“They have to be told.” It was a constant refrain between Bradley, Marta, and myself. It was a passive sentence, none of us wanted to say “We” should tell them. Just, they had to be told. Eventually, Momma and Dad would notice. True, we would graduate high school before the baby was born, but Marta’s pregnancy would become apparent well before then. All three of us agreed it would not be in our best interest to just wait around until they figured it out on their own, we had to tell them.
“Maybe, they’ll respect your maturity in coming clean about it and will come down on you a little less harsh?” Bradley offered, sitting in the beanbag chair in the corner of his room. I spun his desk chair to give him a look, and I guess Marta did the same from her seat on the edge of his bed because he threw up both his hands in a surrender. “Okay, I’m sorry for being hopeful. No need to twin evil glare me. You’re vicious when you do that.”
I turned back to the computer and continued to mess around with the project we were using an excuse for why we were all hanging around. It was already mostly done, but I had to put some work into so I didn’t feel guilty when Momma asked if we’d made progress.
“No. There will be no respect,” Marta sighed, falling backward onto the bed, “In fact, we’ll be lucky we aren’t shipped off to a nunnery of some sort. Me, to hide my shame, and Avery to protect her innocence. Men are corrupting influences, Bradley. We shouldn’t be involved with them at all. If Momma had her way, the interaction would be minimal, polite nods in school and church supervised outings, only Daddy decided that we would need to interact with men to be well-rounded and successful woman in this day and age.”
“Why do I feel like that was an actual conversation that took place in your house?” Bradley laughed.
“Oh, it was a dinner table conversation around the time we turned eleven. I think that was also about the time that Momma suggested homeschooling.” I grinned, turning around again, the project close enough to done that I could ignore it for the rest of the afternoon.
“Yeah. Try to imagine that, Brad. Imagine who Avery and I would be if we were homeschooled by our mother for the past seven years.” Marta laughed.
Bradley stared at me for a second, blinking in silence. “I want to say I would still love you…” he said halfheartedly.
I laughed and squished next to him in the bean bag chair. “It’s okay. If you ever end up in a parallel universe where I was homeschooled by my mother from Middle School on, feel free to not be in love with me.”
“You’re the best.” Bradley leaned over and kissed me, pulling me in a little tighter to his side.
“You’re sickening.” Marta offered from the bed.
“No one asked you, Marta,” I sing-songed, before turning to look at Bradley again, “No, but you might as well know the truth of it, Brad. Our every known interaction with boys is very carefully monitored and thoroughly discussed. We’d been dating six weeks before the dinner table discussions about us came to a close and they gave me permission to ‘Go Steady’ with you.”
“No,” Bradley whispered, turning to Marta for confirmation.
She nodded without actually lifting her head from the bed. “There is a very distinct reason that I’ve never ‘officially’ dated anyone in the eyes of our parents. As far as Momma and Dad are concerned I’ve never so much as shaken a man’s hand without adult supervision.” Marta turned on her side and looked down at us. “And that’s why we’re pretty much dead.”
It was silent for a very long time. Bradley squeezed me gently around the waist. Marta let out a small sigh.
“They have to be told.” I broke the quiet.
Marta nodded. “Just—let’s turn eighteen, okay? Let’s have one last big, happy family event before Momma thinks I’m going to hell. Is that fair?”
“Yeah.” I agreed and felt Bradley nod beside me. “One more big moment, but then they have to be told.”
Marta took a deep breath and rolled onto her back.