“I’m pregnant,” Delilah confessed to her best friend. She twirled a strand of blonde hair around her index finger.
“Oh my god. Please tell me you’re joking,” Charlotte replied, spraying a mouthful of her drink across the ground in front of her.
In their small conservative town in southern California, teen pregnancy was practically unheard of. It wasn’t that teens weren’t having sex (their town was like any other in that regard), but those who were doing it were extremely careful. Everyone knew about the adult store ten miles down the highway where they could buy condoms with no questions asked and no rumors started.
Delilah had four months to go on her senior year. At two months pregnant already, she doubted she could make it to graduation without anyone the wiser. She was sure as hell going to try, though.
She hadn’t planned on telling Charlotte, but after refusing to drink from their secret stash of vodka, she felt cornered by Charlotte’s questions. It was only a matter of time before Charlotte guessed, and their friendship would’ve taken a hit. The girls had shared everything since first grade, and keeping secrets was a no-no.
“I’m not joking, and before you ask, I’m also sure. I stole three pregnancy tests from the pharmacy.”
“Shoplifting, really?” Charlotte said, disapprovingly as she took another swig of vodka.
“Well, if I’d bought them, Mr. Connors would have told my father.”
“I suppose that’s a fair point.”
Delilah leaned back against the rough brick wall. Until she’d said it out loud, she’d done her best to pretend it wasn’t happening. Mostly, anyway. The only concession she’d made was to stop drinking.
She knew that one night with James had been a mistake. They hadn’t actually planned on having sex; things just sort of ended up there. Mistake or not, she was fond of the memory.
The pair had been out at the lake lying on a blanket in the back of James’s pickup truck looking at the stars. Delilah and James had been friends almost as long as Delilah and Charlotte. James had stolen a bottle of scotch from his parents’ liquor cabinet. It burned on the way down but left Delilah feeling warm and content. Despite the cool November air, she shed her sweater. James watched in a way that was quite unbecoming for just friends. Delilah relished the attention as she was currently being cold shouldered by her boyfriend Ethan. Their fight was about something stupid, but Ethan was stubborn.
“Why can’t you tell when a pterodactyl is in the bathroom?” James asked, anxiously trying to draw his attention away from how close Delilah was sitting. He ran a hand through his dark hair self-consciously.
“I haven’t the foggiest. Why?” Delilah replied, taking a mouthful of scotch.
“The ‘p’ is silent,” Jame said sheepishly. It was a lame joke to be sure, but when had he ever told a good one?
Scotch dribbled down Delilah’s chin as she laughed. James wiped the errant liquor away with his thumb. He lingered, and when Delilah didn’t pull away, he moved closer. It was Delilah, though, who finally closed the distance between their lips. Neither could really say they’d thought about being together, but neither were they blind to the fact that the other was attractive.
The kiss was amateurish, sloppy and wet. The drunk teenagers didn’t notice, and if they had they, wouldn’t have cared. It wasn’t until James’s hand slid up under Delilah’s shirt that they broke apart.
“Are we doing this?” James asked, slurring a little.
Delilah’s head spun with thoughts of ruining their friendship, being outside, having no protection, and Ethan. It took only a fraction of a second for her to dizzily agree, however. They fumbled in their inebriation, but it was a gentle affair. James had a way of touching her that made her feel special, a skill Ethan had never mastered.
“Delilah? Delilah!” Charlotte called, waving a hand in front of her friend’s face. “Get a grip. We’ve got to go or we’ll be late for class.”
“Sorry,” Delilah said, coming out of her thoughts. “I was just thinking.”
“About Ethan? Have you told him?”
“No, I— no.” She hadn’t told Ethan. She hadn’t told James, either. After their one encounter, she had made up with Ethan and James had started dating Cynthia. She had never seen James happier and couldn’t imagine breaking up his relationship.
And then there was Ethan. Ethan who’d been with her for two years. Ethan who had visited her everyday when she had mono. Ethan who had been her first. Ethan who finally said ‘I love you’ on New Year’s right before he kissed her at midnight.
Charlotte took one more drink before tucking the bottle of vodka into her backpack next to her physics textbook. “I can’t get through home ec without a little help,” she said. The friends left the shadows of the dumpster behind the cafeteria and went into the crowded halls.
“Hey, babe,” Ethan said, sidling up to Delilah as she separated from Charlotte on her way to algebra.
“You sound surprised, like you don’t see me this time every day.”
“Yes. No. I um, I was thinking, that’s all.”
“You sound flustered. Are you okay, babe?”
“I love you,” Delilah blurted out.
“I love you, too,” Ethan said. He leaned in as they walked and kissed her on the forehead.
The sting of having betrayed him burned Delilah to the core. She had, until then, buried deep her regrets about being with James, about violating the sanctity of her relationship with Ethan. But it all burst forth, a steaming geyser that scalded her heart and heated her face. Charlotte’s words rang in her ears: Have you told him?
The chatter of the hallway sounded muffled to Delilah as her imagination played out scenes in which she told Ethan the truth. About her and James. About the baby. She pictured the beautiful life she had planned for, marrying Ethan who was being groomed to take over his father’s shoe factory, attending the local community college to become a teacher, recede as the geyser ebbed leaving a soiled, muddy landscape in its wake.
Delilah stumbled and fell to her knees, the proverbial weight of her mistakes too much to bear. Ethan was there, pulling her back to her feet, picking up her books, retrieving her homework. It was in that moment that Delilah made her decision.
“We need to talk. Tonight. Meet you at the park at eight?” Delilah asked as they reached the door to Ms. McCarthy’s room.
“Sure, babe. See you later.”
Eight that night came too soon and not soon enough. Delilah rehearsed a thousand times what to say to her boyfriend. As she walked the half mile from her house to Coleman Park, she still hadn’t decided how to break it to him.
As 8:05 and 8:10 came and went, Delilah wondered if somehow Ethan had already found out. She shook her head. Charlotte was the only one who knew, and there was no way she would tell. Ethan jogged up at 8:15, gasping like he’d run the whole way, his breath puffing out in the cold air. He collapsed onto the bench beside Delilah.
“Sorry. Dad wouldn’t let me out of the house until I finished my homework,” he panted.
Delilah let him catch his breath. It wouldn’t do to surprise him into passing out. She rested a hand on her belly, an unconscious habit she’d acquired whenever she thought about the baby.
“You sick? You’re holding your stomach,” Ethan observed as his breathing regulated, his concern evident in his voice.
“What? Oh, no,” Delilah said looking down. “I—”
But the words wouldn’t come. She wondered if she was doing the right thing. Ethan took her gloved hand in his bare one. He smiled at her, warm and genuine. She felt her heart flutter. Yes, this was the right thing.
“Ethan,” she said, her tone much calmer than the whirlwind she felt inside. “You’re going to be a father.