I have another long chapter this week so I have split it into two parts and once again won’t make anyone who wants to read it wait until next Friday but will share the second half of the chapter on a special fiction Saturday.
I hope you are all doing well. Stay calm and reading fiction as a distraction. Trust me on this. It helps.
To catch up with the rest of The Farmer’s Daughter, click HERE or see the link at the top of the page.
Molly groped for her cellphone in the dark, her heart racing. It had startled her out of a deep sleep. “Molly?”
She didn’t recognize the voice in her drowsy stupor.
“It’s Allie. I’m at the hospital. I’m not supposed to do this. I could probably get fired for calling you, but Liz won’t let us call her parents. She only wants you and I don’t think she should be alone.”
Molly sat up abruptly. “What happened?”
The following brief silence hinted that what had happened was more complex than what could be explained over the phone.
“Umm, I’m going to let Liz tell you when you get here.”
The drive to the hospital gave Molly’s imagination plenty of time to run wild. A variety of scenarios flitted across her mind’s eye and with each one her grip on the steering wheel tightened.
Liz’s hospital room was dark and quiet when Molly walked in with only a strip of light pouring in from the streetlamp outside the window. Allie had met Molly at the nurse’s station, nodding toward Room 22 with an expression that exuded sympathy. Molly didn’t even bother asking Allie what had happened again. She knew Liz would need to tell her.
The beep of the heart monitor and voices of nurses in the hallway were the only sound when Molly stepped inside and closed the door behind her.
Molly’s best friend since grade school laid curled up in a ball under the covers in the hospital bed, her honey blond hair hung limply across her back and shoulders. Her eyes were closed and pale skin blended in with the moonlight spreading across the pillow under her head, her face void of the makeup she usually wore. Molly wasn’t sure if Liz was asleep, so she sat quietly on a chair next to the bed.
In the moments after Molly sat down and Liz finally spoke the silence was deafening, terrifying, panic inducing for Molly. What in the world is going on?
Liz didn’t open her eyes or unfurl herself from the fetal position she’d wrapped herself in. “Molly, do you think God forgives us for things we have done wrong? Really forgives us?”
Molly leaned forward in the chair, confused. Where was this going? “Yes, Liz, I do. I truly do but I’ll admit that sometimes I worry he won’t.” She tipped her head, her eyebrows furrowed. “Liz, what’s going on? What happened?”
Liz let out a long breath.
“I’m an idiot, Molly.”
“Liz, you’re not an —”
“I tried to kill myself, Mol.”
A cold chill cut through Molly and she closed her eyes, hot tears rushing into her eyes before she could stop them. She turned her face away, covering her mouth to choke back a sob. She swallowed hard and tried to regain her composure as she opened her eyes again.
She took a deep breath. “Liz. . . how? Why? What’s going on?”
Liz stared out the hospital window, expressionless. “I’m pregnant.”
Molly’s mind raced for answers. Liz was pregnant? When had this happened?
“How? I mean, I know how, I just mean —”
“You mean, who?”
“Well, yes. Who?”
Molly was baffled. “Gabe?”
Liz closed her eyes, a tear slipping down her cheek. “I fell for it again, Molly. I fell for him again. I believed him when he said he loved me and he wouldn’t hit me or cheat again.”
“Hit you? He was hitting you?”
“You never told me he was doing that.”
“I never told anyone.”
Molly looked at Liz in disbelief. “And you went back to him?
“For one night, yes.” Her stoic expression crumbled as she began to sob. “How could I have been so stupid?”
Molly leaned back against the chair, feeling as if she’d been hit in the chest with a two-ton weight. She struggled to wrap her mind around what Liz was saying.
“I drank a lot when I was with Gabe, Molly. Did you know that?”
“No, I didn’t kn—”
“There is so much you didn’t know.”
Molly’s eyebrows raised. Was she in some kind of alternate universe? This conversation was surreal. Had she been so wrapped up in her own world she hadn’t noticed the pain her friend was in? It was becoming more obvious by the minute that the answer was ‘yes.’
Liz closed her eyes and shook her head. “I wish I hadn’t called 911. I should have just kept those pills down and I wouldn’t have to be here anymore.”
