This is a short story that was written sometime at the beginning of 2022. This is my first self-published fictional short story. It features elements of contemporary and political issues regarding women and teenage pregnancy. Take of it what you will. How the story ends is entirely up to you.
A strand of black hair fell in front of Sophie’s face as she sat in the bathroom silently crying. She was already running late for school. As she cried in the bathroom in complete stillness, her little sister Sasha knocked on the door.
Sophie knew she needed to get out of the bathroom and quickly dried her tears. Her mom shouted from the hallway and told her to open up because Sasha had to brush her teeth. It was 7:13 am on a crisp fall morning in Boston. Sophie opened the door and let Sasha in. Sophie picked up her little sister and embraced her with a huge hug. Her thoughts were running 1000 miles per minute as she set Sasha back down.
She coaxed Sasha over to the sink to help her brush her teeth. “Soapy?” little Sasha asks, “What’s that?”, as she pointed to the tiny pink pregnancy test on the counter.
Soapy was Sophie’s nickname since Sasha learned how to talk. She could never pronounce “Sophie”, so as a toddler she resorted to Soapy. Ever since then, it stuck. It’s like when Sophie was little and her mother laughed when she called chocolate milk “cawlet milk”. Sophie quickly snatched the test up and put it in the back pocket of her blue jeans.
“It’s nothing, Sasha. Here, put some toothpaste on your brush.”
Sophie squeezed the toothpaste onto her sister’s toothbrush and made a fart noise. Sasha burst into laughter and Sophie smiled at her, satisfied that she distracted Sasha from the pregnancy test. Sophie turned on the water and rushed out of the bathroom. She told her mom she was leaving for school, grabbed her backpack, and ran out the door.
Sophie ran down the gray, cold cement steps of the red brick two-flat condo. The smell of fall leaves on the ground swirled into Sophie’s nose. The thought of her dad crossed her mind. She wondered what he would think of her being pregnant if he was still around and didn’t abandon her, her mom, and Sasha. Slinging her blue backpack over her shoulder she ran toward the bus stop. She looked behind her and saw that the bus was nearby and catching up quickly. In unison, she and the bus raced to the bus stop on Massachusetts Avenue, side by side.
Catching her breath as the doors swung open violently, she got on the bus, waved her bus card, and plopped down onto a seat near the back of the bus. As she sat down, the pregnancy test in the back pocket of her jeans pushed itself into her as a reminder that it was still there. Her heart pounded and beads of sweat dripped down her neck. She thought of what she would tell Russ.
Worried about how it might affect their relationship, Sophie realized how much she loved him. Sophie loved Russ more than anything. They had been together for three years. She envisioned holding a newborn and the idea of giving birth at the age of 17. As her thoughts scrambled, an elderly man got on the bus and sat in the handicapped seat. He pulled out a newspaper from his inside coat pocket and a bag of cocaine from the other. Sophie was amused at the sight and laughed quietly to herself waiting for the bus driver to notice. The man dipped a penny into his bag and held it to his nose. His clothes were raggedy and she could smell him from across the bus.
The bus sped over a pothole and the old man hollered, “Come on, man! Don’t you know how to fucking drive? Damn these potholes!”
The bus driver had surely upset him now for making him spill. “I’m not sure who you’re getting loud with. Yell at me again, and you can walk the rest of the way.”
The old man got up from his seat and he slipped the tiny bag into his pocket. Hobbling over to the bus driver he started banging on the dashboard.
“That’s it! You’re off!”, the bus driver yelled.
He stopped the bus and stood up appearing much taller than the old man.
“This is bullshit! It’s freezing out there this morning!”, the old man yelled and cursed the bus driver’s name all the way off the bus and down the cold pavement. This caused Sophie to arrive at school even later.
Sophie continued to daydream about lunchtime because she knew she’d see Russ in the cafeteria. She slouched at her desk and stared out the window, unable to focus. Chewing gum helped her with her anxiety, but it was not allowed. Her English teacher always made sure to give Sophie a hard time about it. Sophie chewed away relentlessly. She suddenly felt the heat of a million eyes staring at her. The entire class was silent.
