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Dancing Naked

256 pages
Kia is sixteen and pregnant. Her world crumbles as she attempts to come to terms with the life growing inside her and what she must do. Initially convinced that abortion is her only option, Kia comes to understand that for her, the answers are not always black and white. As the pregnancy progresses, Kia discovers who her real friends are and where their loyalties lie. It is through her relationship with the elderly Grace that she learns what it means to take responsibility for one's life and the joy that can come from trusting oneself. Faced with the most difficult decision of her life, Kia learns that the path to adulthood is not the easily navigable trail she once thought, but a twisting labyrinth where every turn produces a new array of choices, and where the journey is often undertaken alone.
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Dancing Naked
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ancing฀nakAeNdOVEL D
Copyright © 2001 Shelley Hrdlitschka
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication DataHrdlitschka, Shelley, 1956-
Dancing naked
ISBN 1-55143-210-2
1. Teenage pregnancy—Fiction. 2. Adoption—Fiction. I. Title.
PS8565.R44D35 2001 jC813’.54 C2001-910946-6
PZ7.H854Da 2001
First published in the United States, 2002
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number:2001092678
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council.
Cover design: Christine Toller Cover photograph: Image Copyright © Digital Vision
Printed and bound in Canada
INCANADA: Orca Book PublishersPO Box 5626, Station B Victoria, BC Canada V8R 6S4
INTHEUNITEDSTATES: Orca Book PublishersPO Box 468 Custer, WA USA 98240-0468
07 06 05 04 • 6 5 4 3
To Heather Verrier, sister and dear friend.
A huge thank you to: Reverend Brian Kiely for so graciously creating an adoption ceremony and then allowing me to tamper with it at will; Diane Tullson, who inspired the title and prod-ded me into writing the book; and the members of my Tuesday and Thursday morning writing groups for their enthusiasm and ongoing support, despite my lousy attendance record. I’m particularly indebted to Beryl Young, Kim Denman, Alice Frampton, Sandra Diersch, Alison Harvey, Amanda Har-vey, Vivienne Frampton and Kate Blake, who read early drafts of the manuscript and whose comments and suggestions were invaluable. The lyrics to the song on page 227 were written by Alice Frampton and are used with permission. I’m blessed by my association with the Unitarian church, and the creator of the O.W.L. (Our Whole Lives) program, for the inspiration that flavors this story. Finally, I’d like to thank Andrew Wooldridge of Orca Book Publishers, for understanding—from the start—what it is to dance naked, and for the wise guidance, humor and in-sight that he brings to the editing process.
The spirit of life dances lightly among the people gathered in the birthing room, teasing goosebumps to the surface of their skin, forcing fine hairs to stand at attention. It is elusive, silent and indefinable, yet they all feel its mysterious presence, its promise, as it swirls about, waiting to breathe the silent respiration of the universe into the newest member of the human family.
The birth begins as small, regular and almost painless contractions that remind the girl of soft ocean waves gently lapping the shore. She is able to relax and accept them, knowing, just as with ocean waves, there is nothing she can do to stop the continuous ebb and flow. But they gradually increase in intensity, just as waves increase in strength with an oncoming storm. They begin to peak, and in the girl’s mind they’ve become whitecaps, slapping the shore, boast-ing of their power and volume and hinting that the worst is yet to come.Just try to make us go away,they seem to say when she longs to stop and turn the calendar back nine months to a time when she can make different choices, when she still has options. But the contractions continue to rip through her and she feels like she is being battered by the storm—the waves are smashing against the shore and she is no longer able to focus or see the reason for being
there. She is losing her breath, drowning in pain. Suddenly she’s shaking all over. A low moaning comes from deep within her. Someone says it is time, time to push. You’re ready, the voice says. But she already knows that. With a desire and strength that surprises her, she leans forward and bears down, joining with—instead of fighting against—the unrelenting forces of nature. She is vaguely aware of chanting voices.Push, push, push, the voices say. The moaning becomes a cat-like howl and then fevered pant-ing. She is totally focused on the task at hand. The other people in the room no longer exist for her. There is only the overwhelming need to push, the excruciating pain and the throbbing new life inside her that wants to be born. The room spins and sweat drips into her eyes. She feels an unearthly power assisting her and she continues to bear down with each crashing wave. The storm crests and she feels an explosion, like a volcanic eruption.The head is born!someone declares. A few more pushes and then the baby slides out with a gush of blood and fluid that pools around her. The tiny baby is placed on her bare belly, its airways are suctioned, and the umbilical cord is severed. For a moment she feels a pang of grief, for now she is only one again; there are no longer two hearts beat-ing inside her. But she pushes the grief aside and watches as the baby inhales deeply, drawing in air, that final yet vital life force. Then it begins to wail, a raw and insistent cry, and the sound fills the girl with awe. The crashing waves subside quickly. The storm has passed, but in its passing it has blessed the earth with a new life whose spirit is now a tangible and very noisy presence.
Kia stepped into her flannel, teddy bear-speckled boxer shorts and tugged one of her dad’s old T-shirts over her head. Crossing the room to turn off the overhead light, she caught a glimpse of herself in the full-length mir-ror. She paused and stared at her reflection, her dark eyes resting on her waist and stomach. She pulled the T-shirt up and the waistband of the shorts down for a closer inspection. Turning sideways but still looking in the mirror, she let go of the waistband and ran her hand over her stomach. It was flat and firm, same as always. Using both hands she slowly pulled the T-shirt up higher, exposing her chest. A loose strand of long hair tickled the soft, sensitive skin. Her breasts looked the same, but she knew that something was different. She let go of her T-shirt with one hand and gently pressed the soft flesh. Her breast felt bruised and sore, even though there was no outward sign of injury. Hearing a movement in the hall, she dropped her shirt, blushing at the thought of being caught studying her own body. She flicked the light switch and climbed into bed. The reading lamp cast a pool of light onto her night table. Pulling open a drawer, she reached for the tattered notebook she used as a journal, but hesitated before taking it out. Instead, she picked up the beautiful