Page 26

 Penelope Ward

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It was fear.
I slowly walked over to her and took the photo out of her hand and looked at it.
Oh God, no.
“Allison…where…where did you get this?” I asked.
She wiped her eyes and looked at me, her voice shaking. “Your mother’s basement. I found it.”
Fuck. I must have had a box down there from when Caleb took my dorm stuff home after I opted to stay in Chicago after graduation.
“What…what do you think this is?” I asked.
Allison looked at me with daggers in her eyes. “What does it look like, Cedric? It’s a f**king picture of me…from years ago. What are you doing with it? Why don’t I remember you? Have you been stalking me? Has everything been a big lie?”
“Has anyone contacted you?” I asked.
She looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“When did you find this photo?”
“Earlier tonight.”
“No one has contacted you before today?”
“No…Cedric…what is this about? How do you know me? What are you hiding? Tell me…now…please!” she yelled.
No one has contacted her.
She knows nothing beyond the photo
It was time.
“God…Allison. God, I am so sorry. I need you to sit down, sweetheart, because I have to explain the picture and I have to explain everything.”
She shook her head repeatedly looking down at the floor. “I don’t want to sit…Cedric, please.”
“Allison, sit down,” I repeated in a serious tone.
She finally listened, sitting down reluctantly on the couch.
I stayed standing, knowing she didn’t want me anywhere near her. That hurt.
“Allison, first…before I tell you…I need you to know that everything and I mean, everything we experienced together was real. Please know that…please.”
She said nothing, just stared at me with her red eyes.
A tear fell down my cheek.
“The second thing is…sweetheart…that’s not you in the picture.”
December 2001
My parents have lied to me for more than half my life.
That’s the thought I haven’t been able to get out of my head.
A week ago, after dinner, they sat me down in the living room and told me some things that I never in my life expected to hear. I always knew I was adopted but never knew the whole story about where I came from. I am so ashamed that my entire life as I knew it, was a lie.
The story I was told as a child was that I was given to my parents on the day I was born because my real mother didn’t want an open adoption and never wanted to even see me. My parents told me they knew nothing about my birth mother nor where I came from. Apparently, they did know something…something important…and they had agreed to tell me everything after I turned eighteen. Why they chose a random night in December, I’ll never understand, since I had turned eighteen in June.
Happy Belated Birthday to Me.
Since last week, I haven’t told anyone about it, not even my boyfriend, even though I plan to tell him when I am ready. It just all hasn’t set in yet.
My parents have given me space over the past week and agreed that I didn’t have to talk about it again or do anything about it, until I was ready.
Tonight…I just want to forget everything and I know just how I am going to do that: I am going to lose my virginity.
Even though I am a freshman at Northwestern, I still live at home, in a nice brick house in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago. It’s a commutable distance to school and more affordable than living at Northwestern. Mostly, my parents didn’t want me living in the dorms, for fear I would go buck wild. I still go to campus parties and sleep over friend’s dorm rooms, but my parents want to maintain some control over me, so they make me live at home.
My boyfriend lives on campus and sometimes I let him into my bedroom window at night after my parents have gone to sleep. Since my room is a converted garage and separate from the rest of the house, they can’t hear anything when he comes over. Tonight’s one of those nights and I am waiting for him to arrive because I want to drown my sorrows in him.
There is one window at the front of my bedroom. Since knocking would wake up my parents, he flashes a light in the window when he gets here. Then, I open it and quietly sneak him in. That was our routine.
When I finally saw the light tonight, I eagerly ran to the window, opening it.
“You’re late, Cedric.”
“I know, baby…sorry, the guys wanted to get beers after class and then we ended up shooting pool,” he said before kissing me hard.
Every time he kissed me, I lost my mind.
My boyfriend is movie star hot with shaggy brown hair, light blue eyes and a sculpted athletic body. He was a popular senior and every girl’s dream and I was only a freshman.
We met at a campus party and I noticed all these sorority girls throwing themselves at him. Who could blame them? Then, he noticed me from across the room, singled me out and we starting talking as if all those other girls evaporated into thin air. There was no one else in the room but us at that point. He made fun of my Chicago accent and I made fun of the way he didn’t pronounce some of his r’s because he’s from Boston. He says things like “Wicked Pisser”, except he’d say it like “Wicked Pissa.” He’s a little rough around the edges which, turns me on. I had never been with a bad boy before. He smokes, drinks, swears, starts fights and seems to adore me. I, on the other hand, am a shy Daddy’s girl, who says Gosh instead of God and well, who’s never had sex. We were opposites…but have been inseparable ever since that first night a few months ago.
Cedric’s been with a lot of girls before me, but he’s been patient. He’s used to girls throwing themselves at him and I think the fact that I didn’t give it up so easily is a bit of a challenge for him. He’s experienced but knows I am still a virgin and hasn’t pressured me to do anything I’m not comfortable with. We’d basically done everything—except that—but tonight that’s going to change.
He just doesn’t know it yet.
Cedric took his shoes off and plopped down on my bed. I could smell cigarettes and beer on him, mixed with his cologne and the combination of all those smells actually turned me on even more.
“What’s with the look?” he said smirking.
“Nothing…I was just thinking about how sexy my man is.” I crawled on top of him and pulled his face toward mine, straddling him as we kissed.
Cedric pulled away and caressed my long dark hair, examining me. “You look different tonight, baby.”
I had made myself up more than usual. I lifted my shirt and exposed a new black lace bra I had bought today from Victoria’s Secret at the mall and said, “I feel different, Cedric.”
His pupils dilated as he took in the sight of the lingerie and peeked into my pants to see I had matching lace underwear.
“What does that mean?” he grinned.
“It means…I want you, Cedric.”
