Chapter One

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The Past

As usual the outside lights were on, a huge lamp that looked a lot like a street lamp hung on the front of the garage her dad had built so that he could repair cars on the side. His everyday job as a shop foreman was good, but extra income was always welcome. Even though she was an adult, she lived under her parent’s roof and they set a curfew of 11:00 pm. She arrived at 9:30 that night. Parked her ’83 firebird in her normal spot in front of the shed and slowly walked to the cement steps that would take her inside.

The side door opened before Annie reached the top of the steps. Standing there holding the screen door open was Annie’s mom. Deborah had heard the sound of the car coming up the driveway, but this was early for her daughter to be home. The 44 year old medium built mom had long black hair that she continued to dye in hopes of covering her greys. Wearing her pajamas, a teal cotton t-shirt and matching capris bottoms, was surprised and happy to see her only daughter. Most nights her 20 year old would stop by Marshall’s house to visit before coming home. Confused Deborah asked “Are you okay?” “Why are you home so early”? “Your daddy is already asleep, he had a hard day today.” “How was work for you?” Deborah sometimes would ramble and ask question after question, before giving Annie a chance to answer, often changing the subject before getting a response. “I had four dogs today, Mrs. Dukes, then I stopped by Pams.” Deborah had been a dog groomer for the last 17 years. She now owned a mobile grooming business, where she would travel to her customers’ homes, pamper their furry friend with a bath and a fresh haircut. Annie had traveled with her mom in the past with hopes of learning the business and then maybe taking it over. The experience was less than enjoyable for Annie, the old white camper decorated with blue and red stripes, was small and stuffy inside, it was hot full of hair, and smelled like wet dog and flee dip. A grooming table affixed to the side next to the camper window, with a large bath tub that her Dad installed in the back of the RV. After a few trips out on the boxy fur filled salon, Annie decided this was not for her. She hated everything about the dog grooming tasks especially the hair. After the pups received their bath, Deborah would use a hair drier to dry them. A loud and noisy process, that forced Annie to stand outside and wait for it to be over. Worse than a sandstorm, a dog hair storm.

