(This chapter is from the viewpoint of Lisa Cohan, a schoolmate of Becky’s who joined in her SATs tutoring her High School Math teacher was giving her.)
OMG! I wish I could get out of here!
No sooner did Mr. Font drop me off than my hag of a Vietnamese mother began yelling at me in her inside voice: Broken English Banshee Wail. “WERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BE!”
“Studying for my SATs,” I tried to calmly respond, but she didn’t care if I was dead and rotting in a dumpster, she just liked yelling about anything she could. She didn’t even listen before she OCD’ed onto my drunken father who tripped over an empty beer can coming back from the bathroom, spilling some of his fresh beer on the living room floor trying to get back to watch the game.
“WATCH YOU FUCKING FEET!” Mom told him in kinder words than normal. “I JUST VACUUM TWO WEEK AGO!” It was more like two months ago, but neither one cared. I wondered again if I was somehow adopted before running to my room to get away from them.
I hated them. It sounded like a romantic story when she had been young. Handsome US solder falling in love with a young Vietnamese girl while deployed overseas, than bringing her home with him. But she later found out the less satisfying truth. Her mom was just from a Vietnamese area of Los Angeles and Dad had lived next door to her. She barely spoke any English when he knocked her up and they took off before her parents could kill him. Neither had graduated High School and now worked crappy jobs just to pay for their smokes and beer. Raising her was just another chore that they neglected as much as possible.
Why couldn’t I just have been lucky like Becky? She just had a Mom but she seemed so nice. Or Mrs. Font? I wish I could have the life those two little babies or her‘s and Mr. Font are going to have. No screaming. No endless days forgetting the last time they were sober. Try as I can I just can’t imagine them that way. It makes me happy. All I got to do now is survive to college. Somehow I will find a way to afford it.
I pulled out the applications I’d already gotten back from several colleges, all ready to send, just waiting for a copy of her SAT scores to go with them. Thinking about the SATs I sat back on my bed, pulled out my books and began studying again.
Next day at school I had an appointment with my guidance counselor for college planning. Mr. Pressman was a creepy guy, and all the girls in school spread stories he was a stalker or a pedophile, but he’d always been nice to me from the few times I’d talked to him setting up classes. He did have a funny look in his beady eyes though as he greeted me during lunch into his office.
“Lisa, please have a seat,” Mr. Pressman said kindly. After I had sit down in the seat on the other side of the desk he sat near me on the corner of his desk and smiled down at me. “I see you’ve been doing good in classes. You’ve got your SATs scheduled and assuming you do well there you will have no problems getting admitted into any number of colleges.” I nodded and he continued. “Have you any idea’s where you’re going to go?”
The next few minutes we discussed some of my ideal colleges and career paths, and he seemed very supportive and happy to hear what my plans were. “You sound like you have certainly done your homework here as well. Now have you considered how you are going to pay for it?”
Brick Wall! How had I thought I was smart? Strangely I never considered that. I just gaped.
“College is very expensive. The colleges you named even more so,” he said calmly, still smiling down at me. “I know your parents aren’t going to qualify for any loans, and your grades, while well above average aren’t going to get you any scholarships.” He just ended there leaving me hanging.
He was right. “What… What can I do? I need this! I’d do anything to go to college!” I have to get out of here.
Mr. Pressman smiled warmly at me and cocked an eyebrow, “Anything?”
“Um… Huh?” what did he mean?
“You’re a smart and pretty girl Lisa,” he said sounding more like he was insulting me than complementing me, “But you forgot one way to be guaranteed a government grant.”
I still hadn’t gotten the clue and it showed on my face.
Mr. Pressman calmly picked up a pamphlet from his desk and handed it down to me. It was a pink folded paper that read on the front, “I’m a new mother. Can I go to college? YES!”
I looked at it and opened reading the first few lines detailing how the state would pay for college for young unmarried mothers. My gut was twisting with revulsion, shame, and horror all at once.
“Now most of the guys in this town are fairly conservative,” Mr. Pressman said as he touched my arm and I froze in shock and fear of the man so much bigger than myself.
“If you became pregnant with their baby they would try and keep it or fight for custody,” his fingers now trailed on my chin and across my chest. I had no doubts about those locker room rumors anymore. He was a world class creep and pedophile.
“and the rest are likely to demand you just abort it,” his hand moved down the center of my chest between my disappointing cleavage.
“Now I can guarantee privacy and confidentiality,” finally his hand moved to the side and cupped my tiny, yet sensitive breast and fondled my nipple that was erect more out of fear than arousal.
