Author's Notes: This story comes from an idea I've had in my head for about 6 years. It's not anything I think I ever want to get truly published, but it's something that's fun for me to write and, I hope, will help improve my writing skills. If I get any reviews at all with some good constructive criticism, I will be extremely grateful. Thanks!

Also, sorry this chapter is so short – it was originally longer, but I decided to divide it up into 2 chapters instead. Chapter 2 will be coming soon.


"Honestly, Juliette, could you at least get rid of those horrible streaks? You're going to be a mother soon, for goodness' sake."

Startled by this abrupt comment that heralded her mother's entrance into the kitchen, the young woman whose name was Juliette reached up to run her fingers through her nearly elbow-length dark hair. For the past year it had been subjected to all sorts of "unnatural" colors; most recently it had been highlighted with bright red hair dye, and that was the look Juliette kept when she returned to her parents' house about three months ago.

"I can't get rid of them right now, Mom," she said quietly, glancing back down at the cornflakes she'd been consuming at the kitchen table, not making eye contact with her mother. "I'd have to dye my hair black again, and it's not healthy for the baby to dye your hair when you're pregnant."

"Well, how would I know that – I never had to worry about a thing like that when I had children," her mother retorted as she threw a hamper of dirty clothes into the washing machine; she likewise refused to meet her daughter's eye. Mrs. Carter was a woman who rarely hesitated to show her distaste for anything. Ever since her only child had returned from her first year of college in Florida back to her conservative home in Indianapolis, not only thoroughly punked-out but also pregnant, Mrs. Carter had shown nothing but disdain for the whole situation. How else could she act? It was unbelievable; it was embarrassing; she had raised her daughter better than that.

A few minutes of silence passed between mother and daughter as they both sat in the kitchen, not speaking to one another but thinking about the same topic: Juliette's pregnancy. Juliette became aware, not for the first time since she'd come home, of the strangeness of how things radically change and simulataneously remain the same. She was going to be an unwed mother, something that she had never thought would happen to her, yet now she was back in her parents' home and still treated somewhat like a child. How did a thing like that happen? Most of all, how did a thing like that happen to her?

When she'd left Indiana for the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg in August of 1985 (a little over a year ago), she'd been adamant on leaving behind everything that represented her former life. She no longer wanted to feel as trapped as she had felt when she was a teenager, going to Catholic schools and adhering so strictly to the path her family had chosen for her: don't drink, don't curse, don't smoke, and don't be anything but perfectly pristine and virginal and demure.

When she'd plunged into the college lifestyle, she didn't feel like she was turning into the clichéd former-Catholic-schoolgirl-turned-rebel (although her friends often teased her about this); far from rebelling, she was acting according to her natural inclinations for the first time in her life. Music was Juliette's passion, and while she'd gone to school to major in journalism in the hopes of writing for publications like Rolling Stone, instead of studying she spent most weekends (and many week nights as well) immersing herself in the local music scene. At the shows she attended, she made friends who were nothing like the people she'd grown up with. Her neighbors and classmates from back home would have deemed them "freaks," but to Juliette they were angels bedecked in punk and Goth clothing. No one before had ever welcomed her into their world so quickly. They took her to see rock and punk bands play, and since many of them were also in bands themselves, they would often invite her to watch them practice. She'd had more fun than she'd ever thought imaginable, hanging out with these people, and having intelligent discussions about music all the time. She was finally living the life she'd always wanted.

Not that she hadn't surprised herself with some of the things she found herself doing: for instance, once an honor student in high school, she rarely attended class while at USF-SP. And the fact that just six months ago, she'd been smoking pot with her boyfriend at a party, and then gone back with him to his apartment where they'd had sex, still felt surreal to her when she compared it to how she had spent her weekends in Indianapolis. But like many other college freshmen who found themselves loosened from the tight reins of their families, she lived like a free spirit for the first time in her nineteen years.

