Capturing Peace

Sharing You 0.5

Molly McAdams

For Tyler: Your life is much more interesting than you know.


Reagan—­January 3, 2004

ALL THE AIR left my body in a hard rush. It felt like my stomach was on fire and simultaneously dropping . . . it felt like my heart was being torn from my chest.

No. No, I must have heard him wrong. He didn’t just say that to me.

“W-­what? Austin, what did you say?” My voice came out barely above a whisper.

Austin looked around us, the set of his face was hard, and so unlike anything I’d ever seen from him. He was always smiling, laughing, joking . . . not this. Never this. He was the quarterback of the varsity football team; he was one of the most popular guys in our school. Everyone loved him and his easygoing—­somewhat cocky—­attitude. I loved him . . . he loved me. I knew he did, he couldn’t be doing this to me.

Leaning in, his blue eyes darted around us again one last time before he whispered, “I said, get rid of it.”

One hand flew to my mouth to muffle the shocked cry that had just left me, the other went to my stomach. “No, don’t say that to me.” Tears streamed quickly down my face. I’d been afraid too when I had first realized I was pregnant; I kept telling myself all Austin needed was some time to get used to the idea. “I know we’re young, but we can do this together, I know we can.”

“Reagan, I’m sixteen!” he growled into my ear. “I’m not about to have a motherfucking kid. Get rid of it.”

My head shook back and forth slowly. “Austin—­”

“I’m not gonna let you ruin both our futures. We have two and a half years of high school left, they were already scouting me this last season, Ray. Do you know how rare that is for a sophomore? Do you know how big of a deal it is for me to already be the varsity QB? I’m not letting you fuck this up for me. Get. Rid. Of it.”

“No!” I shouted, and slapped at his hands when he reached for my arms. “No! I can’t—­I can’t believe you’d even ask me to do something like that. I know it’s scary, baby, I’m terrified. But we’ll get through it together; I need you. I can’t go through this alone.”

“Reagan . . . I’m not asking you. I’m telling you. Get rid of it, or we’re done.”

Another choked sob tore through me, and my hands dropped down to my stomach.

“Jesus, will you stop?” he hissed, and pulled my hands back so they were at my sides. “Everyone can hear you, and when you do shit like that, they’re gonna figure out what’s happening.”

It was the end of the first day back from winter break, there were only a handful of ­people still at the school, and none of them were near us. I’d been trying to figure out how to tell Austin all throughout break, and hoped that he’d help me find a way to tell my parents. Hoped that I’d be able to take refuge at school if they didn’t take the news well.

I’d been wrong.

I stood there staring at his hardened features for a few minutes before backing away from his grasp. “I can’t get rid of the baby. I won’t.”

“You’re screwing with your future, Ray, think about that. That thing”—­his nostrils flared, and lips curled as the word left him—­“is not a damn baby yet. Last chance . . . I’m not going to tell you again.”

He called our baby a thing. A thing!

I didn’t know how far along I was since I didn’t pay attention to my cycles, which were never on time anyway. Something my family doctor said probably had to do with my dancing and cheerleading. I hadn’t had any morning sickness; and it hadn’t been until my cheer skirt stopped fitting, and the captain of our team told me I should start eating less, that I’d even thought I could be pregnant. By the time I’d gotten over the denial, gained the courage to even buy and take a test—­or five—­and gotten over the denial again, I was already sporting a small bump on my otherwise flat and toned stomach. A bump proving there was a life growing inside me . . . not a thing.

Squaring my shoulders, I ignored the tears still falling and my quivering chin, and looked directly into Austin’s blue eyes. “I’m keeping the baby.”

A look of shock crossed his face for all of two seconds before he was glaring at me again. “Just remember: You’re the one who threw us away. You’re the one ruining your life. Try to bring me down with you, and I’ll say that thing isn’t mine.”

Locking my jaw, I refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing how much this was killing me. How much I wanted to beg him not to do this. Well, more than I’d already shown. I knew he was hoping his ultimatum would change my mind, and nothing could at this point.

His eyes searched mine for a few more seconds before he straightened with a huff. “Fuck it. Good-­bye, Reagan.”

