Jack had been coming into her room at night lately. He’d get right into the bed and start kissing her. She liked snuggling next to him and letting him hold her, even though she knew she would be in a lot of trouble if her parents caught him there. One night he put his hand underneath her nightdress and touched her between her legs. “Jack!” she exclaimed, not knowing what to say.
“It’s okay, Sarah, just relax,” he replied. She trusted him. She let him stroke her and put his fingers inside of her. It felt really strange and almost good. Then she felt him unzip his pants. He rolled on top of her. “Dis’ll only hurt for a second. Don’t make any noise.” Oblivious to what was about to happen, Sarah simply nodded. She felt something big push into her. Jack made one sharp thrust. She gasped in pain. It felt as if he was ripping her apart. A moment later most of the pain was gone. Jack moved up and down on her, moaning and breathing hard. The feeling down below became pleasant. She realized that she, too, was breathing heavily. A few minutes later Jack tensed and she felt a warm sensation. He pulled away from her. He laid next to her as he had been before. He was smiling. “Did I hurt ya?” he asked.
“A little,” she answered. He kissed her softly as an apology. He was out the window and gone before dawn. The same thing happened a few nights later, and then continued every few days. Jack would sneak in, they would kiss, he would do his thing with her and leave. Sarah found it didn’t really hurt after the first time, but she still didn’t know exactly what was happening. She was far too embarrassed to ask Jack what he was doing down there. She knew her mother, who was a strict Catholic, would probably think they had done something wicked. Her mother never discussed anything about things like that with her. The only intimate talk they ever had consisted of her mother saying that her “monthlies” were normal and part of being a woman; then she explained how to get out blood stains. It was about eight weeks after that first painful encounter with Jack when Sarah noticed those “monthlies” had stopped. She decided it was more of a blessing then a medical problem and continued about her life. However, a medical problem soon did appear. She was waking up in the morning feeling dizzy and sick to her stomach.
“Oh, great,” said Davey , “whenever you’re sick, I always get sick.” It was true, but this time Sarah’s sickness continued for a week and David never caught it. Sarah’s mother became very worried.
“Were you around anyone who was sick?” her mother asked Sarah one morning after the boys had gone to work. She shook her head. “You likely caught it from those newsies. Lord knows what filth they’ve been in.”
“Oh, mama, quit worrying. It’s just the flu, that’s all.” She thought for a moment, “I don’t know if it’s got something to do with it, but I haven’t been getting my monthlies lately.” Her mother stopped clearing the breakfast dishes and glared at her.
“Have you been fooling around Jack?” Sarah gave her a blank look. “Have you been in bed with him?” she asked, a bit more sternly. Sarah slowly nodded. Suddenly her mother slapped her across the face. Hard. “Didn’t I teach you anything, Sarah,?” she yelled, “You’re pregnant, that’s what’s wrong with you. Another mouth to feed, that’s just what we need around her.” Sarah stood there, shocked.
“I’m sorry mama, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what he was doing.” She tried to collect her thoughts. Tears welled up in her eyes. “Am I really gonna have a baby?” Her mother walked to the sink and started doing dishes.
“I’d say so. The same thing happened to me when I got pregnant with you three and to all the other girls that I’ve seen get pregnant. Soon you’ll be getting big and den you’ll have no job. You know they don’t keep pregnant girls.” Sarah walked up behind her mother at the sink and hugged her from behind.
“What do I do mama? Tell me what to do.” Her mother spun around angrily to face her.
“If you want to show your face around here much longer, you’d better find that bastard and get him to marry you. I won’t be having no ungodly child in this house.”
“Yes, mama, I will.” She grabbed her shawl and hurried out the door. “I will.” She was soon heading toward the World where the newsies got their papers. She pushed through the crowd looking for the familiar cowboy hat. She spotted him near the front of the line up, talking to Racetrack. She waited at the bottom of the steps for him to get his paper. She shivered and wrapped her shawl tighter around her shoulders. It was fall and the morning air was cool. She watched the crowd of young boys around her. How many would not make it through the cold winter this year? One morning last winter she had been walking to work when she saw a young Newsie laying against a building.
“Patrick!” a couple of newsies crowded around him and called his name. “Patrick!” But the boy didn’t move. Sarah took one look at his icy blue face and realized he had frozen to death during the night. She had kept on walking by with all the other morning pedestrians.
“Sarah, whatcha doin’ here?” Jack snapped her out of the memory. He was smiling.
“I need to talk to you,” she looked at the various Newsies crowded around her and Jack. “Alone,” she added. Jack ushered her away from the crowd.
“So what’d ya wanna talk about?” he asked.
“I need to tell you something, but you have to promise you won’t be angry.” Jack looked at her for a minute. He seemed to be seriously mulling over the request.
“Ya, okay,” he finally said. She took a deep breath. “Go on, tell me den.”
“I’m gonna have a baby.” Silence. Jack dropped his papers. He looked at his shoes, then at the sky. He was trying not to be angry.
“What’d ya mean?” he asked her.
“What do you mean ‘what do I mean’? I mean what I said, I’m going to . . .”
“Who’s baby?” Jack cut her off. “Who’s da fadder?”
“You’re the father, stupid!” Sarah said angrily. “What kind of girl do you think I am anyway?”
“So you and me, we’s gonna ‘ave a baby?” Sarah nodded. “What d’ya want me ta do about it?” She felt like slapping him.
“You’ve got to marry me,” she stated simply.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, I’m too young ta be gettin’ married!” he exclaimed. “Look, Sarah, I can’t ‘ave no wife and baby! I barely got enough money ta eat!” She tried to hold back her tears.
“Then you’ll have to get a better job! Jack, if I don’t get married, I can’t live at home anymore.” He looked at her sadly. “You’ll be eighteen soon, you can get a job at a factory.”
“Sarah, I likes me life da way it is. I ain’t gettin’ married or gettin’ no factory job.”
“Are you going to be a Newsie forever? Is that your plan?”
“No. As soon as I gets da funds, I’m goin’ to Santa Fe.”
“Are you still stuck on that silly dream, Jack?” He looked at the ground. “You can’t run away from your problems. I need you.” He smiled shyly.
“Ain’t nobody ever needed me before.”
“I need you and this baby needs you,” she said. He hugged her and gave her a kiss.
“You’s really got a baby in ya?” She nodded. “How about dat. I made a baby.” She smiled. He wiped a few tears from her face. “I ain’t gonna leave ya, Sarah.” He tightened his arms around her. He looked around at the other Newsies. “Hey Race!” he yelled to his friend. Racetrack came over.
“Good day ma’am.” He took off his cap as he addressed Sarah. “What’s up Jackie-boy?”
“Go tell the boys we’s getting married,” Jack told Racetrack. Sarah shrieked in his embrace. She nuzzled against Jack’s chest.
“No foolin’?” Jack shook his head. Race ran back to the other boys. “Cowboy’s gettin’ married!” he told the group over and over. Shouts and hollers rang out. Soon Jack and Sarah were surrounded.
“I always knew you’s was the poifect couple!” exclaimed Crutchy. David pushed his way through the crowd.
“Sarah...?” His eyes were searching her face for a reason. She leaned in and whispered:
“I’m pregnant.” David glared at Jack, who was talking to another Newsie a few feet away. He was ready to soak the bastard that knocked up his sister. Sarah read his mind. “Don’t,” she pleaded with her eyes. David looked again, only to see Jack lifting Les onto his shoulders.
“We’s gonna be brudder’s!” the little boy said, excitedly. David wrapped his arms around his sister, blinking back tears. This was horrible news.