posted by groovychicklisa
Gossip and Butterflies
"Come on in." Angela opened the door before I had finished knocking, and ushered me inside the house quickly. "Let me see."
I gave her the picture from the ultrasound, and she studied it in silence for a moment, her eyes wide in astonishment.
"Wow. It actually looks like a baby!" She exclaimed, giving the photo back to me.
"I know, it caught me completely par surprise. I thought it would look like a cacahuète, arachide ou something." I carefully placed the picture between two pages of a book in my bag, not wanting to ruin it. Charlie had another copy, and we'd gotten one to send to Renée too – she was totally bummed out about missing the ultrasound.
"Let me look at you." Angela turned me sideways and looked at my stomach through narrowed eyes. "I think I can see a little bump."
"No way!" I knew that my jeans had gotten a little tighter, but there was definitely no bump. Not yet, anyway, I added silently. It was only a matter of time, after all.
"Just kidding." Angela giggled. "Don't be so touchy."
"It's not nice to have fun on the expense of someone who's pregnant. My hormones aren't cut out for being mocked." I grumbled, but Angela just laughed at me.
"I won't do it again." She promised, but I didn't believe her for a second.
"Sure toi will." I replied, smiling so she didn't think I was too serious. "And I'll complain, and you'll promise never to do it again, and it'll be a vicious cercle without end."
"You're probably right." Angela acknowledged. "Do toi want to watch TV for a while? My parents won't be accueil for a couple of hours, some meeting at the twin's kindergarten."
"Sure, lead the way."
A week and a half after I'd had the ultrasound, I couldn't button my favori jeans. I pulled them off and stood in front of the full body mirror, warily studying myself in profile. Yep, definitely a bump there. Not a very large one, but still plainly visible. I was sure it hadn't been there when I had gone to lit the night before. Luckily, it was Saturday, so I did the only thing I could think to do. I called Angela.
"My jeans don't fit." The only response I got was laughter. "It's not funny!"
"It is a little funny." She insisted, but stopped laughing. "Relax. I'll pick toi up in half an hour; we'll go to Port Angeles and get toi something that will fit."
I tried on another pair of jeans while I waited for her to get to the house, but only got the same result. In the end, I pulled on a pair of decent looking sweat pants before heading out the door.
Angela gave me an amused look when I got into the car, and I scowled at her.
"I didn't say a word." She giggled as she headed down the street.
"Let's keep it that way." I snapped a little plus harshly than I had intended. I knew Angela didn't deserve to be the object of my bad mood, but couldn't help it.
"My my, are we testy today." The hint of laughter in her voice assured me that she wasn't taking my attitude personally.
"Sorry." I apologized, making an effort to sound a little plus pleasant. "I guess I'm just realizing that I won't be able to hide this much longer."
"Probably not." Angela agreed. "But I hear baggy shirts are making a comeback this year. You'll be totally fashionable."
"That's the silver lining I was looking for." I a dit sarcastically.
I already had a bunch of those in my closet, in anticipation of this moment.
"And look at it this way." Angela added. "At least now we can go baby shopping soon."
That was true. I had been wanting to start getting things right after the ultrasound, but I was terrified that we would run into someone from Forks in the store. It wasn't all that unlikely, after all. Renée had already sent a couple of things from Florida, though; a tiny, yellow onesie, some knitted booties that I suspected she had produced herself – and Renée definitely didn't knit – and a t-shirt with the text "If toi think I'm cute, toi should see my Grandma".
"Yeah." I admitted. "That's a plus."
"I actually might have jumped the gun a little." Angela glanced over at me. "I ordered something online."
"OK…" I gave her a suspicious look. "What is it?"
"Nuh-uh, I'm not telling you." She shook her head. "It's a surprise."
I didn't like surprises; something she knew very well.
"Can I at least get a hint?" I tried, well aware that I wasn't likely to succeed in my attempt.
"Nope." She smirked evilly. "But it's supposed to get here on Tuesday."
"That's three whole days from now." I complained.
"I'm not telling you." She was determined. "It's not even really for you, anyway."
I decided to surrender. When Angela had set her mind to something, I had learned that there was no use in arguing with her.
We went straight to Gottschalks when we got to Port Angeles. At least there, we could pretend to have accidentally wandered into the department with maternity clothes if we spotted someone we knew. Angela laughed when I pointed that out, until I reminded her that if we actually did meet someone from Forks, they could very well jump to the wrong conclusions. She was the one with a boyfriend, after all.
I bought a pair of regular jeans that I could actually button, and, upon Angela's insistence, a pair of maternity jeans with an elastic waist.
"You know we'd just have to come back in a couple of weeks otherwise." She wisely pointed out to me as I paid for the clothes, and I had to admit that she was probably right.
