This was written by me in my sophomore year of Academy. I want to go back in time and shoot myself to keep me from writing this, but since that’s not how time travel works, we can move on.
“Holly.” Mrs. Gladstone calls me.
She hands me a large manila envelope, “Your test results are here.” She whispers. Then she walks away. I stare at the letter, my heart pounding. I run up the stairs and throw open the door to my room. Aralyn is sitting on the bed doing her homework. I glance around frantically, then run into the closet and shut the door.
I click the light on, my heart pounds Dear God….please, don’t let me have an STD… but if I do Lord, help me to be strong about it and use it to your glory. I pause, and, if I do have an STD, don’t let my baby have it too!
Slowly, I open the envelope and pull out the letter. I read it slowly. Then I reread it. My breathing and heart rate return to normal. I start laughing.
“Holly?” Aralyn knocks on the door.
“Leave me alone for a few minutes!” is all I can say. I slowly put the letter back in the envelope and hide it inside my purple boot. Then I burst out of the closet and hug Aralyn, laughing, tears running down my cheeks.
Oh Jesus! How can I thank you enough?!
“Holly, whats wrong?” she asks me.
“Nothing!” I say, wiping away tears of joy, “something very good has happened!”
I laugh and shake my head. I want to tell her, but I’m too shamed to admit I’m pregnant.
“Oh, ok.” she goes over to her bed and starts doing math problems. “So, whats high school like?”
I frown, “oh, lets not talk about that Aralyn, lets talk of something happier.”
“what happened?” she asks, not one to take a hint.
I sigh, then proceed to tell her about Spanish and math class, about how the girls made fun of me in gym class because I wouldn’t change in front of them and I couldn’t do sports, and how the principal was so frustrated with me he threatened to put me in detention if I caused any more disturbances.
“Wow.” Aralyn says slowly.
“And now I’m really frustrated and I just….” No, you can’t tell her you want to die, she’ll think your serious and then she’ll…. just don’t think about it!
I flop down on the bed and pull out my history book. We were studying about the 1800’s. My favorite time period to study! I eagerly devoured the words of the textbook, then did the annoying worksheet. Then I pull out the Spanish worksheet that Sra. Sobre handed me on her way back to the classroom. She’s given me 40 different worksheets that it takes me 4 minutes to do.
“Come on Holly, its time for supper.” Aralyn says after a while, shutting her history book.
I gladly shut my civics book and follow her downstairs.
This time Mrs. Gladstone gives me vegan food, then tells me to help Aralyn feed the little kids, which I do gladly, because it gives Aralyn and I a chance to talk.
“My parents were captured on a raid the government did on our town.” she says, “they took me because for one thing, I haven’t been baptized so I’m not technically a member, and I guess because they thought I was young enough that I could be taught.”
“So, what do you do for sabbath?”
“I read my bible up in my room. Its not too much of a problem except for on Sundays, when Mrs. Gladstone takes us to Sunday school.”
“How do you avoid that?”
“I sneak out.”
she pauses. “well…. I try to… but I always get caught.”
I smirk, “Girl, I am the master at sneaking out!”
I nod proudly, “used to do it every Saturday.”
She looks at me mournfully, “Holly, your not adventist are you?”
I think about just not answering that. I don’t want to spill my guts to a 12 year old, but on the other hand, I can’t lie.
“Actually, I am.”
I sighed, “Ok, my life story, in a nutshell; I was born into an adventist family, lived an adventist life without really knowing God, then, I went through at time where I was really spiritual and close to God, then for some reason I won’t mention now, I left the church for a few years, during which I got high, arrested, not to mention pregnant…..”
Aralyn gives me a weird look.
“Just kidding! Anyway and I’ve only recently come back to God.”
Aralyn looks at me and shakes her head.
After we finish feeding the babies, we take them outside and let them run around. We had to be in our own rooms by 9:00.
“So… where are we going this Sunday?” I ask her.
“Holly, I don’t wanna go to jail.”
“Do you wanna go to hell?”
“Thats the thing,” I tell her, “Its either jail now and heaven later, or heaven now and hell later.” I sigh, “Its your choice Aralyn, but I have already chosen.” I turn over and cry myself to sleep.
