He stood there, shocked and bleeding from the nose. The thudding of my heart was making it hard for me to breathe. I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks causing them to burn. Adrenaline was seeping through my entire body yet all I could do was stand still. It had happened so fast. I could still see my fist thrusting forward in slow motion. The cocky look on his face remained frozen in time, and it still enraged me. The way his hair flung back as his face turned right in response to the blow was still so vivid. For the slightest fraction of a second, I saw pain in his eyes before they winced. Whether it was pain from being hit in the nose or from the idea of being hit, I don’t know; either way, it was there in his eyes. I had never hit anyone in my life. What caused this surge of anger to engulf my self-control? My protectiveness.
I was exhausted, not only from fatigue, but from carrying around a twenty pound belly while trying to focus on studies. I was a sixteen-year-old pregnant honors student with a lot on her shoulders, not to mention a heavy load resting on the bladder. The baby had been particularly active that day, and being very much aware of its somersaulting presence, I would rub my belly affectionately and smile. The past six months had consisted of going through hell and back. My family struggled with mixed emotions, and I debated my limited options. Finally, I had decided to hold on to my dreams…and my baby. What-ifs bombarded my mind on a daily basis, and feelings of doubt surged through me leaving me to question my decision. I was sensitive and feeling fragile. This child was so precious. The miracle taking place within my womb was a transforming experience for me. I had never felt so harmonious regardless of the emotional chaos that surrounded me. Despite judgmental looks and rude comments, I remained strong and determined. With every passing day, the bond between my unborn and me would grow immensely. The life within me was nurturing my soul and making me feel strong. That strength was essential in enduring what was to come.
When Phil and his buddies would pay me their periodic visits of painful comments, my heart would literally tear. Those still echoing…”Your family must be so ashamed…Why didn’t you get an abortion…A swift kick to the stomach could cure that…” The latter, being the most painful, left me feeling not only attacked, but also threatened. Blazing rage ignited at the sound of those resonating words. My soul depicted the tiny beating heart within my womb. The thought of anyone mocking my child as though it was some insignificant being unworthy of life awakened the mother bear within. Visions of Phil being punched danced in my head. Anger blinded me to the point where he was no longer a human being with feelings and self-worth, but rather a monster threatening the well being of my child. The principal attempted warning the boys on several occasions but to no avail. Despite orders to leave me alone, I still endured their destructive comments. I could no longer remain passive. These brutes seemed to me the ones unworthy of life. My rage remained disciplined until the day Phil physically shoved me in the hall. That incident caused anger to seep around my edges and I feared the impeding disaster should I lose that control. I warned him to stay away from me, which only seemed to amuse him.
The event reoccurred two days later, and I was left desperate for a solution. Having forgotten an important text book in my locker across the school, I had to make my way back to retrieve it. To my surprise and disappointment, Phil was there with his friends. His voice affected me much the same as nails on a chalkboard.
“Hey Rita! (My name sounded more like a mix between swearing and spitting.) Come here.” Every step I took brought me closer to my rage. As his face became more focused, the baby moved. Thoughts of being punched in the stomach made me short of breath. I had to suppress the tears that welled up at the thought of losing the growing innocence resting in my womb. Without realizing it, my fists clenched up as I made my way towards him. My baby…all I could think about was my baby. The thought of enduring this pain any longer was unbearable. Consumed by a whirlwind of thoughts, I didn’t notice I was already standing before him. He was smiling that wretched smile he would get right before making one of his comments. Something burst inside of me. A whooshing feeling swept over me, and for a moment, the world around me was red. His buddies standing behind him, the look on his face, the people playing cards behind them in the cafeteria, the swift breeze of someone walking by behind me…all these things looked red, felt red, and were red. In the blindness of my rage, the vision of punching Phil appeared. To my surprise, it dissipated to leave me standing before a broken boy with a bleeding nose. His friend swung his arms back and yelled, “WHOA, she just hit him!”
It is so strange to reflect upon that experience. That very moment, the world stopped for just a second and left me in a quiet, stagnant world of red. It’s as though my fears of losing my child, failing to provide a healthy future, facing life alone, not being good enough, being too young…etc…all transformed and took the form of a boy incapable of understanding my situation. A billowing dread of realization swept over me as my vision crystallized into reality.
Sometimes I wonder if it was really Phil that I hit or if it was those What-ifs and doubts at which I so desperately swung. Either way, I was bothered little if at all by either of them after the incident.