Annie squeezed by her mom, while she held the door open. She stopped midway through the kitchen and turned around facing her mom who had already shut and locked the door behind her. Annie could feel her body shaking as she prepared to tell her mother that she was expecting. A rapid rush of fear and a flood of dreadful memories crept in and consumed all of Annie’s thoughts. She suddenly felt like she was a teenager again, a clueless and lost teenager. This was Annie’s second pregnancy, her first wasn’t permitted to survive, and she had the emotional scars inside and out to remind her of the loss. At the age of only fifteen, barely a freshman in high school, she got involved with a senior and soon after, got pregnant. At that time in her life, except for her friend Shannon, Annie kept mostly to herself. She was somewhat of a loner, and kept out of the way of the popular kids. Until, she caught the eye of a one of the school’s star football players named Bain. He was dark skinned, her height and was listed on the 300lb bench press list in the School weight room. Annie and Bain rode the same school bus, he only lived a few miles from her house, but with him being 3 years older than she was, they never really had contact until she began High School. Bain was known to have a hot temper, but he was also flirtatious with the girls, giving them the attention they craved and compliments that they wanted to hear. He’d manipulate them into his world, creating a circle of lies that would only benefit him. Annie heard of his reputation of a bad boy, and that he was nothing but trouble, but felt drawn to the possibility and the curiosity of being in his world. When Bain started giving Annie attention she was excited, she wanted it more and more. She started to feel important, that she wasn’t invisible to her peers, he made her life so that she finally stood out in a crowd. Escorting her to and from classes, carrying her books, even threatening the females that made fun of, or gave Annie a hard time. Bain made sure the few guy friends that Annie had, knew to keep their distance now. Annie was unaware and clueless that Bain only thought of her as new prey, a cute and naïve freshman for him to toy with. He started sitting with her on the School bus, then during track season he’d stay after School to make sure she made it to practice. Annie believed all of his thoughtfulness and kindness was because Bain had true feelings for her, and that he cared about her. He made her feel special, and treated her differently than she’d seen him treat other girls. With those girls he just flirted with them, Annie knew he didn’t care about them, not like he cared about her. She had a bad boy, and loved the attention from it. When the two of them walked down a crowded hall, people got out of the way, they would clear a path for them, giving Bain high fives, and shoulder hugs. Females would gawk at the two and shake their heads. They are just jealous Annie decided. Jealous because he’s not “dogging” me out, he treats me with respect she concluded. With Bain only living a few miles down the same road as her, it was easy for Annie to sneak out of her parents’ house after they had gone to bed and walk to Bain’s. In just a few months, it became a common adventure, either he would sneak into Annie’s bedroom through her window, or she would sneak over to his house. Annie learned more and more about Bain’s home life, he lived with his mom, younger brother and step dad. It was always night time when Annie would visit there of course, only one porch light would be on, other that it was dark all around. Unlike at Annie’s house there would always be multiple outside lights on that lite up the back yard and driveway like it was daytime. Bain’s home was small and cramped, it smelled like cigarette smoke or marijuana, she’d never been around pot, so she couldn’t confirm that. The inside was cluttered with old dusty boxes, and what seemed to Annie to be just junk. He never gave Annie a tour of the house, but the front door led into a small living room, what looked like maybe a kitchen pass that? She couldn’t tell, so much junk piled around, it seemed like boxes were stuck in every corner. She only cared about going to Bain’s bedroom anyway, his mom was too intimidating and uncomfortable to be around. A large, dark skinned woman, usually dressed in a raggedy looking robe and house slippers, she kept a handkerchief tied around her head and a cigarette in the corner of her mouth. The woman never spoke to Annie, only stared her up and down like she was white trash. His stepdad on the other hand seemed more inviting and outgoing, the few times he was there anyway. Bain said he worked nights, but never said what he did, or where he worked. The large man was taller than Bain’s mom, and always wore a coat and stocking cap, almost like he was prepared to leave at any moment. The initial visit in the living room was always short lived, Annie would follow Bain to his bed room and that is where she spent her time with him. He introduced her to things that she had only heard about, never did she think she would experience them, not at 15 anyway. His small bedroom was dimly lit by a floor lamp, he had a twin sized bed, that seemed awfully immature for a guy like him, but after seeing the main part of the house, it was clear that Bain’s family was poor. He never appeared that way in school, he always wore new boots or sneakers, his clothes were always in style, even wore a gold chain around his neck and a diamond stud earring.

Eventually, Annie experienced the “hot temper” of Bain. On one of her School night visits at Bain’s house in his room, she lay on his bed watching the night show while Bain stood over the top of his dresser. She watched him while he carefully separated something into small piles on a piece of cardboard, with his back to her she couldn’t get a clear view of what he was doing. She got up and walked over to him to get a closer look, her timing couldn’t have been worse, as she got steps away from him he turned around, holding his neatly separated piles on the cardboard. The two collided and what looked like green flakes spilled onto her, and all over the floor.

“Oh, AHHH, I’m sorry.” Annie apologized. “What is that? What are you doing?” She looked down at the floor and the mess, she swiped at her black and white striped shirt, trying to dust off the flakey green particles or tiny leaves. “What is this?” She asked Bain. “Is this weed? What are you doing with it?” Annie’s hands quickly tried to clean the drug off of her clothes. She looked up for a brief moment, waiting to get a response from Bain, when he struck her across the face. She spun around falling backwards and landed just inches from his bed. Holding her cheek with her hand, she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes and the burn on her skin. Annie had never been smacked before by anyone, she was shocked and confused. Why would Bain do that she thought. Images and conversations others said about him rushed through her mind. How the other kids in School appeared to be afraid of him, yet overly nice at the same time. Or how some would move out of his way trying to avoid him when he approached them. Were the rumors she heard about him true? She was told by others to be careful, or watch out, because he beats his girlfriends. Annie never believed what she was told, she always thought those people were just jealous. He was one of the most well-known students at that School. He was a star player on the football team, he was liked by the teachers and coaches. She always knew he had a “bad boy” reputation, but never though that he could be abusive or violent. She liked the strength and power he held over others, it was what attracted her to him. Suddenly all of the whispers and rumors made sense to her and now she sat on the floor with no other choice but to believe them.

