Choices

Choices

by Dianne Wolfer

Paperback

$13.00
View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details

Overview

Told in a nonjudgmental narrative that confronts issues head-on, this story follows 17-year-old Elisabeth who discovers she is pregnant and has a tough choice to make: keep the baby or make alternative arrangements. With parents pressuring her, a boyfriend she cannot trust, a best friend she keeps pushing away, and her own indecision, Elisabeth's dilemma grows more and more difficult. This realistic account of teenage pregnancy addresses the pros and cons of both possible outcomes through the alternating perspectives through Libby, who keeps the baby, and Beth, who does not.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781921361562
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Publication date: 04/01/2010
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author


Dianne Wolfer is the award-winning author of Border Line, Lighthouse Girl, and Photographs in the Mud.

Read an Excerpt

Choices


By Dianne Wolfer

Fremantle Press

Copyright © 2009 Dianne Wolfer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-921696-15-2



CHAPTER 1

Libby: 5 weeks

Libby sat on a rock staring out to sea. She loved Darren, but did she want to spend the rest of her life with him? For weeks she'd been trying to imagine a forty-year-old Darren. His dad was balding, one of those comb-the-strands-over-the-head blokes, and he drank too much. Darren drank too, but he usually kept it under control. Would he always?

The idea of waking up next to Darren bothered her the most. Libby's bed was her refuge, a space for dreams. Having him there permanently would be suffocating.

Libby wondered if she could go through with it on her own. Images of single mums crowded her brain — all of them negative. She wondered how her friends would react and wished she could talk it over with Ashleigh. Then she thought about school, the exams and her music. A baby would mean giving all that up. But what else could she do?

Libby had tried to convince herself that having an abortion would be easier. No one would ever know, but she couldn't do it. The tiny blob of cells dividing in her belly held life. Only God could take that. And Libby didn't think she'd be able to give up a baby for adoption, so that left only one choice.

An ant crawled over the rock beside her. Libby held her finger above it. She could kill it, or let it live. Just as she had power over the creature sustaining itself through a cord in her belly. Libby shivered. This decision would affect the rest of her life.

And what about its father? Libby remembered Darren's panic-stricken face when she'd told him her period was late.

'Sorry, Darren,' she whispered, 'but it's my body. This has to be my choice.'

Libby stood up. She took a deep breath and watched the ant scurry to safety.

CHAPTER 2

Beth: 6 Weeks

Beth sat on a rock staring out to sea. She loved Darren, but did she want to spend the rest of her life with him? For weeks she'd been trying to imagine a forty-year-old Darren. His dad was balding, one of those comb-the- strands -over-the-head blokes, and he drank too much. Darren drank too, but he usually kept it under control. Would he always?

The idea of waking up next to Darren bothered her the most. Beth's bed was her refuge, a space for dreams. Having him there permanently would be suffocating.

Beth wondered if she could go through with it on her own. Was she strong enough to become a single mum? She kept seeing images of nappies, vomit and a flabby belly. They didn't fit her plans for playing cello and travelling. But if becoming a seventeen-year-old mother wasn't the right path for her, what else could she do? Beth didn't think she'd be able to give up a baby for adoption, so that left only one choice.

She blocked the memory of her gurgling baby cousin. The clump of cells nestling in her womb wasn't like that. It wasn't anything like a baby. Not yet. But it was growing all the time. Soon its seahorse tail would become a backbone, and arm buds would develop into limbs. She remembered the photos in Ashleigh's human biology book and knew she had to decide soon.

An ant crawled over the rock beside her. Beth held her finger above it. She could kill it, or let it live. Just as she had power over the creature sustaining itself through a cord in her belly.

'I have to decide today,' she muttered.

Beth hummed a few bars of the cello piece she was learning and stared out to sea. She thought about her parents and Father Patrick, but there was no point asking their advice. Beth knew she couldn't go through with this pregnancy. She wasn't ready to be a mother. Not yet. Not when her life was just beginning. But was it fair to put her needs first? Beth sighed. Maybe it was selfish, but she couldn't give up her dreams. Besides, a baby deserved a mother who could give love unconditionally.

And what about its father? Beth remembered Darren's panic-stricken face when she'd told him her period was late.

'Sorry, Darren,' she whispered, 'but it's my body. This has to be my choice.'

Beth stood up. She took a deep breath, ground the ant into the rock and went home to make an appointment.

