“Well, towards the end of summer, I went to a friend’s birthday party at a bar. He invited me for a few drinks and we just hit it off.”
“Birthday party at a bar?” My jaw dropped to the floor. She didn’t sound like the Linda I used to know. Her parents had always been very conservative and placed a high value on education. They would be heartbroken if they found out she was pregnant at this age.
“It was actually a club near my school. You know how I told you I always feel so left out at school, and that night at the party, I felt so lonely I just wanted to talk to someone.” She searched for sympathy from my eyes.
“What? You went to a club! You know what kind of people go to clubs!” I raised my voice unconsciously.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was going to turn out like that.”
“What do you mean you didn’t know! We’ve seen it on TV so many times. And some people put drugs in your drink, so they could take advantage of you!” I sound like her mother sometimes too.
“Yes, I know.” Her eyes watered again. “Someone drugged me. And I woke up in his bedroom the next morning.”
“What?” I was so angry I was ready to punch that jerk in the face.
“So I told him that we needed to date, because we slept together. I told him that it was my first time and that it was important for me to be in a relationship in order to do things like that. He laughed at first, but then agreed to go out with me if I continue to do it with him.”
“So you did it with him again?” I couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth now. How could she be so stupid. She’s so sweet and innocent, but also so…argh!
She nodded. “Almost every night after that. He said that’s the only way he’d go out with me. He said that’s what relationships are about.”
“And your parents know nothing about this?”
“I’ve been too scared to tell them, especially now that I’m pregnant.” She covered her face, sobbing. “Could you help me find him?”
“Me? I would love to, but I don’t even know him!”
“Could you ask Ian to help. I think he’s friends with Joe.”
“Ian knows Joe? But he’s only in grade 11.”
“I’ve seen them play basketball together…”
“But Ian plays on his school team. He’s never mentioned Joe before.”
“They played in a school competition before. Joe said Ian was really good. And he asked him to play after school sometimes.”
“Joe’s in high school?” I was shocked.
“He’s in grade 12.”
“But you said he was 19.”
“He just turned 20. He repeated a couple of grades.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that before? I thought he was in University.”
“I’m sorry.” Linda said with remorse. “I really liked him, and I was afraid you wouldn’t approve.”
“I still don’t approve!” Now that I think about it, she hasn’t told me much about that jerk at all. All she said was that he was older, and he was really handsome and was really nice to her. “As your best friend, I have to tell you the truth. That Joe is a real jerk! Clearly, he’s running away from all his responsibilities! If I wear you, I wouldn’t waste another minute on him!”
“Lori, he’s not that kind of person. He said he loved me and would take care of me. He said he wants to be a good father, but just not now…he’s still young.”
“Linda, why are you defending him? If he loved you, would he treat you like he did?”
“He…he…” Her lips quivered.
“He’s a real jerk!” I threw Hero on the ground and told him to run long. “No descent guy would go out with another girl while his girlfriend is pregnant. Actually, a decent guy wouldn’t even get his girlfriend pregnant in the first place, period.”
“But he promised to take care of me. He…” She was interrupted by a loud bang on the door.
Ian walked in with excitement, “Hey, Linda’s here! Long time no see. What are you talking about?”
“Grown up stuff.”
“Come on, I’m grown up enough to understand grown up stuff.”
“Ian, please.” I turned to Linda, “Why don’t you rest in my room for a bit, I’ll ask Ian and see if he can help you out.”
“Thanks.” Linda got up. “Ian, I’m sorry I’m in such a state. Please don’t mind me.” She excused herself and went to my room.
“Why are you guys so secretive?” Ian was curious. “Did something happen to Linda?”
“She wasn’t feeling well today, so she came over to talk.” I went to the fridge and grabbed a piece of left-over cake from last night.
“Could I have some of that? I’m starving!”
“Sure. There’s more in the fridge. You want me to get some for you?” I was starving too, but older siblings never complain to the younger ones.
“Yes, please.” Ian sat down at the dinner table and waited to be served.
“Where did you go this morning?” I placed a plate with cake in front of Ian and started on mine.
“Basketball practice, as usual.” Ian dug in right away.
“I didn’t know you had practice on Saturdays.”
“Not with my team. I met up with a few guys from another school. They are quite good, so I thought it’d be good practice to play with them on weekends to hone my skills.”
“Sounds like a good idea. Which school are they from?”
“What are their names?”
