BY SHAI BROWN
One morning when I am 14-years-old, I wake with my stomach turning. I run to the bathroom to vomit. This goes on for a few days. I believe I have a stomach virus.
My friend accompanies me to the doctor, where they give me a bunch of tests. The nurse comes in and tells me, “Congrats, you are pregnant!”
“Pregnant? No, the hell I am not! How could that be possible? I’m only fourteen. I’ve never even had a boyfriend.”
“Well, sweetheart, you had something cause you are surely pregnant. About 12 weeks to be exact!”
My friend turns completely white in the face from shock, as do I. “Girl, are you keeping secrets from me now?”
Oh, yes. I am keeping secrets.
• • •
No one knows that three months ago, I woke up to him pumping on top of me, the smell of alcohol on his breath, a white powdery substance resting on the tip of his nose, sweat pouring down his face. He had this dark look in his eyes as if he lost his soul and became the devil.
“What the hell are you doing? Get off of me, you nasty bastard!” I screamed as I fought back, trying to escape his powerful grip. But he grabbed me even harder and pulled my hair.
I spit in his face. The next thing I remember is his hand around my neck, choking the shit out of me. I started to see black, red, and yellow spots appear in front of me. Things begin to fade away slowly. My vision finally gave out. When I woke up, he was asleep next to me, his body odor attached to my flesh.
• • •
Now, in the doctor’s office, I touch my stomach and feel what’s growing inside me, and I know it is his. I cry. I am so afraid to share this with anybody. I feel the same way I felt when my grandfather violated me — scared, alone, depressed, hurt, and damaged.
I am just a child myself. I am too young to have a baby. I continue to live life as if nothing has changed, even as I gain weight, and my stomach expands. I begin to feel a little compassion for my unborn child. But, my inner thoughts will not have it. I always hear a voice saying, “Rid your body of this demon seed.”
Four months have passed, and I am still unsure of what to do. My grandmother starts to notice the changes in my body. One day, when I’m on my way to school, she asks me flat out, “Are you pregnant?”
“Yes, grandma, I am.”
She explodes angrily, calling me names instead of offering the comfort I so badly need. I begin to cry, yelling at her, “This is not my fault. It’s yours! You think this is easy for me?”
“Well, you are not keeping that baby and remaining in this house.”
Now my whole family will be involved. She is sure to tell them what a whore she believes I am. What she doesn’t know is that I don’t want to keep this bastard child. Not another minute do I want to carry the child of a demon in my womb.
When I walk into the clinic, I see what I would have never imagined: Girls mostly my age dealing with the same thing. It’s like walking into the pits of hell. Filling out the papers, I begin to cry. The compassion I do not want to feel for this child returns.
Lying on the table, I ask God for forgiveness for what I am about to do. The doctor says, “Young lady, I need you to count to three. When you wake up, this will all be over.” Tears in my eyes, I picture the child’s face looking like some of me and some of him. “Please, God, forgive me for sending him back to you. He is only a child, and he deserves to be loved. Something I know I can’t do. I abort this child with a strong belief that he will be the angel you sent to watch over me.” A peace suddenly falls on me. I close my eyes and finally count to three.
I guess once this is over, I can finally tell my grandmother the secret I’ve been carrying for five months now: The child I’ve just aborted was mine and my brother’s child.
• • •
Shai wrote and performed her story as part of TMI Project’s 2013 production, What to Expect When You’re NOT Expecting: True Stories of Slips, Surprises, and Happy Accidents, a collection of true stories centered on the ways people exercise freedom of choice when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.