The next day, my stomach is bulging out a little more. I scream quietly, trying not to wake Aralyn. Oh no! I’m starting to show! Now what? I’m about 5 months along… I’m amazed I haven’t already started showing. I sigh, and rummage through my suitcases trying to find pants that are the biggest on me, when I come across a small, pink duffel. I open it and pull stuff out. Maternity clothes!! there is a piece of paper lying on top.
Maternity clothes, just in case. I love you, Keep the faith.
I hug the clothes to my chest as tears run down my cheeks. I pull on the pants and grab a big bulky sweater. It still doesn’t hide me very well, but it’ll have to do. At least it fits.
Aralyn doesn’t seem to notice I’m bigger, I don’t believe she’s very familiar with teenage pregnancy. But Mrs. Gladstone is. She pulls me aside.
“I’ll take you to the doctor later today for an abortion.”
“No!” I protest strongly. She coils back, “this is my baby that God has given to me, and I am going to have it.”
She glares at me, “It would be better for you.” she says slowly, “and your baby, if you would just abort now.” she stares me down for a while. I stare right back at her. The rest of the kids stare back at both of us. Luckyily, Aralyn is still upstairs in the bathroom brushing her hair. Slowly Mrs. Gladstone saunters away.
Well, now that the whole house knows I’m pregnant! I grab my backpack and walk out the door to wait for the bus. I’m not very hungry anyway.
In a few minutes Aralyn and the rest of the kids come out, and the bus pulls up to the stop. I sigh and get on, knowing that everyone in my high school is soon gonna find out I’m pregnant.
Then again, Holly, you saw a lot of pregnant teenagers yesterday too.
I walk into the school, intending to just get through the day without talking to anyone or making any trouble. But Tall-girl-with-the-blonde-hair has other ideas.
Please just go away!
I don’t say anything.
“Holly, are you ok?”
Can’t you tell!
“Did something happen?”
I nod without thinking. I catch myself. You idiot! I sigh, this is not gonna work. I turn to face her, without saying anything.
“Can’t you tell?”
She nods, “Yeah but I wasn’t gonna say anything about it.” I relax slightly. Since she’s the only person who I really care what she thinks. I can deal with everyone else if I have somebody to talk to.
“And you…. don’t care?”
“Well, I’m still your friend if thats what you mean.”
Friend! She used the word friend!
“Oh.” I say, somewhat shocked. She walks with me to Spanish class.
“Hey, I’m praying for ya Holly, ok??”
She pats my back, “See ya!”
I sigh and walk into Spanish class. Sra. Sobre smirks at me as I sit down, but other than that she doesn’t bother me all day. In fact, none of the other teachers bother me at all.
Keep in mind, I said teachers.
On the way to science class, A group of students that look like they just got out of jail walk up to me. A girl with black hair streaked purple walks up to me and says, “So, how far along are you anyway?”
God, help me!!!
she and her group laugh as they form a circle around me.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” the other girls laugh.
“What other Diseases do you have?” the other girls join her laughter.
Right. Like a baby is a disease!
Then one with green hair and big dangly earrings steps out and punches me in the nose.
“ooooh! You gonna take that? Huh? Huh?” she taunts me.
God, your not helping me!
Anther girl with blonde hair with blue streaks walks up an kicks my abdomen, knocking the breath out of me, and causing the baby to kick the wall of the uterus inside me. I gasp for breath, everyone else laughs. Pink hair pushes me to the ground and starts kicking me. I roll over onto my stomach so that they can’t jab me there.
God, your really not helping me any–
But before I can finish my plea, they stop kicking. I look up. Tall-girl-with-the-blonde-hair is punching pink hair and purple hair! She looks at me and sees me,
“Holly, run! Now!” I don’t know what to do. I’m just standing there. I know I can’t take these girls, but on the other hand, I can’t leave her here to get beat up by these…. animals!
Suddenly, they all stop what there doing and start staring at something. Tall-girl and I look around at what their staring at, but we don’t see anything. The girls start trembling, then purple hair yells out, “Run!” the other girls don’t hesitate to obey her order. They run the other direction, through the hallway, down the stairs, and their gone.
Tall girl touches my shoulder, “Lets get out of here before we get in trouble.” she and I walk away from the scene. Up a flight of stairs and down another long hallway to the science lab. We get there just as the bell rings.
“What do you think that was?” I ask her.
