Court in the Act
To say Bernie was scared would not be correct on any level, she was petrified!
Mrs. Rose squeezed her daughter's hand and gave her a reassuring smile; at least she hoped it was reassuring. This was a whole new experience for the whole Rose family whose previous involvement with officialdom ran to a parking ticket in 1993!
The waiting was the worst bit, they'd been sat waiting for over an hour, it seems that youth court was busy today.
"It'll be alright love." they hugged before Bernie followed the usher into the courtroom, her mum going into the public gallery where their legal team was waiting.
"Well that went well." Mr. Smyth 'with a y' stated as they convened in a side room ten minutes later.
"So what happens now?"
"Well Mrs. Rose, social services will send you an appointment for an assessment, then at the hearing next month, if all goes well, the judge will make a temporary supervision order. Usually in these cases that means you have to report to your probation officer each week or fortnight. Its a first offence so we are probably looking at six to twelve months."
"Thanks Mr. Smyth" Bern mentioned.
"What about this other case Mr. Smyth?"
"Ah yes, the under age sex business. Well certainly nothing for you to worry about, its the Crown who are bringing the case, they might want a witness statement but its unlikely you'll be called to court."
"I find all this bewildering." Mrs. Rose admitted, "I wish my Ian was home."
"Yes, he's in Iran working."
"Well like I said there's nothing to worry about, if anything comes up you have my number. I have to dash I'm afraid; I'm due in court again. I'll see you at the hearing next month."
It was bitterly cold outside the magistrates court, Bernie let out a sigh.
"You okay love? Fancy a cuppa?"
Mother and daughter walked along to the 'Toad in the hole' café and found a table inside.
"Mr. Smyth seemed very upbeat."
Mrs. R was half minded to launch into the 'hope you've learnt your lesson' monologue but it had been overplayed in the last few weeks and it didn't solve anything.
"We'll have to see about getting you back into school."
"Well Carol, Mad's mum is sure we can get you back in, she's on the School board so has had some experience.
"I dunno whether I could, everyone'll know."
"Where else do yo propose? You'd have to go to Worksop or Ollerton."
"At least they lifted your curfew so you can get out during the day."
Being housebound really was a bummer and the relaxation really would make life more bearable.
"Have you thought any more about the baby?"
"Of course I have."
"Look love, we'll support you whichever way you decide. Too many girls have their lives ruined by feeling pressured into having the child, I don't want you to be one of them."
"But abortion Mum?"
"Ok so in theory I'm against it too, but I'm practical, no one would blame you and even Father Ignacious agrees with me. It's not the only option you know? You could have it and offer it for adoption?"
"I don't know whether I could."
Being basically under house arrest there wasn't much else to do other than think. And whilst Drew's visit had returned her friends to her life she didn't really feel comfortable talking about this sort of stuff with them yet. Oddly she probably would‘ve talked to Drew; maybe she could call him up for a chat? It was a big decision, potentially life changing, well that goes without saying.
Of the three options the easiest of course would be an abortion, she'd always been against it in the past but that was before it affected her and also because the church was very much against it, but they were against contraception too which she always found rather hypocritical.
Option two would be to have the child and have it adopted, but of course that comes with its own baggage. Could she really give up a child that she'd carried for 9 months and given birth to? And what of the child? Would she get a knock on the door in twenty years time to find the ‘abandoned' child on the doorstep? There was so much of that in the papers and magazines these days, mothers looking for adopted children and visa versa, yep, even adoption could be messy.
Which left keeping the child. Was she ready for motherhood – on any level? It would totally change her life of course, not just the pregnancy but her whole life. Of course these days there is lots of support, childcare, education, money but she'd always be the single mum, the one who had to get home for the sitter. She really wished she could rewind the last few months and have things like they were before she met Sean.
“Mum? I'm going to meet the guys.”
“Okay, you know the rules.”
Mrs. Rose had put her own conditions on Bern's freedom; hourly check ins and no leaving Warsop ‘unsupervised'. Well it was better than being stuck in doors and she could at least go to see her friends that meant she was less isolated.
