Building Yourself Up and Falling with Grace
I heard the ‘clickety-clacks’ of the train on the rails beneath our feet. It moved along the metal surface with an occasional jerk to the side. Ashton sat across from me next to the window. He was beside himself in that he’d ‘never been on a train before’. He had, he just didn’t remember because he was a baby. At this moment, he was watching the shapes of buildings and the landscape rush past, sitting on his father’s lap – a father he met less than 24hrs ago.
Being brutally honest I had no idea what this… relationship, I suppose that’s what you could call it, was going to involve. What I did know was that something was bubbling up again – something inside me like it had done a few years back when Andy was a constant component in my life. Just that thought flicking in my head frightened the living day lights out of me.
My decision to have Asthon and I move in with Andrew was on replay in my head and I know my friends would think I’m stupid – trusting someone who once couldn’t be trusted with my son. But I felt Andy deserved a second chance – a chance to be a dad, a chance to take responsibility unlike the 16 year of Andrew.
“Hey mom, look at that!” Ashton exclaimed at a massive, weird shaped and bright colored building that rushed past.
“Wow, that’s very yellow,” I said, looking interested.
“It’s almost like the sun!” Asthon exclaims. Andy and I both smiled. Our line of sight connected and I looked away.
We’d been on there for a while and I was beginning to get sleepy. I glanced at the time. It was around the time Ashton would have a snack at day care. Coincidentally, a lady came down the train with a trolley of sweets and unhealthy snack foods.
“Would you like something to eat?” Andy asked him, gesturing to him to look at the trolley’s display.
“I have the fruit you like in my bag,” I said, not wanting Ashton to have the snacks.
“Would I be able to have this, please?” Ashton put his small finger against the glass, looking at Andy.
“Sure,” Andy told him, getting out his wallet and handing money over to the lady who in turn handed him the sweet snack. Too late. I got it; Andy wanted to spoil his son. Spoiling all the time, though, isn’t good. He’d already had McDonald’s for lunch. He was going to go nuts.
Bounce, bounce, bounce, Ashton went on Andy’s lap, his face against the glass.
“I want to have a look on that side!” Ashton said, jumping up and flying across to the opposite train window.
I looked at Andy who watched him. He looked at me and judging by his expression, he knew it was the sugar. We tried to get Ash to sit and calm down but he wouldn’t. He began to throw questions at Andy about his job, ‘why he had metal in his lip’ and ‘why he had metal in his nose’. I tried not to laugh as Andy attempted to answer. I was thankful the train wasn’t full of commuters so not many would have to tolerate Ashton’s folly. Half way through the journey, the sugar managed to run out and Ashton fell asleep next to me. I stroked his head and hair, his head against my lap.
“Sorry, I didn’t know he’d go like this,” Andy asked, sitting down on the other side of me.
“It’s okay. What goes up must come down,” I ruffled Ashton’s hair gently. Andy would need to learn these things for himself.
“Are you going to meet up with your parents when we get home?” he asked, getting out his phone. I glanced at my lap. I hadn’t talked to them since before Ashton was born and the idea frightened me.
“Probably not,” I said. An announcement was broadcasted, declaring the next stop. We were nearly there.
Feet sore, ankles beginning to swell and chaffing between the thighs, Grace managed to walk back to her parent’s street. Huffing and puffing, she kept scanning the people walking along the paths. She was terrified of seeing someone from school or someone she knew and being noticed. She didn’t want them to see her as she was: hair a mess, un-brushed teeth and sweat marks on her clothes. She wasn’t even sure where she was going.
Grace slept terribly that night. It felt like she hadn’t slept at all and she was awake by 4.30am. She left when the staff began to kick people out. They weren’t given anymore food either. Grace’s belly rumbled and she found it hard to focus on the ground in front of her.
When Grace saw her things being thrown beside the gutter when she reached her street, she was the most awake she’d been all day. Her wander became a power walk. She got the property as her mother as throwing her bedside table to the pile.
“Mum, what are you doing?” she cried.
“I'm not your mother and you're not my daughter,” she retorted, turning towards the house to fetch more of Graces belongings. Grace ran ahead and was reunited with her room, which was just that – an empty room. The only things left were a bare desk, mattress and empty wardrobe. Grace’s heart sank.
“Where are my clothes?” she asked in a whisper.
“Gone, now get out of my house,” her mother barked.
“But I need my clothes!” Grace pleaded.
“I said get out!” her mother pushed her out of the room. She got a whiff of Grace and screwed up her nose. She obviously smelt because she hadn’t had the opportunity to have a shower. She had become the smelly one like the person at the shelter.
Grace saw the dark bags her mother used to donate things to charity op shops lined up in the hallway. Grace went over and ripped them open, finding her clothes inside.
