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 Chapter 47: Push & Pull

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Kell
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PostSubject: Chapter 47: Push & Pull   Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:45 pm

For the next 15 hours or so, I didn't sleep at all. I stayed up into the next day. My dad had come home & told me that we didn't need to go to the hospital until the baby was born. When that came, we would go. Until then, him, Jade & I just sort of hung out at the house. Dad was in his room reading a book while Jaden & I started a fire. Well, more like I started a fire while he sprawled out on the couch & watched me.

"Do you think you'll see them when we arrive at the hospital?" he asked me as I threw a couple logs into the snapping orange flames.

"Who?"

"You know, Shannon, Julie & Max?"

"Oh. I dunno," I shrugged. "I haven't seen any of them since court. Julie still works with my dad but they're not partners anymore. I guess she asked for a transfer soon after everything happened. I would imagine things would be awkward to say the least."

"So what happened to Shannon again?"

"She was put in some institution. I guess she had a history of problems."

"Would've been nice to know beforehand."

"Well it's not like her history was that of assaulting guys in the past she had just met," I said softly, sending a nauseous chill up my spine as I gazed into the heat. It was so weird to say. Even weirder to still believe. "Whatever her deal was...is a story all its own.

"As far as Max goes, that brat was annoying," I added. "If there's any good that came from all this it's that I don't have to see him anymore," I laughed oddly. I felt Jade's hand rest on my shoulder from behind. I sighed in discomfort & rested my hand over his. "I know, I know."

"How are you doing in general?" he asked gently.

"I'm still gettin' there," I sighed in mild content at my progress. "I'm glad I'm out of that bad area though," I gave his hand a slight squeeze, another subtle apology for how I had acted for a while. "But with my birthday, & the holidays...it makes you relive the past year, so it's kind of hard to not think about it all, you know?"

"C'mere," he said, tugging at my hand. I got up & lay down with him on the couch, watching the fire grow.

"You know, even though you went through that really rough patch, I think you're very lucky," he said as I rested my head on his collar, his lips right at my blond locks. He lifted a hand & began to softly run his fingers through my hair, petting me.

"And how's that?"

"Well, considering it's only been what, like nine months since it happened & yet, you seem almost totally back to normal. That is, unless you're bottling everything up..."

"That's for Mr. Jeffers to know, not you," I chuckled as I held his other hand. "What do you guys talk about?" I asked him, remembering that we shared the same school therapist.

"Uh excuse me, but that's for Mr. Jeffers & I to know, not you," he mocked me. "Why do we have a therapist again when we're boyfriends AND best friends?"

"Well, I think my reason is a little bit more obvious," I giggled. "You on the other hand, had your own things to work out which is why you wanted us on hold."

"Yeah but I guess looking back on it, it's just weird to think we thought a shrink would help us when really, we should be able to talk to each other about anything."

"We can," I kissed his hand. "We can, & we should be able to talk to each about anything. Just...not everything. I think if we're gonna be completely honest with each other, we also have to be honest that maybe sometimes...it might be better if we let a third party hear our private thoughts from time to time. That way we don't bottle anything up that we might not want to tell the other."

"Are you saying you're keeping things from me?" he giggled.

"Nothing bad," I grinned. "And I DO talk to you, you know that. It's just that...sometimes it's refreshing letting someone else, particularly a professional psychologist, know something first."

"I guess that's true, yeah."

I entwined our feet together, feelings his socked toes wiggle against mine.

He snuggled against me. "I guess you always know what's best."

"And you always know what I need," I wrapped a blanket around us.

We turned on the tv after a bit & dozed off in each others arms.

**********

A few hours later, we were at the hospital. Dad had woken us up, very aggressively I might add, & threw our butts in the car to make our way to the hospital where Shannon had given birth. While the whole situation was hectic, I knew that our rush probably didn't compare to that of a more...traditional means of a birth. I couldn't imagine how crazy my mom & dad were the moment my mom's water broke, with my dad being there & possibly awake through everything. Having a baby was so...surreal.

Jade, my dad & I were in the waiting room. I was pacing anxiously around the area while my dad read a magazine & Jade played on his phone.

"How are you guys so calm right now?" I said to them.

"Noah, the baby's been born already. We're just waiting for the hospital to make him or her comfortable and to make sure everything is ready before they let us in," my dad explained.

"Then what?"

