“So, according to her mother, you were alerted first to Bridget’s pregnancy?”
I had gone into the staff room for coffee and Principal Dudley cornered me in here with a blank face. Being ‘let go’ was looking quite likely at the moment. I was careful to keep my voice level. “Not in the office, I was off hours,” I responded. My only defense.
“Good. I’ll use that as your excuse not to get you in trouble.” Dudley poured himself a cup of the coffee before dumping enough sugar in the cup to turn it into a syrup. He took a sip and seemed content with the sugary mixture. “… Off the record, I would’ve done the same.”
I sighed with relief. “Thank you, sir.” He might’ve been a stickler for the rules, but at least Dudley wasn’t an ass like so many of the other bureaucrats that thought they knew how the education system for teenagers was supposed to work.
That was the end of that. I tried to do more Facebook stalking but Bridget’s posts had come to a sudden halt. Couldn’t figure out if the father had been located but I didn’t want to know. Perhaps the fact that Bridget didn’t remember a thing was for the best. Can’t find someone you didn’t know the face of was the impossible task. And what sort of dick head college boy would step up as the father?
It was a quiet month. The most shattering thing was a boy coming in with a ‘twisted’ ankle where I immediately sent him to a more complete doctor’s office as I knew a broken ankle when I saw it. He’d tripped during dodgeball and snap. Kid didn’t even know how bad it was.
Bridget’s and Alice’s pregnancies drifted to the back of my brain when gossip in the staff room caught my attention.
“So Jacklyn is pregnant.”
That sentence nearly made me drop my #1 Nurse Mug. Thankfully the gossipers, Miss Foster who was the art teacher and Ms. Kline who taught Biology for the freshman, didn’t seem to notice.
Ms. Kline leaned in a bit and started counting off on her fingers while she talked. “That makes… letsee, Alice, Brooke, Carmela, Kelsey…”
“Don’t forget Bridget, her parents pulled her out!” Miss Foster reminded.
Ms. Kline nodded. “Right, right. Think that’s it. So far. I haven’t seen this many knocked up teenage girls since I worked at Brickstone. And they had three times over the students we have right now.”
Miss Foster tutted her tongue and shook her head. “Like I told you! We need to push a new sex ed program, otherwise every girl in school is going to be shopping for maternity prom dresses!”
I left the room as discreetly as I could. I needed to use the restroom. And I didn’t want to hear the mindless gossip of the other teachers anymore.
However, when I got to the girl’s bathroom, I ran right from the pan to the fire.
“Oh! Nurse Bradley!”
Girls went to the bathroom together. It was a trained instinct, partially for protection and partially for socialization.
However, the entire cheerleading squad plus the mathematics club all in one bathroom? It wasn’t the most likely match up.
Georgia, the vice president of the Mathematics Club, pushed up her glasses and bounced from foot to foot nervously. “I, uh, this bathroom’s sorta… full right now.”
“I can see,” I replied. The two working stalls were occupied, the remaining one with an orange ‘out of order’ sign taped to the door.
Helena placed a hand on her hip, her flashy yellow and maroon cheerleading uniform looking garish under the harsh light of the bathroom. “Listen, we’re kinda in the middle of something in here, so if you could, like, ya know, go…”
Both bathroom doors opened at the same time.
Veronica, the captain of the cheerleading squad and Lori, the president of the mathematics club walked out.
Both had a pregnancy test.
And both were positive.
Lori was shaking her head, trapped in denial. “This can’t be happening. I use protection! I’m on the pill!” The tears started coming then.
Veronica ran to the sink and vomited. The girls split into two groups to surround the new ‘mothers’, typically separate cliques now intermingling as they comforted their fellow students. Veronica looked up at me before a deep breath and dragging a hand down her face. “Nurse Bradley we’d… like a few minutes. Please. I’ll come talk to you after we’re done here, I swear.”
Nodding, I left and used the bathroom down the hall.
Veronica came in after the next class, after I’d already given out the remainder of my pregnancy tests. Each girl insisted they couldn’t be pregnant but ‘wanted to be sure’. I didn’t hear back from any of them. I don’t know if I wanted to.
Without a word she dumped an armful of pregnancy tests on my table. “I think you’re going to need these,” She said.
Surprised, I picked up one of the boxes. “When did you get these?” I asked.
“I’m going home for the day, I already called my mom and dad. But I decided to give you a hand and help you restock your stores,” Veronica explained. She seemed calm. A little red eyed from crying, but calm.
I started placing them in the drawer. “Thanks. Really. I… don’t know what to say. What are you-”
“I’m gonna keep her.” Veronica crossed her arms over her belly, bringing back to mind Alice when she’d told me the same thing. “I want a family. I didn’t want one so soon, but if this is what fate throws my way, I can take it. I mean I wasn’t into cheerleading that much anyway.”
It was shocking how calm she was about this. But all I could respond with was, “What makes you think it’s a girl?”