CHAPTER 3

Libby: 7 weeks

Libby's days began at six o'clock when she scurried to the toilet to vomit. One morning her mother was waiting outside the door with a glass of water.

'When's it due?' she asked. Libby burst into tears. 'Blow your nose,' Gail said, fishing in her dressing-gown pockets for a tissue. 'Crying won't make it disappear. We need to talk.' Libby filled the tissue and stared at the floor. 'I s'pose it's Darren's,' her mother continued.

Libby nodded. She felt numb, as if her mind was floating above them. She tried to concentrate on her mother's words, but the surreal atmosphere only thickened.

'Does Darren know?'

'Not yet.'

'Have you been to the doctor?'

Libby shook her head. 'I don't need to.' She showed her mother the tester and they stared at the thin, blue lines.

'Well,' Gail said at last. 'So much for going to university next year.'

'Is that all you can think of?'

'What do you want me to say?'

Libby wanted to cry, but her mother's fierce tone froze her sobs. 'Aren't you disappointed?' she mumbled.

'Of course I'm disappointed, Elisabeth. Aren't you? But telling you off would make me a hypocrite, wouldn't it?'

Libby nodded, but didn't guess what her mother meant. She hugged her arms to her chest. Her breasts were so sore.

'Well,' Gail said. 'We'd better ring Dr Fitzpatrick. Get dressed while I make an appointment.'

Libby changed into jeans and a T-shirt, then made a cup of weak tea.

'She can't see you until ten-thirty. I'll have to drop off the flowers for church on the way. Do you want to help me in the garden, or have you got homework?'

'I'll work on my English essay.'

'Right.' Gail took a bucket and her secateurs and strode out the back door.

After a few moments Libby's brother wandered in. He grunted in her direction then shook a massive serve of iron-man food into his bowl. Wishful thinking, she thought, looking at his lanky, puppy body.

'Close the door after you,' she snapped. 'It's cold.'

'Yeah, all right. Any more milk in the fridge?'

Libby passed him a carton and listened to the buzz of her father's shaver whining along the hallway. The thought of her dad knowing made Libby's stomach turn. She tried to swallow some toast but it stuck in her throat.

'How come you've got your jeans on?' her brother asked.

'I feel sick,' Libby said, sipping her tea.

'You don't look sick.'

Libby ignored him as their father rushed in, smelling like a pine forest.

'Morning,' he said. 'Hey, what's up, Libby? No school today?'

'She's sick,' James muttered through a mouthful of cereal.

'Nothing serious?'

'Just queasy,' Libby croaked, trying to wet her mouth.

'Well, I've gotta go. First job's at nine. I'm off now, Gail,' he shouted through the screen door. 'I'll stop at the butcher on my way home.'

Gail waved her secateurs. 'Chicken breasts,' she yelled. 'Make sure he doesn't give you wings again.'

'Okay.' Jim grabbed his keys, then kissed Libby's head. 'Get better, Princess,' he whispered.

Libby nodded and dropped her toast into the compost bucket. She stood by the window watching her mother deadhead the daisies and wished she could disappear.

CHAPTER 4

Beth: 8 weeks

Beth wagged school on the third Friday in June and caught a bus to the clinic across the city. She still hadn't told Darren, and her best friend, Ashleigh, wasn't speaking to her, so although they'd told her to bring someone, Beth went alone.

A herd of pro-lifers was circling the entrance, and Beth realised she'd have to push through them to get inside. There was a driveway beside the clinic. Alongside the driveway was a service station. If she jumped the fence, she could try and nick in before they saw her. Or maybe it would be better to wait until they left.

Beth glanced at her watch. Nine-thirty. If she was late, they might reschedule her. That would be ten times worse than running past a group of fanatics. Fanatics, she reminded herself. That's all they are. Why should I care what they think? It's my body and my decision. She repeated the words as she crossed the road. 'My body, my decision. My body, my decision.'

The service station was quiet. Beth bought some Life Savers from the bored attendant, then strolled towards the fence. She was in luck. The crossbeams were on her side. Beth stepped onto the first beam, took a deep breath, then hurled herself over the fence. She pushed through the shrubs and ran towards the clinic door. The protesters spotted her, and one howled in frustration. He ran up and shoved the bloodied image of a foetus in her face, until his mate whistled him back.

'Gabriel. Out,' he yelled. 'Quick, man, out of their yard.'

