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“You’re in shock.” I spit it out, although I’m starting to think I’m in shock.


“You want an abortion.” I’m not asking her. I need to hear it so that whatever I have loved about her can finally be free.

She reaches for me. I step away, and for the first time in my life, I don’t want her to touch me.

She drops her hands. “I would never make it through a pregnancy. Then having a baby at twenty-two years old it… it’s insane! What kind of parents would we be? You think you want this, but you don’t. You have no idea what children need. It takes way more than money to be a good parent.”

“You’ve become your father,” I whisper, the fury of her betrayal burning a hole inside my heart. “You sound exactly like him.”

Her shoulders slump. And I wonder how I ever thought her beautiful.

“Stop looking at me like that!” she screams. “You know deep down inside, I’m right. Admit it! I’m a big enough person to.”

My eyes shift to her pale face, the black circles under her eyes. I feel nothing. Sinking to our bed, I put my hands over my face.

“Tess… I’m begging you not to do this. I love this baby already.” I’m saying all this like a robot, knowing it’s pointless but needing to try. Try for that little boy or girl who is ours.

“I know you don’t feel good. And you’re scared of becoming Claire and your dad. I know they made you think you can’t do this. But you can! You’re strong and healthy. The girl that I love would never even think these thoughts.” Somehow, I’m searching her face. She’s like a zombie. Dead inside. I grab her shoulders and shake her. “What is wrong with you?”

“Nothing! I don’t want to be a mother! I shouldn’t be punished for that!” she screams in my face.

I drop my hands like she has singed them. My stomach cramps and I might be sick.

“I won’t bring a child into this world and fuck it up. I want you—that’s it. Can’t that be enough?”

“If you abort our baby against my wishes, I won’t stay. I can’t.”

She grows even paler if that’s possible, her thin frame sinking to the floor.

“You’re threatening me?” Her voice is surprisingly calm as she starts to laugh. “Everybody thinks they can control me, threaten me. Well, I’m not going to be bullied into doing something I don’t want.” She’s shaking.

I look down at her. “What are you going to do, Tess?”

For a split second, she must realize what she is doing is crazy. Then she looks down and whispers, “I’m going to find a clinic and put this behind us.”

“Jesus Christ.” I run my hands through my hair. “I hate you!” It sounds childish, but I want her to know. “You are fucked in the head. Who says that? Like you are going to get your teeth cleaned at the dentist.”

I don’t trust myself to be around her. I need to leave. Get some air and try to talk to her later.

“You’re a liar,” I say. “I should never have taken you back when you lied for three years. But I loved you.”

“You can call me a lot of things, but I never lied. I’m not mentally capable of taking care of a baby. Maybe when we’re older.”

My mind can’t deal with this. I feel a migraine. Or I’m having a brain aneurysm because this kind of burn can’t be described. I stumble into the bathroom.

This isn’t pain; this is agony. Death would be easier than having to live through this.

I hear a sound that gives me goose bumps. Makes my skin crawl. It’s guttural, primal, and its pure pain! And it’s coming from me. I can’t stop it. Tess is pounding on the door, screaming for me to let her in.

But… it’s too late. There is no Tess. She was only an image. A person I thought I loved. A beautiful viper with the face of an angel. A weak, soulless oxygen thief. A murderer—that’s the real Tess!

“Fuck!” I see myself for a split second in the mirror. Then my fist shatters my image. Looking down, I’m standing in a pool of shattered glass, the mirror splintered all around me. Tiny shards like falling snow surround me. Splintered pieces, with drops of crimson red. My hand is bleeding, but I feel nothing. Dead! Dead like my whole fucked-up life. Dead like our baby will soon be. I reach for my heart. My tattoo, it’s instinctual, it will calm me. I rub and rub. Blood covers the area where my heart is, where my tattoo is. This is a lie; my fingernails scrape my skin. I should have gotten rid of it a long time ago. I can get rid of it now. My pain isn’t because I’m cutting up my tattoo. It’s the pain of my heart dying. The pain of Reed dying. Finally, I drop the shard of glass. My chest is in ribbons where the name Tess used to be. What the fuck am I doing? Absently figuring out what I’ve done, I hear nothing, which is strange since New York is never silent. No horns, no screaming, just silence. Opening the door, I face her. Her beautiful ashen face. So beautiful. Her big eyes horrified at my appearance. Her cheeks wet with her tears, her lips red and swollen. Her mouth is moving, but I hear nothing. I push her hands aside, and she frantically latches her nails into my arm. With her other hand, she tries to check my chest.