*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
When I was in my early twenties I was friends with a girl named Rachel who was a tall, lithe, beautiful dancer.
She was trained in ballet and performed every year in our city’s Nutcracker show and often had one of the main roles or her own dance because she was just that good.
Rachel’s parents were very protective of her, because they wanted her to become what she had always dreamed of becoming - a professional ballerina.
They never let her date when she was in high school, always keeping her on a very short leash, so when she graduated and went to college she promptly began dating her English professor who was almost twenty years older than her.
It was a scandalous and secret affair but she talked about it nonstop to us, her friends, and we knew that things between them had escalated quickly.
Months went by, and Rachel started changing a bit.
She became more quiet and withdrawn, she said she felt sick a lot of the time, and despite all of her dance training, exercise and good eating habits, she was inexplicably gaining weight, but not telling any of us about that, and oddly, none of us really noticed.
One day I got a phone call from Rachel who was hysterical in tears.
“Mary, I think I’m pregnant,” she shrieked into my ear.
“Why, how?” I asked her.
“I think I feel something kicking in me!”
Even though she didn’t want to go, because she really didn’t want to know, I took to her to a clinic for a pregnancy test and indeed she was pregnant - about six months pregnant.
She had done well to hide her growing stomach, which admittedly wasn’t that big for a pregnant woman at her time of gestation, and we were all shocked.
Of course, no one was as shocked as she and her parents, and the professor who she was having this child with.
I’ve had a child myself, and I can’t fathom how Rachel went six months without knowing she was pregnant, but apparently a whole lot of denial will get you far.