Here's the thing about motherhood: as prepared or ready as anyone can be, it's the biggest shock of anyone's life. Of course, yes. Starting with a 4 people in a delivery room and all of a sudden there are 5 is quite obviously a shock. But it's different kind of shock. It's like the ultimate test of every skill, knack, or other peculiar art form that any woman has obtained over the course of her life leading up to childbirth. And no matter how studied up anyone thinks they are, it finds a way to hit their blindside and make them feel like the biggest mistake of their life. There are a lot of tears, milestones, more tears. But in the end it's worth it right?
That was all about halfway true for Alex.
Twenty-one year old Alex didn't have the word "motherhood" in her vocabulary. For one, she hated children. She thought they were too loud and too noisy and she thought deliberately wanting to have a child was a good joke told at a shitty bar. But that wasn't why she didn't want kids. She didn't want kids because she was scared. Twenty-one year old Alex was a perfectionist. She saw how her tired mother worked four jobs and still struggled to pay the bills or feed even one of them. Alex didn't have the heart to put her hypothetical child through the same. She didn't want the little thing to see their mother weak. Sure she had a great job at a heroin cartel and sure she had more enough money, but Alex couldn't do it.
Alex didn't want to fuck up.
But twenty-one-year-old Alex didn't know a lot of things. She didn't know that she would be raped by a co-worker on the way home from a seedy club after drinking her ass off. She didn't know that she wouldn't go through with the abortion that could've solved the whole problem. She didn't know that she'd fall hopelessly in love with the baby that gripped her index finger with all her infant strength as if to say "I'm your's". She didn't know how quickly seventeen years would fly past her and how she'd be waking up to the perfect accident at 5:30 in the morning without obligation. And didn't know that she'd be watching every callous opinion about children and motherhood melt away like thin ice.
Thirty-something year old Alex now knew that. And it made her want to bless the day she was raped.
Alex sat heavily on a leather bar stool at the kitchen counter. The younger girl already behind it placed a steaming mug in front of her.
Vienna roast, half and half, no sugar.
Just the way she liked it.
She wrapped her bitter hands around the mug and thanked her. The girl responded with a mundane yet lucid smile. Those wordless answers never failed to light the spacious kitchen, far before the sun could touch the sky. Despite the early hour, she had already pulled her dark hair up in a loose bun. The style boasted the simple piercings that were on her ears. Two diamond studs per lobe, an extra on her left, and a thin barbell that passed through the top of her right. The tattoos of the planets' symbols on her forearm, the wolf face on her ring finger, and the large black sunflower on her left arm were proudly displayed on her body. Though many disliked them or thought they were too outlandish, she didn't care and continued flaunting them. It was her own method of telling the world to fuck off. She never cared for flashy clothing or intentionally drew attention to herself, but somehow, she always managed to capture everyone's eye. Even if it was just for a little over a second. Whether it was for her contemporary sense of style or disdain for her choice of self-expression, she had everyone's attention wrapped around her finger. She enjoyed being alternative to what others expected out of girls her age. Her mother delighted in it as well. Despite her comparatively short stature and her chocolate colored eyes, she looked just like Alex. Some would turn their nose and disagree. They only observed the physical aspects of the two. But really, they were clones. In the way they spoke, laughed, and carried confidence everywhere they went.
Alex was taking gracious sips of her steaming cup of warmth. She lowered her thick framed glasses from the crown of her head to the narrow bridge of her nose. She was only dressed in a loose shirt and a pair of exercise pants she never cared to break a sweat in. Her long raven hair was tangled in a careless mess and her weary greenish eyes were still wavering in and out of focus. Her ears were still adjusting to the sounds around her. The near silent whirr of the coffee machine, the light pattering of her daughter's feet on the cold tile, and the muffled sounds of the horns outside were still deafening to her.
"I'll be home at 3 if that's okay. You'll be home right?" The girl had traveled to the living area across the way and was packing heavily-paged books and art supplies into a tattered canvas bag. Her mother was far too swamped in the bubbling muck of her early morning drowsiness to answer her question.
"Yeah. That's fine. I'll be here," Alex finally woke up enough to answer.
"Why do you even get up this early? It's not like you have to."
"True. But it's kind of nice to know that you're almost guaranteed a cup of coffee."
That was half true. Alex just wanted to steal a brief goodbye from the girl before she headed out into the bustling world. She loved her that much.
The girl was an angel child. An unearthly gift bestowed upon the mother by whatever hypothetical deity resided in the clouds. Alex never had to lay a punishing hand on her for disciplinary reasons, let alone discipline her at all. She never complained or whined like other children her age. Never spoke back or answered with a sharp tongue. Alex never had to tell the child to work. It was already ingrained deep into the morals she was never taught. She worked hard in school without a murmur of objection, exceeding every example set before her. She refused to bring back less than perfection, even when her mother gave reassuring objection to her daughter's cutthroat standards. By age five, she was already acting and thinking like a functioning member of society. It was like having a pint-sized Alex Vause walking around the lavish apartment.
She never liked children. And Alex had not a fucking clue how she wound up with such a good one.
"Wow, so I'm just the coffee girl?" She trudged over to her sarcastic jest of a mother, who was finishing off the last of her cup.
