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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

"Sacred Waters: 19 and Pregnant" (Chapter 6: "Choice: Illusory")

Mission Hill leads to Mission Park, named for the 10-acre tract of land bought by a group of Williams alumni in 1855 to commemorate the Haystack Prayer Meeting. At the meeting in 1806, five Williams students sought shelter from lightning and were struck by the impulse to found the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). (Photo from Williams website)



The next morning, I woke up alone on my left side with my hand gripping a white pillow stained by my bleeding finger. My mind and stomach were so scrambled that the pain seemed to be in another world.

“How could this have happened?” I asked myself.

I pushed onto my back and lifted my arms over my head.

“How could we have let this happen?”

I curled up on my right side, hugging my hands between my legs.

“What would you say?”

I turned to my other side and curled up again.

“What would we do about it?”

I flipped onto my stomach.

“Why did this have to happen?”

I faced the pillow again, drawing it to me and holding it.

“Why me?”

I threw the pillow back on the bed as I leaped out of it. Like mantras, the same questions began to run through my head again. My head was about to burst. I had to get out of there. I had to run to where I could think clearly. If you saw me agitated like this, you would know something was wrong. There were no Saturday classes. You would come back to the room with my favorite, a cinnamon bun, after eating a breakfast of cereal, eggs and toast. I was desperate to escape your loving and discerning eyes.

My heart racing and my finger still throbbing, I wrote you a note explaining that I had left to study all day. I pulled on one of my two pairs of jeans and a scarlet cotton blouse made in India and studded with tiny, round mirrors on the chest. Then I dashed into the suite’s bathroom for a rushed toilet, praying that I would not bump into any of your suitemates who would see my crazed state. Luckily, I did not burst in on anyone, and no one walked in on me. When I was done, I ran out with my hands still damp and left the suite. Then I took two steps at a time up one flight to my room above yours on the fourth floor. I grabbed my books and flew down the stairs and out of Mission Park.

Up the hill I ran, then past Chapin Hall, past Thompson Memorial Chapel and up Route 7. I charged toward my destination – the river and its calm. When I got there, the mantras stopped and so did I. On the rock by the water’s edge, I dropped my books and stretched out on one side. I drew Fear and Trembling to me and lost myself in the rereading of it. I did not lift my head out of my book for an hour. Then I uncramped my arms and neck by rolling into a sitting position with my legs crossed. My eyes caught on the river’s rippling light which flowed back in time to the reflection of the sun on New York City’s East River, along which Mami and I and, later, my brother took strolls.

(Continue reading free:)

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