The Tangled Web (Chapter 3)

4:31 AM


     Careening down the road at break neck speed, Jessie made the three hour journey from home to college at last alone with her thoughts. A massive traffic jam checked her speed, making her come to a dead halt. Letting her head fall on the steering wheel, she let out a long pent up sob, finally allowing her emotions to take control of her.

     She had mastered a successful performance that weekend with her family. She smiled, talked, laughed, and let out her usual one-line witicisms which sent her brothers into uncontrollable laughter and gave her mother the infamous arched brow "look of death." All the while the massive burden of the untold secret weighed heavily upon her mind. Now, at last, she could be free with her thoughts, oblivious to the other drivers glancing curiously at her on the road. 

    She was a girl of many contrasts. Though the life of the party in many ways, she held her cards close, and was deeply secretive at the best of times. Surrounded by a drove of friends, she let few close and still fewer were allowed to be "secret carriers,"as she internally dubbed them. As someone born with a natural openness, this was perhaps a natural reaction to a disloyal and untrustworthy world. And yet, in this moment of panic and agitation, she dearly wished there was but one soul on God's green earth she could trust wholeheartedly. 

    As the traffic ahead of her began to creep ahead, Jessie inhaled a shaky breath and stiffened her spine, inwardly preparing for war. She'd always despised hysterical people and now was the time for decision followed by action. Switching gears both mentally and physically, a cool logic took over her mind. There was no telling how far along she was just yet. If only it had been a day or two, she would have taken a pill... her face grimaced at the unnatural thought. But things had progressed. There would have to be measures taken. There was a lot riding on this. 

     She thought back to her parents obvious pride as she'd accepted a massive academic scholarship from the university of her choice; a scholarship that required keeping up her grades. Then there was the stigma. 20 years old, no wedding ring in sight, and a baby on the way? 

"Not a baby," she corrected herself, “just a fetus." 

     Surely there was still time to correct this problem.  Frantically, she tried to remember stages of gestational growth taught in a biology class long ago. It was probably best not to dwell on that stuff either. Whatever the case, this little being couldn't survive without her and she was not sure she could survive with it.

      Then there were her parents. God-fearing, solid Christians, her dad had gotten saved during his time in the military and met her mother shortly thereafter. They were a close family who truly enjoyed each other's company. How could she disappoint them so severely?

   And then there was the one who this concerned the most, her boyfriend, David. Jessie let out an involuntary laugh at the thought of him as a father. Driven to the point of almost recklessness, David was going to make an incredible journalist. She envisioned them traveling the world together picking up stories for the AP, not renting a one bedroom with a crib for the baby.  

   And what about her own career? Already she had  begun submitting pieces to papers across the country with a few being published. While most students were just hoping to pass the next exam, she was building a portfolio to launch her into the next stage of life. 

     They were skipping steps. This was not how things were supposed to work out. She didn’t know how to be a mother, she didn’t even want to be one! This was terribly, terribly wrong! Once again, the tears began to come in torrents. As her eyes began to focus, a sudden flash of red lit before her. Not pausing to think, Jessie slammed on the brakes as the sickening crumple of metal filled her ears.

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