tagMatureLife in a Northern Town Ch. 02

Life in a Northern Town Ch. 02



I thought I was going to have to cover my ears when I entered Jessie's house but I broke into almost hysterical laughter as my friends from high school screamed welcome. Jessie nearly attacked me, flinging her still slender body at me and looping her legs around my body while I hugged her. It was a frantic ten minutes of people hugging and kissing me and I struggled to remember names and faces. So much past history came slamming back into my face that I was overwhelmed and very grateful when Jessie shoved the joint into my hand.

"He's upstairs."

I sucked in a huge lungful of smoke and closed my eyes, enjoying the inebriation that was settling into my body. I wasn't ready to see Peter Garland again but I had no choice. I could either run away or I could face him. And it was a mighty small town. "Okay." I took the joint with me, much to the amusement of Jessie and some of my other buds and headed up the stairs to Jessie's bedroom.

Peter looked the same as he did when I left but his bright blue eyes were filled with a sadness I'd never seen before. All at once, I knew that he knew. And I was absolutely uncomfortable with that. He pushed dark brown waves out of his eyes and stood, a small bouquet of flowers in his hand.


I stayed on my side of the room, sucking on the joint and staring at my former teacher. "Who told you?"


"I know that you know. Who told you?"

He looked away, sitting back on the bed. "Your mother."

"What?" I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. My mother. Of all the people on earth who I would think would betray me, my mother would be the last. The whole ordeal had been hard enough without this compounding it.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Why should I? You took advantage of me."

"I didn't take advantage of you! You were eighteen years old! You knew what the fuck you were doing!"

"No, I didn't."

"Then explain to me again why you aren't a virgin."

Shit! That was one thing that I didn't expect him to bring up. I wasn't a virgin because I'd had sex before. Only two times, neither satisfying. That was why I hadn't had sex again. I had waited until I was with someone who I felt loved me. That person had been Peter Garland. Candyman, candyman, candyman …

"What do you want, Pete? I've driven nearly four hundred miles and I'm tired. What do you want?"

"You." I just stared at him, frozen to the spot as he came across the room to me. "I realize that I'm much older than you but we had something." His eyes searched mine. "I know you felt it."

"You want to know what I felt, Peter? I felt pain. The pain of being pregnant in high school and the pain of having an abortion. That's what I felt. And ever since then, I've felt the pain of a murderer. You understand that?" The emotions I'd worked so hard to keep bottled up inside spilled out. "I killed my baby."

"Our baby. You killed our baby, Taylor, and I feel it as strongly as you do."

"No, you don't." I finished the joint, shoving the stub into an ash tray. "You don't have a clue!"

"Yes, I do!" Peter was screaming in my face, angry tears streaking his cheeks. "I lost the opportunity to be a father and to be a husband! That was taken away from me so don't try to tell me that I don't have a clue!"

I didn't know how to react to what he was saying but I was very adamant that he didn't know what he was talking about. He didn't have to listen to a doctor explain the abortion procedure. He didn't have to listen to his mother cry over the loss of a grandchild and he didn't have to sit on the toilet and wipe away the blood of afterbirth, thinking of what might have been. And the husband part? Who said that I wanted him as a husband?

"Maybe I was wrong about you, Taylor." He tossed the flowers on the bed and headed toward the door. "Call me if you change your mind."

I don't know what I expected but I certainly didn't expect that. I stood in Jessie's bedroom, enjoying my high and wondering what the rest of my visit would hold for me.

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