Home > Kick, Push (Kick Push #1)

Kick, Push (Kick Push #1)
Author: Jay McLean

Prologue

With my eyes closed, I could feel every stone, every bump, every crack of the pavement. The wheels spun—gripping tightly to form that perfect relationship with the ground.

The board, the ground and me—we were one—nothing to hide, nothing to lose.

I heard the dribble of the basketball and silence for a second, then the ball bouncing off the metal hoop. Hunter’s feet scraped across the asphalt, kicking loose gravel around on the half-court we’d been coming to since we were kids. I opened my eyes and set my foot on the tail of the deck, slowing down, and then finally coming to a stop. I didn’t join him in our usual game of Skateball. Instead, I sat on the bench; shoulders slumped from the proverbial weight that’d just been dumped on them.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, sitting down next to me.

He’d been my best friend since I could remember, so of course he could tell. Or maybe I was shit at hiding it. I looked down at the board beneath my feet as I moved it from side to side, itching just to jump back on, coast away, and chase that high of being alone.

Alone with just me, the deck, and spinning of the wheels.

“Natalie says she pregnant.”

Hunter’s foot landed on the nose of my skateboard, stopping it from moving. “Josh?”

I heard the weariness in his voice, but I didn’t look up. I didn’t want to see what his eyes would convey. Probably pity.

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

I shrugged. “She just dropped the news on me and told me to leave—that she didn’t want my input on her decision.”

“That’s bullshit.”

I shrugged again. “I didn’t know what else to do so I gave her what she wanted.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Not think about it.”

“You can’t ignore it.”

I lifted my gaze, but still avoided his. “I don’t want to think about it because I don’t want to have my mind or my heart set on something and she chooses the opposite.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, and I laughed. Because really? What the hell else could I do? He added, “I didn’t even know you were having sex.”

“Twice,” I told him. “Condom broke the second time.”

“Fuck.”

I sat back and crossed my arms. “Yeah. That pretty much covers it.”

He sighed loudly, but I still couldn’t look at him. “So we wait until she decides and we go from there.”

“We?”

“Always we, Josh. Whatever you need.”

I stood up. “I’ll see ya, Hunter.” And then I pushed off the ground with one foot, the other on the board, and headed home—wondering the entire time what Hunter’s face would’ve looked like when the word “pregnant” left my mouth. I laughed. It was dumb to laugh, but like I said, what the hell else could I do?

For two weeks Natalie talked and I listened. She went back and forth a thousand times over, repeating the same questions. Then one day, she sat down next to me in the school cafeteria and placed my hand on her stomach. My eyes snapped to hers. Her bright blue eyes seemed to sparkle when she flicked her blonde hair over her shoulder and pushed out her stomach. And then she smiled. “Promise me we’ll do it together?” she asked.

And I found myself smiling with her. “Of course,” I said. And I meant it.

We were sixteen and pregnant. And at the time—we were happy.

 

We told her parents first. She said it would be easier if she did it alone, but I refused. Natalie and the baby were my soon-to-be family, and I sure as hell would take responsibility for them. Her parents were disappointed. Her dad looked like he was going to punch me. Truthfully, I’d geared myself up for it. Natalie was an only child, like me, and she was their baby. But they weren’t around much. Her dad was a hotshot industrial realtor who traveled a lot. Her mom was his trophy, and she’d follow him wherever. We were lucky though—they understood that the decision to keep the baby was ours, and they said they’d support us to a certain degree. But they were done being parents, and not ready to be grandparents, so not to expect too much support.

My parents? That was a whole other story. My dad actually did what I thought Natalie’s dad would do. Yeah. He punched me. My mom cried. Natalie cried. My parents yelled some more. My mom kept mumbling about how she should’ve forced me to go to church with her every Sunday. My dad called me useless and told me to pack my bags and leave. Mom cried some more. I caught her gaze once, pleading with her to try to talk some sense into Dad. She knew what I was silently asking, because she said, “No, Joshua. This is your mistake. You deal with the consequences.” I did what they wanted. I packed my shit and left. No one would ever call my child a mistake. No one.

Natalie drove home.

I skated to Hunter’s.

He saw the bag in my hand and the fresh bruise under my eye and opened the door wider.

I slept in his guest bedroom for a while, walking on eggshells around his asshole dad. Then one day Hunter said, “You wanna look for an apartment or something? We could get jobs and split the rent.” And I knew what that meant without him actually coming out and saying it. His dad wanted me out. He added, “I’d offer you the guesthouse, but Mom’s moved in there.”

“What?”

“Yeah. I think it’s easier to hide her drinking.”

I called Natalie. She picked me up and took me back to her house. Her parents said I could stay in the bedroom down in their basement until I found something more suitable just as long as no one knew about it. They didn’t want to seem like the type of parents who encouraged sex and teen pregnancies. With them being gone so much on business, Natalie and I made a home for us in my temporary bedroom and played house during the day. We never argued, never had a bad thing to say to each other. It was nice. Actually, it was kind of perfect.

My parents never called.

We combined all our savings and the money that her mom had secretly given her to buy clothes and diapers and everything else the Internet told us we’d need. We went to all the doctor’s appointments together, and when she started truly showing, she stopped hiding it from the kids at school and everyone else. I was proud of her. I was proud of us. And on the day that Thomas Joshua Christian was born, I was the proudest damn man in the entire world.

She said she didn’t want to give him my last name. She wanted to wait until we were married and then she’d change it… something about not wanting to be looked down on when she gave people their different last names. I thought she was being stupid, but she had gotten ridiculously moody toward the end of the pregnancy so I chose my battles, and I let her win every single one.

I really wish I knew what happened between the months leading up to the birth, until the few weeks after. All I could think of is that we actually had the baby. Natalie—she complained a lot about everything: breastfeeding, exhaustion, having to do it all on her own, me not helping. I didn’t know how much more I could do. I changed every diaper, every outfit. Even when she was awake for feedings, I’d wake up with her so she didn’t have to feel alone. She was exhausted, and I understood that, which is why I helped out as much as I could.

So, gone were the days of playing house, of never arguing, of everything being perfect.

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