February stared down at the test in her hand and waited for the imminent shock and fear she knew she should be feeling to take its hold on her. It was hard to believe that what ultimately amounted to nothing but a small, cheap bit of plastic could hold the power to alter her life so drastically…yet there she was, sitting on the edge of the bathtub in her family’s tiny bathroom, feeling nothing but wave after wave of numbness. The four short months since February’d awakened groggy and confused in her parents’ bed next to Hector seemed like an eternity ago. She had at first believed herself small again, snuggled deep under the comfort of her parents’ presence after waking from a childhood nightmare, until she’d seen Hector’s shock of red hair and all of the sorrowful memories had come flooding back.
A solitary tear trailed its lonely way down February’s cheek now as she continued to stare blankly at the device confirming what she had been suspecting for some time now. At first, she hadn’t thought much of it when her cycles had stopped; she’d blamed stress from losing her parents, and, of course, her own act of betrayal without stopping to think that sleeping with Hector maybe had more to do with missing her periods than just causing her some emotional anguish. Then her weight had started climbing, while certain smells and foods made her stomach turn. Suspicions had begun weighing on her mind at that point, but she ignored them in the hopes that the problem wouldn’t exist so long as she failed to acknowledge it. However, Martin Luther, who was spending more and more time out of the house now that he’d secured a job as a stylist at the local salon, took one look at his sister after not seeing her for about a week and remarked, “You’re having his baby…what a wonderful way to show how much you love him?”
“Oh, shut up,” February snapped, glowering moodily at her brother. Martin Luther raised his eyebrows but refrained from making any additional comments. Later that evening, February had found the pregnancy test sitting unobtrusively on her bed and had finally condescended to face the consequences of her actions.
“Well,” she sighed, tucking the used kit in the trashcan and wiping her face. “I guess it’s time to talk to Cameron.”
Cameron was just heading out of the Wan household where he’d been hanging out all evening when his cell phone rang. The sight of February’s name on his screen set his pulse racing, just as it had been since the day she’d been assigned his lab partner in high school so many years ago. He hadn’t heard much from her in the past few months since her dad had died, so he was naturally elated that she was actually calling him for a change.
“Hey beautiful, what’s up? It’s good to hear your voice,” Cameron enthused, then sobered as he registered February’s somber tone. “You need to talk? Nothing too bad, I hope,” he joked, hoping to lighten the mood; unfortunately, his forced joviality did nothing to improve February’s spirits. If anything, she actually sounded even sadder when she asked if it was all right for her to come by his house. “Oh, hey, don’t worry about coming all the way out there; I’m just over at the Wan’s house; it’d be much easier to meet me here, or I can come to you — no? Ok…if you’re sure…I can’t wait to see you.” Cameron hung up, concern creasing his features. The last time he’d heard February sound quite so serious had been the time she’d met him at the stadium to break things off with him. He had instantly known that day what her intentions had been, and, although he’d never been sure why she hadn’t gone through with it, he’d always been grateful that she had seemed to change her mind. He’d also been relieved when she stopped hanging around that Hector guy so much; there had been a time when he’d really begun to think that something might be going on between them. Trying to calm his nerves, Cameron settled down on the steps of the Wan’s front porch to anxiously wait for his girlfriend to arrive.
It wasn’t long before February rounded the corner and began to make her way down the street. Excitement burst through Cameron at the sight of her in spite of the likelihood that she bore bad news; he jumped to his feet to greet her, then paused uncertainly. He had actually seen February even less than he’d spoken to her since the death of her dad; he had been aware that February was avoiding him, but believed at the time that she had merely wished to grieve in private. Now, cold dread poured like ice water down his heart as he regarded the figure of his girlfriend. There was something subtly different about her, a foreign fullness that he may not have noticed had he seen her on a more regular basis. He stood still and watched her slow approach until she stopped a few feet from him and regarded him solemnly.
“‘Lo, February.” February hesitated a moment, struck by their sudden formality. “I have something to tell you,” she finally murmured.
“You do.” Meant as a question, Cameron’s utterance came out as a flat statement instead. February flushed, then took a deep breath and began.
“Cameron, I…we’ve been together a long time, and you know that I love you…” February paused, possibly waiting for Cameron to say something to encourage her; when he remained silent, she forced herself to continue.
“I…know this is going to be hard to take but…Cameron, I’m pregnant,” February finally managed to blurt out.
For a long moment, Cameron simply stared at February. He wanted to feel surprise, shock, even anger, but all he seemed to feel as he looked into the tear-filled eyes of the girl he’d loved since they were teenagers was numbness.
“It’s Hector’s, isn’t it?” he asked quietly. February nodded and then began spilling out an explanation as to why it had all happened. Cameron watched her silently, listening to the river of words she was pouring at his feet like an offering of wine, but not really hearing anything she was saying. A spark of anger finally began to grow, fed by the sheer volume of sounds February was relentlessly expelling.
“Stop. Just…stop talking. Everything that’s coming out of your mouth is garbage,” he fumed. Shocked, February tasted rich, coppery blood coat her bitten tongue as she abruptly snapped her mouth closed.
“How could you do this to me, to us?” Cameron continued. “I love you….I changed everything for you. I tried to give you space, and this is what you do? You go behind my back and get yourself knocked up like…like some kind of back alley tramp??” February cringed, but Cameron was too consumed with hurt and anger to notice, or care if he had. “I know you, I know you better than everyone else, even that little red-headed freak you hang around with…I know why you did this. I know it’s all about your parents, but dammit, February, why didn’t you come to ME for once?”
“I…I…I’m so sorry, Cameron, so sorry, please…you’re right, I should have come to you when my dad…just please —,” February stammered through the rain of tears that flooded her face and clogged her throat. Cameron’s anger boiled over at the mere sight of her.
“Shut up! Shut up!” he screamed, completely losing control of his temper. “Just get away from me! I don’t even want to look at you anymore!”
Terrified, February broke down. “No, no, please Cameron, I love you so much, I do, please, I just want things to be ok, please…” Cameron glared at her as she dissolved in tears in front of him, his face impassive.
“Go home, February. Just…go,” he advised stonily before turning away from her and walking back into the Wan home, leaving February no choice but to return to her own house, exhausted and broken.