I wrote this story my sophomore year at boarding academy. It was my friends’ Christmas present.
The next day, Aralyn’s alarm clock goes off early. “we have to go to church.” she tells me, “and after that, training sessions!”
“I’m not going.” I mumble and roll over.
“Holly,you have to! Otherwise you’ll go to jail!”
“Tell ’em to send the cops.” I mumble into my pillow.
Aralyn sighs and puts on a dress, then heads downstairs to breakfast. I lay back down and try to fall back asleep. A few minutes later, Mrs. Gladstone throws open the door, marches up to my bed and yanks the blankets off.
“Get up! You are going to church! Now!” she tosses the blankets aside and grabs my arm and yanks me up. “Get dressed!”
I jerk my arm away from her. “I’ll get dressed, but I will not go to church with you.”
“Oh yeah. Thats right, you don’t like church. Well ya know what? Tough luck! Its church, or jail?” She leers at me, “whats it gonna be?”
“You insubordinate ungrateful brat!”she yells at me.
Silence. I think she expects me to sarcastically say thanks, yell back, or at least argue. When I remain silent. She slaps me across the face. Hard. Then she pushes me back onto the bed.
“Fine! Get yourself arrested! I don’t care. I’m only trying to help.” she leaves the room muttering to herself.
I get up, grab the blankets, pull them back over me and fall back asleep.
But again, I am only to be woken up. Someone is banging on the door. I awake with a start, my imagination running like a train. Police! Police! God! Don’t let them take me away! Then I realize that it is probably just Tall-Girl.
But she won’t be coming– not after what happened yesterday. I stumble down the stairs in my pajamas to the front door and peak through the peep hole. She’s here! Waves of shame wash over me, but I open the door anyway and step aside to let her in.
“Holly, I have to talk to you.” I nod and close the front door, making sure to lock it.
I lead her upstairs to my room, and show her the tree which I can escape from. She sits down on Aralyn’s bed.
“No, the other one.”
She sits on my bed. I stare out the window.
“Look, I’m really sorry about what happened yesterday, yes it was totally my fault and… I don’t know why I did it and… well… I’m… um… I’m sorry.” I still don’t turn around to look at her.
“Please! Don’t hate me!”
she laughs, “Holly! I don’t hate you at all! I still love you.”
“And I forgive you.”
I still don’t look at her.
She sighs, walks over and puts her arms around me, “and you need to learn to forgive yourself.”
I just nod.
“Now what do you want to do?”
“Well.” I say slowly, “when I used to sneak out of church I’d go to the mall and then–”
“Oh. Thats right. Everything else is closed too, isn’t it?”
She nods, “we can’t stay here either; Mrs. Gladstone might come back at any moment and we wouldn’t know exactly when.”
“I thought you said you and Mrs. Gladstone were good friends?”
“I said used to be. Come one, lets at least get into the car and I’ll drive you around.”
Tall-Girl drives me around for a while. We drive till we get to town, making sure not to drive past the church.
“Wait! Pull over!”
She looks at me funny but does what I say. I roll down the window. “Aralyn!” I shout. She turns around and looks at me, frightened at first, then relaxes. I motion for her to get into the car. She takes off running. She jumps in and slams the door. It is then that I notice for the first time that she has taken off her skirt and has been wearing pants underneath!
Tall girl drove away, trying not to look like she’d just picked up a renegade adventist. She brings us to a small white house in the middle of the woods. We get out of the car and into the house.
“Is this your house?” I ask in a whisper.
“Yes.” she says, “and theres no need to whisper, I’m the only one who lives here. We can speak freely.”
“Oh. Did your parents –”
“I moved out.”
“Well, I’m 18. why not?”
Aralyn finds her voice, “Who are you?”
Suddenly, it strikes me for the first time that I do not know Tall-Girl’s name.
“Yes,” I turn to face you, “who are you exactly?”
She laughs, “You mean you’ve been hanging out with me for a week and a half and you don’t even know my first name?”
I shook my head, “I don’t know your last name either.”
“I’m Mandy Green.” turning to Aralyn, she says, “I’m a senior at her school.”
“Oh.” Aralyn is silent. The rest of the afternoon is spent doing a bible study. We head back around at about 11:50.
We haven’t been back hardly 10 minutes before Mrs. Gladstone comes storming in demanding to know where Aralyn was and why she’d left.
“Holly and I had a bible study…”
“See Holly!” Mrs.Gladstone explodes at me, “Aralyn’s following your example! Your not only bringing down yourself, your destroying your friends!”
Mrs. Gladstone stomps out of the room. Aralyn and I breath a sigh of relief.