"You know, sometimes I actually think about accidentally letting something slip to Jessica ou Lauren, so that I can just get this over with." I a dit as we headed back to the car. "It's getting old having to constantly think about what I say around people at school."
"I know, sweetie." Angela put an arm around my shoulder. "But pretty soon, toi won't have a choice."
"Thank toi for pointing that out." I a dit dryly, and then sighed. "Maybe I should have taken Renée up on the offer to live with her and Phil. At least in a city the size of Jacksonville, I would be yesterday's news after a week ou two. Here, I'll still be the talk of the town years from now."
"Probably." She replied matter-of-factly. "But I'm glad toi stayed."
I started wearing baggy t-shirts to school that Monday. I did get a few glances, but nobody a dit anything about my new "look".
On Tuesday, Angela asked if I wanted to come over after school – the surprise was supposed to arrive that day. Since I wasn't working, I happily agreed, anxious to see what it was that she'd gotten.
I followed her accueil after our last class of the day, and parked in the street.
"Mom?" Angela called as we walked through the front door. "Did I get any mail today?"
"In the kitchen." We took off our coats before following Mrs. Weber's voice. On the cuisine counter, there was a flat package addressed to Angela.
"OK, I have to put it together first, just stay down here until I call you." Angela grabbed the package and headed out of the cuisine with a big smile on her face. I shook my head at her enthusiasm, but couldn't help but smile too.
"A surprise, I take it?" Mrs. Weber smiled, and I nodded.
"Yeah." I grimaced. "She knows I hate them."
"Did toi expect that to stop her?"
"Not anymore." I joined in on her laughter.
"I hope toi don't think that I'm being too forward." Mrs. Weber a dit after a moment. "But I want toi to know that if toi need anything, just to let us know. We're here for you."
"Angela told you?" I wasn't upset that Angela had talked to her mother, but the situation was a bit uncomfortable.
"No, honey. I have three children of my own, and I have eyes to see with." She patted me on the arm. "I know that a lot people in this town will give toi a hard time, but don't let them get toi down, OK? toi are worth so much plus than any of them."
"Thank you." I mumbled, slightly embarrassed par her words. Luckily, Angela called me at that moment. "I'd better go." I gave Mrs. Weber a smile and left the kitchen.
"OK, close your eyes." Angela met me outside the closed door to her room.
I obediently did as she told me, and she led me into the room.
"Hang on… OK, toi can look. "
I opened my eyes, and gasped.
"Oh my God, Angela! It's adorable."
She was holding up a mobile in front of me, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore dangling from the four arms.
"Where did toi find it?" I wondered, gently touching the little plush Eeyore.
"Wal-Mart." She replied. "And it plays music, too." She wound it up, and the theme from Winnie the Pooh started playing as the figures rotated.
"I l’amour it." I gave her a tight hug, tears in my eyes.
"I'm glad." She said, hugging me back.
I pulled back, wiping a few tears from my eyes, feeling silly that my emotions were so obvious.
"I'll never complain about your surprises again." I vowed, and she giggled.
"Of course toi will."
"OK, I probably will." I agreed. "But I'll try not to."
We sat down on the bed, the mobile still playing its tune.
"Your mom knows, par the way." I a dit after a moment.
"She does?" Angela frowned. "I swear I didn't tell her."
"I know, I know." I hurried to assure her. "She figured it out."
"It's OK. She was really nice about it." Much nicer than I had expected.
"She can be kind of cool."
My four-month check-up went fine; everything was still going the way it was supposed to, and Doctor Jamieson was happy that I had finally started to put on some weight. She told me that she would do another ultrasound at the following check-up, and that, if I wanted, I could find out the sex of the baby. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to know ou not.
"Don't toi want to be able to prepare?" Angela wondered one day.
"I don't need to know if it's a boy ou a girl to be able to do that." I objected.
"I guess not. But it would be a lot plus fun." She insisted.
"We'll see." I shrugged.
"Do toi have a gut feeling?"
"I think so…"
"Me too." Angela said. "On three?"
"OK. One… two… three."
"Girl." We both a dit at the same time, which made us laugh.
We were curled up on the canapé in our living room, eating chocolat truquer, fudge Brownie ice cream straight from the tub and watching American Idol.
It was Sunday evening, and I had asked Angela to come over, because I was in desperate need of a confidence boost for the following day.
I was going public.
It was really becoming inevitable; I was almost eighteen weeks pregnant, and the small bump I had discovered three weeks earlier had grown considerably and was getting plus and plus difficult to hide. I had hoped to be able to make it to the Christmas holidays before having to resign to the unavoidable, but there were still two weeks left, and I had realized that it would be impossible. I'd even started ditching Gym, so I wouldn't have to get changed with the other girls.