She pulled her coat around her and hurried towards the College. It was strange going there not just out of uniform but no longer, at least for now, even a student. It felt like everyone she saw was looking at her in judgement but in truth hardly anyone knew what had gone on, it was doubtful that many people read the court notices in Chad and even if they did they were unlikely to know her.
“Mum reckons you'll be back in school in a couple of weeks.” Mad advised as they headed for Villa Peters.
“Maybe.” Bernie agreed. “I might go to Worksop High instead, start fresh you know?”
“Oh don't Bern, we'd never see you.” Ally mentioned.
“Why'd you want to do that?” Helen enquired.
“I don't know if I can take all the pointing, I mean everyone must know what I've done.”
“You're old news Bern, a few might remember but most people have probably forgotten you exist.” Mad pointed out.
“Except us of course!” Helen put in.
“So what are we doing after tea?” Ally enquired.
“English revision.” Mad sighed.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about the mock tomorrow.”
Those few words isolated Bernie from her friends as effectively as if she was locked away. She had been out of school since before Christmas, nearly two months in all. The home schooling she had was really just a couple of hours of pointless exercises with the wet behind the ears ‘facilitator' the council supplied. It was strange really, most kids would say they hate school, but if its taken away from you you find yourself wanting to be there.
“Tubby or not tubby, fat is the question!” Helen trilled.
“Helen, that is so bad! Right Bern?”
“Eh? Sorry I wasn't listening.”
“You okay Bern?” Ally asked.
“Yeah sure, look on second thoughts I think I'll just go home, I don't feel so good.”
“You want us to come with?” Helen offered.
“No, its okay, just a bit of a headache, I'll be alright.”
“If you say so, I'll call a bit later okay?” Mad offered.
“Yeah sure, bye then.”
The three of them watched as Bern retraced their walk along the lane.
“What do you think that was about?”
“No idea Mad.” Ally responded.
“She went a bit quiet when we started talking about school.” Helen observed.
It wasn't the girl's fault, not really. Things had changed, before she'd always shared so many experiences with her friends, they did everything together, her, Ally, Drew, Mad and Rhod. First Drew moved away, then Rhod, well Em by then, went to Wales then of course she'd gone daft. She didn't dare look back although she was certain they were watching her, no she wouldn't let them see the hot tears slipping down her face.
She'd meant to tell them about the baby tonight, they still didn't know about her pregnancy, it just hadn't come up in the couple of chats they'd had. She was on autopilot, walking home on the streets she knew so well.
“Mum? I'm back.”
“I thought you were going to the Peters for tea?” her mum enquired.
“I decided not to bother, I didn't fancy it really.”
It was clear by what her daughter didn't say that there was more to it than that but she knew by now that Bern would tell her when she was good and ready.
“I've been thinking, you know about the baby, I'm gonna keep it.”
So that's what it was about.
“You know it won't be easy?”
“I'll survive, it's not like its Aids or something.”
Mrs. Rose held her tongue in regard to the glib reply.
“Well I guess if that's decided we'd best let your father know.”
The conversation with her absent father went as well as it could. He was of course somewhat less than impressed with the circumstances and he'd made that quite clear but ever the pragmatist he promised his full support. She neatly sidestepped the school issue, it would have to be faced sooner or later but for now it could be later. She opened up her email folder and started to compose.
‘Hiya Drew, me here!
Well I've finally decided, I'm gonna keep the baby. I bet that surprised you, but I've looked at it from every angle and that's what I want to do.
I've got a favour to ask though. I still haven't told the others I'm pregnant, I know I'm a wimp but do you think you could tell them – pretty please?
Oh yeah my curfew thingy has been lifted so I can go out now which is really cool. Mum says we can go to Meadowhall tomorrow to start looking at baby stuff; I'll get properly registered at the doctors in the morning so I can start antenatal classes and stuff. Hey we'll be able to swap notes on being preggers! (Giggle)
I've decided that if it's a boy I'm going to call it Drew James and if it's a girl Gabrielle Susan, what do you think?
Before she changed her mind she hit ‘send' and relaxed back into her computer chair.
Maddy Bell 01.12.08 © 2008
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