,” They only take Tyler money here.” I grinned and let him treat me to another unpaid meal. He knew I didn’t have the money for these dinners. The radio was playing softly in the background when we started driving down the road, holding hands. I laid back and closed my eyes and dreamed. Dreamed nightmares involving cradles, bottles, and little fingers. I fluttered opened my eyes and then saw Tyler gazing at me. I focused in on where we where and said,” Ty, why didn’t you wake me up?” He brushed a piece of golden hair off of my face and said,” You were looking so peaceful, I didn’t want to wake you.” I kissed him and murmured,” You didn’t have to do that.” He kissed me back and said,” I know.” I crawled into his lap and smuggled myself against him and closed my eyes. He brushed my hair softly and I thought,” I want to disappear. I want to fall into this deep pit of love and say there, instead of breaking his heart and dreams by breaking to him the last thing he wants to hear.”
The next afternoon, instead of going with Tyler to the lake, I made my way down to the middle school. I shut my car door, and hiked the purse up higher on my shoulder. Why, I thought, can’t life be this simple? Back then the only things I had to worry about were finding the right dress to wear to the middle school dance and my upcoming English project. I walked into the hallways and down a beaten path that I’ve been down a hundred times but never was scared to walk in that door. I knocked on the colorful door, full of pictures from her daughters. “Come on in, Jamie! Let get’s that project going!” I slipped in the door and Mrs. Kennan set down her marker and dusted off her hands and finally looked at me. “Cassandra! What a nice surprise!” She folded me into a tight embrace. She was the only one who ever called me Cassandra besides Tyler. Other people, including my mother, nicknamed me Andrea. I always thought Cassandra was prettier but never had the heart to tell anybody. She sat me down in a front row chair and then continued writing the next lesson on the board. “ What’s up?” she questioned. “Nothing much.” I answered. Except I got pregnant.” I just came down to say hello.”
She smiled,” Well hello then.” She winked. That was what made everybody love Mrs. Kennan. She was funny when things got tense and all the way around a good teacher and a good friend. When I was in 8th grade, she did cartwheels and back flips in class and let the class choose their own writing assignments. She made you feel innocent and brand new, which is what brought me down here.
“ Can I tell you something, Mrs. Kennan?” I whispered.
She laughed,” I knew there was something more to this visit!” She turned around at me then continued writing.
“ I made a wrong choice, and I don’t know how to make it right again.” I offered without giving much of a hint to where I was going with this.
“Did you murder somebody, Cassandra?” She asked, joking.
I really just wanted her to guess what I was trying to tell her instead of playing this stupid game with me. My composure broke and the dam that I tried so hard not to let overflow, rushed out. Mrs. Kennan ran over to my side and patted my back as I cried,” I’m sorry, God, I’m so sorry.” When my tears started to subside, she quietly asked,” You didn’t really murder somebody, did you?” I offered a broken laugh and said,” No.”
“What did you do then?” She asked. My eyes heated with a fresh batch of tears as I said, “I-I...I’m pregnant.” Then another ocean was formed. After I sniffled once more, she asked,” Who’s the father?”
“Tyler.” I said, as another cloud of sadness overwhelmed me. “Tyler McAllister.”
She nodded.” He’s a good guy.”
I abruptly got up and walked to the window overlooking the schools garden. “Yes. Yes he is.” I turned around and murmured,” He never even said he loved me.”
Mrs. Kennan answered,”Sometimes saying you love somebody, isn’t as important as showing them.”
“What do you mean?”
She sighed. “Sit down.” I sat down in a desk that no longer fit my needs of learning for the future or my big dreams. “ Once upon a time,” she began,” There as a woman. She was pretty and blonde and was a straight A student. When she was 17 years old, it was the year she got accepted into her dream collage and gotten pregnant. The father of this baby loved her very much and wanted to marry her when they finished collage. This girl was scared and frightened about what would happen if he found out so she packed up all their memories and drove to another state. He called her many times but she never picked up. Finally he stopped trying and when he did, she cried. She had the baby in Ohio and was planning to give her up for adoption, but when she saw her, she couldn’t let part of him go. Five years later she brought her four year daughter to her high school reunion and saw him. He was beautiful and when he caught her eye, she almost fainted. They exchanged small talk while the little girl was evaluating him. When the little girl recognized who he was she gasped and said,” Daddy!” This man looked at the little girl with confusion and politely said,” I’m not your daddy, sweetheart.” But the girl nodded vigorously. “yes you are! My mommy keeps a picture of you on the table beside my bed and she says, that’s your daddy.” The man couldn’t believe it and asked the woman if this was true and she said yes. He then questioned if this was the reason she left town and again she answered with a nod.” She paused.” But this man had four beautiful children and a wife and even though this little girl would be in his mind forever, He told them not to contact him unless something happened to their daughter. He made it perfectly clear that he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see her.” After this story there was a silence in the air until I shattered it.” Was…was that woman you, Mrs. Kennan?” My former teacher nodded. “Yes.”
“How did you do it?” I asked softly.
“Do what?” she asked.
She shook her head. “I never did. He was always right here.” She laid her hand on her heart and let a tear slither down her cheek. ” My daughter had to grow up without her real dad. She knows that Adrian isn’t her biological father, but is better that way. I don’t think Brad wouldn’t have been the typical American dad and taken Halley to school, or went to her dance recitals, or tucked her in at night…But… I wish that he was with me. Every day.” She let that sink in before adding,” Don’t make my mistakes, Cassandra.”
My eyes welled up then produced another river as I whimpered,” I’m scared.”