I knew that Principal Greene came into work an heure before school started every day, so I was going to talk to him before first period that Monday. I wanted to settle all the practical details before the rest of the students found out. Charlie was going with me, which I was grateful for. I could use the moral support.
"You ready for tomorrow?" Angela asked, as if she had read my mind.
"Not even close."
"I'll be there, don't worry." She squeezed my hand, and I gave her a grateful smile.
"I seriously don't know what I'd do without you, Ang."
"Good thing toi don't have to find out, then."
"Come on, Bells. Let's get this over with." Charlie knocked determinedly on Principal Greene's door while I hesitated a few steps behind him.
"Come in." We heard through the door, and Charlie opened it.
"John." Charlie greeted as we entered the office.
"Charlie." Principal Greene got up and the two men shook hands. "What are toi doing here at this time of day? Hello Bella."
"Hi, Principal Greene." I mumbled, eyes fixed on the floor.
"We have a matter we need to discuss with you, John." Charlie sat down in one of the visitors' chairs, and I took the other one.
"Oh? I do hope everything is alright." Principal Greene frowned.
"Well…" Charlie hesitated. "Bella?"
I reluctantly looked up and met Principal Greene concerned eyes.
"Oh, I see." He nodded. "And I assume this will interfere with your school work at some point?"
"Not for a while. The baby's not due until the middle of May, but finals…"
"I'm sure we can arrange something." He interrupted me. "I will of course have to talk to the board, and your teachers, but I am sure toi can take the finals later in the summer. I assume toi won't be going to college in the fall anyway?"
"No." I shook my head.
Charlie and I had talked about this during the weekend. I was going to wait a an to apply to college, and ask Mrs. Newton if I could work at the store a couple of hours a jour when the baby was a little older. This way I might even be able to save up some money for college, and afford the things I would have to get for the baby.
Angela had also investigated the idea she'd had about funds for single parents, and it turned out that Seattle U did indeed have some I could apply for. They even had special apartments on campus for students with children.
"Well, then, I'm sure it won't be a problem." Principal Greene stood up, signaling that the conversation was over. "I'll inform the teachers about your situation. Good to see toi Charlie." They shook hands again, and Charlie and I left the office.
"That went well, don't toi think?" Charlie a dit encouragingly on the way out of the building. I glanced up at him, but he was looking straight ahead and didn't notice my anxious appearance.
"Yeah." There was no need to tell him that it wasn't the principal's reaction I'd been dreading.
"I've got to head to work, you'll be OK?" We had gotten to the parking lot and he opened the door to the cruiser, eyeing me with a concerned look on his face.
"Sure." Class was starting in fifteen minutes. "Angela should be here any minute."
"OK. I'll see toi tonight then." He patted my shoulder, the closest thing to a public display of affection that Charlie would ever get. "And don't let them get to you, got it?"
I nodded quietly. I wasn't so sure it would be that easy. But, again – no need to tell him that.
Angela drove into the lot a few minutes later, and we walked to Spanish together. I really didn't want to leave the sûr, sans danger cocoon of my parka, but I had made up my mind. So I wouldn't be able to chicken out and change my mind, I had put on a long sleeved t-shirt that clung closely to my protruding abdomen.
I took a deep breath and unzipped my coat, pulling it off and hanging it on one of the hooks just inside the door to the classroom. I looked straight ahead as I turned around and followed Angela to our seats at the back of the room.
Even if I didn't look anybody in the eye, I could still hear them whisper.
"Oh, my God! Is she pregnant?"
"She is! Look at her."
"No doubt about it."
"Should have known there was something going on with the clothes she's been wearing lately."
"Guess that explains why Cullen took off like that."
The last sentence hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was grateful that I had finally reached the bureau and could slump into my seat. Angela squeezed my hand tightly.
"Don't listen to them." She mumbled under her breath as Mrs. Goff entered the classroom.
"I'm trying." I mumbled back, desperately struggling to shut out the loud whispers that were coming from all sides.
par the time Angela and I were headed for P.E., the entire school was buzzing with the news. I felt dozens of eyes on me as we walked down the pathway towards the gym, but kept my own firmly on the ground in front of me.
"Just ignore them." Angela mumbled suivant to me.
"Believe me, I'm trying."
Coach Clapp caught up with me just as Angela and I were about to enter the locker room.
"Bella, the principal filled me in on your… situation." His eyes inadvertently traveled to my belly. "You don't have to participate, we don't want any incidents."
"OK, coach." I willingly agreed. Instead of following Angela into the locker room, I went over to the bleachers and sat down, shrugging my manteau off and pulling Hamlet from my bag. We were lire it for English, and I might as well use the suddenly free period wisely.
I didn't look up as I heard the rest of the students enter the gym; I didn't want to meet any of the looks that I had no doubt most of the students were throwing my way. The mumbles coming from the other kids in the gym distracted me, and I had trouble concentrating on the book in front of me.