And now, both despite and because of the fact that she was now an expectant mother, all of that freedom was gone. She was back to where she'd begun when she left for school, back in the house, neighborhood and community that had frustrated her so much with its conservativeness and monotony. Returning was her only real choice. She'd been living in an apartment in St. Petersburg during the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, which had excited her to no end when she first moved in; but as soon as she discovered her pregnancy she fled back home, too terrified to attempt to make it on her own. For she would be a single mother – her ex-boyfriend, the father of her baby, was not going to factor in the life of their child at all. That was another reason why she had left Florida: he was still living in St. Petersburg as far as she knew, and because their breakup had been less than amicable, she didn't want to risk seeing him around town. She had considered starting over in a new city, so she wouldn't have to face her family or her ex-boyfriend, but then she would know no one. Though returning to Indianapolis as some sort of prodigal daughter was both frightening and humiliating, and nothing could erase her family's disappointment, she knew they would take her back. And having the support of her parents in raising her child was far less worrisome to her than the idea of raising it alone or with him.

Just as Juliette sat trying not to think about her ex-boyfriend, her mother turned back to her and said, "It's getting late, Juliette. Shouldn't you be getting to bed by now?"

"It's only ten, Mom."

"Yes, but I know you got used to staying up very late while you in Florida, and you can't do that anymore – not while you're under my roof. Your rest is very important. I expect you to be in bed in an hour."

Her mother's tone was slightly gentler than it had been before, and Juliette knew that her strictness wasn't just to enforce the fact that she would have to follow the rules of the house if she expected to stay there. Her mother genuinely cared about the health and general well-being of her daughter and unborn grandchild, however much she had not wanted to become a grandmother at age 47. So instead of arguing, Juliette nodded and finished her late-night snack of cereal, and headed upstairs to her bedroom. There, she sat on her floor and quietly played her U2 and David Bowie records. Though she might now never obtain her degree in music journalism because she didn't know when (or if) she would ever go back to school, and though she didn't go to shows anymore, music remained a vital part of her life. If nothing else, it reminded her that she had found something to be passionate about even in this boring suburban town.

And the music she loved would help carry her through all the events she would have to face in the coming months: her neighbors and her parents' friends gossiping about what had happened once they found out (at 4 months, her pregnancy was still mostly unnoticeable, and the Carters were still keeping it more or less a secret); getting a job after the baby was born to help her parents pay for the all extra expenses that having a child presented; and most of all, giving birth. The thought of actually, physically giving birth scared her more than anything else. Her cousin who'd had a baby several years ago had told her that it was the most indescribable, unimaginable pain one could endure. Although she would not admit it to anyone, Juliette worried about dying in childbirth. Not having turned twenty yet, she was still technically a teenager – what if her body couldn't handle it? Her ex-boyfriend stood at 6'3" or 6'4" when he wasn't slouching, and Juliette herself wasn't short either, so there was a probable chance that their baby would be big…

I have to stop thinking about it as our baby, Juliette thought to herself. It's not going to be his, it's going to be mine and mine alone. She turned up her music slightly louder in the hopes that it would drown out her own thoughts.

As she was quietly singing along to a long, mournful-sounding Bowie song called "Aladdin Sane," she was startled by the sudden ringing of all the telephones in the house. It was picked up by someone downstairs after the second ring. After a few moments, she heard footsteps plodding up the stairs, and then there was a knock on her door.

"Juliette," her mother's voice called, "there's a phone call for you." Juliette turned the music back down, and quickly got up and opened the door. Her mother was wearing a facial expression that was full of curiosity and…was it possibly suspicion?

"Who is it?" Juliette inquired. She'd pretty much cut herself off from her friends in St. Petersburg, so she hadn't had a phone call from any of them in months. Her mother shook her head.

"I don't know. I figured that it wasn't my business to ask. I told him it would be just a minute, though, so you should probably pick up the phone." Mrs. Carter left the room, closing the door behind her.

Juliette's heart began to pound. No, it couldn't be him…God, don't let it be him…

Her hands shaking slightly, she picked up the receiver of her telephone and put it to her ear.

"H-hello?" Her stammer and the pitch of her voice when she spoke that one word alone already made her nervousness clear. Please don't let it be him, she managed to pray again before the voice on the other line responded. Her prayer was not answered.