Molly moved the chair between Liz and the window. “Liz. Please. Tell me what is going on.”
“I got drunk one night three months ago at a party Brittany Jennings convinced me to go to. I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol since I’d left Gabe. He was there. I don’t remember much, just him leading me upstairs at this house, someone’s house, his hands all over me. . . .”
“Liz, did he force you to sleep with him?”
Liz shook her head slowly. “No. I agreed to it. I remember that much at least. I was out of it, but I agreed to it and I thought I wanted it. It wasn’t until the next morning I realized what I’d done. I was so ashamed.”
Tears soaked Molly’s cheeks. She had given up on trying to hide her emotions. “I just don’t understand why you didn’t tell me.”
Liz’s voice faded to a whisper, as if she was too weak to even talk. “I didn’t want you to know how messed up I was. I didn’t want you to know how far I’d fallen. I’d let Gabe walk all over me and abuse me all those years, simply because I thought he would change — that I could change him. I moved in with him without being married to him and I was already embarrassed about that. I just couldn’t imagine telling you I had been stupid enough to get pregnant by him too. I was drinking so much when he and I were dating. I couldn’t think straight most days. Drinking, taking pills Gabe offered me, sometimes pushed me to take. It’s probably why I could never think straight long enough to get away from him.”
A sick ache clutched at Molly’s stomach. Liz had been drinking and depressed and she’d never even noticed. How could she have been so clueless and selfish?
“You must have hid the drinking well.”
“It was mostly on the weekends. The weekends when I told you I was working late or made up some excuse about having to do inventory at the store.”
“Oh, Liz, I’m so —”
“This isn’t who I thought I would turn into back when we were going to youth group together,” Liz said quickly, talking over Molly. “Back when we always said we’d save ourselves for marriage and never get drunk or do drugs. We were so naïve.”
Molly thought about how she had kept all of those promises so far and how sometimes it made her feel boring, but most of the time it made her feel proud for keeping her word to her younger self. Keeping those promises didn’t make her better than Liz, though, especially not in the sight of God. He loved both of them, no matter what Liz might think about herself and her worth right now.
“No one is perfect and you may not have kept the promises you made to yourself back then but it’s never too late to change.”
Molly motioned for Liz to move over and sat next to her friend on the bed. Liz slid over and leaned against Molly, crying against a crumpled tissue clutched in her hand. “The worst thing about all of this is that I was really falling for Matt, you know? I knew he was too good for me though. I didn’t deserve him.”
Liz broke down again. She tried to speak through the tears, stopped and started again. “I think I thought Gabe was the only one who would want me that way. That I wouldn’t ever be good enough for Matt so why even act like he would want me? And now. . .” she paused to sob into her hands that were now covering her face. “Now he definitely won’t want me. No one will want me. I’m a mess. I’m an alcoholic, an addict, and obviously a mental case who wasn’t strong enough to walk away from an abusive man. To top it all off, now I’m pregnant with that man’s baby.”
Molly gently pulled Liz’s hands from her face. “Liz, all this is lies. Lies you are telling yourself. Lies that the ruler of darkness is telling you. You know that. Your life might be a mess right now, but you are worthy of love. You have made mistakes but there is redemption and you will have that redemption. Do you hear me?”
Liz nodded weakly, burying her face in Molly’s shoulder.
“Have you told your parents about this?” Molly asked as she hugged her friend close. “Do they even know you’re here?”
“God, no.” Liz’s response was sharp as she pulled back and made a face. “Can you imagine me telling Frank and Marian about this? Frank would be here anointing me with oil and Marian would be using me as an example of who not to become at Bible study. They may just make me wear a sweater with the letter “s” for slut emblazoned on it when they do find out.”
Molly laughed softly. “Liz, they love you. They are not going to do that.”
Liz rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right.”
Molly handed her friend another tissue. “I just wish you had told me.”
She leaned back to look at Liz. “How is the baby? How far along are you? Or did this . . .”
Liz shook her head. “The heartbeat is good. The doctors don’t think the pills I took harmed it. I panicked after I took them and called an ambulance. I’m guessing I’m about three months.”
“Are you telling me that you were three months pregnant and still kicking my butt at the gym every day.”
A small smile tugged at Liz’s mouth, then faded, replaced by tears and sobs.
