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High School Honey

by Bill Bowler

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Chapter 21: Experience


Three months passed. Summer came and went. September arrived, the air began to cool, the kids gathered up their books and headed back to school.

But for the last two or three weeks, Honey had felt sick with headaches and stomach aches every day. The term was just beginning, but she was missing a lot of school. She had no appetite during the day and cried herself to sleep at night.

When Honey was out for the third day in a row, Shirley came over to see how she was doing.

Mrs. Miller was watching the soaps when the bell rang.

“Hello, Mrs. M. Is Honey home?”

“Yes. Come in. She’s upstairs in her room, resting. She’s got a little bug.”

“I brought over my notes from Bio so she doesn’t get too far behind. Miss Waldvogel has scheduled an exam for next Friday.”

“That’s very nice of you, Shirley. Go ahead up.”

Mrs. Miller returned to the TV room as Shirley climbed the stairs to Honey’s bedroom. The bedroom door was shut, and Shirley knocked quietly.

“Honey? It’s me, Shirl.”

“Come in.”

Shirley stepped in, leaving the door open. Honey was lying in bed. She smiled faintly but was very pale. Shirley plopped on the foot of the bed.

“I brought my notes from Bio in case you want to catch up. There’s a test next Friday. How are you feeling? Got the flu? You don’t look too good. You taking any medicine?”


“Have you been to the doctor?”


“Why not?”

“I don’t have the flu.”

“How do you know what you have if you haven’t been to the doctor?”

Honey turned her face to the pillow and started to cry. Shirley moved closer and rubbed her shoulders. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m late.”

“What?” Shirley didn’t understand at first.

“I’m pregnant,” Honey sobbed into her pillow. “God! What am I going to do?!”

A glass shattered on the hallway floor. Mrs. Miller stood in the open doorway, white as a sheet.

“Don’t worry,” said Shirley softly. “Don’t worry. I’ll help you. This could happen to anyone. We’ll keep it secret.”

Honey buried her head in the pillow, sobbing. Anger, grief, fear welled up and overflowed in tears and sobs. After a few moments, with Shirley’s arm around her shoulders, Honey had cried the worst of it out. She turned to face Shirley with a weak smile, wiping her eyes with the sheet,

“You’ll help me?”

“Of course! Are you serious?”

Mrs. Miller stood transfixed in the doorway, frozen in horror.

Shirley meant to keep it a secret but somehow rumors started swirling. Honey became the subject of conversation in the girls’ locker room after gym on a day that she was “out sick” again. A mother of one of the girls called Mrs. Miller and commented obliquely about Honey’s “condition.”

When Flea heard the rumors, he freaked out. The fact that actions have consequences began to dawn on him, though he fought against it. Maybe she was just late from worrying or something?

The rumor mill kept grinding, the rumors spread far and wide and, when they hit the Brookbank town line, they splashed over into neighboring Pasquanack and reached Nick’s ears. He was only recently off crutches. He called Honey at once.

“Hey, baby, I just heard the news.”


“I wanna marry you. You’re gonna have my baby,” he crowed. “Listen, babe,” Nick continued. “Look, I’m workin’ a good job. Mr. Stewart says I’m the best mechanic he’s got. I’m saving money to open my own gas station. We can find an apartment in Pasquanack...”

“I’m sorry, Nick. I’m not ready to be a mother.”

“Whaddaya mean by that?”

“I’m not ready to have a baby.”

“What the hell are you talking about?!”

“I’m not going to keep this baby.”

“What are you, nuts?! That’s my baby and I want it!”

“I’m not sure who the father is, Nick.”

“You whore!”

Honey disappeared from Brookbank for seven months. No official reason was offered for her absence but they said she was going to school for a year in California.

* * *

Many years have passed since then. Time flows on and yesterday’s crises fade into soft-focus until reawakened as nostalgia by an old song or a troubled dream.

Where are they now?

Floater owns a Burger King franchise in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Flea went to Nam, made it back, and joined the Hare Krishnas.

Nick tried to enlist, but his leg injury kept him out of the service. He owns a gas station in Pasquanack.

Shirley and Jack got married, have three kids, and live in Brookbank. Jack is Chief of Police.

Honey got her Masters in Social Work and became a clinical psychologist. She has a thriving psychotherapy practice in Manhattan. Her husband is a psychiatrist and they have adopted a lovely daughter. They live in Greenwich.

Copyright © 2010 by Bill Bowler

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