“Damn it! Look at this shit! What, are you stupid? Get your dumb ass up!” He growled at her through his teeth. His entire demeanor was nothing she had ever seen before, this wasn’t the guy who had treated her like a trophy, treated her special, wrapped his arm around her and guided her down the school halls. This person had turned cruel and was now showing her the side of him that she had been warned about. Slowly Annie began to move, she sucked up her tears, wiped her nose and stood up from the dirty bedroom floor. Her face was still stinging, but the shock of it all had taken her attention from the burn. Trembling she stood there staring at Bain as he paced, scratching his head and rubbing the back of his neck. His muscles seemed to pop from underneath his white t-shirt, his awards that hung inside the weight room had proven that he was a very strong person, Annie knew the blow she had just taken was very minimal to what he was capable of.

“I said I was sorry.” Annie tried to explain. “I didn’t know what you were doing, or that you were going to turn around, I was just trying to be closer to you.” Bain stopped his pacing, turned to face her, his eyes were dark and narrow, he held his jaw firm as though he was clenching his teeth. The anger Annie saw in him at that moment was frightening, a lump formed in her throat and her eyes filled with tears again. Bain started toward her, Annie took a step backwards bumping into the side of the bed and falling onto the mattress. Staring up at him, Annie felt helpless and terrified, crossing her arms across her chest in a defensive manner, not knowing what he would do to her. Bain bent down grabbed her by her shoulders and jerked her up from the bed, she gasped in fear, and tighten every muscle in her body waiting for another slap. He stood her on her feet while she shook uncontrollably, tears streamed down her face, terror like she’d never felt consumed her. With his hands clutching her shoulders he backed her into a corner.

“Bain stop!” Annie managed to choke out. “Let me go, what is wrong with you?”

“Shut up!” He said, looking at her in total disgust. They stood face to face only inches apart, she could feel his breath, and felt her entire body tremble.

“Let me go, I want to leave.” Annie begged. Giving her a hard shove into the wall, her head bounced and pain ran down her back, he then released his grasp, turned and walked out of the room. Annie exhaled in relief, grasped the back of her head, used her shirt to wipe her tears, and smoothed her hair out of her face, collecting herself enough so that when she walked through the living room where Bain’s judging mother would be, she wouldn’t look distressed. Checking her watch as she quickly left the house it was after midnight. The moon was high and bright, it lit up the two miles of road that would take Annie home. She’d walked the winding stretch of country road many times during her relationship with Bain, it was never creepy or scary to her. Even though she walked it alone, the fact that she was near to where Bain was, she felt safe, nothing could hurt her. Now this protector that she felt untouchable and secure around, had turned into a monster right in front of her. Trying desperately to process Bain’s behavior, the only conclusion she could come to was that it was her fault. She shouldn’t have been there when he was so busy doing, whatever it was he’d been working on. She shouldn’t have got up from the bed, it wasn’t any of her business what he was doing. Annie began feeling guilty about provoking his behavior, she had been the cause of his outrageous reaction.

The bus ride the next morning was as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary happened between her and Bain, he huddled over her like always, never commenting on the night before or explaining himself. Annie brushed it under the rug and let the whole occurrence go, she never brought it up for discussion. To her, she was the one being let off the hook, after all it was her fault that it happened in the first place. Days turned into months, Bain continued his explosions, leaving Annie feeling less and less of a person, turning every mishap into her responsibility, he made her feel worthless, made her feel low and insecure. The person that had built her up in the beginning of the relationship was now destroying her. If she so much as even looked in the direction of another guy, or disagree with him about anything, Bain would scream at her. School academics, learning and the interest in her Cross Country team was gone for Annie, her School days now were made up of waiting for Bain’s next outburst. Waiting to be pushed or slammed into a locker, or cornered in a stairwell. Being screamed at, or making derogatory comments toward her, consumed her day to day life. Trying to loosen his grip on her was impossible, he controlled her by using fear and threats.

