Mick was the best friend of her older brother, and Kayla had spent her entire life in awe of him. She was nine years old when he attended his Senior Prom, and could still remember creeping to the window ledge and parting the vinyl Venetians for a glimpse of Mick, her brother and their respective dates piling into Dad’s glossy blue Chevy. How she envied Mick’s date, a pretty brunette clouded in pale pink polyester and white lace.
Kayla never attended prom. The Amos High School Class of 1984 was but 70 students strong, and it was her dumb luck to be born in a year that yielded a bumper crop of girls: The Class of ’84 boasted 46 girls and 24 boys, and Kayla had never made cheerleader. Competition for the boys was fierce that year, and Kayla, littered as she was with a wealth of brown freckles, made little effort at the game.
Nevertheless, in her eighteenth year, Kayla found herself laid out in the front seat of a pickup truck somewhere between band practice and home, and though her hymen remained intact, heavy petting had done its damage and she found herself expecting her first child before spring break of her senior year.
Naturally, her parents were devastated. Their baby girl, the academic top of her class, would never attend Commencement. She would receive her diploma in the mail after attending a GED course, further education was still in the picture, life was NOT over, but still. Their baby girl. And a baby. Too soon.
Kayla lay in the doctor’s office and watched the dreams of her prom and graduation and all identifiable future disappear like so many soap bubbles. She felt at once hot and cold, alive and yet dead. She cupped the imperceptible bowl of her abdomen and felt deep and abiding shame as the doctor performed his exam.
“Good God,” Dr. Price exclaimed from between her thighs. “You’re still…”
“Yes,” she assured him, “I am.”
The good doctor did not know whether laughter was appropriate, but he took a chance. “Young lady, I believe this is the first virgin birth I shall ever witness in my lifetime.”
She felt very little – if any – correlation to Jesus’ mother in that moment. Kayla’s face burned painfully and she squeezed her eyes together against the headache and the tears she felt rushing in. A baby. A baby. Dear Lord. A baby… will she be freckled like me? Will she have my temper?
She hoped not.
Her science lab partner and owner of the pickup took the Billy Jean approach to the news. “But we never even did it!” He exclaimed. “No WAY is this kid mine…” A short, sharp and bitter row ensued.
Kayla contemplated explaining the biological possibilities of premature ejaculation, overeager groping and the tenacity of the human reproductive process to him, but knew it would never fly. In his eyes, he was off the hook. She was a slut, plain and simple. There was no convincing him – or anyone in Amos, for that matter – otherwise. In a pre-DNA world, the facts spoke for themselves.
And then, there was the matter of her lab partner’s KU scholarship. A science scholarship at that.
So Kayla, having no real choice in the matter, knew she was in this more or less alone.
“I’ll kill him,” her brother declared down the phone line. He was living on the west coast now, a lawyer with a wife of his own. “I’ll kill him.”
“You won’t,” Kayla said, horrified and pleased in one breath. “I’m fine. I don’t need him.”
“I know. I know. I’m such an idiot.” She closed her eyes and bit her lip against the tears. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
His voice broke. “Kayla…”
“I’ll kill him.”
“You won’t,” she said. “We’ll be fine.” And she wondered if she would be.
Her parents proved to be her most remarkable allies. Kayla dropped out of school when her pregnancy became too obvious, and she was sheltered by her mother and father. They held their heads high in public and dared anyone to question, to talk, to criticize. Everyone did, of course, but never in front of her parents. This was Amos, after all. People in a small town have little else to do but talk, and while Kayla found it irksome and deeply upsetting, she also on some level found it hard to blame them. An out of wedlock pregnancy in 1984 was no small thing for a girl to bear.
But bear it she did, cloaked in a pride so dense it was virtually impenetrable.
Thus it was when Mick made a reappearance in Amos that summer for his 10-year high school reunion that Kayla, now six months pregnant and suffering from swollen ankles and water retention, lifted her chin and swanned past him on Main Street as if she was the Queen of Sheba. His head did a virtual 180 when she walked past, all dark hair and hazel eyes, her cheeks aflame, though whether from pride or heat he was unsure. Either way, she was still the prettiest girl he had ever laid eyes on in his life.
Mick remembered the gap-toothed sprite he glimpsed through the blinds one night long, long ago. He remembered her forever-tangled hair, her wicked temper and the thick spray of freckles that covered her from forehead to heel. He wondered if it would be creepy if he asked her to have coffee with him, and he suddenly felt way too old. He was between jobs. He had little to offer. There was practically nothing he had that she could possibly want, and she was a KID, for heaven’s sake. So much in Mick’s life was uncertain. But what he did know with absolute certainty was that, baby or no baby, he was looking down the barrel of his future. Right here, right now, the girl in the pale blue and cream lace sundress, sashaying in flip flops down a broken sidewalk in Amos.
read on, my friends! The Virgin Birth Part 2
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