After I gave away the most precious thing I had,
Austin and I remained in a relationship for a little while
longer, but things were different. He still held my hand at
school, and we even talked on the phone. We still hung out
together, but everything had changed. Our relationship was
no longer innocent love. It was no longer what I would call
‘puppy love.’ He brought up sex even more since we had
done it already. I still didn’t feel too comfortable doing it
because it felt wrong, so I blew him off and changed the
subject when he brought it up. We did have sex one more
time. I had convinced my mom to let me go over to Tyra’s,
my oldest sister, apartment. He came over, and we had a
quickie while she was in the shower. After we finished
having sex, I noticed a fishy odor. I thought it was weird, but
I didn’t say anything about it to Austin. I don’t know if he
noticed it or not, but I did. Mama always taught me to pay
attention to my body because if something is not right, I
should be the first person to know. At that moment, I knew
something was not right. I just didn’t know what it was.
After Austin was gone, my mom picked me up to take me
home later that night. When I got in the car, as always, she
knew something wasn’t right. She asked me, “What is that
smell? I smell fish.” How did she know these things? I told
her my sister had cooked some fish, and that was the end of
Over the next several days, I woke up, got dressed,
went to school, gave the teacher my attention in class, went
home, took a nap, got up to do homework, ate dinner, did my
chores, and went to bed again. I repeated this cycle every
day. It’s like someone had put me on autopilot, and I was
going through the motions. It was time for my period around
the first week of February, but I was spotting a lot. Mama
asked me if my period had started because she kept up with
it. I told her yes, neglecting to mention I was only spotting.
No need to worry her or me, right? I was hoping that I
wasn’t pregnant; that would be an awful thing. First off, my
parents would kill me. There was no way I could take care
of a baby. I couldn’t even take care of myself, which made
me regret January 23 more and more. Oh, how I wished I
had just said no that day. Why in the hell didn’t I go with
my gut and say, “Hell to the no! I’m not ready, and you can’t
pressure me.” I felt stupid.
Furthermore, what really had me upset was that the
blood from my period was a dark reddish-brown color, and
it had a foul odor. The smell was horrible. I didn’t even want
to go to the bathroom to pee. There was no way I could tell
my mother about it because then she would know I’d had sex
with someone. There was no way I could tell anybody. I was
too embarrassed to say anything to Lillie or Shanda, my best
friends, and too ashamed to tell my mother. All I could do
was pray to the good Lord that it would all go away.
I wished a thousand times I could turn back the hands
of time. I would do that dreadful day differently. I would’ve
changed everything. But, in life, we learn that we can’t undo
what’s already been done. I would have to suffer whatever
the consequences would be. Austin had been distant toward
me since the last time we had sex. I couldn’t even bring
myself to tell him what was going on with me. It was almost
as if he didn’t want to have anything else to do with me. I
should have known that would happen; my mama warned
my sisters and me about this very thing. She would always
say, “Keep the door of the church closed. Keep the lock on
your pocketbook,” and one of my favorites, “Don’t let
everybody see your feet.” When we were disobedient, she
would say, “A hard head makes a soft ass.” I must say, my
ass was feeling mighty soft.
One day, I remember I was at school, and I couldn’t
get the thought of being pregnant out of my head. I walked
into class, took my seat behind Lillie, and I whispered in her
ear, “If I tell you something, do you promise not to tell
anybody?” I knew I shouldn’t have told her, but I had to talk
to someone to get the heaviness off my chest.
“I promise,” she said, as she leaned to her left side to
“I think I might be pregnant,” I blurted out. Lillie
looked at me in disbelief, and then said, “I knew this was
going to happen.”
“How did you know?”
“Because you kept talking about doing it with him.
Why didn’t you use a condom?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t think I would get pregnant. I
counted the days on the calendar. I must have counted it
wrong. Plus, he didn’t want to use a condom.” She shook her
head from side to side in disapproval. I couldn’t say anything
more. My sister had warned me about the same thing, but I
didn’t listen. God, why didn’t I listen? Was I that desperate
to please a boy?
