Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye Page 20

March 3rd.

I wonder when it will show. I quit cheerleading, just on general principles. And when Tim calls, I tell him I can't go out. It's crummy, missing out on fun. But I don't feel right, dating, under the circumstances. I can't get up the nerve to tell my parents.

March 5th.

I stopped to see Dr. Therrian. He had called Terry. He said Terry is sad, scared, and very immature. That it really would be best to give the baby up. I guess until he told me that, I still thought that maybe Terry and I would get married. But I don't think I wanted to.

March 10th.

I told Mom and Daddy. They both cried. They got angry. Then they said they loved me and would help me through it.

April 30th.

One more month of school, and I still don't show. I think I can make it till school ends, if I wear the right clothes. Dr. Therrian says it's because I'm tall, that sometimes tall women don't get all bulky the way others do. The baby is due in September. Mom and Daddy thought I should go away for the summer. I don't know.

May 23rd.

I've only gained nine pounds. No one knows, except me, Mom and Daddy, Dr. Therrian, and of course, Terry, but I haven't heard from him at all. Sometimes ... this is weird ... I actually like the feeling of having a baby growing. I can feel it move.

June 10th.

Thank God school is over. I'm really starting to get big. I've decided to stay here for the summer, just at home. Mom and Daddy are going to tell everyone that I've gone back to Detroit for the summer, but actually I'm just going to stay here in the house. It's private. I can sunbathe and stuff, but I won't have to see people. Doc Therrian says he'll come to the house now and then for checkups. When I have to go to the hospital, of course, the secret will be blown. The nurses there will probably tell someone. But by then it won't really matter. Mom and Daddy said I don't have to go back to school here. I can go away and start all over.

June 22nd.

Doc Therrian says I'm very, very healthy, that I will have a fine baby. It feels very strong. It kicks against my insides. I wonder if it's a boy or a girl. Funny, I can barely remember Terry at all. He went out to Colorado to work, this summer, Doc said. I guess that's best.

June 24th.

I wonder if I get to name the baby. I hope so. If it's a girl, I'll name it Juliet. Sort of after me, but more romantic. I don't know about a boy. I'd kind of like to name a boy for my father ... but Clement? Ugh. Or for Doc Therrian, who's been so great ... but Clarence? Double ugh. Well, I'll just hope it's a girl. Probably I won't get to choose the name anyway.

July 30th.

It's so hot. And I'm so huge. When my mother looks at me, she cries, sometimes. They've enrolled me in a fancy boarding school for next year. Miss Somebody's.

August 1st.

Good news! Doc Therrian says they've found a terrific family who wants to adopt my baby! They won't tell me who, of course. In fact, Doc doesn't know. But it's being set up with a lawyer, and Doc said that the parents are terrific people, according to the lawyer, and that they can't have a baby of their own.


When I wrote that, I thought it was good news. Now, the more I think about it, the more I think I don't want anyone else to have my baby. It is mine. Maybe there's some way I could keep it. We'd be just fifteen years apart. It would be like having a brother or a sister.

August 8th.

It's weird, being here at the house all summer, with no one knowing. Doc Therrian comes often. He pretends it's a medical visit ... he always brings his stethoscope ... but mostly we just sit and talk. We both read a lot, and we talk about books. Or just anything. He tells me about when he was a boy, in Simmons' Mills. Can you imagine living in a place like this, all your life? And we talk about the baby. He says it wouldn't be fair for me to keep it. Not fair to the baby. Funny, I wasn't thinking about the baby, just about myself. He's right, I guess. Those other people are waiting. I wonder if they've bought little clothes.

August 29th.

I feel strange. I keep having pains, and then they turn out to be nothing.

September 10th.

School started in Simmons' Mills. What a strange feeling. All the kids think I am off at boarding school. I can see, sometimes, the Hartley twins riding down the hill on their bikes, heading for the high school in the mornings. If their mother knew how fast they go, she'd kill them. Coming home, they have to get off and walk, pushing their bikes. Hah. I don't think I'd be able to walk up that hill now if you paid me a million dollars.

September 13th.

I've had pains off and on all day. Doc says this is probably it. I'm scared stiff. One thing I made him promise. That they'll let me see the baby, and hold it, before they take it away.

September 15th.

It's a girl a girl a girl a girl! I haven't seen her yet, but they told me I will. I was asleep when she was born. Doc Therrian gave me something at the hospital, and the last thing I remember is when they were wheeling me down the hall to the delivery room. Mom leaned over and kissed me. Doc was holding my hand and walking beside the stretcher. When I woke up I was thin again, and achy all over, and Doc was there smiling, and said it was a girl, and she's fine. I'm so tired.

September 17th.

I don't care what Doc says, it isn't fair, it isn't. I could keep her. I could get a job, and have an apartment somewhere, and earn enough so that we could live.

Oh, I know, that's stupid, but I just feel so sad. This morning a lawyer came, with the papers. I hated him. Doc was there, and my parents, and we all talked, and before I signed my name, the lawyer said several times, "Now you're sure this is what you want to do?" Why did he keep asking? Of course I'm not sure. But in the end I signed where he showed me. Mom and Daddy signed, too. And then Doc attached another sheet of paper that had Terry's signature, all the way from Colorado. Funny. Terry has never written to me. I wonder if he's as miserable as I am about this.

