You Can’t Judge A Brook By It’s Cover

Today is the day. Adrenaline rushes through my body. I can feel both my hearts beating. My stomach is in knots, except I’m not sure if it is morning sickness again or if I’m just so nervous it is making me sick to my stomach. I hear the clock ticking away while sitting in this dark, cold building surrounded by empty chairs thinking about how many people have came to this same building with hopes of burying their past. I’m not sure if I made the right decision by coming here today but my parents encouraged it. I barely had the strength to get up this morning with dread and fear of this day. I hate to admit that I wish my ex-boyfriend was here with me so I wouldn’t have to feel so alone. I never thought I would say this, but I would much rather be in school than stuck in this room, waiting for an answer. I shouldn't be here right now. I should be in school, learning like all other ordinary 17-year-olds. But truth is, I’m not just an ordinary 17-year-old. I’ve learned to accept this. Everyday at school, everywhere I go, people stare at me and judge me as if I have a sign taped to my back saying “look at me”. People don’t know anything about me, yet they label me with only one glance. Ever since I became pregnant, my viewpoint on life changed. I’ve noticed how scary life can be and how cruel and wicked people can be when given only one perspective. It is hard being different and judged everyday. I need to find strength and courage today. Feeling completely hopeless, my mind wanders as I start to daydream thinking about times where I’ve witnessed others display courage.

It was the beginning of school and we were in homeroom. I am sitting in my desk and I can hear the girls behind me gossiping. They are talking about that girl, Samantha, with the really short brown disheveled hair. She could probably hear what I heard. The girls sitting behind her were making fun of her for the way she looked, using words like lesbian and dyke due to her boyish looks. I remember dropping my pencil on the floor and she picks it up for me with a smile, despite the cruel words she heard around her. What the girls didn’t know was that just over a half a year ago she won her battle against Leukemia and is a cancer survivor waiting for her hair to grow back. At least I still have my hair, unlike my English teacher who is bald.
Thinking of English class reminds me of Lucas. He gets called on to read the first paragraph of the text. As he tries to pronounce the words, the whole class laughs at Lucas for the way he reads by calling him stupid, slow, and dumb. Lucas keeps on trying to read with a peaceful smile on his face while ignoring the laughs of the classmates. What the class didn’t know was that Lucas has a severe reading disorder and is diagnosed with dyslexia. I wonder if math is just as hard for him?
Thinking about numbers reminds me of courageous Tyler. Some boys were making fun of him for the failing grade he got on his calculus test. Tyler is wearing the same raggedy, torn clothes he wore the day before. The boys kept calling him a loser for getting a failing grade and continued to harass him for not having a social life by never attending school football games or dances. Instead of defending himself, he had a peaceful smile that glowed. What the boys didn’t know was that his father died and he has to work everyday after school until midnight to provide food on the table for his family. I understand now why he didn’t try out for any sports teams even though he was the most athletic in my P.E. class.
But the girls in my P.E class are the meanest. They are making fun of the junior girl, Sarah, in our class for being overweight. Sarah could hear the captains who were picking the teams laugh at her for her size. She still has a peaceful smile on her face when walking joyfully over to be on my team, despite the rude comments and being last to be picked. What my P.E class didn’t know was that she is fighting a rare condition called Cushing Syndrome that causes you to gain weight. But with me, everyone assumed they knew the reason I gained my weight.
Even my Grandpa knew I gained weight, but he still wants to make me his famous raspberry pie. We stop at the local grocery store to buy fresh raspberries. We wait in the line and people gasp at the sight of my Grandpa’s grotesque body and scarred face. The middle age men behind us are whispering loud enough for us to hear them say,“that man is hideous”, and “what a monster”. My Grandfather politely smiled as he reaches behind him to hand the men the grocery divider stick. What the men didn’t know was he survived the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. While saving people from the burning building, he experienced third degree burns, leaving him permanently disfigured. His courage inspires me to be strong.
Strength, like that of my Grandpa, was what I needed when my ex-boyfriend rings the doorbell. He wants me to terminate my child, and tells me I didn’t need to go through with this. He says to me, “Brook you would be able to live a normal teenage life and not have to be worrying about being a 17 year old parent.” He is right. I didn’t need to go through with having this baby, but I had too. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do. I pray to God to give me the strength and courage to give birth to this child, even though I knew my life would change forever. I wish I would of been more careful and I could go back and... BOOM!

I was startled out of my day dream by the slamming door. The judge walks back into the courtroom as I start to tremble. The judge looks toward me. I notice other people looking at me and I wonder if they think I’m just an irresponsible, teenage girl who got pregnant. I will have to suffer through the negative labeling for the rest of my life, but it will all be worth it when I get to hold my baby girl for the first time. People may not understand how much strength and courage I will need to deliver this baby. I try not to be concerned about the people who will label me as irresponsible, because those who judge me do not know that I was raped. Then, a smile goes across my face as the judge announces to the courtroom, “39-year-old, Samson David Gilles, is sentenced to serve a life of imprisonment behind bars for the rape of Brook Stevenson.” I found inspiration to raise this baby at age 17 due to the courage I’ve encountered from those around me, and with the hope that others will find courage to not judge a ‘Brook’ by its cover.

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