“How to tell them?” I wonder. I haven’t even been sitting on this couch for an hour, and I’ve already smoked three cigarettes. Jack is in the other room, and I’m afraid I’ve made him angry because he acts like the whole thing is a joke.

At twenty-one, I’m not a baby by any means, but since I’m her youngest child my mama thinks I am. And right now I feel like one. I just want to curl up with the plush frog Karen made me, close my eyes, and be someone new, someone younger. Or maybe just someone smarter.

Jack enters the room, fiddling with his camera.

“So just tell them,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You’re an adult. You can make your own decisions.”

Yes, I’m legally an adult, but I’m still in college. And I’m also in his apartment instead of my dorm. I try to do the math in my head, trying to figure out if there is some way to still graduate, but I know it’s impossible. It’s still only January.

“We can go to the courthouse this weekend. Tell them after; I don’t care.” Jack raises his camera to his face. “Come on, smile. This should be a happy day.”

My mother got married young—at a mere nineteen years of age—but it was not what I had envisioned for myself. I was going to get a degree and then join the Peace Corps. I was going to travel, then get a teaching job, then get married and have children.

But it was too late for that now.

“Come on, Lizzie. Show me a smile.”

I can’t find one. I still don’t know how I’m going to tell my parents.

Story by Christin Peter

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