When they had all left, I cried. After a minute Doc Therrian came back in the room, and he put his arms around me and held me. And he cried, too.

September 18th.

Tomorrow I'm going home. So is the baby, wherever her home will be. Oh, I hope they have a little cradle ready for her, and a pink blanket, and lots of bright-colored toys. Tomorrow, Doc says, I can see her, to say goodbye.

September 19th.

I was all dressed, ready to leave, waiting for Mom to come and get me. And the baby was all dressed, too, in clothes that Mom had bought, when they brought her in. They left me alone with her for just a few minutes.

She is so beautiful that when I saw her, I cried.

Then I didn't want her to remember me (do they remember, that little? I don't know) crying, so I smiled at her, and kissed her on the cheek, and said goodbye. I'll never see her again. I guess the thing I hope most for her is that she'll be happy, and never know what it's like to be lonely.


IT WAS what her mother had written, too, to Tallie. "She is so beautiful that when I saw her, I wept."

Do they remember? Julie had asked her diary. No. I don't remember, Natalie thought. If I could, what would I remember? Being taken from Julie, dressed in the clothes that Julie's mother had bought, taken by whom? Probably Dr. Therrian—delivered to Foster Goodwin's office, and picked up there by Mom and Dad. It wasn't a bad thing. Julie loved me. It was a little-girl, selfish kind of love, the same kind of thing I used to feel for my favorite toys, so that I wouldn't share them with Nancy; or like what I felt for that kitten I had once. I was jealous when it purred and butted against someone else, wanting to be petted; it seemed so important that it be only mine. But Julie did love me.

And my parents loved me then, even on that first day when they drove that long road to a strange place to bring me home. Not in the same way Julie did. "She will be her own person," Mom had written about me to Tallie. Mom and Dad have always loved me that way, so that they always let me purr against other people, didn't grab me back and say "She's ours." I never realized it until I read what Julie wrote when I was born; she cried—and what she wrote, finally, was "the thing I hope most for her is that she'll be happy"—but Julie was so young. She really wanted to hold on tight to me, saying "Mine" the way a child does to a favorite doll, until the doll, sometimes, is broken. She was just old enough that she realized she had to let go, not old enough to know why. And it was the doctor who helped her do it.

Dr. Therrian. I think he loved me, too, when I was born. I wonder why. Dad cares for his patients, many of them in very special ways, but he doesn't love them the way Dr. Therrian seemed to love Julie and her baby. Because he was lonely, and Julie seemed to be, too?

And now he is more alone than he has ever been, dying. Or dead. I should call Anna Talbot and ask about him.

George, the green-uniformed doorman, recognized Natalie. "Another note?" he asked, smiling at her when she appeared in front of the apartment on 79th Street.

"No," she said. "Mrs. Hutchinson's expecting me."

George opened the door to the building, took her to the brass cage of an elevator, and pressed the button for the sixth floor. When the door unfolded itself at six, Natalie found herself in a small foyer with a parquet floor; large plants sat in thick woven baskets in the corners. The only door was massive and dark, with a polished brass knob. Natalie knocked timidly, and it was Julie who answered.

She was dressed in spotless white slacks and a bulky white cowl-necked jersey; there was a heavy gold bracelet on her right wrist, and her hair was braided in a thick dark coil that was looped into a knot at her neck. For the second time in two days, Natalie had left the hotel feeling chic and lovely and been transformed into tacky awkwardness when she greeted Julie.

"What a lovely suit," Julie said graciously, looking at Natalie's bright red linen. "Come in, come in."

The spacious living room was airy and pale, its walls stark white, the carpet hazy beige, and the few, carefully placed pieces of furniture shades of white, beige, and yellow. On one wall, a lighted painting hung alone; Natalie recognized the ephemeral light and the indistinct brush-strokes of it as an impressionist's. It fitted with the room. So did Julie. Natalie felt like a bright red blotch; she wished she had worn her yellow dress.

"Sit down." Julie smiled, seating herself in front of the small table where tea things were already set out. "The boys will be in, in a moment. I want you to meet them."

They appeared in a doorway, silent and shy, two of them dressed identically in blue cotton shorts and striped jerseys. Dark hair. Dark eyes. They didn't have Julie's eyes, or Natalie's.

"Come in, boys, and be polite!" called Julie. "Natalie, this is Gareth—" the older boy came forward and held out his hand to shake Natalie's—"and this is Cameron. Cam, take your thumb out." The little boy took his thumb from his mouth, and held it, warm and wet, out to Natalie's hand.

"Hey," said Natalie, grinning. "Hi there."

"Who are you?" asked Gareth. Cameron had replaced his thumb.

"I'm Natalie. I'm a friend of your mom's. What are you guys doing this afternoon?"

"Taking our bikes to the park," said Gareth, less shyly. "I have a new bike, with training wheels. Cam just has a tricycle."

"Bet you're pretty fast on your tricycle, aren't you, Cam?" asked Natalie.

Cameron smiled behind his thumb and nodded.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

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