I watched him walk away toward the parking lot, his head turning to each side to see who’d witnessed our conversation. Once his shiny black Camaro peeled out of the lot, I finally unlocked my knees and somehow made my way to my car.

I didn’t remember the drive back to my house. I didn’t remember climbing the stairs to my room. The next thing I knew, I was in my bathroom with my shirt pulled up, my yoga pants pushed down a little, and my hands were gently running over my stomach when a gasp sounded behind me.

My head snapped up before I whirled around to see my mom standing there. Even through my blurred vision from the tears, I could see her standing there, her head shaking back and forth, her hands over her mouth.

“No . . . Reagan, no!”

I burst into strained sobs, unable to try and brush it off as something else. My boyfriend of the last eighteen months had just broken my heart. He’d called our baby a thing. I’d been stressing over hiding my bump with loose-­fitting clothing for almost a month now. I’d only turned sixteen a ­couple weeks ago and was having a baby.

All the emotions crashed down on me, and no matter how much I wanted to deny it, I needed my mom right then.

“M-­mom,” I somehow managed to say through the near-­hyperventilating crying.

“No. What have you done?” she shrieked as she backed away from me.

“Mom, please!”

I followed her into my bedroom, and our heads turned toward my door when heavy footsteps sounded on the stairs. My older brother burst into my room, quickly followed by my dad.

What is he already doing home? He usually isn’t home for another few hours.

I panicked when I saw the look of horror cross both their faces. Their eyes were glued to my stomach. I quickly pulled my shirt down to cover it, but my arms stayed in front of my little bump, like I was protecting my baby from what was about to happen.

“Daddy,” I cried, and started to take a step toward him, but he took one away.

“I’m going to kill him,” my brother, Keegan, whispered. “I swear to God I’ll kill him.”

“What have you done, Reagan?” Mom screamed again.

My chest ached, and the tears somehow—im­possibly—fell harder. “Mom, I’m—­”

“Tell me you’re not pregnant! Damn it, Reagan, tell me!”

Hands gripped my arms just as my knees gave out beneath me. “Stop screaming at her!” Keegan yelled back as he walked me toward my bed. “She’s upset enough as it is, you’re not helping anything.”

When we were sitting, I gripped my brother’s hand like a lifeline . . . the only way I could thank him in that moment.

“Did you know this?” Mom turned her attention on Keegan, her voice still shrill. “Did you know this, and you kept it from us?”

“Austin wouldn’t be alive if I’d known about this! But you’re making this worse, she’s probably terrified and you yelling is stressing her out!”

“Don’t tell me how to react to this situation! Don’t you dare! Get out of the room!”

“Mom, I’m pissed too! I’m forcing myself not to leave this house because I know I’ll go hunt Austin down. But we need to calm down for Reagan! If she’s pregnant, this isn’t going to help the baby.”

Mom gripped my desk like she needed it to stay standing. Her voice wavered, but she never stopped screaming. “She can’t be pregnant . . . Reagan, you can’t be pregnant!”

Even though Keegan was trying to calm the room, my dad was the only one who hadn’t spoken and wasn’t crying. I looked at him, hoping for something from him. Anything. But his eyes were still glued to my stomach. “Dad . . . ?”

He slowly looked up at me, his face still showing how horrified he was. “I can’t even look at you right now. You’re not my daughter.”

“Daddy!” I choked out when he turned and left the room.

“Dad!” Keegan barked, his hold on me tightening.

“Why would you let this happen?”

I looked back to my mom when her softened voice reached me. Somehow, my heart continued to break even more when I saw the disappointment in her eyes.

“This can’t be happening,” she said, and then turned to quickly leave my room.

I collapsed into Keegan’s arms, and was surprised at the force of my next round of sobs. I hadn’t expected my family to be happy, but even my worst fears hadn’t been prepared for that.

We heard the front door slam shut just a few minutes after Mom had left my room, and from her pleas as she called him over and over again, I knew Dad had left.

“I’M SORRY,” I mumbled hours later, when my tears had run dry. Keegan hadn’t once left my side. “I’m so sorry.”

He kissed the top of my head and hugged me tighter. “I’m sorry, Ray. I—­I can’t believe this either, but you know I’m always here for you. They’ll come around, they’re just shocked right now.”