Cedric caressed my face and his eyes widened. “You want me…to...what?”
“Cedric…I want…you.”
“But you have me.” He smiled.
“I know. But …I want…you know…everything.”
He started deeply into my eyes and I felt myself get moist with anticipation.
“Whoa…are you saying what I think you are saying?”
I nodded, still sitting on top of him and could feel his hard-on pressing into me through his jeans. “Yes, Cedric, I am.”
He moved from under me, sitting up. “Wait…are you sure, Amanda? I thought you said just last week that you wanted to wait.”
“Yeah, well a lot can change in a week.” (Don’t I know it.) I pressed my forehead onto his. “I wasn’t…then…but now, I am.”
“What changed?” he asked.
“Nothing changed. I just woke up this morning and realized…I want to f**k my boyfriend. Is that so bad?”
Cedric shook his head and laughed, pulling me into him. “Baby…are you serious? Are you really serious about this?”
I didn’t answer him. Instead, I pushed him back down onto the bed and took my shirt off, lowering myself onto him.
Cedric cupped my br**sts through the lacy bra and plunged his tongue into my mouth while I grinded against him.
“We don’t have to,” he said muffled, his lips still kissing me.
“I’m ready, Cedric…see?” I said as I guided his finger down into my underwear.
Cedric kissed me harder and moaned as he touched me. I moaned back through his kiss at the pleasure of his fingers inside me.
Cedric whispered through our kisses. “Swear on your mother you’re ready.”
I wanted to swear a lot of things on my mother, both of them. He didn’t know the half of it.
“I swear…on my mother,” I said.
With that, Cedric kissed me harder as I unzipped his jeans and pulled them down.
I continued to rub against him with my clothes on, kissing him hard and running my fingers through his hair.
“Amanda…you’re so f**king beautiful. I’ve wanted you for so long…waited so long,” Cedric said as he unsnapped my bra and threw it on the floor.
“Cedric…I’m on the pill,” I said.
“Okay, baby,” he said as he continued to kiss me.
Then, he started to slowly pull my underwear down.
I pulled off his shirt and he slid his boxers off. We were both completely na**d. He lifted up from under me and flipped me over so that I was under him.
He stared into my eyes as I rubbed his face and stared back at him.
We stayed like this for a while until Cedric spoke. “Okay?”
I nodded and bit my bottom lip when I felt the tip of his penis enter me, followed by a burning friction. I wanted to cry from the pain at first but Cedric moved into me very slowly. I closed my eyes and told myself to relax, no matter how painful. With each slow thrust, I got more accustomed to the feeling until eventually the pain turned to pleasure.
Cedric moaned in ecstasy once he started to realize I was relaxing and enjoying it. His slow movements gradually turned forceful.
Once the pain stopped, I couldn’t get enough and asked him to go faster and deeper until I felt myself starting to cl**ax. Cedric knew it, because he covered my mouth with his hand, so that I could scream into it while I came. His translucent eyes rolled back and I knew he was coming too.
When his movements slowed, he stayed inside me and kissed my face over and over again and for the first time whispered, “Amanda Rose Thompson…I love you.”
April 2002
“Cedric…Cedric. Wake up. You really should go home and try to get some sleep at home,” Ed said as he shook me.
It wasn’t a dream.
I was really still here in this hospital room.
A nurse’s voice spoke on the intercom in the distance, reminding me exactly where I was. Hospital clerks wheeled by the room pushing food carts. Life went on as usual outside the window; car horns beeping in the distance, part of the hustle and bustle of the Chicago morning commute, as if my life was not falling apart in here.
I wanted to scream out the window at them to shut the f**k up. Someone walked by the open room, laughing at something that was said at the nurse’s station in the hallway. Life could not be going on when she was lying there, fighting for her life. It wasn’t fair.
“No…no, sir, I can’t leave her,” I told Amanda’s father.
“The doctors said she’s not going to be waking up today, Cedric.”
I still couldn’t believe my eyes every time I glanced over at her. She was so beautiful even with all those tubes and medical contraptions. No, I wouldn’t leave…couldn’t leave, not for one second.
“Ed, I really don’t want to leave her,” I said.
He looked over at his daughter and then back at me, his eyes swollen from crying over the past few days. “Okay, Son.”
Amanda’s parents, Ed and Elaine and I have been keeping vigil at her bedside for three days. The whole scene was surreal as this beautiful girl lie fighting for her life in a medically induced coma.
“Did they say how much longer until they try to wake her?” I asked.
“Could be a couple of more days,” Elaine said tearily as she sat by Amanda’s side.
What if she doesn’t wake up? What if she never wakes up? How can I ever live with myself?
An Indian doctor walks in and we all stand up in unison.
“Dr. Tripathi, we were wondering if you could tell us when they were planning on ending the coma?” Ed asked.
“The swelling is still too significant. We are going to keep with it for at least another twenty-four hours. Mrs. Thompson, can I talk to you privately?”
“Sure, doctor.” Amanda’s mother walked out of the room and the doctor followed her out into the hallway.
I walked over to Amanda’s bedside and gently touched her long dark hair. She was so tranquil and beautiful. She looked so peaceful, nothing like the way she looked the last time I saw her. My heart clenched at that thought. Oh, God, please don’t let anything happen to her. Please. I’ll do anything. Anything.
I whispered so low that Ed couldn’t possibly hear me. When he had gone out to look for his wife, I spoke louder, but still softly.
“Amanda…God, Amanda. I am so sorry, baby. I would take it all back if I could. Baby, if you wake up, I promise I will never leave you again. I was being stupid, baby, so, so stupid. Please just be okay and I’ll never leave you. Please. Please. Please. I love you, baby. I love you.”