"Then after we have our visit, the hospital will keep taking care of the baby while social services prepares whatever it is they do," he shrugged, almost as clueless as I was apparently.

"Daaaad, you should know this. You have had a baby before," I pointed out.

"Your mother & I didn't put you up for adoption, hello."

"Yeah but I feel like this is something you should know, though," Jade chimed in. "I mean, you are a government employee."

"This is not anywhere near my field of work," my dad shot back.

"Still..." I started to say as I turned around.

"Ok look, if you're so eager to know how everything is coming along, why don't you ask one of the nurses?" he suggested.

I took his advice but no sooner had I walked halfway down the hall when a nurse approached me & informed me that we could see the baby now. I got my dad & Jade & followed the woman down the hall & around the corner to a room that was relatively warm inside with about half a dozen baby beds.

The room was colored light blue & pink, with some animated animals painted on the walls. All of the beds had newborn babies in them. I smiled to myself, humorously imagining a factory that produced babies, with this room making me think of some sort of assembly line.

The nurse walked us over to one of the beds that was in the corner of the room. From where we were, I could just make out a pair of tiny hands reaching up into the air, grabbing at the dancing turtle and cow on the ceiling. As we got closer, I felt myself choking up as the baby's small frame came into view & we were at the side of the bed looking down.

"It's a girl," the nurse smiled. "Everything is perfect with her."

I sighed as I felt my eyes threaten to get all watery. My dad rested his hand on my shoulder as I felt Jade slip his hand into mine, his fingers delicately rubbing over my knuckles.

"I'll leave you guys for a few minutes," she said as she politely excused herself from the room.

"So this is your daughter," Jade said softly, the last word emanating oddly in my mind.

"I guess...I guess so," I said.

"She's beautiful," my dad rubbed my shoulder.

"Yeah..." I breathed in utter disbelief.

I leaned down to slowly wrap my hands under her tiny body. She was warm & plushy, in nothing but a diaper. She was mildly sobbing, but nothing that was worrisome. As I held up her body from the bed, I brought her to my chest & cradled her in my arms. My dad & Jaden stood on either side of me, looking down on her as I held her gently. She felt just like a couple of the children I had babysat. Only this time, I wasn't babysitting. I was holding my daughter.

"You know, she needs a name for now," my dad nudged me.

"Her parents will probably rename her," I said, saddened by my very own words.

"Maybe. But until she has a new family, she still deserves a name, doesn't she?"

"I guess, yeah," I replied. Looking into her little eyes, I went through my head what I wanted her to be known as, at least until a more suitable family took her in.

"How did you guys name me?" I said, all choked up. Jade sweetly wiped a tear from my puffy eyes with his coat sleeve.

"Well your mother always loved the story of Noah & the Ark," my dad said. I laughed & rolled my eyes, always wishing that my naming didn't ACTUALLY coincide with that story. Too many kids at school relating me to it.

"She went to a Catholic school when she was a kid and she always told me that out of all the stories they learned about, the concept of a man keeping the most innocent beings together from baring the repercussions of such turmoil was the most inspiring," he said proudly.

"Noah only saved his family," I said as I rubbed the girl's cheek with my pinky finger.

"Well the animals were innocent," my dad explained. "Nature's closest companions don't share the same attributes as us. They don't hurt & kill for prejudice or beliefs. They simply...live."

"He took care of those who were good around him," Jade added absently.

My dad nodded as he rubbed my shoulder.

The three of us stood in silence as I held the little girl, her small body threatening to slip through my arms at any moment. I wiggled a finger in her face & as she unknowingly grabbed at it, I couldn't help but giggle to myself. I was overflowing with emotions left & right, mostly a kind of bittersweet sorrow. People looked forward for years until they had met the perfect guy or gal of their dreams to have a baby & begin a family. In my arms I held the simplest joy & expression of life, knowing that I would not be the one to raise, protect, enjoy & provide for her. I knew that for the rest of my life, somewhere out there would be a girl who was my daughter, & that no matter what the circumstances of her birth were, I had had the joy of holding her in my arms for at least a few minutes in the early moments of her life. I kissed her forehead gently & smiled when she coughed a bit.

"I wanna name her after mom then," I said softly.

"I think that would make her very happy," my dad replied.

For about a half hour, we stood there & mostly stayed silent. Occasionally, someone would mention her beautiful eyes, the tininess of her hands & feet, the curve of her mouth & the button nose she had. But otherwise, we admired her in quietness.