“Stop it!” her mother tried to pull her away. “I told you to leave,” Grace wouldn’t let her move her away.
She fished around for the baggiest clothes she once owned. She grabbed panties and soft sloth bras that wouldn’t hurt to wear with sensitive and tender breasts that come during and after pregnancy. She also grabbed a thick jacket. Her mother grabbed the pile she had gathered and hugged them to her chest.
“Mum, please! I need those!” she begged, trying to grab them off her. “I have nothing,” her voice cracked.
She got an eye roll in response. “You should have thought of that before you became a skank to that satanic boy.”
Grace began to sob, “I’m human and I made a mistake. I’m sorry!” Her mother’s insults did get to her and even after what Andy had done to Grace; the insults against him hurt her too. It must be the hormones, she thought.
“Get off our property Grace.”
“Can we make a deal or something? If you don’t want me then fine but don’t cut me off with nothing! If you help me leave and support me unti–”
“No, we don’t want any association with you.”
“Until I get a job and earn and–”
“No one would hire a pregnant girl who has never worked before. We’re not stupid. You’d never make it. You’re a lost cause.”
“Cut me off and I’d never have a chance or the baby, don’t you see?!”
“We don’t care, [i]don’t you see?![/i]”
“If you help me I won’t bother you. You won’t have to see me or the baby or have anything to do with me if that's what you want. Just give me a chance!”
“No. I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life raising and caring for dirt,” her mother kept trying to get out of the conversation but Grace’s desperate pitch kept getting higher.
“What if I stayed and hid and told know one and then give the baby up?”
“You’ve already told him you dickhead! People are already whispering!” Her mother huffed with frustration. She was not going to be the one to back down. “You know what? Take these!” she threw the clothes at the shaking girl, “if they’ll make you leave.”
Grace didn’t say a word but took them in her arms. She was defeated. The mother leant on the kitchen bench being very tense and worked up. There was quiet for once in that house. Both Grace and her parents were arguing or her parents were arguing almost all the time.
“This is all you’re getting,” $20 was thrown in front of her after an icy deep male voice. “It’s enough for a long bus ride out of here. Don’t care where you go as long as it’s not near here,” it was her father towering over her. Clothes and note in hand, her parents pushed her outside.
Grace gave it one last shot, swinging around to beg again. “I’m hungry and cold and need a shower and to brush my teeth. Would you let me–” her mother shut the wire door.
“I’m so hungry… what if your grandchild dies?”
“You’re so low you try the emotional manipulation shit. No daughter, no grandkid, no loss. Give up Grace,” her mother shut and locked the wooden door.
Grace stood there tear stained and speechless wondering how she could be born into such a family and what the hell she was going to do. She heard rustling and then giggling coming from behind her.
“Shh! She’ll hear you,” someone whispered. She turned around to see two kids from lower grades at her school trying to slip away. She’d been caught. There was nothing left for her here.
- - -
The train stopped and we got on the platform full of people. Andy stopped in the middle of the crowd and pulled Ashton and I aside.
“Hey, look, there’s someone I really need to tell about… this – what’s going on.” I understood. I don’t know if his parents know or who else and it’s a big thing to spring on people.
“Would you mind staying here for a while, we’ll talk and then I’ll introduce you,” he smiled down at Ash. He was being so gentle when he spoke. I had missed that about him. I missed him treating me like that when we were together those years ago. We agreed and I took Ashton to a nearby play area.
I don’t think she believed me. That or she didn’t want to. Now I reflect and question how I could hide all of this so easily when we were kids. How idiotic was all of it. My stomach was doing flips, filled with more nerves than I’ve ever had performing as I entered the arcade for the play area. How the hell was this going to go? I really didn’t know.
“Grace,” Andy appeared before me sitting on the arcade bench supervising. A skinny tattooed woman was beside him. “I’d like you to meet Juliet, my fiancée.”
I walked the school hall towards my locker. As soon as I stepped in the door the buzz of conversations died down to a whisper. There was no mistake they were about me. Deep down I knew what they had to be about but I ignored the voice in my head telling me it was Grace. How would anyone find out? I know Grace; she wouldn’t tell anyone something that private.
I got to my locker not to find the usual “emo” and “faggot” notes stuck on the locker door but ones saying “nice one bro", “congrats” and even “good luck”.
“Tryin’ to prove you’re not a fag, huh?” Jimmy’s voice came from behind me. He was the school bully. He was such an animal he even got kicked off the football team. He was taller than me but not by much as I was pretty tall. He was triple the width of me though. I ignored his taunt and undid my lock.
“You know,” he leaned over me, his breath going down my shirt and hand slammed on my locker, “if you’re gonna do it, you need to do it right,” his friends snickered. I pushed his hand off my locker and opened it, grabbing some things.