“I’m three months pregnant and I don’t know if I can do this, Molly.”
“I’ll help you however I can. You won’t be alone. We can get an apartment and raise the baby together.”
Liz laughed weakly. “What, like an old married couple?”
A slight smile tugged at Molly’s. “No. Like the friends we are. Though we do sometimes act like an old married couple.”
Molly stood and pulled the blanket up around her friend’s shoulders.
“For now, I want you to rest until the doctors say you can go home.”
Liz’s sleepy gaze drifted out the window, over Molly’s shoulder.
“They want me to stay for a few days in the psych ward. The psych ward. How did I even get to this place in my life?”
Molly shrugged. “One mistake at a time, like any of us. You’re going to be fine, though. Maybe they’ll allow you to have outpatient care instead. But for now, I think it’s best you stay here and rest. Do you want me to call your parents for you?”
Liz looked back at Molly and shook her head.
“No. I’ll call them soon. This town is so small, I’d better before someone at the gas station or library tells them.”
“Do you want me to call Matt?”
Liz grimaced. “Oh gosh, no way. He’s going to run as far away from me as he can when he hears about this. That relationship is over. Sunk. I’m sure of it. I don’t know how I’m going to handle that right now. I mean, can you imagine? ‘Hey, Matt, so like you want to go on another date? Oh, and by the way, I’m carrying my abusive ex-boyfriend’s baby.’ Yeah. That conversation is so not going to happen.”
Molly couldn’t help but laugh at her friend’s sense of humor and how it came out even in the darkest of times.
“I wouldn’t put it to him that way, no. But at some point, you owe it to him to tell him what’s going on. You can’t control how he reacts but at least you will have done the right thing and told him. He cares for you, Liz. He’d want to know.”
Liz pulled her knees up against her chest under the covers, closing her eyes.
“I know. I’ll tell him. Later.”
A nurse walked into the room, pushing a cart. Molly knew Liz needed her sleep and took it as a sign to leave. Still, anxiety over leaving Liz alone was poking at her thoughts.
“Do you want me to stay with you a little longer?”
Liz shook her head, her eyes still closed. “No, that’s okay, I think I’m going to rest, but can you come back in the morning?”
The nurse checked the IV in Liz’s arm and then began to hook a blood pressure cuff on her upper arm. Molly stood in place, still feeling uncomfortable with leaving.
Liz opened one eye, glanced at the IV, then back at Molly.
“They’re watching me, here, Molly. It’s okay. And I chickened out and called the ambulance, remember? I regretted it as soon as I took those pills. I won’t try it again.”
Molly leaned over and hugged Liz. “Okay, but I’ll be back first thing in the morning. I’m a call away.”
“I know, Molly. Thank you. And listen, when you come back I want you to tell me all about how things are going with you and Alex.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
Liz opened her eyes and grinned sleepily. “Please. I know something is going on between you and Alex and when you come back , I want you to bring chocolate and tell me all about it.”
“Liz, there is nothing going on between Alex and me.”
“But you want there to be.”
Molly looked at the nurse, who looked to be in her mid-40s, her dark brown hair cut shoulder length. The nurse shrugged and smiled. “I’ll check with the doctor about the chocolate. The story should be fine.”
“Don’t encourage her,” Molly responded with a laugh. “There isn’t any story to tell.”
Molly looked back at Liz, grateful to see her eyes closed, her body relaxed and her chest rising and falling in a rhythmic patter. She was breathing and alive, something Molly was eternally grateful for. Out in her truck Molly pressed her forehead against the steering wheel and let the tears fall for several moments before pulling out of the parking lot.
Driving in the dark, back toward the farm, she felt foolish for moping through life when she was blessed to have the life she did. Yes, it was stressful knowing that the farm and family business was struggling. Yes, she was anxious about feeling stagnant and lost. But she was alive, she had a family who loved her, good friends, and a God who wanted the best for her.
Then there was Alex. Where did he fit in? For now, she was placing him somewhere between family and friend, but closer to friend. A very good looking friend who she had daydreamed about kissing more than once.
So, maybe friend wasn’t the category he belonged in, but for now, until she could figure out how he felt about her, that was the category he’d have to stay in.