Following is the piece I read as part of the cast of Listen To Your Mother Chicago, on May 5, 2013.
No One Knows by Lisa Noel
There's a knock at the door. I open it and he greets me with a worried smile. Relief and fear come over me at the same time. I’m so lucky. He loves me. He wants to marry me. He wants to raise this baby with me. All we have to do is tell my mom.
The two of us have been through a lot over the years. She likes him. I know she'll be disappointed. I’m only sixteen, but I'm smart, an honor student in fact. Yes. She’ll be disappointed, but surely she’ll be supportive. Right? What's done is done. I’ll still finish school.
We’ll be ok.
We all sit down. Me, my mom, my stepdad, my boyfriend, and I say it. I just say it. I'm pregnant.
They both ask if I’m sure.
Yes, I’m sure. We went to the health department. I am pregnant.
Mom asks what I plan to do.
I announce we’re keeping the baby. I see no other option.
They both shout at my boyfriend to leave the house. Saying nothing, I watch him go. He looks back, eyes pleading to not let them do this. Tears come. I hear them tell me to go to my room. They need to talk.
I go, feeling more alone than I’ve ever felt. I cry and wait. Wait and cry. I think I’m going to be sick. It’s worry not morning sickness.
When she's calm enough to talk, she sits down with me and tells me her story. The story of her own teen pregnancy. A story I’ve never heard.
She tells me all boys are the same. One left her young, pregnant and alone.
Surely the same will happen to me. I really need to think about my options. I have such a bright future.
She asks how I'm feeling. Have I been sick? She apologizes for her anger, tells me she wanted better for me. She thought I was smarter than this. Again, she asks what I plan to do. I tell her of our plan to stay together and raise this baby.
He loves me. He has a good job and wants to raise this baby.
She reminds me of his age. He’s eighteen. They could have him arrested. Then what would I do? I’m a minor, and he’s eighteen. That’s statutory rape. They’ll call the police if I ever see him again.
I can’t think through my tears. When she finally leaves, I'm exhausted.
In the days following, I sneak off to see him. I promise him I will not do what she's asking.
I wouldn't. I couldn't.
But the hours turn into days, and the days turn into what seem like years, and the constant comments, stories, and guilt get the better of me.
What right do I have to bring a child into this world? I'm still in high school. What kind of mother could I possibly be?
Defeated, lonely and tired, the day comes when I relent.
I tell her to make the appointment. She calls, but I have to talk to them. Tell them this is my choice.
Apparently I'm a good liar.
A counselor sees me before the procedure. He asks me to confirm I’m here by my own choice, and even asks my reasons.
My heart screams for me to tell the truth, but the lies eventually bring silence. I tell them everything they want to hear. What they think I should feel.
They believe me.
Within a couple of hours I walk out of the clinic, empty.
Empty womb. Empty heart. Empty soul.
Mom puts me to bed when we get home. She even calls my boss to let him know I won’t make it to work tomorrow, and that’s the last it’s ever mentioned in our house.
Slowly it eats at me. I hate myself.
For some reason he doesn’t hate me. We continue to date for the last two years of high school behind her back. Then I go off to college. Off to do the great things I was destined to do…before.
Somehow I make it through the first year. Then slowly it all falls apart.
My grades don't cut it and I lose my Honors Scholarship.
More pieces of me die.
I no longer have control of my body. I am constantly ill with no traceable reason. The depression has overwhelmed me and I can no longer function. My worry is irrational and undeniable. I go home for a weekend and can't bring myself to return. I am unable to work toward the bright future I had....before.
I am consumed with thoughts of how old my child would be. What he or she would look like. Any encounter with a child pains me.
I am a mother without a child, but no one knows.
Mother’s Day comes. I grieve silently.
This was the right thing. They assured me. Why does it feel so wrong?I am a mother without a child, but no one knows.