There is a pregnant girl in our classroom.
She's definitely pregnant, too, not just mistakenly round around the tummy. She has small thighs and a pinched face, flabless arms, and a ballooned stomach. She is experiencing life's greatest joy at about seventeen.
We've heard rumors by the ton about her. It's odd to watch her walk through the hallways, sticking to the corners, hiding her belly behind two skinny notebooks and a Science textbook; to see her walk into the cafeteria, her tray pressing into the ridge between her breasts and her bloated stomach, staring her food down like she could swallow it through her eyes; to watch the subtle way crowds part for her, the way rooms hush, the way the lights brighten just a little when she comes near you.
The rumors, anyway. If you were to piece the story together through solely rumors (which we, logically, did), there are two versions. There is the first, where she jumped out the window of her room, aided by a mysterious, shady, college boyfriend, and they drove together to some far-off sunset where they proceeded to do it in a car, where, naturally, the condom broke, creating the lovely lump you see protruding from what would normally be a ski-slope replica. The other story begins with her getting smashed at a party and stupidly walking home alone in torn jeans and a red tank-top, where she was dragged into a dark alley and gang-banged, and the father could be one of five rapists, who are now somewhere on the border between Texas and Mexico, doing cocaine at local Tex-Mex restaurants.
Other rumors include the battle with her parents over keeping the child, her faith interrupting the abortion, her parent's disowning after they found out she was pregnant/raped, her boyfriend's dumping her, the fact/idea that the child is part animal, and that her boyfriend is actually a girlfriend, and it was willing artificial insemination.
Who were we to argue? For all we knew, aliens had come down and impregnated her themselves; who were we to tell the crowds, eager schoolmates with rationed clothing and bleak futures, that their sources don't know shit about teenage pregnancy?
There were those who came to her defense"My parents had me when they were only nineteen," "There's nothing wrong if she's in love with her boyfriend," "Leave her alone, you don't know the circumstances," people we grudgingly knew were right, but were shoved aside for the purpose of interest.
What we did not shove aside, though, was her silence. The fact that she never once stood up for herself, never cracked a sarcastic joke about it, never offered the real facts. She sat, sober and quiet, in the back of our math classes, our science labs, our English read-alouds, our tired and warned physical education classes. If she had once stepped up and said, indeed, "Hey, as a matter of fact, I love my boyfriend, and I intended to have this child, and my parents are perfectly fine with it, and I am a healthy human being who is not here to serve your childish gossip," we would have oriented ourselves, we would've shushed.
(Well, in all honesty, we would've simply revised our stories, changed it into words unsaid and actions behind closed doors, would've decorated the tale up some maybe the parents were too eager for children and maybe the boyfriend isn't so serious about their relationship. But in the end, it would've been the same foundation, it still would've been consensual and our childish gossip would've been satisfied accordingly.)
But she did not step up, and we continued to fabricate reluctant lovers and insatiable rapists, hospitals throwing sperm to the wind and a girl who was asleep the whole time. ("The whole time?" "From start to finish!")
We had some shred of decency, of course. She was never joked at to her face, never confronted, never frontally reminded; our rumors, our gossip, our giggles and open-mouths were hidden carefully behind the iron wall that was her back. She keeps her posture upright, even after she runs into restrooms for morning sickness, and she never complains about food tasting weird, eating for two, or wanting to throw up, not any one lunch period, not that we have heard.
Do we even know her name? Christina, Josephine, Scarlet? Do we know who the boyfriend, the fiancé, the rapist, the family member and the husband are? Do we know her favorite color, do we take note of what she eats at lunch, do we know what she is going to name the baby? Do we know if it's a boy or girl, do we know whether or not it's twins, triplets, fucking quadruplets? Do we know if she plans to keep going to school, if she's still managing to complete schoolwork, or if she's lagging with all the stress?
But these have less interesting answers, and she does not offer information; she refuses to be our charity case and our punch line, she refuses to give us answers, so we stare at our mirrored faces and come up with our own. We're regular story-spinners, we are; the main character just happens to have her own life.
Her presence offends us. We can't explain it, but there's some resentment, some hatred lurking in our hearts. We can't even identify it; most of us refuse to put a finger on it, to acknowledge its presence. Instead we blow it off on one-dollar bills shoved into unwilling vending machines, in our essays turned into classes we are averaging C-minuses in, in our heads when we attempt a warm shower in the mornings and in our feet when we pound down the streets toward the bus stop. It's her with her circle belly and her unembarrassed eyes and her guiltless pose and her seventeen years that offends us, so deeply we hate ourselves in turn.
It's her lack of shame, really. It's her unashamed stance, pose, features, speech and presence that offends us, it's the fact that she won't give us answers and won't pour out a sob-story to warm our hearts and light up our eyes, it's the fact that she is living the life we have seen on television and searched for in the halls.
There is a nameless, faceless, really-actually-honestly-pregnant girl in our classroom, and we are the ones who have truly impregnated her.