Almost overnight the fifteen year old freshman was now a battered, insecure and lost young lady, traveling down emotional roads that would stick with her, and affect her life forever. Finding out from a home pregnancy test that she took in the School bathroom, she learned that she was carrying his baby. This baby would connect her to Bain for the rest of her life. It would prove that she was having sex to her parents, which to Annie was embarrassing, and shameful. Still an immature child, she had now been hurled into making a grown up decision. A decision no young girl of her age should have to make. Extreme fear consumed her, guilt, and depression set in, she wanted to end the relationship she had with Bain, only now, this relationship had reached a whole other level. What to do about the pregnancy was not a decision to make lightly. Knowing that she was going to have a child was scary enough, but having a child with a man who treated her so cold and disrespectful was chilling. Revealing the news to him, wouldn’t be easy, she never knew what kind response he would have about anything she said, good or bad. The only safe way to tell him would be over the phone. Annie made up her mind days later after learning the news, that she would inform him about the pregnancy, of the phone in the safety of her home. Sick to her stomach, she was unable to concentrate on anything other than, how could this happen to her. How could she allow it, what made her think that this wouldn’t happen after having unprotected sex? She wasn’t only scared of him, she was furious with herself.

She’d finally gotten up the courage to call him after she knew he would be home from football practice. Her heart was pounding harder than it ever had, harder than after running a 3 mile track meet for Cross Country. Annie thought for sure she would vomit, her hands began to shake, and her vision was blurred by her tears filling up in her eyes. She managed to dial his number with one hand on her bulky white cordless phone, she sat slumped over on the side of her bed, propping up her head in her free hand. She readied herself for his screams and curse words, his threats that he used, that kept her living in constant fear of him. One ring, two rings, three, Annie thought she might be off the hook after the fourth ring if no one answered, but he did.

“Hello.” Bain’s voice came through the line. He sounded winded and rushed like the phone had interrupted him. Annie could hear a female laughing in the back ground, and it didn’t sound like his mom. It was after nine o’clock that night, and for someone, accept for her to be visiting Bain’s house at that time was unusual, and to be heard through the other end of the phone line, was even more unusual. As strange and uncomfortable it seemed Annie ignored the laughing and told Bain about the pregnancy test. The lump in her throat grew as she trembled holding on to the phone. Her voice cracked and tears ran down her cheeks and dripped on to her blue jeans. She needed him to comfort her and to be understanding, she needed him to say that he would be right over and they would talk about it. Instead his words to her were cold and nasty, he maliciously told her to simply, “get rid of it”.

The bedroom walls that surrounded Annie melted away, her body felt limp and weak, she breathed in a deep breath, and dropped the phone on the floor. She felt as empty inside, as the room had become, her feelings and the pregnancy didn’t matter to him.

The words “get rid of it” replayed in her mind over and over again. Helpless and defeated Annie lay backwards on her bed and sobbed uncontrollably. Her thoughts were engulfed with how he’d treated her, how mean he was to her, and then how he ignored it all. How he would pick her up and slam her into walls, then scream in her face. How he would emotionally beat her down and humiliate her, making her feel helpless and fearful. So much hate for Bain was felt at that moment, it flowed through her veins, her heart pounded and her jaw clenched tight. She couldn’t live the rest of her life connected to this foul person, she couldn’t continue being depressed every day and doubting herself. Living day to day with his actions and words controlling her. Annie sat up on her bed feeling a sudden sensation of a level head, she knew that ending the pregnancy would be her ticket to getting rid of Bain. She felt a small piece of hope when she remembered the female’s laughter over the phone when she called him, maybe he found a new naïve girl to manipulate and to take his attention off of her. To Annie the positive pregnancy test wasn’t confirmation that a living being was growing inside her. It was more of a reminder of the pain and turmoil she had been suffering from for months, the way Bain would take what he wanted from her by using fear and force. It was verification that the pain would continue in the years ahead. At that moment her mind was made up, she’d have an abortion. She would endure the most horrific act imaginable in hopes of ending all connections to him,

The appointment was made the very next day, scheduled to terminate what she had done and sever all ties to her past. She hoped the procedure would erase all of the pain she had suffered, she never thought about future consequences, she just wanted to get it over with.

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