Chapter 1…

"Ari, do you have a minute?" I asked desperately pacing my bedroom. She sighed over the phone.

"Yeah, I guess, Pam, what do you need?"

"I need you to take me to the grocery store." I replied in hushed tones.

"Seriously, Pamela?" She sounded aggravated, "I need to finish my math homework."

"I swear to God, Ari, if this weren't something important, I wouldn't dream of bothering you. My mom's out with the car or I'd go myself." I pleaded. She sighed again.

"Yeah, ok, I'll be over in five minutes." I heard movement over the phone and I adjustedit on my shoulder as I sat down to put on a pair of shoes.

"Thanks, Ari, I majorly owe you one."

"Yeah, yeah." She hung up. My hands shook. I briefly checked my reflection and tried to make myself look less nervous and more put together. It didn't do much good. I grabbed my brown, corduroy jacket and my purse and waited outside.

It was late spring in Tacoma Washington: a cold day. The wind blew in my face and took what little order my appearance yet retained with it. I zipped my jacket up further.

The brown Honda came wheeling around the corner into the back alley behind my home. Ari stopped the car with the passenger door in front of me and unlocked the doors. She smiled cordially at me as I got in and turned down the radio while I buckled my seatbelt.

"Are you still wearing that jacket?" She asked me with a smile. I smiled; she had been annoyed at the distraction but now that she was here, she probably didn't mind so much.

"I like it, it makes me feel good." I said, "Safe," I added. The jacket technically belonged to my boyfriend, Mark. He disliked it, mostly, he said, because of its size; he had grown some recently and it had become too tight in the arms for him. But I loved it. It smelled like him. A mix of that dryer smell and the cologne he wore.

Ari giggled and I realized that I had drifted off in thought and completely ignored whatever she had just said.

"What do you need at the store?" She repeated. I frowned.

"Don't tell anyone, OK, Ari?" I said.

"Pamela, I'm your best friend, aren't I?" She asked.

"Ari, its not that I don't trust you, it's that I need this to be an absolute secret. Don't tell your family, you diary, even your friends who live in other states. No one."

"Alright, Pam," She said, "It won't happen." She glanced at me at a red light.

"Ok. I think…I think I'm pregnant." I said. At first I was afraid she would crash the car.

"Oh God." She said. We were both silent until she had parked the car safely in the store's lot. "I thought you weren't having sex with Mark." She finally said.

"I…wasn't going to but…look, it just happened, Ari, canyou not be angry at me?" I replied, "I'm gonna get enough of that from my folks.

"Yeah, ok." Ari said. She turned to look at me. "Do you…how do you feel?" I inspected my cuticles.

"Conflicted." I finally said, "You know, for one, there's the age difference. I'm eighteen and he's fourteen. And getting pregnant in my senior year of high school isn't exactly the smartest idea. But…I feel kind of happy, you know? Excited. Is that so wrong?"

"Are you excited because it's a baby? Or are you excited because it's Mark's?" She asked. I laughed in my head. It was such a typical Ari question; she always wanted to know the answer to some complicated question. Then again, it probably made sense in her mind.

"Both," I confessed, "You know I've always wanted a kid or two."

"Well, let's go in." She said after a moment's of what I can only suppose to be contemplation.

"Yes, let's." I agreed. Walking felt especially difficult. Each step was a conscious effort. I thought of the Christmas special 'Santa Clause is Coming to Town' and the song about walking. I hummed the tune and thought of the words in my head, 'Put one foot in front of the other…' In addition, I was nervous that someone would recognize me. Anyone could be just around the corner. I quickly became paranoid. I gave up humming the song and relocated the energy in to looking around every few steps frantically for someone who might know me.

"Pamela." Ari said quietly, "Calm down, you're just drawing attention to yourself."

"Yeah," I murmured, taking a deep breath. In. Out. Ari put a hand around my waist and hugged me close for a moment before taking my hand.

"Why are you so worried, Pam?" She asked.

"I don't know," I lied. Then I added the reason anyway, "I guess I just don't want anyone to know."

"We're buying for a good friend, then; she's afraid someone will catch her because her mom's friend works here." Ari formulated.

"Ok." I said. I was surprised she was being so supportive. Not that it wasn't in her very nature to be so, but I had expected yelling or at the very least a lecture about how I had thrown my life away and how stupid I'd been. Then again, I tend to think the worst in people, it'sone of my greatest faults.

We knelt down in the embarrassing section of products, between condoms and lubricants and Midol and pregnancy tests. I picked up two boxes and began to scrutinize the backs of them for some clue as to what I should buy and what the difference was between one brand and another. Finally I just chose a moderately priced one that I'd seen advertised on television and threw it in our basket. Ari took her jacket off and threw it on top.

"Alright then." She said taking a deep breath.

"I'm gonna get some comfort food. It won't take long, I promise." I said, feeling more at ease than before.

"No rush." She replied with a smile. I bought someice cream and Oreos to go with my pregnancy I picked a cashier that I didn't see very often. She rang me up silently, chewing loudly on blue gum. Her name badge said 'Candy.' Candy eyed the cookies and ice cream with a look that I would describe as some sort of lust.

"Could you double bag it please?" I asked. She glanced at me and nodded.

"Sure thing, honey." She put the plastic bag into a brown paper one. I paid quickly and she handed me the bag. "Good luck." She said.

"Uh…thanks." I replied with a meek smile.

"You wanna come to my house?" Ari inquired putting her jacket back on as we got in the car. I nodded. "Then you won't have to worry about your mom finding out about disposal and stuff." She added. "I can take care of that easilyenough in my house."

"Thanks Ari."

"Pam? Pamela? Pam, for God's sake, say something!" Ari said through the bathroom door.

"D'ah!" I replied loudly.

"Pam!" I laughed. And once I started, I found myself unable to stop. As I pictured myself, I realized how pathetic I must really look, sitting on the bathroom floor in my best friend's house laughing my ass off. Ari poked her head in and seeing me on the floor joined me. She took the stick from my hand.

"Wow." She said.

"Yeah." I replied, "I'm pregnant." Of course I was. I hadn't really doubted it at all since I'd missed my period; I had the most regular cycle out of everyone I came on the third week of the month and lasted for three days and I couldn't remember a single time that it hadn't.

"Congratulations." She said. Then she began to laugh as well. We both wound up lying on the floor facing the tiled ceiling.

"I guess I'll tell Mark tonight." I said.

"Are you sure?" She asked.

"Yeah." I replied, "Why? Don't you think I should?"

"I don't know. Its just…the first trimester is when most things go wrong, you know?" Ari said with a shrug.

"Well, I'm tellingMark." I said, "But I don't think we'll tell any adults until after I've seen a doctor."

"If you need help or anything…"

"I know." I heaved myself up. "Forright nowyou canhelp me down some cookies and ice cream, ok?"

"Fine by me."