Veronica blinked before she wrinkled her nose. “Huh, I didn’t even realize I said her. Oh well, I’ll trust my instinct. Sides,” She smiled and hugged her stomach. “A lil ‘V Two’ wouldn’t be so bad. I’d like your help though… can you help me find all the other girls who are keeping their babies? I wanna set up a support network.”
And that is what she did. It was needed. Within a week there were fifteen confirmed pregnancies in this school. Fifteen.
I’d worked at that school for seven years and in all my years I’d seen a maximum of three teenage pregnancies. Faulty birth control was a common suspect for this epidemic, tied in with poor education and just plain dumb luck. Something in the water, perhaps.
But I was honestly thankful as hell that there was a natural leader like Veronica.
Veronica was always a leader personality. Head cheerleader. Prom Queen material. Was in the debate club her sophomore year and was known for being outspoken but empowering. And with a bunch of half panicked girls wondering what the hell to do next? That was appreciated.
The girls all met in my living room for the first meeting. All different ages, backgrounds, and social statuses. Even Alice had shown up, and she was the farthest along. She’d switched out her boots with something more comfortable for swollen feet, but she and Veronica sat side by side.
I just provided tea and snacks as they talked about their situation and offered support for each other. I’d never seen so much female love and companionship in a single room. I enjoyed being a part of it.
The insanity didn’t go away though. It had only begun. Veronica hadn’t provided enough birth control tests. Hourly I’d have girls coming in. Even ones that weren’t sexually active. It was like a virus. If you had a functioning uterus there was a shot you’d be pregnant.
There even was a school assembly about it, with Principal Dudley advising students to be ‘safe’ and that the therapist and nurse (thanks, Dudley) were there for advice and comfort. Nothing changed. Girls would turn up pregnant, and Veronica would welcome them under her wing.
It got to the point where I started to get concerned. So many girls were now keeping their babies because that was what Veronica was doing. I ended up pulling Veronica aside.
“So… you are telling these girls if they intend on aborting, it needs to be done real soon?” I asked.
Veronica nodded. Hardly bothered. “Of course! Most of us are planning on working together though. Even if they aren’t sure how they’re pregnant, we have this whole plan about being a family group. We can stick together and no one has to get hurt.”
Oh boy. I sighed and shook my head. “Is… anyone going to give up their babies? Or have an abortion?”
“I’m not brainwashing them or anything, Miss Bradley.” Veronica frowned. “And yes, someone is aborting. Lori. She’s decided her education takes priority and after talking with her boyfriend they’re going in tomorrow. We’re all on her side, I even offered to drive.” She crossed her arms and I saw that brief challenge in her eyes. “Is it that bad to want to raise your own child?”
I was out of luck here. I shook my head. “It’s your choice, Veronica. I just want you to know it’s a serious one.”
Veronica opened her mouth to respond but the bell ringing cut her off, and with a muttered excuse she took off.
Being brushed off the way I was was honestly alarming. Babies weren’t new toys. But at this point it was going to be near impossible to convince Veronica otherwise.
It would have to wait though. I wanted to see Lori before she left.
Lori was at her car when I caught up.
“Hey, Lori! So… you’re going to the clinic tomorrow?” What a way to start the conversation.
Lori nodded, shutting the car door. “Yeah. In the morning. I won’t be at school for a bit, just a heads up, but I think it’s the best choice for me. I’m just worried about the school work I might miss out on.”
“I’m sure your friends will take notes.” I opened my arms. “Hug?”
I hugged Lori tightly before she got into her car and drove off.
The next day started off as normal. Sophomore boy came in with a headache. Principal Dudley came by and asked how my supplies were doing. I didn’t mention that my budget had been practically blown on pregnancy tests and I was now reaching into my paycheck.
It was around one thirty PM when the girls came in with another possibly pregnant girl when men in suits burst into my office.
I gasped and got to my feet. “Can I help you gentlemen?”
One of the men looked over Veronica, her small frame already starting to show. “Are you one of the pregnant girls?”
Veronica nodded. “Yeah, we all are.”
“You need to come with us.”
It’s needless to say I lost my shit when one of the men roughly grabbed her arm. “Excuse me! She is a student-”
“Ma’am, we’re going to need a list of all the pregnant students currently enrolled here.” The one in charge nudged up his thick rimmed glasses. “This is not a request.”
I balled up my fists before standing up straight. “I’m sorry, but I don’t keep track of every pregnant student. That information is between them and their doctors,” I responded. I might know most of them by name. But like hell I was going to tell a strange man this.
The man’s face went cold. He turned to one of the other suited men.
“Have the principal call every female student and young female staff into the gymnasium. Miss Bradley, you’re going to need to come with us. Cooperate or we’ll have you arrested for obstructing a government investigation.”
In a single file line, we were marched to the gymnasium. The bleachers were pulled out and girls started flooding in. Whispers filled the air and Veronica was biting her nails. “Miss Bradley, what is going on?” She whispered.