Eventually, however, it was time to leave. She wasn't "mine" so to speak. Beyond hold her, I couldn't do much else. Besides, as warm as I felt about meeting her & being able to just KNOW her, I knew that the longer I stayed with her, the more it would hurt when it came time to leave. The nurse came back with some papers that my dad helped me fill out, including naming her after my mother. With a tear drop staining my signature, I handed the forms back to the nurse as the three of us caressed the girl one last time & left the room, our heads down & hearts broken.

As we walked out the door, I looked down the hall to my left. I could see the swinging doors to the delivery room. Shannon was in there...only feet away from me, really. Once again I felt complicated feelings rush over me. A tiny, unreasonably sympathetic part of me wanted to just...to just...go in there & say something. What would I say? I didn't know. Fortunately, I didn't have the chance to give it much thought. I felt my dad's hand rest on my back, leading me away down the other way.

**********

"How are you, Noah?" Mr. Jeffers asked me as I walked into his office a couple days later.

"I'm pretty good," I answered honestly. "The baby girl was born a couple days ago."

"Oh? What was that like for you?" he said as I flopped onto a beanbag chair.

"It was...weird, you know? I mean, yes she's the product of...you know...but she's still technically my daughter," I said blankly.

"Which feeling hit you first?" he asked me.

I shrugged. "Well, there in the waiting room I guess I felt the more negative stuff. But the moment I picked her up in my arms...all that just washed away. It made me realize I can't wait to have a kid on my own someday."

"What about when you had to leave her?"

"What do you mean?"

"What were the first feelings you had when it was time to leave her?"

"Sadness. And confusion when I walked down out the door."

"What were you confused about?"

"Well I looked down to see the delivery room & I knew that Shannon was still in there. And, I dunno, a small part of me wanted to go back there & confront her somehow. Like, there was this MAJOR thing that just happened & it just felt like I should have connected with her about it."

"Let's say you had gone back there to confront her. What do you think you would have said to her?"

"I dunno," I shook my head. "Somewhere I felt the need to........eh, nothing. I really don't have any idea."

"Felt the need to what?"

I hesitated before I answered. "Apologize," I said uneasily. I almost felt sick just admitting it.

"Why do you feel the need to apologize?" he asked in a non-judgmental tone. He was good at his job.

I rested my head on my hand. "I dunno...sorry about you never being able to see your child...sorry that you're stuck in a mental hospital..."

"Noah, let me ask you something."

"Ok."

"Have you ever heard of the domino effect?"

"Yeah. Where something occurs that makes something happen, which in turn makes something else happen & so on."

"Exactly. And how relevant do you think that is to everyday life?"

I scratched my chin. "I'd say it's very relevant. Every little action we do lays affects how we respond to things, what we decide to do, where we go...all that."

"But how far back is too far back to put responsibility on?"

I shrugged. "Not sure. Why?"

"Because in these sessions with you, Noah, I've realized that you often blame yourself for major events that many people would argue were out of your control."

"You think I'm blaming myself for being raped?" I leaned forward & asked incredulously.

"Aren't you?" he countered.

I looked at him for a moment & then sat back. "I'm smart enough to know that this wasn't my fault..."

"But..." he left open.

"...but maybe I do blame myself a little," I looked down in shame.

"Why do you think you're to blame?"

I played with my fingers. "It's impossible to pinpoint that..."

"You don't seem to think that if you've already placed at least some of the blame back on you."

I stood up & walked over to the window. Looking out I could see a bunch of birds in a frenzy over something beyond the trees that marked the edge of school grounds. Most likely it was a bunch of berries that were falling off the dying bushes. The trees were nearly all bare from the looming winter cold & whatever earthy life was left was finding its way to the ground, only for the small animals to beat each other up.

"I didn't have to let her tell me about what UNE's campus is like that afternoon...I could have fought back harder...I could have tried to talk her out of what she was doing..." I answered him.

"If all of this had happened to Jaden & you found out he felt the need to blame himself, how would that make you feel?"

I let out a sort of half gasp, half sigh. "Irreversibly heartbroken," I replied quietly as I watched the birds fight.

"What would you tell him?"

"I would tell him that of course it wasn't his fault."

"If it wouldn't have been his fault, then why do you think it's yours?" Mr. Jeffers asked.