'Baby killer,' Gabriel hissed. He spat at her then ran back to the mob. Beth slammed the door behind her and flopped onto a chair. She wiped Gabriel's spit off her shoe. She was panting, but dizzy with relief that she'd made it. The termination would go ahead. Nothing else mattered.

'Are you okay?'

Beth looked around. She hadn't noticed the nurse behind the reception bench.

'Yeah, I guess so. I'm Sally,' she lied, passing over her cousin's Medicare card. 'Sally Jones.'

'Right then, Sally. Sorry about that.' She waved her hand toward the door. 'Some days are worse than others. We've received your referral. Our counsellor's expecting you. Now, if you could just fill in these forms, we'll have a quick check-up and chat in the consulting room.'

Beth's skin prickled. 'What ...' she tried to say, but her mouth was dry. 'What ... are they for?'

'The forms? Oh, just routine,' the nurse smiled. 'Doctor needs to know if you're allergic to anything.'

'I'm not,' Beth said.

'Good, well then, just fill in the forms, dear. And we'll need a signature at the bottom.'

The pen slipped from her sweaty hands and Beth almost vomited as she bent to pick it up. She looked around. Someone was watching her. The other girl in the waiting room was young, but her eyes weren't. Wise in a tired way, she had the world-weary look of kids on the news. Kids caught in wars they didn't understand.

Beth held the pen, ready to sign her cousin's name, but writing a false name made her hesitate. As if she was formalising the lie. Giving it life. Am I doing the right thing? she wondered again. Then she thought about the rock by the sea. I need to give my dreams a chance, she reminded herself. I can't bring a child into the world until I know I can look after it.

The protesters began chanting again. 'Save the babies! Murder the murderers!'

Beth shuddered.

The nurse turned up the music, but not before the other girl started sniffling.

'Your turn, Marina,' the nurse said gently. Marina flinched. 'Do you need more time?'

'No, it's just those people outside. They told me that what I'm doing is wicked. They pushed blood-spattered things at me. Things they use to kill babies.'

'It's okay. They say those things to upset you. It's part of their tactics. Just take a deep breath. That's it.' She took the girl's hand and led her, milky-faced and trembling, behind a partition in the corner. 'Only you can make this decision, Marina,' the nurse said, 'and if you've changed your mind, it's okay ...'

'No! Of course not,' Marina snapped. 'As if I'd want this child! It's just ... Can't you get rid of them? I couldn't bear going past them again. Not later, not after ...'

'I'm sorry, Marina. As long as they stay outside the gate, we can't do a thing about it.'

'But they said they'd follow me. Get my name.'

'They can't do that.'

'But they said — '

'They said they could, but they can't.'

'What about when that doctor was charged? They had names then.'

'We lock our records, Marina. You don't have to worry. Please believe that. Now, you said that your sister is coming to take you home?' There was a muffled reply. Beth felt bad eavesdropping but she couldn't stop herself.

'Well then, she can park at the back. We'll help you to her car afterwards and that'll be the end of it. Okay?' The nurse led the girl to a chair near Beth and smiled.

'Okay,' she repeated. 'Feeling better?' Marina nodded, but she still looked shaky. 'Now, wait here and I'll see if the counsellor is ready.'

Despite the blaring meditation music, the room seemed quiet after the nurse had gone. Beth snuck a sideways look at the girl.

'Bastards, pricks, bastards,' Beth heard Marina mutter. 'They should parade in front of my uncle's office, not here.'

Her uncle's office? It took Beth a moment to realise what she meant. Then she glanced at the girl again. Was she even sixteen? Beth felt she should say something, show solidarity. Show her that she understood. But she didn't understand. Beth couldn't blame anyone. It was her fault, hers and Darren's, that she was here.

'Shame! Shame! Shame!'

The pro-lifers had raised their voices. Beth wondered whether knowing Marina's story would soften their rage. Probably not. She'd read too many letters to the editor in the Catholic newspaper to believe them capable of compassion. The rights of incest victims were less than an embryo's. That was the bottom line. Beth shook her head. Her mind was a mess.


* * *

'Sally Jones,' the nurse called. Beth stood up. 'Doctor Spagnoli is ready for your procedure- counselling session.'

'Sit down here, Sally,' the counsellor began, 'I'm Lucia Spagnoli. You can call me Lucia or Doctor, whichever you prefer.'

