Something about anything would not come, so Sierra marched up to Molson’s desk, journal in hand. “What do you mean, something about anything?”
“For instance, Sierra,” Molson holds up his own journal and in a low voice reads, “Every spring an army of ants invades the kitchen of his mother’s house. They climb up walls, and the side of the white plastic garbage can at the top of the stairs. Every time Oscar ascends from the depths of his basement hole, he counts them, and announces the count to anyone who cares, “27 ants.” Molson stops and looks at Sierra.
“You want me to write about bugs?” She wrinkles her nose.
Molson says, “Write about something you know, Sierra. I know about ants climbing the side of a garbage can. I know how difficult ants can be to control. It has to do with cleanliness, of course, but that is beside the point, or maybe that is the point, hmm . . .” He stops and writes the words controlling ants=cleanliness in his journal, then continues, “The point is Sierra, pick something mundane, something ordinary in your life, write a story around it. I started with ants. You can start with anything ordinary in your life. Write it, watch it grow.” He motioned with his hand toward her desk.
Sierra walked back to her desk, everyone else in class was writing. Now it was her turn. She sat down and looked at the clock— 22 minutes. She began.
The pregnancy stick looks so benign.
Sierra knew the word benign because Molson used it as what he called a “sometimes” synonym for the word mundane. She also knew it meant that whatever they cut out of your body would not kill you, as in, the cancer is benign.
That’s probably a good thing, Joy thought. She was sitting on the toilet in her Step-mom’s sister’s bathroom, holding the stick in her pee. The box said that it would be a + if she was pregnant. It said to wait for results. She didn’t have to wait long. Joy looked down at the stick. It didn’t look so benign now. It cut out a piece of her right then and there. This was one of those “defining moments” her English teacher always talks about.
Sierra sat up and looked at the clock again, thinking. What next...she didn’t know. She looked across the room at her best friend Jess, wondering where words were taking her. Jess was her inspiration for Joy. Sierra had no idea what Jess would do with her pregnancy. Her pregnancy, it made Sierra shudder to think about it. 15 minutes remained. Sierra decided to reread what she’d written before continuing. Molson always says to do that, and sometimes the story writes itself. “Let it come, let it go,” Molson says from one of the monthly Caldecott books he shares, A Story, A Story.
Sierra let it come.
Never one to cry and let life run her course for her, Joy takes action. She contacts Planned Parenthood and sets up an appointment with a pregnancy counselor. Joy knows that they will tell her about all of the options out there: abortion, adoption, open adoption, and raising a child. Joy knows what she wants. She asks the counselor about places where girls can live for the duration of their pregnancy, and give the baby to a family to raise. That’s what Joy wants to do with her pregnancy. She doesn’t want to tell LJ, because she’s afraid he’ll tell her it isn’t his baby. She’s afraid he’ll scream at her. She’s afraid he’ll call her a whore, or a slut, or a hose-bag. She’s even afraid he might kick her, or swing one of his rock-hard fists into her face and scream, “WHO ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN FUCKING, BITCH!!” with his rank cigarette stained breath.
Sierra’s sharp intake of breath as she sat back in her chair was loud enough that three people looked up: Molson, L. J. Jones, and Jess. Each one of them looked at her. Sierra looked down, and scratched out everything she had written. She ripped the pages from her journal, went to the trashcan, and she shredded them.
Molson looked at Sierra and said, “Good stuff, eh.” with this weird knowing grin on his face.