“Neilson, Joe, and…are you interested in these people? Sis, I didn’t know you liked younger guys.” Ian looked up at me with his mouth full.
“What’s that filthy mind of yours concocting?” I gave him a gentle slap on the head. “I’m asking because I heard that the guys on the team at Bensen High are older than you. I’m just a little worried that it’d be hard for you to win against them.”
“Haha, I didn’t know you were so nosy.” Ian chuckled.
“Is the rumour true then?”
“Nope! They are all around my age, except for Joe. I think he’s in grade 12 or something.”
“Ha! I knew there was someone older!”
“Do you know him?”
“Not personally, but a friend of mine told me that he has questionable characters. So I wanted to tell you to be careful with him.”
“Hmm.” He thought for a moment. “That reminds me. He was talking about a girl he’s been sleeping with and was planning to dump her because she got pregnant.”
“Really?” I was disgusted by what he said. I couldn’t believe someone could actually say anything like that. “I didn’t know you guys talked about stuff like that while playing basketball.”
“My team never talks about stuff like that, only this Joe guy.” Ian blushed. “It’s cause he thinks he’s older and more experienced with life, so he likes to brag about stuff like that.”
“I don’t think that’s something worth bragging about. If I was a guy and got a girl pregnant, I would be ashamed of myself.”
“But you’re a girl, sis. You don’t understand guys.”
“I don’t think all guys out there are proud of such things. Besides, that girl has feelings too, you know.”
“Yea, I know. But he made it sound like she’s dub or something. Only dumb girls would sleep with a guy on the first date.”
“What? Is that really how guys think?” I was shocked.
“Never mind, can we talk about something else. Why are we talking about this stuff anyway?” He had already finished the cake and started to lick his plate.
“Ian, do you understand that this is an important topic that every teenager needs to be educated on?”
“Hey, it’s not like I was the one who got any girl pregnant.”
“But how could you say such things about that girl Joe slept with?” I was angered by his words. “How do you know she wanted to sleep with him in the first place? Maybe he drugged her and forced her to sleep with him?”
“Hey, sis, relax! I have no idea what actually happened between Joe and that girl. I was just repeating what he said, like a telephone.”
“If you ever see that Joe again, tell him for me that he’s an idiot!”
“Did he do something to you?”
“Then why do you want me to tell him that he’s stupid.”
“Because he it.”
“Why don’t you tell him yourself? I don’t want to be your telephone at the risk of picking a fight with him.”
“Fine. I’ll tell him myself then. When are you going to see him again?”
“Tomorrow at 10:00 am.”
“I’m coming with you then.”
“You told me to tell him that he’s an idiot myself, right?”
“Are you serious?” He frowned.
“Ian, you know I don’t joke about stuff like this.”
“You’re not actually going to say that to his face, right?”
“No, of course not. I just wanted to meet him and see for myself what kind of person he really is.”
“Wow, he sure is popular!” Ian chuckled.
“Popularity is not the right word for him. What he has is a foul reputation. Anyway, is it ok if Linda comes with us too?”
“Why? Is she interested in Joe too?”
“I’ll explain that later, is that ok?”
“Sure, I just hope she’s alright.”
“She’ll be alright. Thanks.”
“Ian’s going to meet up with Joe tomorrow at 10 am for basketball.” I broke the news to Linda as soon as I stepped into my room.
“Really? Can I go with him?”
“I already told him that we’re both going with him.” I sat down next to her on my bed. “Don’t worry, I didn’t say anything about what happened between you and Joe.”
“He thinks I’m stupid, right?” Linda’s eyes watered.
“No, of course not. Why would you say that?”
“I heard everything he said.” She looked at me in the eye. “Do you think I’m stupid? For what I did?”
“Linda, it wasn’t your fault.” I held her hands to comfort her. “You really shouldn’t put so much on yourself. Everything’s going to be fine.”
“Really, is that possible?” Linda lied down on her back.
“Hmm, dad always tells me that most things will turn out alright, no matter how bad they seem at the moment. We’ll look back at years from now and laugh at how silly we were.” I lied down next to her.
“I hope your dad is right.” She wiped her tears.
“He’s usually right about things. He may not look it, but he’s quite a wise person.”
“I wish I had a wise father like you.”
“You have a wise mom. And you have me.”
“Thank you, Lori.” She laughed for the first time since I saw her today. “Will you always be there for me?” She squeezed my hand.
“Hmm. Of course.”