She started biting her thumbnails again that day. Her mother had long kicked her of the habit, she thought, but it crept back in as she paced in slow relay from the dresser to the bed and back again. She was always slow, methodical, levelheaded. Instead of ditching the bus with a cry and escaping to the mall after school like her friends, she came home to her mother and brother to pull weeds or set the table. Instead of crying, she would steady herself and sit quietly on her bed until it passed. She would do these things this evening after she told her mother she was pregnant.
She rehearsed in her head.
“Mom, I’m pregnant.” Too direct, I shouldn’t start with the news, she wouldn’t even listen to me after that. “Mom. I need to talk to you.” She’ll probably just continue watching the news and say, “…Yes…Yes? Sorry, the news is on.” Like I don’t know the news is on.
“Mom.” I’ll sit down next to her on the couch and wait for her to turn the news off.
“I need to talk to you about something.”
She won’t even raise an eyebrow, probably, since she would consider it proper of me to come to her with a problem. She will probably feel proud of herself. “What is it?”
“Well…” No, no, no, no stumbles allowed. I can’t give her any chance to feel like this is her conversation. “You know I’ve always been a responsible person, Mom.”
She will nod but not say anything.
“And it’s because of you, you know. You taught me to be responsible and to take care of business.”
A swift nod, probably. At this point she is expecting the worst.
“And you’ve always been there for me in times of trouble, you know? You’ll help me through anything, right? You’ll make it okay? I’m pregnant, Mom, I don’t want to be but please can you just make it okay?”
She stopped herself. She looked down—her hands were clenched around her abdomen. This is ridiculous. She would never help me. She didn’t teach me anything. She didn’t teach me to be responsible and take care of business. She would never be there for me in times of trouble. She would never help me.
She will hate me.
She breathed in and out. Walking downstairs, she didn’t hide her thumbnails. She stood in front of the TV.
“Mom, I’m pregnant.”
This was an assignment on imagined dialogue. Once again, I did it on my way out the door. What is happening to me?