The second I knew, I ran to Beau. It wasn’t exactly the best option, of course, in hind sight. But I was sixteen. What sixteen year old has the ability to realize a good option from a bad one?
“I’m pregnant,” I blurted, hands shaky.
I could see in his face that he didn’t believe me. “You’re just trying to get me to pay your way, that it?” he asked harshly.
I scoffed. “You work at a convenience store. My parents have enough money to own that convenience store. How about you use your brain before you start talking shit.”
We’d never fought. Mainly because he was terrifying and I didn’t want to upset him. I took a deep breath when I saw the anger growing in his eyes. “I’m sorry,” I began softly, reaching out to him. He pulled back.
“What do you want from me?” He asked, annoyed. “Too scared to tell Mommy and Daddy so you need abortion money from me?”
“I just want you to man up and help take care of this!” I exclaimed.
“Oh, I’ll take care of this.” His fists clenched and he began moving toward me in that violent, angry stride that used to turn me on. I backed away, begging him not to do anything stupid.
It was then that I heard a quick blip of a police siren and my dad’s lieutenant, Morgan, jumped out of her patrol car. “There you are! Jesus, Ella, you’ve had us all worried sick! Your school called your Dad. He’s not too thrilled right now. Lets get you home.”
I glanced at Beau, then at Morgan, and turned around and ran.
I don’t know how I avoided the police for the entire day. I hid out in an orange grove and the migrant workers there didn’t pay me any mind. I chucked my cellphone into the ocean, too. I was completely alone with no money, no food… and a baby in my stomach.
I went to the only place I could think of. I went to Beau’s. It was disgusting and dirty and smelled like the wrong end of an unwashed baboon. But I was thankful for a place to lay low, and Beau seemed in a better mood. He even picked up some hair dye for me and told me to ‘pick a name.’
“I can’t hide forever,” I whispered, looking at the unnaturally red hair dye.
“Sure you can,” he shrugged. “No one knows about me, right?”
“Good. Go get yourself looking sexy and get into bed, yeah?”
I shuddered and moved to the bathroom, clutching the dye.
Months dragged on and Beau was right – I could disappear. No one ever noticed me when I went places. I could be standing right next to my former self’s picture on the missing flyers and no one would bat an eye.
At first I was really amused when I saw my mother and father sobbing on the television, begging for me to come home, promising to not be mad, promising that they would try harder.
As time wore on and as my pregnancy got farther, it began to bother me to see them like that. To see the gleam in their eyes die. To see how they thought I was already dead but refused to give up the hopes I might return. They spent thousands of dollars all on the hopes that any of the leads given were accurate.
I wished I could tell them it had never been their fault. I was just an angsty teen and I was jealous of my good-looking, perfect siblings. I was jealous of my parents’ happiness.
The more time I spent in the squalor and filth that was my new home, the more I longed for the my old bed’s fresh sheets and my mom’s attempts at hugs and kisses, as if I was a little kid again. I hated the fact that I had to sleep in a flea-infested bed next to a man who smelled like burnt chemicals and cigarettes.
And then, one night, I made a mistake.
Typically I thought things out before I said them. Beau was always on meth or cocaine, sometimes a combination, and so it was pretty imperative I not piss him off.
But like I said, I made a mistake.
“I think I want to go home,” I murmured.
His breath smelled like the cheap beer he always drank. “Oh yeah? Run home to mommy and daddy? So that’s what you want now? The home I made for you ain’t good enough?”
“That’s not-” I sputtered, realizing my blunder.
He was on me in an instant. My head smacked the floor and everything went dull. I heard ringing in my ears and felt his body pushing down on my belly. I tried to call out, to tell him he was hurting the baby. But then he was hurting me, his fists raining down.
Somewhere along the way, we wound up on the bed and he was brutishly pinning me down while he forced himself on me. I blocked most of it out – it might have been a coping mechanism or the concussion, I’m not sure. I was just glad when he was finally done and left me sobbing quietly on the bed.
The actions depicted in this chapter are NOT condoned. I work with battered and abused women and men on a daily basis and this is not, I repeat, NOT a healthy relationship. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help or advice from a trained professional.