“What are you gonna do?”
“Honestly, I don’t know,” I said through tears. We
were at school. I couldn’t wail the way I wanted to without
all the other kids around noticing. I wanted to let out all of
my pent-up frustrations. But I couldn’t, not at school and not
at home. Lillie could probably tell I was about to explode.
She said, “Maybe it’s just stress, Robin. Don’t freak out yet.”
“Okay.” Maybe she was right. There was no need to
freak out yet. At least I was spotting some blood. That’s a
good sign, right? Although I was hoping it was a good sign,
deep down I knew it wasn’t.
The bell rang, indicating it was time for class to start.
I quickly gathered my thoughts so I could pay attention in
class. I loved my French teacher, Mrs. Portnoy and the class.
When class was over, Lillie and I walked out together,
heading to our lockers.
On our way, I saw Austin in the hallway with his
friends laughing and joking around. He was dressed in
khakis and a red polo shirt. He was fine at about five-seven,
smooth golden skin, and a smile with straight white teeth to
die for. His hair was freshly cut, and he was feeling himself
that day. He looked good, and he knew it. He looked at me
and turned his head like I wasn’t even there. Before he got
in my panties, he would rush over to help me with my books
or stand with me at my locker. Then, he had the nerve to act
like he didn’t even see me.
“Did you see that?” I asked Lillie.
“Sure did. He has some nerve; that’s cold.”
“I ought to go over there and slap the taste out his
“No, girl, don’t worry about it. Just act like you don’t
see him either.” She was exactly right. Why should I make a
scene in front of everyone for a boy who clearly wasn’t as
into me as I thought he was?
Valentine’s Day was just a few days away, and I was
hoping everything would get better for us. When I ran into
Austin at the end of the school day, while walking out to
catch the bus home, I was still feeling stupid. I had not talked
to him in a while; it was kind of awkward. We stared at each
other, me in disbelief, and him in…what? Disregard maybe.
Is this dude going to speak to me or what? With frustration,
I spoke up first.
“What’s up?” he asked, displaying a blank
expression. I was trying to read him, but I couldn’t. I didn’t
know what he was going to say next.
“Why have you been ignoring me?” I blurted out.
“I haven’t been ignoring you!” He said, a bit too
loudly and with too much attitude.
“Yes, you have! You were acting like you didn’t
even see me the other day when you were with your boys,
and you haven’t returned any of my phone calls!” By then, I
was pissed off and didn’t mind letting him know it.
“Whatever, dude?” I couldn’t believe what I’d just
“Look, I’m just tired of you okay,” he said, looking
away. He looked to the left of my face, then down at the
floor. Without saying another word, he stalked off.
I was stunned, speechless. It felt like the wind was
knocked out of me. I was deeply hurt. I willingly gave
Austin my virginity. I stayed up many nights, losing sleep
while talking on the phone with him. I went against my gut
instinct and everything my parents taught me to give him
what he wanted. Then, he said he was tired of me. How
could this be happening to me? What the hell had just
happened? It was over just as fast as it had begun. I felt like
such a fool. Valentine’s Day was right around the corner.
Not only would I not be receiving a Valentine’s gift from the
one guy I thought loved me, but I could also be pregnant and
would be raising the child alone.
I didn’t want to go to school over the next couple of
weeks. I had some of my friends ask me what happened
between Austin and me. I told them exactly what he said.
Mom asked, but I was too ashamed to tell her. So, I just told
her we broke up. I assumed she didn’t want to pry because
she didn’t ask me anything else about it. Although I was
upset about it, I tried not to let it control me. I couldn’t keep
my mind off of the fact that I wouldn’t feel as bad as I felt if
I had not had sex with him.
It was early March. The weather was mild that day.
When I got home from school, I was tired. I went directly to
my room to take a nap. As I was dozing off to sleep, I heard
my sister, Dionne, sweeping the hallway floor. She woke me
up when she saw Mama coming into the driveway. She was
home early from work. Mama worked as a registered nurse
in the emergency department of the county hospital in
Starkville. Starkville, MS, a small city, is the home of the
Mississippi State University Bulldogs. The drive from West
Point to Starkville is about twenty minutes or so.