Angela came over to sit with me until coach Clapp blew his whistle to start the class. They were playing soccer.
I kept my attention firmly on what was happening at the Danish château until I noticed someone sit down suivant to me when I was waiting for Angela to get changed.
The voice told me that it was Mike who had joined me, and when I averted my eyes from the page I was on and met his, I saw that he had a concerned look on his face.
"Are toi OK?" He asked, and I realized that he was actually worried about me. That sent a wave of gratitude through me.
"I've been better." I admitted, putting the book away.
"Vultures." He muttered, glaring at two boys who were slowly making their way out of the gym, every now and then glancing over their shoulders at us.
I let out a sigh of relief at having found another ally. I just hoped Jessica wouldn't ruin it. I had no doubt that she at least would be avoiding me like the plague from now on. She valued her reputation way too much to risk it par socializing with the school's most récent outcast.
"Everyone's just happy that people aren't gossiping about them, they don't care who the target is." Mike had a tone of revulsion in his voice. "It's sickening, really."
"It's high school, Mike." I shrugged. "I was expecting this." And worse, if I was honest.
"I'm on your side, just so toi know." I had figured that out, but it was nice to have confirmation. "If toi need to talk ou something… anything."
"Thanks, Mike." I gave him an appreciative smile.
Just then, Jessica came out of the locker room and glared at us. Lauren followed closely behind her, and when she spotted me and Mike sitting together, she mumbled something in Jessica's ear.
"I'm not so sure you're girlfriend is too happy about that, though." I noted.
"She'll just have to deal." He said, but he got up. "See toi at lunch."
"Bye." I watched as he, Jessica and Lauren left the gym. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it looked like Mike and Jessica were arguing, and she threw several annoyed looks at me over her shoulder.
Mike didn't sit with us at lunch. When Angela and I entered the cafeteria, he threw me an apologetic look from his siège suivant to Jessica – the table, where Angela and I usually sat too, was full. I didn't doubt for a seconde that it was the doing of Jessica and Lauren, letting me know that I was no longer welcome. I shrugged at Mike, letting him know that it was fine.
Angela and I found an empty table, tableau close to the exit, and I sat down with my back towards the room. A few minutes later, Ben and his friend Austin joined us. Ben greeted me with his usual cheerfulness, seemingly oblivious to all the looks our table, tableau was attracting. Austin seemed a little plus uncomfortable.
"You don't have to do this, Ben." I a dit quietly. "I'm doomed to be the school pariah for the rest of senior an and a few class reunions; I don't want to drag toi guys down with me."
"Hey, you're my friend too. And Friends don't care what other people think." Ben objected. "Right, Austin?" He added pointedly.
Austin mumbled something unintelligible, but grudgingly nodded.
Jessica and Mike seemed to have come to some sort of agreement about Mike's interaction with me; he would talk to me during the classes we had together and on breaks – when she wasn't around – but he sat with Jessica and her Friends during lunch.
Our new lunch table, tableau turned out to be a lot plus fun than sitting with Jessica and the others had been. After a few days, Austin seemed to have gotten over his initial embarrassment, ou whatever it had been, at sitting with us, and started joining in on the conversations. He and Ben had the same kind of dark humor, and Angela and I were always laughing par the time we left the cafeteria.
Mrs. Newton had, of course, already heard about my "situation" when I came in to work on Tuesday.
"Hello, dear, how are you?" She greeted me with a smile.
"I'm good, Mrs. Newton."
"You OK to be working? It won't be too much for you?"
"No, of course not." My cœur, coeur dropped. "But I understand if toi would rather find someone else, I'll just…"
"Nonsense, dear!" She cut me off. "Who cares what people gossip about, anyway? And who knows, toi might even be good for business!"
I had to laugh at that, glad that she was joking about it.
"Thanks, Mrs. Newton."
"Don't mention it, dear. And toi just let me know if there's anything toi need."
"Well, actually…" This might be as good a time as any to broach the subject of my continued employment the coming fall. "I'll be taking a an off before going to college, obviously, and I was wondering if I could perhaps keep working here? Not during the summer, but maybe a bit later in the fall?"
"Oh, but of course! toi don't even have to ask. You'll always have a job here, as long as toi want."
"Thank toi so much."
She just waved off my gratitude with one hand.
"When is the little one set to make an appearance?"
"May." I said, rubbing my hand over my stomach, something that I had started doing almost unconsciously ever since I had first discovered the bump.
"A spring baby, how nice. You'll want stay accueil over the summer then, of course." She pondered something for a moment. "You could start out working a couple of hours a jour in September, does that sound good? And then take on plus as he ou she gets older."
"That sounds great, Mrs. Newton."