I squirmed in my chair, just thinking now about a way of getting out of there as fast as possible. “Mr. Pressman, I have to go to the bathroom,” and I pulled away from him and rose to leave only to be stopped as he harshly grabbed my arm surprising me.
“Nothing happed here Lisa. And if you say otherwise it’s your word against mine.” Then he let me go and sat calmly behind his desk. That was all I needed as the tears were welling up to burst out. I ran. I skipped next period crying in a stall in the girl’s room. Eventually I got back in control of myself and returned to classes.
After school I really didn’t feel like going home right away, but wanted to be near people, so decided to go to the field and watch the cheerleaders practice while I had time to myself. I saw Becky come out to the field and after talking to the other cheerleaders she left them to sit on the bleachers as I was. She looked nervous and upset, and while I didn’t really know her well I decided to talk to her and see what was up. We’d talked more now that Mr. Font was tutoring us at her house twice the last few weeks, until she had gotten sick all last week that is.
“Hey Becky,” I tried to say in a friendly fashion. “What’s wrong? Still not feeling well?” Then I sat down next to her to talk.
“Oh, Hi Lisa. Yea, I guess.” She said holding her stomach.
“Hey, if you need help I think the nurse is still in for after school activities. I can walk you over there?”
She smiled but said, “No, I’m fine.”
It must have showed on my face that I didn’t believe her. After a few moments of scrutinizing silence she almost burst in a very silent explosion through gritted teeth whispering, “OK! I’m pregnant!”
GASP! ‘No Way!’ I mouthed silently then huddled closer to her.
“Please,” she then begged, “don’t tell anyone! I shouldn’t have told you but I just had to tell someone.”
“Of course, to my grave,” I muttered as seriously and silently as possible. Then a funny thought came to me. “I haven’t heard of you dating anyone? Who’s the father?”
“I…” she blanched, “I cannot tell you.”
NO WAY! Becky was popular and smart. There was no way she actually got propositioned by Mr. Pressman and accepted! I wanted to call her a stupid, silly bitch, but I had to be sure. “Is… Is it Mr. Pressman.”
“WHAT!” she almost yelled.
“Look I… Mr. Pressman gave me this.” Then I fished out the pamphlet I still had accidentally hung onto. It was crumpled but as Becky took it to look at it she still looked confused. “Mr. Pressman was suggesting a discreet process of getting ‘non-traditional’ government money to go to college.”
The look on Becky’s face was pure horror. “Oh My God! That bastard! I’d heard he’d hit on some other girls, but they were the druggies and I thought they were just making that up.”
I’d heard the same rumors, but they were few and more the butt of jokes than taken seriously. I no longer was laughing since this afternoon. “So… it’s not his?” I asked cautiously.
“Hell no!,” we laughed together as that seemed both crazy to both of us.
The moment of silence that followed drug out to impossible levels. “So how far along are you?” I tried to make small talk.
She seemed cheerful to talk about it, “Only a month or so,” she smiled and touched her still flat stomach as if she could already feel the microscopic being already growing insider her. “It was morning sickness real bad last week. I think my body was just changing over to stop my cycle and adapt to the change. I haven’t felt anything like it since.”
“Does your mom know?” I asked.
“Yea. She took me to the doctor when I was sick and that’s when we found out,” Becky almost winced as she said this.
“Blew her top?” Lisa said apologetically, knowing the feeling all to well.
“She stews,” Becky replied. “She wanted to know why I wasn’t taking my birth control pills she’d been buying.”
“Why weren’t you?” I gasped quickly without thinking, instantly regretted saying it because I knew she didn’t want to say.
“I…” Becky began, than took a deep breath. “I wanted to get pregnant.” I looked at her funny than glanced at the pamphlet in her hand. “No, not for college grants. Mom made it clear she’d be able to handle that.” She took another breath than continued, “I wanted something to have that I would keep a part of him with me forever.” She said the last line solemnly like her lover had died, or shortly would.
Who was this mystery man? “He… Is he dying? The Father?”
“Huh?” she looked quizzical than firmed her face, “Might as well be.” She stared off into space.
We were quiet for a while again before Becky than asked me, “Mr. Pressman? What did you do about that?”
“Oh, I just ran and cried in the stall for half an hour,” I laughed it off.
“You’ve got to tell someone. Report him or he may actually get some girl dumb enough to take him up on it. That’s rape!” Becky was quite adamant about it.
“He’s right though. I got no proof. It’s his word against mine.” I shrugged helplessly.
“So all we got to do is get proof.” Becky then grinned deviously and smiled.