“I’m sorry I got you in trouble.” Aralyn says, after a moment. I laugh, “trouble? You call this trouble? Let’s see… I’m haven’t gotten arrested, thrown in jail, killed, brought home by the police…. nope. You didn’t do anything to me.”
“No, but I got you yelled at –”
“Aralyn, no, you didn’t, and even if you did, thats what satan wants. He’s trying to make you feel guilty for it and from what I can see, its working.”
She falls silent.
“Pray about it.” I say. And then we all have to go downstairs for lunch.
I can’t count the weeks that go by, but my stomach continues to bulge out more. One day Aralyn wakes up, looks at me, and asks, “Are you pregnant?”
“Took you long enough.” I snap. She looks hurt.
Silence. She stares at me. For a while before she finally asks, “so, whats it like?”
“To be pregnant?”
“Well, its weird when it kicks….its like, I feel it, but it doesn’t hurt.”
“Is it a girl or a boy?”
“I didn’t have time to find out.” I speak quietly.”
I sigh, I guess she wants more information than that. “At first sometimes you get sick in the morning, this is called morning sickness. That’s awful, but, usually that tends to go away after a while. I’m extremely clumsy because I’m so big, and, that’s pretty much it.”
“Wow.” Aralyn says, looking at me with a look of shock on her face. I grab my backpack and head out the door. The day is Sabbath, and Whenever I think about that, I can’t help but be excited, especially because Aralyn’s been coming to the Sabbath morning church meetings with us! I throw on my backpack and we slip out the window. Aralyn swings down the tree with ease, but I take longer because of my enlarged stomach.
“Hurry up!” she kids me, “you used to be able to do this faster than I do!”
“Did I look like this 4 months ago?” I say, shaking my belly. Aralyn turns and runs toward Mandy’s car, which is waiting for us in the driveway, as usual. Only this time, so is Mrs. Gladstone.
She has her hands on her hips and is frowning at us. Mandy slowly gets out of the car and walks up to her, staring her straight in the eye. “Girls, get in the car. Now.” I hesitate. “Go ahead, it’ll be alright.”
I open the door of the front seat as Mandy and Mrs. Gladstone go inside the house.
“Aralyn, stay here?”
“where are you going?”
“I have to go use the bathroom.”
“why didn’t you go before we left.”
“Hey, I’m pregnant, ok, and frequent urination is a symptom.”
Aralyn shrugs and opens her bible.
I quietly open the front door and ease my way over to the living room. I hear sobbing. I put my ear to the door.
“Oh Mandy! I didn’t mean to be a stumbling block to all these kids when I started this! It just… I’ve made a mistake and I think its too late! The last plagues are being carried out even as we speak!” I nod silently. Its true.
Mandy says something so low I can’t hear it, and Mrs. Gladstone starts crying harder. Mandy is speaking again. She is praying with her. I quietly ease out towards the front door and run out to the car, stunned. I feel sorry for Mrs. Gladstone. Its sad, but there is nothing anybody can do at this point. People have made their choices. For good, or evil.
Moments later, Mandy comes out and, without saying anything, drives us to “Church.”
We are just singing “There Is A Treasure” we are just singing the chorus (….And I would rather die than live one day without you….) When suddenly, we hear the front door burst open and footsteps rapidly approaching the trap door. We hear the table being smashed against the wall, then the trap door being thrown open..
There is a momentary pause of shock, we hear footsteps pounding down the stairs. I’m scared, but I keep singing, “Because your love is better than life…” Everyone joins me. As police officers thunder into the room and order us to shut up, we just sing louder. The police cuff me and all the other members and, with much violence, (which I won’t get into because I want this to be G-rated)
And throw us into the police cars. We are still all singing at the top of our lungs, which only infuriates the officers, who spray us with pepper spray. It stings like the devil himself, but it just makes us sing louder, stronger, and with a passion.
I am thrown into a car with 4 other strange women. I keep singing, but on the inside, I’m screaming out for Mandy and Aralyn. Where are they?
We arrive at the police station, where we are booked (yes, we stop singing then) then tossed into a dark prison cell that is totally dark. I mean, no light whatsoever. Dark as in, a Darkroom in a photography lab. I took a few courses in photography once, and there can be no light whatsoever because it ruins the film, and I remember searching around the room, longing to find some source of light. I longed to turn on the indigleo button on my watch just to see some light!
Well, that’s the way it is spiritually in our world today, so dark, that you search for light and you just long for some spiritual light. (just a little analygo that I had to throw in there. Anyway, back to our story). And that is the way it is now in our prison cell. Joy. I am thrown into a small 5×5 cell with about 8 people crammed into it. I can feel them, but I can’t see them. I’m scared. God, I’m so scared! Help me!
