Friday, September 7, 2007

Entry: SHORT STORY CONTEST Aug 27 - Sept 7

A Different Kind of Love
by Debbie Roome

Angel was her street name. Angel her tag in the newspaper ads. Angel was the one the policeman had asked for when he walked into the escort agency.

Back home, she was plain old Angie again. Plain, old Angie with the short mousy hair and conservative clothing. Not Angel, the seductress in tight black outfits, the stunner with peroxided hair gelled into cheeky spikes. The first week home had been a nightmare. Daddy had hardly spoken to her apart from a few questions. “Why, Angie? Why did you run away from us? What have we done wrong?”

Mom, as usual, had been a lot more vociferous and spent hours ranting and raving.
“What on earth possessed you Angela Mary”? She was only called by her full names when in serious trouble. “Do you know the agonies we’ve been through while you disappeared for a month?”

‘What about me?’ Angie thought to herself. ‘Do you think it was that easy to leave and start a fresh life?’

“And look what you have done to the family name. I don’t know how I’ll be able to face anyone at church on Sunday; or at the bridge club, or anywhere in fact.”

Angie sighed. It just wasn’t done for an upper class schoolgirl to become a sex-worker
“What did you want that we haven’t given you?” A little freedom maybe. A chance to date boys, to go to movies with friends from school, to spend the night away from home.

It wasn’t just that though. It had been the medical examinations. The humiliation of all the prying questions, the AIDS test and the final, awful revelation that she was pregnant. Her parents had gone crazy and she had to admit, she was rather stunned herself. Of course they had wanted to send her for an abortion without delay.

“It’s just a blob of tissue.” Her mother screamed when Angie refused. “You don’t even know who the father is; never mind how to contact him. You’re supposed to be at school studying for your future. You’re only a baby yourself.” The three of them warred and raged for weeks over the fate of the baby.

Daddy calmed down first. “Maybe it’s not right to punish an innocent life.” He said. “The Bible speaks against it and besides, the family name is ruined already. Let the child be born and put it up for adoption.”

More weeks passed and Mom put forward her final views. “Maybe foster care would be better. When Angela leaves home she can apply to get the child back if she wants to.”

Her father lost his cool again.

“That’s taking things too far.” He shouted. “We have no idea who the father is and quite frankly I don’t want to know. I don’t want this child near me. Ever!”

Angie lay in her room and listened to the shouting. Curled on her side, she whispered to her baby.

“Sweetie Pie. Don’t worry about them. It’s just you and me. I won’t let them take you away. I’ll get a job and study for my exams in the evenings. We’ll find a little room somewhere. Just big enough for the two of us.”

She’d been expelled from school of course. The rich, snobby St Katherines where she’d been since she was six. The head mistress came round to the house and the family was informed in sad monotones that she regretted Angela would not be allowed to return to the school in view of the “situation”.

A few of her schoolmates visited. It was awkward, though. The easygoing camaraderie of school friends was lost. Angie was no longer one of them. She was an adult now. An expectant mother. Her worries and concerns were not things they could comprehend.

The months dragged by. Daddy arranged a correspondence course so she could keep her schoolwork up to date and of course she had doctors’ appointments and scans and antenatal classes and tests by the dozen. Or so it seemed anyway.

The only time Angie was really happy was at night. She would rest her hands on her swollen abdomen and whisper.

“Hello Sweetie Pie. It’s Mommy here.” Sweetie Pie would kick and push and Angie delighted in feeling her stomach lurch and bounce under the covers. “It won’t be long now,” she’d whisper,” just another few weeks and we’ll be meeting each other. I love you.”

She had some money in savings and in defiance to her parents’ wishes bought a matching baby seat and camp cot patterned with cottontail bunnies and dandelions. With the change, she bought a basic layette. At least once a day she would unfold everything and press them to her face. The vests were so soft and the tiny growers were like velvet against her skin.

A month before the baby was due, her mother weakened slightly. “I suppose the child will need basic supplies before it is collected by the foster parents.” She excused her actions. A pile of disposable napkins and a couple of cuddly blankets were added to the layette. Not to be outdone, Daddy came home the night before the baby was due. Awkwardly he pressed a teddy bear into Angie’s arms.

“I haven’t changed my mind.” He warned. “But it would be nice for the child to take something from us into the future.” The adoptive parents can tell him about us.

The labour was violent. A primeval force. Pulsating, throbbing, tearing. Bringing the unseen into the seen. Angie hanging on her mother’s arm, sobbing through the agonies. The doctor barking orders. One mammoth effort and then she was there.

A tiny doll with a button nose and a shock of dark hair. Angie named her Kayla Joy.
Daddy came in briefly after the birth and hugged and kissed her. Told her he was glad it was over.

“Please Daddy,” she begged him. “Have a look at Kayla.” In an embarrassed, male manner, he peeked in the crib and then was gone.

Mother and child sat in bed together that night, Angie rocking her, cuddling her, dropping soft kisses on her forehead. Then she carefully unwrapped the blanket and counted her fragile fingers and toes. What a miracle she was. Only God could form such perfection.

And yet as she held her, Angie felt an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. This child was perfect. She had never felt such love, a different kind of love, and because of that love, she had to let her go. She was only sixteen and in spite of her best intentions, she realized that her parents were right. She was too young. She couldn’t look after her and provide for all her needs.

Tears began to fall as she realized the love that her parents must have felt when they first held her. Suddenly their rules and curfews were not so foolish. Their protectiveness more understandable. Their hurt at her actions more believable.

She was still sobbing an hour later when the door cracked open. Mom and Daddy crept into the room and Mom embraced her.

“The Sister called us. Said you were upset.” Daddy was gently lifting Kayla out of her crib.

“Mom, Daddy, I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you through. I was trying to imagine how I would feel if Kayla did the same to me. I know she’s only been here for a few hours, but she’s helped me to understand so much. I’ve been selfish and immature and I know I haven’t treated you well. I’m too young to care for her properly. I want to put her into foster care and maybe one day I can have the privilege of looking after her.” She lifted her gaze to her father. “I can’t bear the thought of adoption, though. Please Daddy. Please don’t ask that of me.”

Daddy sat down carefully with his tiny grand daughter nestled in the crook of his strong, capable arm. “Angie, we want to aplogise as well. We’ve probably been overprotective of you, with you being our only child…” His voice tailed off. “We’ve all said some terrible things over the last few months. First we wanted you to abort this child. Then we wanted you to give her away. But we were wrong. She’s part of us as well as part of you.” Kayla whimpered and his voice cracked. Angie looked over at him, confused as tears glistened in his eyes. “Oh Angie.” He regained some control. “When I looked at your little girl in her crib this afternoon, it was you. You had the same button nose, the same crazy hairstyle when you were born.” Angie’s mother nodded in confirmation. He stood again and placed Kayla gently into his daughter’s arms.

“Angie. You are too young to raise this little baby on your own. But admitting that is the first step to maturity. Bring her home, Angie. Your mom and I will help you until you’re ready to spread your wings and together we’ll raise another fine young woman.”

Submitted by
Debbie Roome

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