My Friend Beth

Geraldton Guardian

Maddison Pomeroy won the Pat Gallaher Encouragement Award in the Geraldton Regional Library’s 2016 Randolph Stow Young Writers’ Awards. Here is her winning entry. Maddison represents Geraldton Senior College

There’s nothing I can really write about besides being a teenage girl. To try and write from the point of view of a 17th century slave or a middle aged stockbroker would be misleading, since I have no knowledge of their struggles. So instead I’ll make the right, be it boring and cliched, choice to write about the troubles of middle classed, Caucasian school girls.

It’s the story of me and my friend Beth. I’ll set the scene of us standing at the traffic lights, Macca’s frozen cokes in hand and waiting to cross the road in the summer heat. It’s in the middle of a conversation about how far Beth’s been with her (not) boyfriend when she says something that’s out of line with her school prefect, high-achieving persona.

It’s been said countless times in the same situation and I can guess somewhere around the world right now some else is saying the same words.

“I’m late.”

It’s not the bombshell most would expect, I didn’t gasp or faint Iike in the movies, I simply did what any good friend would do. I offered to buy her a test. Of course this freaked her out more and I could see that even the talk of getting one, in her mind, was the first step in admitting she could be pregnant, The topic which would panic any underage, school attending, adolescent who would rather just pretend there’s nothing wrong.

At first she says no out of nicety and fright but I can tell by the blatant refusal that she’s worried that the maybe is a definite. I just told her to not worry about and that no matter what I’ll help her through this. It’s something that most girls hold close to their hearts; it’s like in times like these all girls become allies. The power of potential pregnancy connects women like no other.

We make our way across the road and to the shopping centre towards the chemist. I’m fine but I can feel that Beth isn’t, she’s buzzing with nerves. The kind you get when you have a secret and it feels like the whole world can just smell it on you. I could tell her to calm down but that wouldn’t help and to be honest I wasn’t that calm either. I was as mortified as she was.

I tell her to go look at some clothes and I’ll come back with it so she doesn’t have to be stand awkwardly outside. She doesn’t say anything she just meekly nods and lets me take control of the situation, which is what I plan to do. The way I think about it is that friends are the family you choose and you take care of your family. So I know that whatever happens I’ll always be there for my family.

I walked in already knowing where to look and go straight to the tampon isle; it’s nothing out of the ordinary for a girl. Flipping the box over in my hands I’m trying to think about the kind of test she would want. This one has a conception indicator; would she want to know that? I mean it’s already the worse news in your life, would you really want to know when you’re going to start getting fat?

I grab it and go to the counter, the first time I was nervous; I felt like the staff were secretly praying for me and my “child”. The look of the woman who scanned the box was the kind of calm layered on something else. I could feel the eyes scan my face trying to get a look at the school girl about to become a teen mum. She hands me the crumply paper bag and with a forced smile says the sweetest “thank you” and “goodbye”.

I walk over to Beth with the bag, feeling the true weight of what could happen. The thoughts and feeling of fear and sadness turn behind her eyes and in her brain while she takes the bag with a shaking hand.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yeah”

“You know I’ll be here for whatever you need right?”

“Mhmm”

“Well let’s go I guess, we may as well just use the public toilets. I don’t think the setting is gonna make the news any better.”

She doesn’t respond, she just nods her head but no amount of sarcasm is going to make this problem go away. We start walking towards the bathrooms and head inside. I’m turning the tap on as she closes the stall door behind me; it still doesn’t cover up the rustling plastic and paper.

There’s no talking just the tense silence in the air but there’s no bonding experience like two friends mutually knowing what it’s like to pee on your hand.

The tap turns off automatically and I can’t hear anything, all I can do is stare at the stall door in the reflection of the bathroom mirror. I wait for what were the longest seconds of my life until the silence is cut with a sound. It’s a mix between a sigh and gasp and I can do nothing but try and see through the stall door. Then there’s a sob.

* Copies of the 2016 winners booklet can be purchased from Geraldton Regional Library for $12.

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