“Hello?” I squeak.
Arms are thrown around me briefly, then, “Don’t you remember me?”
No, its not possibly, could it be… no, I can’t say it, I’ll get it wrong and I’ll embarrass myself…
“Yes!” she exclaims, “Holly, I’m so glad you’re here! I mean—“ she breaks off, realizing that that is the stupidest comment to make to a fellow inmate. Take my advice; if you should EVER go to jail (and lets hope that you don’t, unless its for religious persecution) never ever ever ever ever EVER say that you are glad to see someone there. (at least, not to an inmate anyway)
“Wow!” I exclaim, shocked, “its been what… a year? Two years?”
“Three years. Whoa.” I step back, “Have you changed much?”
“I got a hair cut, but other than that no I really haven’t, what about you?”
“I… umm… well…if you could see me…. You’d know….” I break off, ashamed.
“I’d know what?”
“I’m pregnant.” I whisper. She’s silent for a moment.
“I still love you.”
“Thanks.” I manage to squeak back.
One of the other girls moves toward me and pipes up, “how far along are you?”
“what.. I don’t like the sound of, ‘uh-oh’”
“I hope your baby isn’t born in jail.”
“that WOULD be awful!”
“that,” she says slowly, “and the fact that the guards are going to rip it out of your grasp as soon as it is born and raise it in the New World Religion.”
I gasp, “No!” I scream, “No! I would rather it be still-born then be born and never know Jesus!” I start crying. I’m scared. And I don’t wanna kill my baby, but neither do I want it to be lost…. Invisible girl puts an arm around me.
“Relax, Holly, I don’t think God’ll let that happen.”
I can’t respond.
“God has a plan Holly, just trust him.”
“Who are you?” I whisper.
“I’m . Black.”
I just nod.
Suddenly the cell door creeks open. In the dim light I can see expressions of terror on the other girls’ faces. The guard pokes his head in and calls out my name.
“What do you want?”
“You have a visitor.”
I can’t have a visitor! Who would be visiting me!
I slowly follow walk out of the cell and follow the guard down a long hallway to the visitation room. The guard opens the door and pushes me in before closing it behind me.
I blink as my eyes take a moment to get used to the bright light. At first I can only make out one guard standing uninterested in the corner of the room. Then a table, and sitting at the table is —
“Holly!” he walks over to me and hugs me tightly. I slap his face and shove him away.
“Your pregnant!” he gasps.
I nod, remembering suddenly that 9 out of 10 boys dump the girl once she gets pregnant.
He stares at me in shock.
I look away.
“Holly.” He says softly, “I can’t believe it! That’s amazing!”
He nods enthusiastically.
Now it is my turn to stare at him in shock!
“What are we having?”
We? He said, we?
“A human.” I respond.
“You don’t have a clue, do you.”
I shake my head.
“wanna find out?”
I consider that for a moment, then shake my head, “no, I want it to be a surprise when it pops out!”
He grins, “hey, yeah! That’s cool! How’d you like to get out of here, move in with me, and we could live together to raise the baby!”
I smile, “well… that would be.. you would do that? I mean, I thought you hated children?”
“Yeah!” he beams at me, taking my hands in his, “but that was before I found out that we were gonna have a baby!”
We stare into each other’s eyes like that for a moment, then.
“Oh yeah, there is a… uh… slight catch.”
I tense up. “Yes?”
He starts sweating, “um….well… you just….. sign these papers.” He thrusts the documents into my hand. I start reading them.
I the undersigned do hereby renounce my beliefs as an SDA and pledge to conform to the New World Religion…
I don’t need to read any farther. I slap the papers down on the desk, look Matt straight in the eye and declare, “No!”
He glares at me. “Holly, I am offering you a chance of life! Of freedom! I’m offering you a chance to keep your baby from being snatched out of your arms and your….refusing me??”
I nod. “Yes.”
He turned around abruptly, his face turning red with rage. “You have seven days to change your mind.” He snaps. He waves his hand at the guard to indicate that he is through with me, and the guard hauls me off by the elbow back to my cell and throws me in.
Immediately my knees buckle, and I slump against the wall, tears flowing freely down my cheeks.
Holly! You could have the life you’ve always wanted! A life with a loving husband! A father for your child! Isn’t that what you’ve been praying for?
Yes, but at what cost?
I tell my cell-mates what has happened. They congratulate and encourage me that I have done the right thing, and I feel much better. But things are only beginning. I should have figured out that from here everything gets much worse.