Alissa had called the women’s center and met with a counselor. The counselor presented Alissa with all of her options.
“I’m definitely going to keep my baby!”, Alissa told Ms. Lindsay.
Ms. Lindsay told Alissa, “You qualify for prenatal care at no cost to you. Unless there are complications with your pregnancy, you should be able to continue working until the baby is due.
She continued. “After that there are governmental programs for young unwed mothers that will pay your rent, utilities and necessities until you are able to return to work.”
It was Friday after school, and Alissa had already started on her homework, when the phone rang. Alissa answered.
“Hello Alissa, this is Ms. Dunovan. I am a friend of Mrs. Lindsay, your counselor at the Women’s Medical Center. She told me about your interest in journalism.”
“Oh yes. I’m very interested in becoming a journalist. I have even started writing my first book.”
“Well you made a very good impression on her and she asked me to tell you about the online program in journalism offered at the college where I teach. It is the College of Longview. It is an award winning program and only a few students are accepted. If you are interested, I will need you to send me some examples of your writing, your SAT scores and references from your teachers.”
“That sounds wonderful, Ms. Donovan, but I don’t have the finances to pay for an online course. Scholarships don’t cover that.”
Ms. Donovan told her, “If you are interested and you qualify, there are grants and sponsors that will cover the cost of the courses and the supplies, including a laptop. It would involve video conferences as well.”
Alissa told her with happy tears in her eyes, “I’ll get everything you need off to you right away Ms. Dunovan. Thank you so much. You don’t know how much this means to me.”
“Don’t thank me yet.”, Ms. Donovan said. “The competition is very stiff, but you do sound very enthusiastic. I hope you make it into the program.”
Alissa was determined that she would make it into that program. It would make the difference in the quality of life that she would be able to give to her baby.
“I need to start buying things for the baby.”, Alissa thought to herself.
The problem was that she barely made enough to cover her rent, utilities and food. She called to check her bank balance. She thought that she had heard it incorrectly. There was an extra $300.00 in her account. She pressed (0) to speak with a representative.
“Yes, mam, there is an extra 300.00 in my account. There must be some mistake.”, Alissa told her.
The representative researched the deposit.
The representative said, “Ms. Morales, I checked the deposit. There is no mistake. Someone intentionally deposited the money into your account. I see a copy of the deposit slip. It was a cash deposit.”
“Okay thank you.” Alissa hung up.
It must have been Bronson. Maybe she had misjudged him.
Although she found it hard to believe due to the way he had behaved toward her since she told him she was pregnant. He avoided looking at her in class, and they hadn’t spoken in weeks. She decided to call him.
“Hello Bronson, this is Alissa. How have you been?”
“I’m okay. How are you?” He asked as though she were just an acquaintance.
Alissa was surprised that the sound of his voice did not stir her emotions the way it once did. She recognized that they had both just been infatuated with each other, and it was over for them both.
“Bronson, I just called to thank you for the money that you put in my account.”
He reminded her harshly, “What money? I didn’t give you any money. You said you didn’t want anything from me!”
“I don’t Bronson! I just thought that you had given me the money. I was wrong. Don’t worry I won’t bother you again.” Alissa hung up the phone angrily.
She asked herself, “How could I have ever thought that I loved him?”
The last few weeks of school zoomed by. Alissa graduated as valedictorian of her class and was accepted into the journalism program. She had developed a baby bump, but was able to conceal it with her clothing.
After she and Bronson had broken up, her friendships with Jet and Lisa had fizzled out. So she was beginning to feel a bit lonely.
Alissa asked her supervisor, “Since I’ve graduated from high school and my college courses don’t start until the fall can I work more hours here at the spa?”
She had told her supervisor about her pregnancy.
“Of course Alissa, I definitely understand that you will have extra expenses with a baby on the way. You are a hard worker, I’ll be glad to give you more hours. I wish we could offer you a full time position, but we have none available.”
As a part time employee she did not qualify for maternity leave. So she did not know if they would be able to hold her position open for her after the baby is born.
Every other week like clock work, the $300.00 was deposited into her account. She requested copies of the deposit slips. The deposits were made at the same branch around the same time every week. Always on Friday.
Since it was Friday, Alissa decided to visit that bank branch and see if she could determine who was making the deposits. Alissa wore a hat to cover her hair and sunglasses.
She went to the center counter to pretend to fill out a withdrawal slip. As she stood there, a young man came to the center counter and grabbed a blank deposit slip.
She surreptitiously got behind him in the teller line. She heard him give the teller her name and address.
“Will you please deposit this $300.00 into that account?,” he asked the teller.
Alissa did not know who he was. After he finished his transaction, he left the bank and Alissa followed him outside.
She called to him. “Excuse me!” He stopped and turned to face her.
“Do I know you?”
He looked at her questioningly and Alissa remembered her disguise. She removed her hat and sunglasses.
“I’m Alissa Morales. You’ve been depositing money into my account.”