In a panic, I jumped from my twin-sized bed and
hurried to make up Mama and Daddy’s bed. Cleaning up my
parents’ room was part of my to-do list every day. I hated to
clean up their room, but they never knew it. Their room was
a decent size with a queen-sized bed and nightstands on each
side of the bed. There was also carpet, so I had to vacuum
and dust. And there was an en-suite bathroom, which I also
had to clean up every day.
When Mama walked into the house, I was already in
her room cleaning up. She had no reason to think I had been
napping. As Mama walked into the bedroom, I greeted her
with a smile.
“Hi, Robin. I’m going to take a shower. I’m not
feeling too good.”
“What’s wrong?” I hated it when my mama was sick.
She looked so pitiful; so unlike herself.
“It was something I ate at work. I had tuna salad. It
must have been bad. I’ll never eat it at work again.”
“You need anything?”
“Yeah. Go get me some water and an Alka-Seltzer.”
Alka-Seltzer was and still is Mama’s go-to medication for
stomach aches and indigestion.
I went upstairs to do what Mama asked me to do.
Yes, the kitchen is upstairs. My daddy built our home that
way. For whatever reason, he loved the four bedrooms, twoand-a-half bathrooms, split-level floor plan when he found it
and decided to build it. The kitchen, dining room, and living
area are all upstairs. The den is on the lowest level of our
home with the two-door garage. Some found it hard to
believe; but, yes, my daddy built our home himself. Not only
was my dad a pharmacist, he was also by trade, a carpenter
and mechanic. He was the general contractor and builder of
his dream home. I was always proud of that.
I remember how much I loved going to the site as the
house was being built. My daddy was my hero. I saw how
strong and smart he was to be able to do that. I watched him
and his contracting buddies in amazement. I loved the smell
of the wood and the sounds of the hammers and drills. He
wouldn’t let me get too close because he said it was
dangerous. So, I watched from afar. In my eyes, my father
could do no wrong. He was the king of my life as far as I was
concerned. I was the ultimate daddy’s girl. In some ways
now, I still am. Once, I asked him if he would build my house
when I grew up. He just laughed and said, “I’ll be too old
By the time I made it back downstairs, Mama had
already gotten in the shower. When she got out of the
bathroom, I gave her the Alka-Seltzer I had prepared. She
drank it down in a few gulps and headed to her favorite green
recliner to rest. I decided to go ahead and iron my clothes
for the next day of school. The ironing board and iron were
always in my parents’ closet; I would get them out and iron
in their room.
While I was ironing, my mom was staring at me. It
made me a little uncomfortable. I tried to ignore it. Every
time I looked up, she was staring at me. I was just a bit
worried by it, but I didn’t say anything, hoping she would
look away. Then, out of nowhere, she said, “Robin, are you
I was like a deer caught in the headlights. I was
stunned. I replied, “No ma’am.”
“Don’t lie to me. You know I don’t like being lied to.
Now, I’m going to ask you one more time. Are you having
sex?” This time her voice was more forceful. I decided it
would be in my best interest to tell the truth.
“Well, it was only one time.” I was nervous; my
voice was shaking. I didn’t want to tell her about the second
time I’d had sex. The first experience was bad enough. I held
my breath while waiting for her to flip out on me. To my
surprise, she didn’t. She asked me a follow-up question.
“When did you have sex?”
“You’re pregnant,” she said matter-of-factly.
“No, I’m not!” I nearly yelled. My heart was about
to jump out of my chest at the accusation. I could not believe
my mom could look at me and say such a thing.
“Yes, you are,” she responded with authority. She
flipped up the calendar hanging on the wall next to her
recliner. She looked at the days and said, “You are pregnant,
and you were ovulating that day.” I stood there looking like
a fool. I could have sworn I counted my days correctly, so
there would be no chance of me getting pregnant. I still had
hope I wasn’t pregnant up until that moment. The pit of my
stomach felt like it hit the floor; I was speechless. What
could I say? What could I do to change things? To my
dismay, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about what my
mom revealed to me. She knew with all certainty that I was
carrying a baby.