I had no response, all I could do was shrug and say, “I don’t know. I am going to find out though.” I started digging through my purse and my fingers had just closed around my phone when my purse was roughly snatched away from me.
The leader of the suited men glared icily at me. “Until we are done here you are not to make any phone calls or tell anyone what we are doing here. Principal Dudley promised your cooperation.”
Fucking coward was nowhere to be seen, of course.
I stared back at him. “And what exactly are we cooperating with, sir?”
“The wishes of the US government. Here.”
A pregnancy test was shoved into my hands.
“Go to the bathroom and take this test. There will be another agent in the bathroom waiting for you to come back. Once it’s done, you may return here.”
I sputtered angrily and shoved the test back in disgust. “Excuse me?! No disrespect, sir, but I haven’t had sex in almost three years-”
“I wasn’t asking you to do it.” The test was put more firmly back into my grip. “I’m telling you.”
There is absolutely no proof that I flipped my middle finger at this ‘agent’, but I’m sure no court would convict me.
Of course the test came back negative and the agent in the bathroom (male agent at that) ‘requested’ that I return to my office. I didn’t tell him I was going back there.
But I didn’t tell him I wasn’t either.
I was staying with the girls and like hell anyone was going to make me leave.
In groups of five, girls were marched to the bathroom. The ones that came back were sitting in a circle in the middle of the room. I made myself comfortable among them.
Alice was sitting next to me, and I noticed she was in handcuffs. “Please tell me they didn’t put those on you,” I said.
“What do you think?” Alice yanked at them with a scowl. “I wouldn’t take the pregnancy test. They handcuffed me and marched me into the bathroom. Would’ve made me actually pee if they could. What is happening, Dawn?”
Second time I’d been asked this question and I still had no answer. I sighed and wrapped an arm around her. “It’s going to be okay Alice. I promise.” I tried not to look at girls walking back into the room, pale and scared. Some were in handcuffs. And there was no sign of any of the officials taking them off.
Soon there was around fifty girls, ranging from freshman to seniors, all in this group. The leader had a whispered conversation with the other men before he came up to me.
“You are excused.”
I narrowed my eyes and my arms crossed. “What is going to happen to these girls? Who even are you?”
“I’m afraid that’s not something I can tell you.”
I’m blaming exhaustion and the lack of answers for my immediate reaction, which was to punch him in the face.
He went down, probably more from shock, and I was tackled to the floor by two different men.
The teenage girls who up until that moment were just sitting and crying were moved into action.
“LEAVE HER ALONE!”
“THAT IS OUR NURSE!”
Have you ever seen a group of pregnant teenage girls start a revolt? It’s not a pretty sight. Girls started pitching their text books and backpacks at the suited men around the room, cussing and screaming. I swear I saw Veronica bite one of them on the arm.
I was finally let up as many more girls got slapped in handcuffs. I looked over at the man in charge and felt a sharp smugness when I saw where I’d punched him was already starting to bruise. “I go with them. Or they will act like that the whole damn time, I swear to god,” I threatened, my sides aching and bruised.
He nodded coldly.
“I suppose that’s what we’ll have to agree on.”
We were loaded up on buses and taken to a nearby military base.
And I had a million papers pushed in my face. All of them said the same thing. I wasn’t going to report what happened here, this was top secret… yadda yadda yadda.
“And… sign here. And we are done.”
The man sat back at his desk, his finger interlaced.
“My name is Dr. McCray. Lori Wilder is dead.”
I felt like I got punched in the stomach. “What? How?”
Dr. McCray pulled out a report from his desk as if he had to remind himself what happened. Like Lori was just a blip on the radar. “She went in for the abortion this morning. It was standard, until the procedure actually began. She woke up despite being under heavy anesthetics and began to scream. Without cause she bled from her nose and ears while severely internally hemorrhaging. The procedure was halted and she was rushed to the hospital where she became catatonic and shortly afterward passed away.”
I blinked, hard. No. Not time to cry. I shook my head. “What does this have to do with the other girls?”
“You don’t think it’s strange that forty eight female students in a school of only five hundred are pregnant?”
Had to admit, he was the first one to call it strange out loud. I nodded. “I mean… yes? But why do you care?”
“The fetus wasn’t human.”
I laughed. I actually laughed. Just a nervous, high pitched laughter that died when Mr. McCray glowered again. “Wait… what?”
“To be accurate, half of it likely was human. But once the autopsy was conducted, the fetus was… nothing like we’d ever seen before.” Dr. McCray let the first emotion cross his face- fear and worry. “I know it’s harsh to detain dozens of young women who just want to enjoy their adolescence. But if you’d like to offer your presence, I can already see the girls are quite loyal to you.”
Live in a military base. Nothing but gray walls and pregnant girls who god knows what fathered their babies or go back to the school. I should’ve booked it.
Instead I said, “Give me a bed and I’ll make myself comfortable. These girls need me.”