“Obviously no one gave you the talk which is understandable seeing as you look like a pansy that wouldn’t get any. Just proof of how desperate some girls are these days, can’t keep their pants on. Anyway, here’s some advice: it’s called protection you idiot.” I turned around with my school things, looking him in the eye. His friends tensed behind him. That’s funny; I wouldn’t even try to deck him.
“It frightens me, Biersack,” his right hand man piped up, coming over and standing against my side to intimidate me. “It’s gonna haunt me knowing there’s another you out there.” They cracked up. I rolled my eyes, not amused and not uttering a word. The bell went.
“Try this next time,” Jimmy threw a condom and it hit me in the chest, bounced off to the floor. I got a pat on the shoulder almost in a friendly way and they were gone. This was seriously fucked up.
Grace’s mouth was completely dry. She shook it off. The tattooed woman smiled at her.
“Juliet, this is Grace,” Andy said.
“Hi, nice to meet you,” Juliet said, holding out her hand. Grace’s eyes fluttered to the lifted bejeweled finger in front of her before shaking.
“You too,” she managed to make out.
Both the ladies then looked at Andy who turned to his fiancé. “Would you like to meet him?” he asked.
Juliet pursed her lips, glancing at Grace, “Mhmm.”
Grace felt low and used. She felt worthless. She hadn’t felt this way since she first started her sex work. Andy had used her for sex to cheat on his fiancé. Was it her fault? She didn’t know. She felt guilty although it was Andy who instigated their sex. He made the move, not her. Grace stared out the window at what used to be a familiar place with Ashton on her lap.
The air between Juliet and Andy was tense. Juliet couldn’t believe this was happening. Everything was perfect before. She and Andy were engaged to be married and moved in together in an apartment they had chosen together. Too good to be true. She was going to be a stepmother. She didn’t know whether she could and she didn’t think she was ready for a kid, her own or not. She was suspicious about Grace. She’d never even heard of this woman until today! How could Andy spring this on her? How could Andy hide this from her? The couple had spoken of their prior partners. They were engaged. She thought they knew everything about each other. Andy must have known. Why hide it? It’s not something that would go away.
The car pulled up at the apartment block and Ashton stirred on Grace’s lap. They had no child booster seat for him and Grace’s lap was the safest alternative. Grace gently unlocked the seatbelt around her baby boy and held him to her chest while getting out.
The atmosphere around them was heavy and no one spoke a word. Grace had attempted conversation at the start of the trip but neither Juliet nor Andy was interested and Grace didn’t want her questions to get annoying.
Ashton swayed on his feet tired as the posse went up the elevator to Andy and Juliet’s apartment. Keys were dunked in a bowl and Juliet walked off up a passage and into a room.
“This is nice,” Grace broke the silence. Andy turned to look at her.
“Would you like a drink?” he offered.
“We have coke, water, juice.”
“Coke please,” Grace said. She never got to have that often.
“Ashton would you like some juice? We have apple, cranberry, orange,” Andy gave him options whilst bent over friendly at him. He wasn’t offering coke after the train ride. Ashton had had his daily intake of sugar and didn’t need something to prevent sleep. Grace knew Andy had learnt his first lesson.
Rubbing his eyes, Ashton asked for water. Grace sat at the bench on the bar stools, lifting Ashton onto her lap.
“Juliet’s just packing a few things,” Andy put the drinks in front of them. Ashton didn’t notice not lifting his head from on top of mom’s breast, small arms around her waist drifting asleep.
Grace nodded. “I thought you lived in Hollywood,” she inquired.
“Yeah we do, we’re just renting this while we stay with my parents.” Grace nodded. Ashton started to snore lightly.
“You could have told me,” she said, looking at their child when referring to Juliet and their engagement. Andy sighed.
“I know but I just… I was in shock. I didn’t expect to see you again.” Grace had a lot to say and a lot to scream but thuds came from the room Juliet occupied. Juliet was not happy.
“Did you tell her about me?” Andy dodged Grace’s eyes. Her mouth fell open. “Andy!” she exclaimed.
There was a bang as a bag full of belonging was thrown by the door. The pair received a stony look before Juliet left the room again. Grace suddenly felt unwelcome and moved uncomfortably in her seat. Ashton didn’t stir. She was intruding on a soon to be married couple and their temporary home.
“You didn’t seem in shock last night,” Grace whispered in a weak voice. Andy’s eyes narrowed at the girl.
“You’re not to utter a word to anyone, “Andy hissed in a threatening voice, “especially her, understand?”
I couldn't believe it when i saw that I hadn't updated this story in about a year. I am so sorry and I hope you enjoyed it.