She picked up the phone and called my oldest sister,
“Hi, Tyra, go to the store and buy a pregnancy test.”
Tyra was asking questions because Mama said, “Just
do what I said; we will talk later.” Then Mama disconnected
the call. She put the phone down, and said, “Maybe I’m
wrong. Let’s just wait and see what the test says.”
My sister arrived a little while later with my nephew
and the pregnancy test in tow. Tyra walked in and said,
“Don’t worry about it,” Mama said, hurrying Tyra
out of the house. “I’ll call you later.”
As soon as Tyra was gone, Mama gave me the box
holding the pregnancy test. Tyra picked up the E.P.T test,
which I assumed was one of the most accurate tests
available. I held the box in my hand, staring at it, knowing
that in a matter of minutes, the course of my life would
depend on whether or not the test was positive or negative.
Mama snapped me out of my reverie and hurried me to the
bathroom. Once in the bathroom, I stood there for a minute
or so, looking at myself in the mirror. I was wondering what
I was going to do if the test turned out to be positive.
Mama was very disappointed when Tyra got
pregnant. I saw how upset she was. Mama got pregnant when
she was eighteen years old with Tyra. I know that is not
something she wanted for any of her girls. She didn’t want
us to be unwed mothers. She didn’t want our lives to be
harder than they needed to be. Since she was upset when
Tyra got pregnant, I just knew she was going to explode if I
turned out to be pregnant.
I turned the box over and read the directions. With
shaking hands, I opened the box and removed the test. I
removed my clothing and urinated on the end of the stick,
replaced the cap, and placed it face up, as directed, on the
top of the toilet. I washed my hands and opened the
bathroom door. Mom and Dionne were standing in the
hallway waiting for me to come out. I was trying to read
their faces to see how they were feeling. If they were as
nervous as I was, it didn’t show. I stood in the bathroom with
the door open, looking at them. I felt nothing but fear and
anticipation. I felt like my legs were going to give out; I was
After about a minute or two, Mama came in and
picked up the stick. She looked at it; then handed it to me. I
didn’t want to look at it because deep down inside, I already
knew the results, but I looked at it anyway. There it was, two
blue lines indicating I was pregnant. I was speechless.
Dionne asked, “What does it say?” I looked at her and gave
her the test. She looked at it, and then she grabbed the box to
make sure she interpreted the results correctly. Shock was
written all over her face.
I started to cry, and so did Mama and Dionne. “I’m
sorry, Mama,” I wailed. I couldn’t stop those tears from
falling. I was afraid. I never expected anything like this to
happen to me.
“It’s going to be all right,” Mama said, wiping my
tears away. She hugged me and held me close as I cried in
her arms. Dionne came and hugged me from behind. All
three of us stood there in the bathroom, embracing each
other, crying. Mama pulled back for just a moment and asked
me a question I didn’t expect.
“Do you want to get rid of it?”
With tears streaming, it took me only a moment to
say, “You didn’t get rid of me.” Those were words I didn’t
expect to come out of my mouth; but to my surprise, they
“Okay, I was just checking to see where your mind
is,” she said. I don’t remember how long it took Mama to
figure out who the father of my baby was. But when she did,
she rushed to my room, picked up the phone, and called
Austin. I didn’t know who she was calling until I heard her
say, “Robin is pregnant, now what are you going to do?”
She didn’t bother to say hello or be cordial toward
him like she always was. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting to
hear that because she repeated what she had just said. Then
without any regard for him or what he was saying, she
slammed the phone down.
Like clockwork, we heard the garage door opening, which
meant my dad was home from work. I felt faint. I was not
ready for my daddy to know about this. I didn’t have time
to dwell on what was happening because Mama told us to
clean up our faces and pretend like nothing was wrong. She
said, “Don’t say a word about your pregnancy to anyone.”
She wasn’t going to tell Daddy about it yet. A few moments
later, we heard Daddy stepping into the house.