Nicole Cooper would be the first to tell you that she’s had a hard life. She would also be the first to tell you that most of it was her fault. It seemed that since her junior year in high school her life had been a series of crappy decisions. From booze to boys to cars and innumerable late nights, Nicole did everything without any thought at all as to consequence or even a moment’s pause to let some semblance of common sense calm her seeming headlong rush to self destruction.
So there she was, twenty years old and laying in her bed one too bright morning, so hung over that she wished she could blow her own head off with a shot gun, just to stop the lurching, greasy nausea that roiled in her stomach on a sea of undigested late night fast food and tequila shooters. The events of the previous late night were hazy. She vaguely remembered a lot of grunting and groping and now here she was in her own bed (thank God!), her clothes disheveled and smelling of Pabst Blue Ribbon and cigarettes, and she thought, what have I done? While she never had put much stock in Old Testament fire and brimstone, much to the chagrin of her religious mother, some small part of her, lurking there in the back of her head just behind her pulsating head ache, was ashamed.
She told herself many things over the next few days, but the biggest lie was also the oldest—chances are you won’t get pregnant after one time, so you probably won’t. It worked, too, that little fib, and for awhile she actually felt better. She would chalk it up to a lesson learned and be more careful next time. And then she missed her period.
She went through three at home pregnancy tests, each time watching the little blue cross materialize in front of her like one of Dickens’s Christmas ghosts visiting her with rattling chains and visions of things to come, before the reality of what had happened hit home—she was pregnant. Unlike Scrooge, there was no time to change her ways and thus her future. No matter what she did from this point, she was going to be a mother.
Her first thought was to call her own mother. She didn’t really know why, her mom had never been a bastion of support and understanding. Nicole felt like she had to call somebody, though, and maybe getting an earful of old testament judgmental platitudes was just what the doctor ordered to justify her current state of self loathing.
Nicole listened to the phone buzz on the other end. Carol, her mother, picked up.
“Hello,” said Carol.
“Mom,” said Nicole. “I have something to tell you.”
“Oh dear god,” said Carol. “What is it now?”
“Maybe it’s good news, have you ever thought about that?” said Nicole. “You always get yourself so worked up.”
“Alright, I’m sorry, your right. Maybe you’ve met a nice boy, or you won the lottery…”
“Mom, don’t be ridiculous.”
“It could happen,” said Carol. “So what is it?”
“I guess you could say you were half right,” said Nicole.
“The nice boy part. At least I think he’s a nice boy.”
“You don’t know?”
“Mom, I’m pregnant,” said Nicole.
“Mom? Are you still there?”
“I knew this was going to happen,” said Carol.
“What? You knew? Why didn’t you give me some warning? I could have prepared better, read some books,” said Nicole.
“Don’t be flip,” said Carol.
“No, really, am I such a big slut that getting pregnant was a foregone conclusion?”
“It’s irresponsible,” said Carol.
“Mom…it was, okay, I know that. I have to deal with it now,” said Nicole.
“How could you not know who the father is?” asked Carol.
"Mom," said Nicole.
"Like two cats yowling under the window, for god's sake."
"Nice, Mom," said Nicole.
"It's disgusting," said Carol.
"I'm still your daughter," said Nicole.
“This is punishment, you know that, right?” said Carol. “All that running around, you never go to church, you see what happens?”
“Thanks, mom,” said Nicole.
“I’m serious,” said Carol.
“I know you are,” said Nicole. Then she said "I'm having this baby."
“You can barely tie your shoes, for god's sake," said Carol. "You leave dishes in the sink. You let your milk go bad. You're going to have a baby?"
"I know I have to be more responsible," said Nicole. "Don't you think I know that?"
"You don't know what you're in for," said Carol.
“Are you going to be there for me?” asked Nicole.
"Now you want me to be there for you. Now. You never listen to me, you think you know everything, now this. Maybe if you'd listened to me before..."
"My life would be perfect, of course," said Nicole. She paused. "Look, Mom, I didn't call to fight with you. I just...I don't want to do that anymore. I haven't been the best daughter in the world, I know that."
“Oh dear god,” Carol said again.
Nicole sighed. "I'm going to hang up now and let this gel with you for a bit."
“This is what you get,” said Carol.
“I love you, mom.”
Hanging up, Nicole thought, that went well. The phone rang almost immediately.
“You can have your room back, if you want,” said Carol.
“Mom, I’m not moving back in,” said Nicole.
“I have to take care of you,” said Carol.
“Mom, I’m pregnant, not an invalid."
"Read your bible. Love you, too,” said Carol. She hung up.
Next up: Nicole finds out what she's in for....