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Monica’s visits were usually a highlight for Brenda. They had grown up so close together, and her aunt was always like an older sister. Even after Monica had gone off to university in Vancouver, every time she came home on holidays and for the summers, she was back in her “own” bed in the small upstairs room that they had shared for ages. The nighttime stories would flow back and forth. If there was anyone she could talk to about Michael, it was Monica. She waited for the chance, for a moment when Monica was not caught up in making Ruby feel better. It never came. The weekend was too short. Brenda would have to wait for the Christmas holidays.
Her mother was better after her sister left — still crankier and more irritable than usual, but better. Mostly, Brenda thought, she just looked tired and worn out. Brenda held onto her suspicions. She had already missed two periods. Most mornings, it took every ounce of her energy to drag herself out of bed for school. Some days, she just did not have the gumption. She would snap harshly at her mother instead; she would say that she was sick until her mother finally gave up trying to get her up and left her alone. Falling back asleep, she sometimes half-believed herself. Maybe she really was sick. Lots of kids in Port Hope had the flu; that could be what was upsetting her stomach over the past weeks.
School became a nightmare. Either she could not concentrate in her classes because she felt too nauseous, or she was so sleepy that she could barely keep her eyes open. Her lunchtime friends, Tracy and Beth, had vanished. Tracy had quite literally disappeared from Port Hope. Beth told her, the one time she actually spoke to her at the beginning of the school year, that Tracy’s parents had split up and that Tracy had moved with her mom to Campbell River. For her part, Beth was now going out with some young logger. Brenda noticed that she now hung around with the partiers. Looking at her, Brenda guessed that was where Beth had wanted to be all along. Brenda did not bother to go to K&M’s Convenience anymore; she just sat with Sarah and waited for the school day to end.
At the beginning of the school year, she had made up her mind never to see Michael again. She had stuck to that resolve for over a month. As the days had gone by, she had actually started to feel better about her decision. She thought of the man less and less. Everything seemed less exciting, but she had almost accepted that too. She would get through her remaining high school years and move away for college or university. Then she would put this chapter in her life far behind her.
The growing suspicion that she was pregnant changed everything. Instead of planning for future adventures, Brenda found herself sinking into confusion and worry about an outcome she could not even imagine. The only lifeline she had was fantasy.
There had to be a romantic scenario. Michael would recognize how much she meant to him, and what a wonderful life they could have together. He would hold her in his arms and profess his love. Then he would explain why he had been afraid to show his feelings earlier. Maybe he had been afraid that she did not feel the same way. Except there was nothing like that at all. As much as she tried to deny it, Brenda strongly suspected that Michael was avoiding her. When she had finally gathered the confidence to walk by the construction site, he had moved to a part of a house that she could not see from the road. The second and last time, he had simply pretended that he did not see her.