The four girls were sitting in the middle of a field, surrounded by wide open space.
"This is stupid," Hanna complained. "A knows everything we do, anyway, and all that's happening here is I'm getting bitten on the legs by something. And it better not be ants."
"Look, we're just trying to get as far away from A, whoever she – or he – is, as we possibly can," Emily snapped. "I don't see how she can follow us all the way out here and still be able to hear what we're saying. There's nowhere to hide."
"Never stopped her before," Spencer said, glancing around uncertainly.
"Whatever. Since we ARE all out here, we need to talk. We need to lay our cards on the table. We're all hiding too much stuff from each other, and A knows it, and she's using it against us." Hanna interrupted.
Emily glanced at the others nervously, and Spencer fiddled with a piece of grass in front of her. Aria said nothing.
"What is wrong with you all?" Hanna said, exasperated. "Look, how much does A really have on us, when you think about it? Aside from the Jenna thing. Just stupid stuff, like me getting caught shoplifting, or stuff that happened with Sean. Why are we so afraid of her?"
"Maybe our secrets are a little bigger than your stupid ones, that's why!" Spencer spat out.
"What, like how you're still seeing Wren?" Hanna retorted angrily.
"You're still seeing Wren?" Emily said incredulously. "Wait, are you guys-?"
"No! And I'm not "seeing him". He showed up at my house the other night, totally drunk, and I drove him home. He kissed me and he tried to get me to come inside with him, but I didn't. And that's it. Thanks, Hanna."
"Whatever. Point is, nothing actually happened between you guys, but A is still trying to scare you with it. Maybe if we all just shared whatever's going on in our lives, it wouldn't be so bad."
There was a silence. Then Aria made a movement, as thought she were about to speak, and then stopped.
"Aria? You've been very quiet. What's A got on you?" Hanna demanded.
"The hell she hasn't! You haven't told us what messages A's sent you for weeks," Hanna pointed out. "And I doubt she's forgotten about you, somehow. So spill."
"Look, I can't, okay. It's not only my secret."
Emily and Spencer exchanged glances. Then Emily said, "Aria. Look, I wasn't going to tell you I know this, but I heard you throw up in the bathroom yesterday."
"So what? I wasn't feeling well," Aria said defensively.
"Yeah, but I also heard you the day before that, and Spencer says you were sick last week, too…"
Oh, god, thought Aria. They know.
Spencer took over. "We know it's hard with your parents, and all, at the moment," she said. "But it's not good for you, making yourself sick like that. You should speak to someone, Aria. But don't let A hold this over you. An eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of."
Aria started laughing. "Oh my god! You think I'm bulimic?" Too late she realized she should have just played along with their suspicions, and pretended she was. That would have been much easier than the truth.
"Come on, Aria. Nobody gets sick that much without a reason."
Aria looked round at her three friends. They'd have to find out sooner or later. But she didn't need to tell them everything.
Hanna got there first. "Oh. My. God. Are you – Aria! Are you…pregnant?" She said the last word in a whisper, as though that would somehow make it less harsh.
Aria winced inwardly, and then breathed out. "I think so," she said simply.
There was a deafening silence, which to Aria seemed to go on for a good ten minutes. It wasn't more than ten seconds, though, till it was broken by Emily.
"Why didn't you tell us? I mean, how long have you known?"
"About a week. At least, that's when I took a home pregnancy test. Five times. They all said positive, but I haven't gone to a doctor yet."
"But Aria…we didn't even know you were seeing someone," Spencer said, concerned. "When did you – I mean, how long have you -?"
"Look, I don't feel like sharing all the gory details, all right? Believe me, I know it wasn't the smartest decision of my life. But now there's this baby, and – and – I just don't know –"
"Are you going to – I mean, have you thought about getting an abortion?" Hanna suggested quietly. Aria turned blazing eyes on her.
"No! I would never do that. Christ, Hanna, you think I would ever kill my baby?"
"Okay, okay. It was just a suggestion."
"Well, it's not going to happen," Aria said firmly.
"So then…are you going to keep it?" Emily asked.
"I don't know. I'm going to HAVE it, if that's what you mean. But then…maybe giving it up would be best. I don't know. I've still got time to think about it."
"Until you start showing." Spencer said, the disbelief that this was even happening evident in her voice.
"I guess. It's just….A knows about it."
The other three stared at her in consternation. "And you think…" Emily said.
"That she might tell my mom, or…everyone."
"So tell your mom before A gets there. It doesn't have to be like the last time, with A sending your mom that letter about your Dad's affair," Hanna urged. "And you're going to have to tell her sooner or later, anyway."
Aria looked at the other three, exasperated. But then, they didn't know. How could they?
"You guys don't get it! It's not the fact that I'm pregnant that I'm worried about A telling my mom. It's her finding out who the father is."