What Goes Unspoken

It was quiet at the park without many people to make much noise that late in the afternoon. The girl was already sitting on a bench when the boy walked over. The former was hunched over with her elbows on her knees, and she had her hands together. She looked up and saw the boy, who caught her gaze and stiffened. After a moment’s pause, the girl lowered her forehead atop her interlocked fingers. The boy turned around but didn’t leave. They stayed like that for a long time, the girl sitting, the boy standing, and neither speaking.

Finally, the boy said, “So… not a lot of people here, eh?”

The girl let out a deep breath, her shoulders rising and falling. She kept her head lowered and dropped her hands into her lap. “No. Not really.”

The boy gave her a side glance before turning away, eyes downcast “How’d dance practice go?”

The girl breathed and shook her head. “It went fine. It wasn’t very crowded for some reason, but other than that….” She leaned back against the seat. “What about you?”

“Haven’t been up to much,” he said. “Had a lot on my mind lately.”

“Yeah… me, too.”

For a few, long moments, only silence passed between them. The boy occasionally turned his head as if to look at the girl more directly, but he shifted his eyes away from her soon after three times. The girl didn’t move too much and didn’t bother to look at him—or much of anything, really.

When she sighed at last, the sound was rough. “You don’t know what to do, do you?”

His posture went rigid, but his reply was distant. “What?”

She shot him a glare. “Hello! Last week! That ring a bell?” She tripped on her words, then shifted closer to the edge of the bench farthest from him. “I don’t believe you, forgetting already….”

“Whoa, hold on!” He whirled in place, but he didn’t join her on the bench. “I didn’t forget about that. I just thought you might’ve been talking about something else.”

“I wish I could talk about something else.” The girl hit the bench’s armrest. “You didn’t say it, but I could tell just from how you acted. You can’t handle it. Nothing’s changed since then.”

“Nothing’s changed? More like everything’s changed. Look….” The boy took a few steps closer to her, but he didn’t seat himself down on the bench. “I just need you to listen for a sec, okay?”

She kept her face hidden from him and remained quiet.

“Okay?” he repeated.

Without moving, she said, “Okay.”

The boy nodded. He breathed deep, but still, his eyes failed to meet hers. “I was thinking about last week, when you told me the news. Our talk, the fight…. It’s been stuck in my head ever since I left your house. Couldn’t concentrate on anything—violin, games, nothing.” He raised his hands in the air, clucked his tongue, then threw his hands down. “What I did was stupid. I shouldn’t have acted like that.”

The girl turned her eyes towards him ever so slightly. “So you admit it.”

“Yes! Yes, I do,” he said.

The girl shrunk into herself a little more, bringing her knees up to her chest.

The boy threw his head back. “Will you stop with that already? I’m sorry, all right? I was stupid, I was an ass, and I’m sorry for everything I said.” He sighed, and when he next spoke, he sounded calmer. “After all the thinking I did, I realized I didn’t want to leave you alone. I want to tackle this with you.”

The girl uncurled herself, then let one hand rest on her belly. “You were thinking about this, too? How we’d deal with it?”

“Yeah, a little.” He made a sheepish chuckle. “I’ll be honest. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t have a plan, and I wish I did. Winging it probably isn’t the best thing to do, is it?”

“Not in this case,” she said, “but what else are we going to do? I still haven’t told my parents. I couldn’t. I thought about it, but… I choked up. I tried to read, tried to dance… didn’t work. Then I came here.” She shook her head. “I’ve just been so confused….”

“I know the feeling.”

The girl relaxed, and though she didn’t leave her spot on the bench, she straightened her posture. She put her hands together and left them on her belly. The boy finally seated himself next to her. His gaze drifted to her belly and stayed there.

“You don’t think they’ll….” The girl shifted a bit closer to him.

“Don’t think they’ll what?” he asked.

“You don’t think… they’ll tell me to get rid of it, do you?” She looked up to meet his eyes.

“No, I don’t think so. And if they do, we won’t do it. Plain and simple. We’ll figure out how to take care of him… or her.” The boy rested his hand and hers. “You weren’t thinking of getting rid of it, were you?”

“No! No. That’s the thing. I want to keep it. I just don’t know how my parents will take it. We both know what they think of you.”

“Yeah… yeah, I do.” The boy grimaced. “This isn’t going to help.”

“We tried to be as careful as we could be. We just weren’t lucky.” The girl pursed her lips together for a second. “So what are we going to do?”

“I don’t even know how I’m going to break this to my own folks. I….”

“Don’t have a clue. Right?”

He nodded and lowered his head. “This is why I think I freaked out. This is huge, you know? I couldn’t figure out how to tackle this, and I still don’t.”

The girl snuggled closer to him. “I wonder if our parents went through something like this….”

The boy shrugged. For a long while thereafter, they said nothing. The only movements they made were tightening and loosening their holds on each other’s hands. At one point, the boy rubbed his hand on the girl’s belly. Eventually, they exchanged looks. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, and then they put their foreheads together.

“You really won’t leave?” she asked finally.

“No. Definitely won’t,” he said.

“And you want to help me with this all the way through?”

“I do. Just don’t know how.”

The faintest hint of a smile crossed her lips. “Do you think we should give it dance lessons?”

“What?” After a second, the boy smiled, too. “You really think we’d be the best teachers?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked.

“You know what I mean.”

“Well, you can just follow my lead like always. I know you can dance; you just need some more practice.”

“No amount of practice is going to make me get that footwork.” The boy chuckled again. “Maybe I’ll give it violin lessons instead.”

They stayed close to each other, losing track of time. Occasionally, one of them took a peek to one side or the other. Leaves rustled on the nearby trees as a breeze blew through. The smiles on the faces of the boy and the girl eventually faded. The sun dipped farther behind the horizon a little bit at a time.

“Do you think we should tell them tonight?” asked the girl.

The boy let out a breath. “Maybe not tonight, but definitely soon. We only have so many weeks before everyone starts to notice.”

“It won’t be obvious that fast,” she said, “but you have a point.”

“Mm. Got to start somewhere.” He got up from the bench and held his hand out to her. “Come on. I’ll take you home. Maybe tomorrow….”

The girl took his hand and got to her feet. “Yeah. Okay. Just so long as we do it together.”

“We will. I don’t think I could do it alone, anyway.” He swiveled his head around, stopped, then smiled. “The ice cream shop’s still open.”

She turned her head to look at what the boy’s eyes were focused on. “Huh, that’s funny. Not that I’m complaining. Do you want to get some?”

He patted her on the shoulder. “Sure… but were you asking for me, or for you?” A little smile crossed his face after he’d spoken.

She finally let a quiet giggle escape and tightened her grip on his hand, and from there, they walked off together.


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