“You feeling better?” she asked, handing me a cup of tea. Gratefully, I took it.
“Yeah, I am. Thanks Marissa.”
Silence followed. I watched Marissa watching me, wondering what was going through her mind.
“I’m worried about you, Cass.” she finally said. “Why’d you tell me you needed help back at your house?”
“Because I do,” I told her, fighting tears. “Marissa, I didn’t know who to turn to, and then I thought of you...”
“What do you need? I’ll do anything.”
Taking a deep breath, I began to explain. “I’ve been feeling strange lately. This past month has been nothing but awful. I’ve been extremely moody, you’ve seen it. I can’t bring myself to talk to anybody, I push everyone away. I’ve been getting sick a lot, colds, fevers, you name it. I can’t stomach anything, I get this really nauseating feeling whenever I eat, its gross. I don’t know what’s wrong with me; I think I need therapy.”
“Cassie, I’m getting an bad feeling about this...” Marissa trailed off. She moved to sit next to me and took my hand in hers. “I think there’s something you aren’t telling me. Something that could very well be the answer to all this.”
Her gaze burned into mine as I debated between telling her and keeping my mouth shut yet again. Finally, after a long silence, I came to the conclusion that the only way she could help was if she knew the truth. The tears were streaming down my face as I opened my mouth to speak.
“That night....when we got jumped...they--they were hurting AJ and--” I choked on a sob then, and Marissa’s reassuring voice reached my ears.
“Take your time.” she said soothingly.
“One of the men had me put in the van. They tied me up, there were so many of them, Marissa. They left me alone in there and they all ganged up on AJ, but he fought back....or tried to, I can’t recall exactly. Then one of them said he was going to..to.....”
“Going to what?” she asked softly, her grip tightening gently around my hand.
“To put on a show....” I said slowly, recalling the man’s words. “With AJ’s girlfriend. With me.”
“Cassie, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Marissa, he raped me,” I sobbed, shaking violently. “That man raped me.”
Marissa sighed, and when I looked at her again, she had tears in her eyes as well. She pulled me into a hug, and we both cried.
“I’m so sorry,” Marissa told me. “I didn’t know.”
“No one knows,” I replied. “Just you. Please don’t tell anyone.”
“I won’t,” she reassured me. “What matter snow is that we help you.”
“But how? How do I know what’s wrong with me? Do I need therapy? Am I going to have to seek a psychiatrist?”
“I think I know what may be the problem.”
“You do?” I asked her, my eyes growing wide. “What do you think it is?”
“Well, you may not want to hear it....” she trailed off.
“I want to hear it, Marissa.”
“Considering what you told me a while ago, and knowing now what really happened to you that night, I can only think of one reasonable thing.”
“Marissa, you’re scaring me.” I said, and I meant it. The look she had in her eyes worried me. I knew she was about to say something that would change my life in a drastic way. “Tell me, please.”
“Cassie,” she began. “Did you ever think that you may be....pregnant?”
Later that same day...
“I can’t look.” I said nervously.
“You want me to let you know then?”
“No, its OK. I’ll look.”
“Are you sure?” Marissa asked me. She was nervous for me.
“Yeah...No...oh, I don’t know!”
“What time is it?”
“Ten minutes to Seven.”
“Is it time yet?” I asked Marissa. She glanced nervously at her watch.
We both took a step in the same direction and collided with eachother. We apologized nervously, both of us wringing our hands.
“Go ahead.” She told me.
“No, you go,” I replied. “I’m not gonna handle this as well as I thought.”
“We’ll both go.”
I couldn’t walk into the room with her. I stopped just outside the door. “I’ll wait here.”
“I can’t do it. You go ahead and check.”
“Will you be OK?” she asked me. I managed a small smile for my friend.
“I hope so.”
Marissa sighed heavily before disappearing into the bathroom. I felt as if she were in there for hours. I was about to go in after her when she stepped out of the room, her eyes fixed on mine with not an ounce of emotion in them, nothing to give away what she knew.
“Marissa?” I spoke, my stomach turning inside out.
“Oh, God.” I slumped against the wall in her hallway and slowly lowered myself to the floor. Positive. The test had been positive. I was pregnant. I didn’t realize I was crying until Marissa handed me a tissue.
“Cass, are you going to be alright?”
“I don’t know. I just don’t know. What am I going to do?”
“Cassie,” Marissa began slowly. “I can help.”
[chapter 26 | chapter index | chapter 28]