Dale looked at Alissa and smiled. Alissa thought he had a wonderful, warm smile.
“No. You don’t know me. I work at the hospital, and I heard about your condition. I know what it’s like to be new in town and not really know anyone. You seem like a very nice girl, and I just wanted to help you.”
Alissa didn’t know what to say. She had never heard of anyone doing such a thing before and definitely not for her. She burst into tears.
“Hey, it’s alright!”
Noticing people staring, he took Alissa’s arm and took her beside the building so that she could collect her emotions in privacy.
“I’m sorry!” Alissa apologized, drying her tears, “Sometimes lately, I just can’t seem to control my emotions. I’m not used to anyone doing something so wonderful for me. You don’t even know me!”
“We can fix that. I’m Dale Stallworth. I’m from Riverview, and I’ve been here in Bridgeview for almost two years now studying to become a surgeon. I’m twenty years old, unmarried and no girlfriend.”
He continued. “My favorite color is green. My favorite food is spaghetti, and I love jokes and comedys. Both of my parents, my sister and my brother are all still living in Riverview. Is there anything else you would like to know?”
Alissa looked at him in amazement and laughed. “No I can’t think of anything else right now.” He was very good looking, and he seemed to have a great personality.
“What about you?”
“Well, you know that I am Alissa Morales.” She stopped, suddenly embarrassed to reveal information about herself. What would he think of her?
He told her kindly, “Alissa, you can tell me anything. Friends trust each other. From the first moment I saw you, I wanted to be your friend. Come and have dinner with me and then you can tell me all about yourself.”
Dale decided to splurge, and they ate outside at the Bistro. Alissa felt comfortable with Dale and told him all about her past.
“Have you ever tried to find your father?”
“I wouldn’t know where to begin looking. My mother would never tell me who he was, and his name is not on my birth certificate.”
They were silent for a few moments.
“You haven’t mentioned your baby’s father.”
“He was a boy I went to high school with. I hadn’t intended to go all the way with him, but things got out of hand. I thought that I loved him, but it wasn’t love.” She told Dale what Bronson had said to her when she told him that she was pregnant.
“I can’t understand how any man could abandon the mother of his child. I don’t see how he could not want to be a part of his child’s life.”
Alissa thought about what he said for a few moments.
“That’s because you’re a mature man, not a child. Branson is a spoiled boy. He is immature. That is what I failed to see until it was too late. Although the circumstances are not ideal, I am glad that I am going to have my baby. I love her already. I am going to name her Sharlee.” She was smiling.
“That’s a lovely name.”
Dale was looking at Alissa, thinking that she was even lovelier close up. She had warm brown eyes and her smile lit up her entire face. Her features were exquisite.
He felt uncomfortable with the way she made him feel. He longed to kiss her perfect lips. How could he feel this way about a girl so much younger than himself. She was still only seventeen.
As if she could read his thoughts, Alissa said,” I’ll be eighteen next month.”
“Do you have any plans for a party?”
Alissa flushed, thinking about her lack of friends. She had isolated herself after she began going steady with Bronson. Although he had encouraged it by telling her that he preferred it to just be the two of them. She saw everything so clearly now. She suddenly remembered that Dale was waiting for her answer.
“No party plans.”
“Well, you have plans now! Let me take you out. Put on your nicest dress and I’ll take you some place special. Eighteen is a milestone year that you can’t just let slip away.”
It was getting late, and Dale decided it was time to take Alissa home. Although neither of them had wanted to end the evening. They enjoyed each others company.
Alissa protested. “You don’t have to take me all the way home!”
“No gentleman would leave a young woman to make her way home at night unescorted. Especially not a young woman in your delicate condition.”
He sounded so old fashioned. Alissa said laughing, “Alright. If you insist.”
Dale even rode up in the elevator with her.
“Alissa, I want to give you my cell phone number. If you need anything at all, or just want to talk or want some company, please call me at anytime day or night.” He took her key and unlocked her door and opened it for her.
As she went inside the apartment, she told him, “I’ll grab my address book.”
“Come on in. Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
Dale walked inside and sat on the loveseat. Dale said looking around, “Your place is very nice.”,
“Thank you. I think I went to every yard sale and thrift store in Bridgeview until I got it how I wanted it. It only has one bedroom, but it will have to do for now.”
She joined him on the loveseat and handed him the address book. Her hand brushed his as she handed him the book, and they both felt the spark of electricity that flowed between them. They each felt an undeniably strong attraction for the other. Dale looked at Alissa and he knew she felt the same way that he did.
Alissa had never felt this way about Bronson. Every nerve in her body felt on fire with desire for Dale.
He knew that he had to go for both their sakes. He quickly wrote his number in her book and she gave him hers. Then he rose to leave.
“Good night Alissa.”, he told her as he headed for the door. “Make sure you lock the door behind me.” He noticed that she did not have an alarm system. He would have one installed for her tomorrow.
He stayed by the door until he heard her lock it.