“Sophie?!” her teacher exclaimed.
Her head snapped right into the direction of Ms. McCauley.
“Huh?”, said Sophie. “You’re chewing gum again. You know it isn’t allowed,” Ms. McCauley said.
Sophie’s eyes squinted and her brows pushed together in the middle of her forehead as if they were trying to touch each other.
Sophie yelled back, “UGH! I’m not hurting anyone.”
“Sophie, you can go to the office and claim your detention slip”, Ms. McCauley said.
Sophie got out of her seat, scooting her chair back so loud that it screeched on the floor. She purposely wanted to disrupt the class for disrupting her daydreams.
Slamming the old wooden door on her way out she heard Ms. McCauley’s voice echoing down the hall.
“Shakespeare’s plays can be divided up into different categories: Comedies, histories, and tragedies.” Sophie heard the words; Comedies, histories, and tragedies. If my life were a play it must be a tragedy, she thought to herself.
She sat in the office waiting to schedule her detention while still chewing her gum when she saw Mr. Tuffin, the school social worker. Peering through the glass window of the main office door she spotted him instantly. His hair was silver and white making him look as cold as ice, which Sophie always thought was ironic considering he was the opposite.
His blue plaid button-down shirt was part of an unwritten dress code that all the staff his age also wore. Mr. Tuffin used his hands when he talked. His ring finger had a gold band and his hands looked as wrinkled as laundry that hadn’t been folded for days. He was talking to the sophomore science teacher. Mr. Tuffin was the only person who truly was able to see the good in Sophie. They met when she went to peer-mediation for a fight she got into with another girl on the first day of freshman year. He spotted her sitting in the office.
Ending the conversation with his colleague he came into the office where Sophie was sitting.
“By the looks of it, you’re not excited to be here, huh? What happened?” he asked her.
“I was chewing gum”, she said, as a giant bubble formed on her lips and popped carelessly.
“A classic Sophie Seskas move! Nice,” he exclaimed. He was always cheerful and tried to find humor in everything.
“You know the rules,” he said. “Yeah, yeah. And you know more” she hinted.
“Soph, you’re a good kid. You shouldn’t be in trouble so often. I know things have been rough since your dad left, but you’re smarter than that.” he told her.
She looked at him like a puppy looks at its owner after having an accident in the house. She knew he was right. Mr. Tuffin said she was just a diamond in the rough. Chewing gum was the least of her worries now. She didn’t care about detention or her dad. She wanted to speak to the Dean and head to lunch so she could see Russ. Besides that, she really could use a cigarette, or maybe a joint.
After getting her detention slip from the Dean to bring home to her mom to sign, she finally got to the cafeteria. Russ was standing near a corner of the lunchroom with a group of friends. Dressed in hoodies and sweatpants of all colors of the rainbow they resembled a living canvas of spilled paint. She managed to get Russ alone.
He was much taller than her, and his eyes were the color of dark chocolate. His hair was long and brown and flowed naturally like a river. His olive skin was opposite to hers, and she liked that about him.
“Sophie, relax,” he assured her. “Russ! How can I?” she said with tears in her eyes. She looked around at the other kids in the cafeteria. The smell of burgers made her want to throw up. She hoped nobody would notice her crying.
“This is serious,” she said.
“Maybe it’s a false positive,” he assured her.
“Maybe that’s a false hope.” She mimicked him.
“What are we going to do?” she asked. Russ was shocked by the news and could tell that Sophie was more than upset.
In a reassuring tone, he told her, “We will figure it out together. Meet me by the tree after class.”
The tree was their spot. It was where they always hung out after school. A giant oak stood tall on the lawn near the track and football fields. She anticipated the last bell’s ring more anxious than a child on Christmas morning.
After school, they smoked under the tree.
“Did you tell anyone, Russ?” Sophie asked him as the smoke blew out of her mouth.
“No… Well, I told Johnnie,” his voice cracked. Her eyes widened.
“You shouldn’t have told anyone yet! Damn it”, she kicked the tree.