"I know it's not my fault," I said as I turned around & sat back down in the beanbag chair.

"And yet..." he left off for me to finish again.

"...no matter how much I know that it's illogical for me to feel that way, I just do."

"I've told you before that with a lot of sexual assault cases, it's very common for the victim to blame themselves for what happened. They often feel that if they had done something different, they could have prevented the whole situation. Even though they, as do you, may know deep down that sometimes, these things just happen & that blaming themselves is wrong."

"Easier said than done..."

"As I was saying before, I've come to realize that you seem to blame yourself for other things, too." I already knew he meant my mother.

"You're talking about my mom," I looked down.

"Not just her, but yes. You've told me in the past you sometimes blame yourself for what happened."

"Sometimes, when I'm already feeling down about something," I said. "I trace each thing back to the fact that if I hadn't argued about doing my homework or whatever it was, she wouldn't have been mad & therefore she wouldn't have gone out to cool off & she wouldn't have been hit."

"You also blamed yourself for your friendship with West falling apart."

"Early on, yeah. I figured that if I hadn't kissed Jaden on stage at that H Gang concert, West could have just kept his ignorant & homophobic thoughts to himself, & then he wouldn't have spit out stuff on the Bible & gays being pedophiles like some redneck hillbilly, & then that wouldn't have split us up."

"Did you ever tell Jaden you blame yourself for your friendships ending with West?"

"No," I shook my head.

"Why not?"

"Because he would tell me it wasn't my fault," I sighed, sensing the recurring theme of this session.

"Exactly."

"But like I said, I know these things were never really my fault, but I just can't help feeling that way personally. I will never truly fault myself, but I also know that I will never fully rid myself of these feelings."

"Noah, you're 17 years old. You have quite a long life ahead of you. Plenty of time to not only accept the illegitimacy of these feelings, but also rid yourself of them."

"I hope so..."

"You know," he said, leaning back, "it's very difficult for most people to take full responsibility of their actions. I have no doubts that throughout your life Noah, you'll always be able to take responsibility for whatever you do. It's a sign of great maturity & I think your dad, as well as your mom, would be proud of you."

"Thanks," I said sadly.

"But as you know, it is possible to go too far. I think it's safe to say that you're aware what's reasonable to separate true blame from what's called behavioral self blame. You need to know that putting initial blame on yourself is not only illogical in reality, but it also wouldn't even be absolute. Instead of personally putting the blame on yourself for angering your mother, or kissing Jaden, or being alone with Shannon, you need to look at the other half of the story. Think about blaming why the man drank that night, think about blaming West's apparently intolerant parents for the way they raised their son, think about Shannon's chemically imbalanced state of mind. You could pinpoint the chain reaction on your side of the event, yes. But when we as people define 'fault', know that it never needs to, nor does it ever really at all, boil down to every little thing we do, especially when we're the victims of something truly tragic. Do you understand what I mean?" he explained.

"I think so," I said. "I shouldn't drive myself insane with looking at my actions, especially when their actions are more realistically at fault."

"Exactly."

I shrugged.

"Doesn't wipe the feelings away though, does it?"

"No," I laughed.

He laughed as well. "That's all right. We still have quite a few sessions before your graduate. And like I said before, you still have plenty of time in your life to grow & experience a change in your feelings."

"I hope they pay you nicely for all this," I grinned at him.

"I had a private practice before I came here," he replied. "But after a number of years, I realized that I really enjoyed working with teenagers. They're FULL of problems."

"True," I smiled. "Thanks Mr. Jeffers."

"You're very welcome. Our session is coming to an end, so why don't you get ready for your next class. Take a couple brownies on the shelf right over there."

"Cool, thanks," I said as I gathered my stuff. "Can I ask you one last thing?"

"Of course."

"In your personal opinion...if I made the effort to meet my daughter someday, do you think I should tell her the truth about how she...you know, 'came to be'?"

"I don't wanna influence that decision with my opinion," he smiled.

"I don't wanna choose the decision though," I said quietly. "Please..."

He shook his head slowly. "The wrong decision is whichever one makes you regret making it."

I looked down for a moment to think about that. Then, looking back up at him, I smiled contently & thanked him. I figured that behind that answer was another reminder of the time I'd have in my life to think it over. Grabbing a brownie, & then another one, I left his office to head off to my next class.

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Chapter 47: Push & Pull
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