She took my hand and said,” Aren’t we all?”
That night I went to Tyler’s apartment and found the key under the mat where it usually was. I sat on the couch and covered myself up with a Fleece blanket and flipped through the channels until I heard the beeping of a car being locked. More specifically, Tyler’s car. I automatically tensed and felt fear seize me. I tightened the blanket around me and shut my eyes and willed myself to just disappear. I heard the key in the lock and finally opened my eyes to see Tyler.” Hey.” He said, and flung is coat over the barstool and opened his arms up wide. I normally would meet him in the middle and hug him tenderly, letting him kiss me all over, but this time I flung myself up and bounded into his open embrace. I could sense he was a little startled by this but he hugged me and His t-shirt was soaked in no time even though I didn’t make a sound. I sniffled as I pulled away, revealing a blotch of wetness from my tears. “Cassandra, is everything okay?” He wore a worried expression. I wanted to tell him everything was fine and dandy and then go on to our usual routine of lying on the couch together. But then Mrs. Kennan popped into my mind and I stopped myself. I would still have this baby, even If I ran away. Nothing is going to change, except I won’t have Tyler. I looked up at him and tried everything in my power not to wail like a baby again. “I-I” I stopped and shook my head. He tilted his head and asked,” Cassandra?” His brows drew together and I thought, please love me. “I’m pregnant.” My voice shook like a gymnast on a thin tightrope praying to God that he wouldn’t fall. I couldn’t look at him. I was afraid of what I’d find in his eyes, what emotion would be glued on his face. Shock, regret, anger. That’s what I thought I’d see on that gorgeous face. He lifted up my chin and I opened my eyes cautiously and shocked myself. There was one emotion in his eyes: Love. “ Mine?” He asked, voice shaking. I nodded as his face got blurry. He pulled me tight against him and I felt the rush of tears scrambling down my cheeks and his landing in my hair. Tyler sniffled still crying and said,” I love you so much, Cassandra Daltry, don’t you know that?” I nodded and at that moment, I knew he would be there for me and our baby. I squeezed myself tighter against him hoping he knew that the feelings were mutual. I smiled up at him through my tears and thought, thanks. I could almost see the answer through his eyes. Your welcome.
Five years later:
I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes because the dishwasher wasn’t working. I looked out the window and saw My five year old daughter and two year old son playing with Ty. Annie ran fast in the snow and Tyler ran almost twice as fast just to keep up. She was her father’s daughter. The typical tomboy combo included mud, football, and daring acts. Bryce, on the other hand, loved to play outside and get dirty along with his father and sister , but at night he would snuggle up between me and Ty along with Annie a few minutes later. I look at Annie laughing underneath her dad, who was laughing as well, and thought oh, baby. After Tyler and I told my mother and father that was with a child, they kicked me out. Tyler’s parents had kicked him out when he ran away when he was fifteen so we had nowhere to go. For a couple of days, we stayed at a shelter then Mrs. Kennan came and said,” What are you two smart kids doing here?” And with that we moved in her house. For nine months, Tyler and I were a rollercoaster of ups and downs. We’d go from slamming doors to snuggling in one another’s bed. When we fought, it was usually about the baby. Once he’d threatened to leave and almost did and would have… if my water hadn’t broken. When I delivered a beautiful baby girl, Mrs. Kennan was the first to hold her and she said,” Oh, Cassandra. She’s beautiful.” When she left, I suggested to Tyler that we name our baby Annie, after Mrs. Kennan. He agreed and our baby was then named Annie. After high school we were married straightaway and almost exactly after Annie turned two, I found out I was pregnant with Bryce. And now we were happily married with two children, a perfect fairytale. I walked out onto the porch and called,” Bryce, Annie, Ty! Come in! It’s getting cold!” Tyler scooped up both kids and they squealed with delight and met me on the porch. He let down the kids and then scrambled inside. I smiled. “ You looked like you were having about just as much fun as they were.”
He nodded.” They make everything fun.”
“And I don’t?” I feigned a look a hurt and shock and then he kissed me and said,” you defiantly make things fun.”
I walked inside hand in hand with Tyler and sat down next to the Christmas tree and fireplace with our children and I laid my head against Tyler’s shoulder and ran a hand over my protruding belly. I was eight months long with our third child and couldn’t have been more content with the world. I looked at our beautiful children, with bright red noses and cheeks, and glanced at the little miracle with my autumn blonde hair and her father’s blue eyes and thought, Thank you Annie.
Cranberry Twp, Pennsylvania
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"Cause for a moment a band of thieves in ripped up jeans got to rule the world..."~Taylor Swift
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" ~Eleanor Roosevelt
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"Don't tell me 'sky's the limit' when there are footprints on the moon."
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"To get respect, you must earn respect, to earn respect you must give respect."
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What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
Dream like you will live forever, live like you will die today.
Another gorgeously crafted story! It's hard trying to give any sort of criticism, constructive or otherwise, to your work because I get so sucked into it I stop thinking about the writing itself. You really seem to know your characters, and are very at ease with them. I was scared toward the end that everything was going TOO well, so I was very happy when you explained that Cassandra's parents kicked her out and that Ty nearly left her. That sounds super mean, I know! :P What I mean is that you brought a sort of real life grit to it instead of leaving it as 'oh-yay-her-life-worked-out-perfectly'.
I also adore Mrs. Kennan. She reminds me of a teacher I had in 8th grade, and I know if she were in the same situation, she would act the exact same way.
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Greater good? I am your wife. I am the greatest good you are ever gonna get!