"No. You're my coffee girl," Alex smiled at her and poked the coffee girl's stomach. She recoiled backward and protested. Alex stopped laughing to admire her. The way she rocketed backward on her weighted legs just to protect herself from an innocent touch to the stomach. The way she tended to her bun like a cat would to a dirty paw. She studied these little things and breathed them in like air.
And she was off.
"Good morning, I apologize for being so late," the new English teacher was frantically walking to her desk. It was submerged under cardboard boxes that still were yet to be unpacked. "I'm Miss Chapman and I'm gonna be your new teacher."
It was barely three months into the term and they already had a new teacher. The former English teacher got hitched and moved to Ohio, leaving her students with whoever claimed the open position. Little did the students care. They hated anyone who had anything to do with schoolwork. After shuffling through several papers and apologizing again, she finally took her seat in front of her class. She smiled at the sea of washed out faces before her, receiving nothing in return. Defeat was subtle in her crystal blue eyes.
"So, um. I'm gonna call role and learn your names. Hopefully," she nervously tucked blonde hair behind her ear and pulled out a clipboard and pen. The girl's name was among the last. Her voice came from the very back corner of the classroom. It was a misleading spot for teachers, but she never failed surprise them by excelling in the classes.
"Now. I know that you've probably been reading something else, but I just want to start off class with some speech analysis. Julius Caesar." Miss Chapman dropped a hefty stack of papers on the desk nearest to her, causing the whole class to jolt awake. The sheets made their way across the room until it finally reached the girl’s delicate hands. It was Brutus's speech. She let out a dead puff of air as she clipped the text in her binder. Shakespeare was too familiar to her. She had read Julius Caesar three times before this, just for personal enrichment. The tired book sat on her bedside table, waiting to be loved again. The poor thing was littered notes in the empty spaces and dog-eared in important places. The lecture was just a repeat of her leisure time spent with the dear friend.
She tried to pay attention, just for respect, but she mainly spent her time doodling intricate designs in the corner of her paper. She would space out for minutes at a time, but then mentally slap herself awake. As the class droned on, her posture had collapsed into a slouch and her head became heavy on her hand. The design she was doodling became a museum-worthy piece of abstract art. She only heard fragments of the class, and the class wasn't boring. Had she not touched Julius Caesar, it would've been interesting and thought provoking. But she did touch the play before this and only did a few sentences get processed in the fuzziness of her brain.
Though the girl's attention was fixed on anything but the lesson, Miss Chapman's floated over to her. She knew that her lesson wasn't boring. She knew she had this first impression thing in the bag. She was young, in tune with what a young, pubescent crowd was interested in. Her students were asking questions and laughing at facetious comments she was making about the great work. All except for the girl in the back of the class. And it made her itch that she had captured everyone's interest but one.
"It's just laziness. Teenage apathy. Let her fail your class," she thought. Somehow, saying that to herself made her feel better. Not like she cared at all. All she cared about was the $10 per hour she was getting for every Shakespeare joke and profound thought.
The bell rang and the students arose slowly. Each one thanked her for class along with a "Welcome to Litchfield High". She responded with a "thank you" or a "have a nice day." The girl was walking down the aisle of desks before she stopped her.
"I need to talk to you. You stay." The girl shrugged her shoulders and waited for the rest of the students to pour out. Miss Chapman's eyes never left the girl, who never realized how tall the blonde was until now. She looked over the brunette with ease, but her height didn't intimidate the smaller girl in the slightest. She kept her posture. She maintained her composure and met her teacher's icy stare.
"Emily, right?" The blonde's voice was strict and her eyes were harsh.
"It's Amelia," the girl fired back. The teacher felt a blush shade her cheeks, but she cleared her throat to maintain her authority. "Look, I know that being a teenager is hard and you're trying to find yourself. You may be trying to make a statement here with all your-," Miss Chapman's harsh eyes roved over Amelia, stopping at her tattoos and embellished ears. Amelia raised her eyebrows and scoffed sharply. "Which is great. But I will not accept your attitude. Maybe not trying is cool but not getting into college isn't. So I suggest you step it up at least in this class." The teacher was certain the girl would be shaking in her boots. She was surprised and a bit frustrated that she wasn't. Amelia was smiling and shaking her brown head. She let out a short laugh, further bewildering the teacher.
"Wow. You've been here not a few hours and you're already jumping to conclusions." Another scoff escaped her lips. She continued. "Here's a thought, don't judge a book by its cover. You of all teachers should know that. Right, AP English?" Miss Chapman was silent. As if she expected something more of the small, yet feisty brunette. But the girl turned on her heels and headed straight for the door. After a few steps, she paused in her tracks and turned around to face the teacher again. "Oh and also, you were wrong."
"Pardon?" Now Miss Chapman was really confused.
"Logic isn't the primary component in Brutus's speech. His uses of antithesis and chiasmus in context propel him towards the appeal to Ethos."
She was right. God damn it, she was right. And it took everything in the teacher's power not to move a muscle in her unhinging jaw.
"Welcome to Litchfield High, Miss Chapman."And in a few steps, she was out the door.