| It was time to call Autumn. If Lynn was the praying sort, she'd pray for them all to be there. But if she had been the praying kind, she wouldn't be in this situation...She forced her mind back to the present. A malicious smile spread across Lynn's face as she picked up the phone and dialed.
Autumn picked up the phone with some trepidation. Who would be calling?
"I know who you are." Everyone knew who was on the lind just by the change in Autumn's voice. The girl listened for a moment without saying anything, and she activated a speaker phone.
"Apparently there is something Lynn wants to talk to us about."
"Do you have no respect, girl? I am still your mother!"
"Yes, I'm aware of that...so what is it you wanted to--"
"It is all your fault, Jason and Autumn."
"What?" Lynn heard a chorus of voices, and she was glad many of the sentimental fools were there. She could smear Jason and Autumn, and then those religious nuts wouldn't want her in their hospital anymore.
"Well, I'm pregnant, and it's all because of you!" Lynn cried.
"How is that our fault?" It was Jason who answered, and Lynn felt angry because she did not have the privelege of hearing Autumn's answer.
"Well, when you started working more often, I needed something to take the pain. Then you were hardly ever home, and I just needed someone to affirm my worth. I needed Mike. And then you left me, never once considering your daughter. You ignored her, too. And Autumn, as for you, the reason your father almost killed me was because you told him all kinds of lies. He never would have left if you hadn't embellished the story about my affair. It was not an affair at all. Mike just showed me kindness, more so than you two ever did. You're such hypocrites!"
"I don't get this, and I will not listen to you attack Autumn and Jason's character--" Josiah said firmly.
"And then when you got sick, Autumn, Jason came back. You made me remember all the pain, you weak specimen of a--"
"You know what?" Sariah asked sharply. "You need to get your own life straightened out. Go to a psychiatrist, okay? Do not blame your daughter and her father. You are the one who created this entire mess, and I don't ever want to hear you talk to or about Jason and Autumn that way again! Now, if there is something of real...yes, I said real...importance you need to say, do it. If not, we're going to disconnect."
"Listen, lady. You have no right to tell me what to do. I am free to speak and to tell them my feelings. After all, if I bottle it up inside, I might end up doing something that can not be retracted. And then my death would haunt them forever."
"Oh, give me a life," Josiah muttered.
"and so you two forced me to go to the extreme...I mean, the night I met Lance, I just felt so alone and desperate! How else was I supposed to handle the separation of my daughter and ex? The stress of Autumn's illness is just too much for me, and Jason, you should have been there to stand beside me all the way. You only came for Autumn, not me. We were poor and had no money; I couldn't pay for all her medical bills. I wouldn't have been able to do that if we were a dual-earner, two-parent household. Jamison, you believed all their lies! How could you believe Jason and Autumn over me? Don't you all see? This is a tactic just to smear my own reputation! It's--" Abbie had had enough of this tirade. She pressed a button to disconnect.
"That...that..." Jason sputtered.
"She's pregnant? I don't think she and Lance will be good parents." She looked away as she seemed to choke on the criminal's name. "Each time I think about him or say his name," she began in a voice that sounded a milion miles away, "I see his face and hear his laughter. I remember when he told me I was going to die. And I will never forget what it felt like when..." Jason took one hand, and Sariah the other. Jamison and Abbie each touched a sheet-covered foot. Josiah, Abbie, Marla and Carrie gathered around and placed hands on knees or shoulders. Several spontaneously began to pray at once, and Autumn couldn't help but smile. I feel guilty for expressing the sadness and anger when all of my friends are here, instead of that monster and my mother." She didn't realize she had spoken the words alound until Sariah, Carrie and Josiah responded in unison.
"You have the right to feel the way you do," That was Josiah. That was interesting; he was a man, but how could he see her as a person, not a sex machine?
"Josiah is right; what that man did was attrocious!" Abbie exclaimed.
"I would think something was wrong with you if you didn't feel something like that," Marla interjected. "and you're human; it's aloud." Jason finished her statement for her.
Thus, the battle raged within Autumn. She knew her friends were right, but she couldn't help... Sariah had just said something about the baby. What was it? But the nurses needed to be elsewhere, so Autumn would have to wait to find out.
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