It starts with Danny

Danny orders a large Coke, picks out two straws, and pays with small change. Leah’s hidden herself on a corner table by the window and by the time Danny finds her he’s already started sipping at the coke.
“You startin without me,” Leah jibes as Danny slides in opposite and places the beaker and extra straw down on the hard plastic table. Leah immediately grabs the spare straw, tears off one end of its wrapper and blows it at Danny. It hits him square between the eyes and Danny laughs, spraying most of the coke in his mouth out onto the table. The rest of it fizzes up and out his nose.
Leah cracks up like crazy, holding her belly and rocking back and forth in her seat in hysterics as Danny cleans himself up. Eventually, sore-throated from laughing, Leah reaches for the coke, slides her unsheathed straw into the hole in the top of the lid, and sucks – a long thirsty suck. But when she looks up she catches Danny’s eye and they both break down in fits again; Danny laughing through his nose, Leah through the straw in her mouth, blowing big bubbles into the coke which erupts up out of the lid, spilling a large brown pool onto the newly-cleaned table. It’s a couple of minutes before either of them can contain themselves. Then, Leah leans back against the hard bench and sighs
“What the fuck are we gonna do”?
Danny isn’t laughing anymore; he’s staring at the pebbledash pattern on the table, at a crusty old French fry someone’s left behind, at a dark red stain. In the background Leah’s talking.
“Danny. Danny, are you even listening”?
Danny raises his head and grunts.
“This is serious Danny, we got nuthin. Fuck all; we got no money, nowhere to stay, and I’m pregnant Danny. What the fuck are we gonna do”?
Leah’s words hang thick and heavy in the air, and for a minute or so the two of them sit in silence; Danny rubbing his hands roughly back and forth through his short-cropped hair, Leah staring absently out the window. She’s thinking bout how fucked up this all is, how she’d known straight away when he’d come inside her, known something had changed, felt a lightness in her bones, and she’d tiptoed around with that lightness for a month and a half, too scared to take the test because then it would be something real and solid, instead of just being a light head. Danny glances up at her, and a tiny smile etches itself across his face.
“Do you remember that night we met”, he asked, “At Dazza’s house”?
Leah turns back towards him and, blinking, brings herself out of her trance. Danny continues.
“ And Jimmy was after that Michelle bird, you know, the one’s got Adam’s kid now”.
“The one with the big nose?”
“Yeah, tho that’s not all’s big about her.”
Leah slaps Danny’s hand playfully. Danny sniggers and he carries on with the story.
“Do you remember Jimmy shotgunning that can of Tennants, trying to impress her like, and then throwing up straight away all over his new Vans.”
Leah’s holding Danny’s hands now, stroking his fingers gently. Danny’s chuckling to himself, shoulders relaxed, leaning forwards towards Leah.
“Fucking priceless. Dazza made him clean it up but his kitchen smelt like puke for months.”
Danny’s shaking with laughter now. Leah, opposite, grins and chuckles along with him. When Danny stops laughing he looks up and his eyes lock with Leah’s.
“I remember you buying a bottle of Lambrini for me when I hadn’t even asked you to or nothing,” says Leah.
“And I remember me lying on your chest on the sofa when everyone was gone or asleep, and you kissing me on the head and me thinking how nice it felt.”
Danny turns half away, embarrassed.
“Then I remember you walking me all the way home,” Leah continues, “like a real gentleman, not trying anything on or nothing. You know I couldn’t sleep at all that night, even though I was shitfaced, I was so, happy.”
Danny smiles, his eyes soft, then he takes a deep breath and lowers his head.
“Look,” he says, “I’ll go work with Matt for a week, cash-in-hand, get sum money together. That’ll pay to take care of it”
“What?” says Leah.
“The abortion. I’ll pay for a good clinic, you know, somewhere it’ll be safe.”
Leah’s mouth hangs wide open, every muscle in her body suddenly taught, clamped.
“You what?” she says. “You, you wanna get rid of it?
“Yeah, of course. It’s not like we havta keep it or nuthin”.
“Yeah, we do”, Leah replies. “ I’m not killing it, alright. It’s our baby, our little baby Danny. I can feel it; I can feel it move inside of me, you know. It’s like part of me now, it’s alive, and if I kill it – me, alright, because it’s inside of me – if I kill it it’ll be like killing part of me. And I can’t do that”.
Danny inhales a heavily through his nose and fixes Leah a stare. His eyes have turned blunt and cold.
”Nah. Nah. I’m only fuckin sixteen mate. I aint gonna be a Dad. No way. I aint stayin at home, with a kid, when all my mates are goin out and gettin drunk. Nah, I aint fuckin avin it”.
Leah turns away, tears beginning to swell up in her eyes.
“Danny, I need you”, she pleads, her voice jarring, “I need us. We’ve gotta do this together”.
“We’re doin nuthin”, Danny proclaims. “You’re goin down the clinic, and you’re gettin that thing cut out of you”.
“Is that it”, she shrieks hysterically, “Is that your fuckin answer Danny? Get rid of it, kill it, pretend it never existed. What’s the matter, you not man enough? Haven’t got the balls”?
Danny grabs Leah roughly by the wrists, and pulls her towards him. Leah’s shaking.
“Calm the fuck down, alright”, he orders “Either you go down the clinic like I said, or I’ll cut it out myself”.
At this Leah’s eyes widened to two blazing white suns, burning into Danny’s flesh, and she spits right in his face.
“Fucking cunt”, Danny screams, wiping the spit from his forehead, “Whore”. And breaking his grip on her wrists he slaps her hard across the face.
“Fuck you, and your fucking kid”, he screams, “I hope you both die”. Then he slides out of his chair and storms outside, punching the door forcefully as he leaves. The plastic glass rattles back and forth in its frame for a second or two. In the seat in the corner Leah curls up into a little ball, sobbing uncontrollably.

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Tim Waltho

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