“I don’t know, but I think our guardian angels are really watching out for us.”
She turns around to leave. I go to open the door.
She turns around.
After that, Tall girl walks with me to all my classes, making sure nothing happens to me. I’m scared. I hope the baby is ok. I should probably go to a doctor and get a sonogram.
The rest of the day passes without much happening. Tall-girl walks with me, making sure no one beats me up. It goes like that all week; but even I know that this can’t last forever. Soon it will be Saturday, and I must find a way to keep the sabbath.
Its Friday, my last day of school for the week. How can I manage to keep this up much longer? If they don’t get me on Saturday, they’ll get me on Sunday for not going to church! What if Mrs. Gladstone forces me anyway? I mean, I won’t go no matter what, but….
Tall girl walks up to me. “What are you doing for sabbath?”
She leans over and whispers, “I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning if you want and we can head over to the meeting at my friend’s house.”
I nod. That’ll work. Well, that solves my problem. One of them, anyway.
“What are you doing for Sunday?” I ask her.
She fumbles for words, “well. um…. I… don’t know… this is all new to me too…”
We walk along in silence for a moment.
“One thing I do know.” she says firmly, “I’m not going to church.”
“I don’t want to either.” I say.
“Its not that easy.” I turn to face her, “I don’t have the freedom you do.”
“Yes, you do–”
“I am afraid that Mrs. Gladstone might try to force me to go–” I break off. “and either I’ll go, and then sneak out, or…. I don’ t know.”
“Are you sure you can sneak out of church without the guards knowing??”
“Of course I can! I used to do this all the time at the adventist church!”
“I don’t care if we do get caught. I’m with you!”
“You don’t need to sneak out!”
“No, but I’m helping you, and either way, if I’m not in that church Sunday, I’ll be in just as much trouble as you will, maybe even more.”
“So, your gonna meet me at the house?”
I sigh and walk into Spanish class.
That Night, the whole family is gathered around the TV, watching a movie. I sit there while Mrs. Gladstone pops it in the DVD, then quietly retire upstairs to my room and grab a bible.
Oh God! I’m not so worried about church on Saturday, as I am about sneaking out on Sunday! Its easy to sneak out of an adventist church when no one will be watching, but in this church, there are probably going to be people taking attendance making sure no one will leave during the service! I’m so scared I’m crying. I brush the tears away.
God, please, you have to help me! Help us! I bury my face in my pillow.
Oh yeah, and thank you for Tall-Girl.
A peace washes over me; a peace that I’ve felt but almost forgotten. A peace that I cannot describe. And even if I could, I wouldn’t, because almost before I can think about it, I am asleep.
Beep beep, beep beep, beep beep– I bang the button on my watch to get it to stop beeping. Aralyn turns over in bed and groans, but doe not awake. I grab a pair of pants and a nice looking shirt. Then I ease open the door. It is quiet in the hallway. Barefoot, I slip out the door and down the stairs, past other children’s rooms. One of them cries out. I pause, but they are only sobbing. I take only a moment to restle with my conscience before gently easing the door open.
There are three small beds; two of them are the girls I sit by at meals. There is another girl in another bed. Their younger sister!
The girl in the middle bed, the 8 year old, is crying. I quietly walk up to the bed and put my arm around her.
“My mom! My dad! They took them! They killed them! I saw them! I saw them killed!” she chokes out. I gasp. This kid’s gone though more than I have! Poor kid! I gather her into my arms. “I want my mommy!” she gasps.
“Kid,” I say softly, “I can’t bring your mommy back from the dead.” she cries harder.
“But.” I say, “there is someone who can. And he will, at the resurrection.” the kid sniffles.
“Will he take me?”
“Why wouldn’t he?”
She sobs, “I can’t go to church on Saturday, they make me go on Sunday, I don’t want to go, I try to run away, but….” she starts sobbing harder, “do you think he still loves me?”
“Of course he loves you!” I whisper fiercely, “God never stops loving anyone, even the most wickedest people in the whole world. Theres no question weather he loves you. As for heaven….” the girl looks up at me and trembles. “I’m sure God understands its not your fault. He loves you, and he wants to be in heaven. Ask him to give you reassurance that he loves you and wants you to be with him.” she nods. Silently, I pray with her, then ease her back down into bed and tuck her in. Then tiptoe out of the room, through the kitchen, the dining room, out the door, and into Tall-Girl’s waiting car.
