Growing Up and Out
By Kendyl, age 16, Tennessee
Editor's Note: The following story is true. The name has been changed.
"Hey girl," I said as I threw the door open to my friend Haley's bedroom, a safe haven of sorts. I slipped a quick coat of Cherry Kiss onto my lips by her mirror and tucked my hair into place. God, it had just been one of those days. "How are you?"
There it was. I was turned away from her, but I could see her face in the mirror. And I am positive that I will never forget the look of raw fear that flickered behind her eyes for just a second. I might have thrown a pillow at her, asked her to stop scaring me, but it was that look that made me believe the word instantly.
"What?" I whipped my head around and made my way to her green bed where she was seated Indian style.
"You can't tell anyone," she said, slightly panicked. "No one can find out about this."
I made a sound of disbelief and asked, "How did this even happen?"
Throughout the years, our virginities had stubbornly clung to us, half because we wanted them and half due to lack of opportunity. I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that she had been first, and I hadn't even known about it.
"He doesn't go here. It doesn't matter. He doesn't matter."
I breathed deeply. What did she want me to say? What could anyone say in this kind of situation? So I didn't say anything. I just wrapped my arms around her while she cried.
This wasn't Juno or The Secret Life of the American Teenager. This was 'My friend is going to have a baby.' This was real, and I desperately wished it wasn't.
She was going to have to stop living her life because there was another one growing inside that relied solely on a seventeen year old without a clue.
She was going to be forever serenaded by colic screams, wails for mama, and, later, fights for independence that we should be experiencing instead of fretting over.
She was going to be responsible for every stuffed teddy, every PB&J without crusts, every soccer game, and another person.
Haley can't even keep her car unscathed, much less a baby.
I was scared for her. And I knew she was scared for herself. But she had to be the brave one, the one brave enough to chase away monsters and go through labor.
As I hugged both of them, I watched Haley grow up much sooner than she would have liked to.
And guiltily thought that I was glad it wasn't me.