Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Not That Kind of Girl, Part 5

Nicki sits next to me in study hall. We usually whisper across the aisle every time Miss Homsey steps out of the room. But not today. Today I'm silent. I can't think of a thing to say.

Nicki just told me she's planning to get pregnant. "It's the only way my parents will let me be with Ron," she says.

I swallow hard and look straight into her eyes. Lord God, I think she's serious.

"It's the only way," she says again.

She's probably right—no parents in their right minds would let an 8th grader date a high-school senior. Still, how can she even think about having a baby? We're 13 years old for God's sake.

* * *

Lunch time, freshman year. Brenda Kay and I sit at the soda fountain at the drugstore. Nicki puts our vanilla Cokes on the counter and turns to get our grilled-cheese sandwiches. She balances the plates on her belly and turns sideways to get closer to the counter. I lean back a little as though to give her more room. Nicki's green eyes shine bright as ever beneath her thick eyebrows, but she moves slowly and with a kind of effort I can't understand or imagine.

We smile at her and leave a tip. We walk back to school slowly, wondering how it feels to have a person growing inside you. Nicki seems really happy. I'd be scared out of my mind.

* * *

I stand on the third step at the back entrance to the funeral home, shaking. I know I should go inside and find Brenda Kay, but I can't make myself go in there. I simply can't walk through the hallway, knowing Nicki's body lies down in the dark basement. Has she been embalmed? Is she in a casket? Does she look like herself? (Maybe we should tell Mrs. C. that Nicki always wears thick black eyeliner and bright green eye shadow all the way up to her eyebrows.)

Later, the entire sophomore class—and most of the town—comes to the funeral. We oooh and aaah over the baby in Nicki's mother's arms. We hug Ron and tell him how sorry we are. We wonder how the truck driver is doing, the man whose tanker came loose in a turn and crushed Nicki's small car.

After the service, Brenda and I hear two women whispering. They say Nicki must have had some sense of her future. They say that's why she packed so much living into her short life. They say she was lucky to have married and had a child so young.

11 comments:

Kim Meisner said...

That is so powerful...not at all where you expect it to go. Suddenly something that seemed black and white to me turned gray.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Keep going, Jerri! You're on a roll! Let it GO!

kario said...

Eeeek! I love this, I love this! I am picturing you as this fountain that has been turned on (8,000 nerve endings?) and can't stop. Love the suspense, too!

Until tomorrow....

grammer said...

Jerri, what a great story, and what a great series this is turning out to be. I feel so proud of you for DOING THE WORK. Yes! xo

Catbird Scout said...

I'm sitting here trying to catch my breath, wanting to weep for Nicki. Every girl is so compelling, especially knowing that there is some part of you in all of them. I know that your story is unfolding somehow in the lives of these girls. You are so amazing. Thank you for bringing my along for the ride. Love, Deb

Michelle O'Neil said...

Holy crap! All of it! (In a good way. In a sad way. In a fantastic writing way).

Terry Whitaker said...

I just read the last five excerpts with my breath held the entire way! I still can't breathe. Wow.

Jenny Rough said...

I loooove the Not That Kind of Girl posts. Is this part of a new book or something?

Monica Holloway said...

Jerri, I love this piece so much. I love how it changes course and surprises at the end. And it's so profoundly sad. You are finding your power as you peel away these incredible layers of your life and your writing is bursting off the page.

Stacy said...

Wow! Keep going, don't stop, I'm hooked.

Prema said...

I'm totally hooked, too. I think you found 'it' Jerri. Just keep going...wow.