“Everyone will find out sooner or later anyway if we decide to keep it” Russ told her. They stayed near the tree for hours as they contemplated what to do. They stayed near the tree until the stars came out despite the cold winds of autumn.
Sophie strolled home after dark. Her mom waited up for her.
“Anything you want to tell me?” her mother asked quietly so as to not wake Sasha.
Sophie closed the door softly behind her. Her mother, Maria, gave her the look of death with green eyes that pierced her like the sting of a bullet. Her mother looked just like her, only older, wiser, and a little more stout. Maria knew that Sophie was acting out due to her dad leaving them. She tried to go easy on Sophie when she could, but Sophie’s behavior was impossible to manage at times. Maria missed the days when Sophie was still innocent and ignorant of the evil and heartbreak of the world.
“Mrs. Bernardi called tonight,” Maria announced. Sophie’s heartbeat thundered in her chest. She knew Johnnie told his mom. Johnnie Bernardi was the biggest snitch and unfortunately, best friends with Russ.
“Asshole” Sophie mumbled under her breath, “Hell, of course, she did!”
The next day Maria and Russ’s mom, Angelica, spoke on the phone and decided that Sophie would get an abortion.
“They are simply too young. This can’t happen,” said Mrs. Angelica Jones.
Russ’s mom also wasn’t fond of Sophie. Sophie felt confused, alone, and unsure of what to think or do. What would happen to her if she had an abortion? She wondered if it would kill her. Would it damage her insides? How could she go through with it? There was a baby inside of her. It was her and Russ’s baby. There was no way she could go through with it. Maria and Angelica scheduled Sophie’s appointment as soon as they found out.
On the morning of the procedure, she didn’t bother to style her hair or put on makeup. It’s not like she had any reason to be glamorous. She was nervous and shaking the entire car ride to the clinic. When she and her mom pulled up there was a large group of people standing outside on the sidewalk just near the entrance. They dressed in bright orange vests and were carrying large signs; the enormous signs that you only see at a protest. The signs had blood-red paint which Sophie thought was used as symbolism.
Crosses were painted on the signboards, and the group chanted about how abortion is murder. God will give you hope. God will give you strength. Don’t kill your baby. It’s an innocent child. They shouted. They weren’t new to what they were doing. They must have rehearsed more than a cheer squad getting ready for finals.
“MURDERER!” they screamed at her.
They spewed hatred and verses from their bibles as she went into the clinic, not even 18 years old, with her very embarrassed mother by her side. Sophie and her mother said nothing. The air was filled with such a strong silence that it consumed them entirely.
Sophie had a decision to make. She considered the words of the women outside, even though they seemed like religious nut freaks. She thought of Russ and his dark chocolate eyes and his olive skin. She wondered how the baby would look. She felt it inside of her. Sophie was not ready to part. She thought of what the baby’s nose would be like. Would it be wide or upturned? Would the baby be a boy? A girl? Sophie wondered.
Her mother called her to the desk where she was filling out paperwork.
“You need to sign this. You need to consent to the procedure.”
She couldn’t look her mother in the eye. She took the pen. As she lifted the pen, she imagined running out of the clinic and the protestors cheering her on. They would shout for her. Those protesters would celebrate for her. They’d celebrate as if Sophie had just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The applause was so loud now in Sophie’s mind. Her hand trembled as she held the pen. She reminded herself of who she was and how much she’d endured in her life so far.
Sophie realized that this decision was solely up to her; and was one only she could make. The only one who could truly advocate for her in this world was herself.
If you were Sophie – what would you do? This story was written with the intention of sharing a fictional point of view of a direct inside look at millions of stories just like these. While fictional, this story has many truthful elements that take place not just in the USA but across the world.
Teenage pregnancy and abortion will forever be debatable and controversial issues that people may in fact never agree on. What I hope readers take from this story is the fact that we all make our own choices. While the choices we make might not be agreeable to some – it is best to remember that the choices we make must be ones that benefit our own lives regardless of what other people may think. Life is short and pretty wild. Be careful, stay safe, and be smart.