Doctor Spagnoli talked about the hundreds of couples waiting to adopt babies and told Beth about girls who'd coped with support from their families. As if I haven't thought about those options, Beth felt like yelling, but she listened quietly. Then Doctor Lucia discussed future contraception.

'I've decided to keep away from boys,' Beth said.

'Well, best to know, just in case ...'

Finally Doctor Spagnoli explained what was about to happen. Step by step. Beth could choose whether to have a local anaesthetic and be aware of the doctor's suction instruments, or be sedated intravenously and wake up when it was all over. The thought of watching someone remove the cell mass which would never develop into a baby was unbearable. Even though it looked more alien than human at this stage, it was sharing her body, and it did contain the building blocks of a baby.

'I'd like intravenous sedation,' Beth said. Nausea afterwards was a small price to pay for ignorance.

Doctor Spagnoli patted Beth's arm then led her back to the waiting room. 'Not long now,' she said. Beth watched the pro-lifers circling and shuddered. Why did they have to make it worse?


* * *

When she came to, Beth felt like her insides had been ripped out. That something more than physical had been removed.

'Hello, Sally.' The nurse was smiling at her. Sally? Who was Sally?

'I need to ...' Beth leant over the trolley bed and tried to vomit. But all that came out was watery dribble. She gagged, then dry-retched, until she felt the back of her throat cramp.

'There now, you'll feel better soon.'

But she didn't. Her belly ached. Beth tried to fold into a foetal position to ease the cramps, but that was worse.

She wished Ashleigh was with her. If only she hadn't called Spud a Neanderthal ...

'It hurts,' she moaned.

'I know, dear. Try to be brave and rest for a while.'

Someone wheeled her into a recovery cubicle and Beth caught a glimpse of Marina's face in the opposite room. She looked away, feeling like she'd trespassed on the other girl's soul. It was as if someone had peeled away Marina's everyday mask. Her expression was so raw.

The silence from the other cubicle strangled Beth's sniffling. If that young girl could bear it, then so could she. Beth wondered whether Marina's parents knew about the abortion, and whether anything would happen to her uncle. A stabbing pain cut into her thoughts and she let herself drift into a weird semi-sleep.

Heels click-clacking along the corridor roused her. She listened as someone whispered to Marina. Her sister perhaps. Then she looked at the clock. Twenty past two. Time to go. Beth rolled over and moaned. She'd had no idea it would ache like this. How on earth would she get home?

The nurse came in and gave Beth a smile. 'You've got some colour back in your cheeks,' she said before taking her blood pressure and checking her pad. 'Now, who did you say was picking you up?'

'No one,' Beth muttered. 'No one's coming. I'll catch a taxi.'


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Choices by Dianne Wolfer. Copyright © 2009 Dianne Wolfer. Excerpted by permission of Fremantle Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

CHOICES,
Prologue,
PART ONE,
Libby: 5 weeks,
Beth: 6 Weeks,
Libby: 7 weeks,
Beth: 8 weeks,
Libby: 9 weeks,
Beth: 10 weeks,
Libby: 11 weeks,
Beth: 12 weeks,
Libby: 13 weeks,
Beth: 14 weeks,
Libby: 15 weeks,
Beth: 16 weeks,
Libby: 17 weeks,
Beth: 18 weeks,
Libby: 19 weeks,
Beth: 20 weeks,
Libby: 21 weeks,
Beth: 22 weeks,
Libby: 23 weeks,
Beth: 24 weeks,
Libby: 25 weeks,
Beth: 26 weeks,
Libby: 27 weeks,
Beth: 28 weeks,
Libby: 29 weeks,
Beth: 30 weeks,
Libby: 31 weeks,
Beth: 32 weeks,
Libby: 33 weeks,
Beth: 34 weeks,
Libby: 35 weeks,
Beth: 36 weeks,
Libby: 37 weeks,
Beth: 38 weeks,
Libby: 39 weeks,
PART TWO,
Week 1: Libby,
Week 2: Beth,
Week 3: Libby,
Week 4: Beth,
Week 5: Libby,
Week 6: Beth,
Week 7: Libby,
Week 8: Beth,
Week 9: Libby,
Week 10: Beth,
Week 11: Libby,
Week 12: Beth,
Week 13: Libby,
Week 14: Beth,
Week 15: Libby,
Week 16: Beth,
Acknowledgements,

Customer Reviews