“What took you so long?”
“Sorry.” I say, shutting the door, and buckling the seat belt. Tall girl starts up the car and I put my socks and shoes on. She looks at me quizzically, “Pants?”
I shrug, “yeah, why not?”
she sighs and pulls out of the driveway.
“Where are we going?”
I grab my bible out of my backpack and turn to the book of Revelation. I’ve memorized it, along with most of the bible (except for the genealogies; haven’t memed those yet, don’t think there’ll be time to either.) And start reading out of the last chapter.
Soon Tall-Girl pulls up to a small, brown house. She gets out of the car, dropping her wallet. Without thinking, I scoop it up and slip it into my coat pocket. I redden with shame.
Why did I do that?
Tall-Girl doesn’t even notice. We walk up to the door. She knocks out a certain rhythm. A woman answers the door, eyes darting around nervously, “what took you so long?” Tall-Girl and I walk into the house. “never mind, come in, wait, who’s this?”
“This is Holly. Holly, Mrs. Soucie.”
“Hi! How are you!” she embraces me. Immediately my fear evaporates. Maybe, just maybe, I am among friends.
Mrs. Soucie then walks over to a spot underneath the dining table and lifts up the rug, then opens the trap door. We descend the stairs to a small room, Hardly big enough to hold the 20 or so people crowded into it. Everyone greets me warmly with a hug and a smile.
The meeting isn’t like a normal church service. there are more testimonies, more singing, bible readings, and no one preaches a sermon. And it lasts for hours. Pretty soon, I need to go to the bathroom, but I say nothing. From time to time I check my watch nervously, wondering when Mrs. Gladstone and her crew will wake up and discover my absence. Finally, after the last song ended, Mrs. Soucie says, “I think we’d better wrap it up, the less time we take here, the better.” I nod in agreement. We all join hands for a closing prayer, then ascend the stairs quietly. There is no visiting, as there would have been normally. Everyone exits as quickly as possible.
Before I leave, however, Mrs. Soucie pulls me aside.
“Here’s my email, address, and phone number if you ever need me, I’m here.” she hugs me.
Tall-Girl drives me to The House. She lets me out at the corner, since her driving up would look too obvious to Mrs. Gladstone.
“Thanks for taking me.” I hug her. As I move, however, something falls out of my pocket, I go to pick it up, then stop. Its Tall-Girl’s wallet! She looks down at it. Then at me, her mouth open.
I don’t say anything. She slaps me across the face. I blink.
“I risk everything to sneak you out to church and this is how you repay me?”
I find my voice, “No! You dropped it, and I picked it up and –”
“Forgot to give it to me?” she finishes sarcastically.
“Shut up.” she snaps.
I’m sweating. My throat tightens. “I’m sorry…..”
“Just get out.”
“Get out now!” she glares at me.
I turn away to hide the hot tears streaking their stubborn way down my cheeks. Shouting insults at myself mentally, I pick up my backpack with the bible, open the car door, slam it shut and walk away. Tall Girl watches me till I round the corner, then drives away.
In the midst of my numbness, I remembered that I couldn’t get in the front door; she’d notice. Besides, the door was locked. I glanced up and saw a tree by my window. Perfect. I jump up to reach the first branch, then climb up the rest of the way.
Great, the window’s closed! I tap on it gently. Aralyn’s still sleeping. I slip off the backpack and hang it on a limb, then lean against the branch I am on. I spill my guts to the Lord. I don’t know how long I cry there, but it feels like hours before I finally figure out how to open the window from the outside. I throw my backpack into the window, then jump in. Aralyn wakes up with a start.
“Good morning Aralyn!” I cry joyously, throwing my arms into the air, trying to make the tears seem as tears of Joy. She rolls over and groans.
“Holly, its Saturday! Go back to bed!”
I sigh. “ok.” I lay on my bed and pick up my bible, feeling to guilty to read it.
God, help me! I beg. I open the bible and start reading. I turn to proverbs 20:17 bread of deceit tastes sweet to a man, but afterwards, his mouth is filled with gravel.
Boy God, I think to myself, you can sure say that again.
No more stealing, ok?
Please God, help me! And help tall-girl not to hate me!