When she awoke again, Aria found the light spilling into her room was not morning light. Turning toward her alarm clock, she let out a groan. The clock read 12:13 in bright, blaring red numbers. She had slept through half of school and her parents would be on her back about it for sure. Then again that was the last thing she should be worried about, she mused.
She should not have taken the test before school this morning, but she had bought it three days before and had delayed taking it in hopes that she would find out she didn't have to. She had avoided opening the package for as long as she could. But this morning she had opened her medicine cabinet and there it sat, mocking her. There was no way she could get through even one more school day. Not even 7 short hours. Because there would be nothing short about those hours.
Still a little bit tired and mostly just not wanting to get up, she did the only sane thing and rolled over, trying to fall back asleep.
"Wow Aria, who's the lucky guy?" came a voice from beside her.
"What!" cried a startled Aria, who jumped a little as she turned to look at the voice beside her, and found herself staring into the eyes of her friend.
Hanna pointed to something below Aria's eye level. "That! I asked who's responsible for that."
Brow furrowed, Aria looked down to where Hanna was pointing and saw nothing. "Han, what are you talking about?"
"Oh please," came Hanna with an eye roll. "You can't exactly hide it anymore Aria. You're clearly showing."
"What!" squeaked Aria. She looked down and saw a huge belly had suddenly appeared. In her panic she tried to pull down her shirt over her bump, but everytime she blinked it seemed to get bigger. "I'm barely 2 months along. This isn't possible!"
All of a sudden Aria looked like she had swallowed a watermelon.
"This isn't true! I'm not pregnant!" Aria reached desperately for Hannah, but as she grabbed Hanna's arm and turned to her, Ezra was in her place instead. Just as suddenly, Aria became aware of several students around her and all of them were gawking or laughing or sneering her way.
"Why are you crying?" asked Ezra.
"What?" Aria reached a hand up to her face, and sure enough felt the moisture of her tears.
"Don't cry." cooed Ezra.
"But they're all staring at me and laughing! How is that not bothering you?" cried Aria, with a desperate gesture to the students milling around them. Nevermind that the hallway completely lacked any lockers or doors.
"What students?" laughed Ezra.
"Your students! My classmates! Everyone!" she wailed.
"Babe, I don't see anyone." said Ezra, making a complete 360 as he looked about. "It's only you and me, Babe."
"But Ezra, can't you see them mocking me." Aria swiped at her nose, which felt slightly runny now.
"I just see you Aria," said Ezra, encircling Aria in his arms. "And our little one, of course. No one else matters." With that said, he leaned down and kissed her.
At first she gave in but then remembered she was at school and shoved him back.
"Ezra! What are you doing?" she hissed.
"Kissing my girl, of course. Relax," he smiled his warm, easy smile that almost melted her heart. "Everyone knows about us, everything is okay, Aria."
"They know? Everything?"
"Yes," said Ezra, his smile never faultering on his face. "Everyone knows it's your fault. It's all your fault. I lost my job, had to move because I couldn't afford my apartment, I've lost everything, and every single part of that is your fault." But Ezra's smile never left his face, and instead he said it like it was the best thing in the world. Suddenly Aria couldn't breathe. How could she have let this happen? What had she done?
"Ezra, I'm sorry! I'm so, very sorry!" cried Aria, tears streaming freely down her face. Her heart pounded a mile a minute and all she wanted to do was wake up. This had to be a dream! She nearly doubled over from lack of breath, and as she looked up at Ezra his face suddenly turned into a scowl.
"Wake up, Aria!" came a harsh cry. Aria blinked. It came from Ezra, but it was a girl's voice. "Aria, wake up! You're dreaming!"
"Wha-" all of a sudden the world blurred around her and disappeared. She opened her eyes with a moan and, blinking several times, focused her eyes on a face too close to hers for comfort. Big blue eyes stared back at her, and they gave a heavy, relieved sigh.
"Thank God you're awake!" exlaimed Hanna-the real one this time. Without stopping to see if Aria was taking everything in, she went on in one breath. "Are you okay? Your mom didn't want me to come and check on you because she said you needed your rest, but I snuck by her and came on up anyway. When I got here you were trashing like crazy." At that moment, Aria noticed that she was indeed completely tangled in her soft bed sheets. "We were all worried about you, espically Mr. Fitz! He's been so worried since Ravenswood. I wonder whats got him so wired-not that that matters right now. Are you okay? Seriously?"
"Uh..." said Aria, whose mind was working too slowly to process everything. She sat up a little and rested against her headboard. "Yeah. I'm okay. What are you doing here?"
"Checking to make sure you're not dead. Doesn't look like it. My job here is done!" Hanna said with a smile. When she saw Aria didn't return her smile, it dropped from her face in a flash. Her hand went up to Aria's forehead and Aria gave only a weak, halfassed attempt to swat it away. Hanna's frown deepend. "You don't feel like you have a fever or anything."
"I don't. I'm just really tired."
"Your mom said ou've been feeling sick lately. I think that's the only reason she's not mad you skipped school. Careful going down there, she's turned into a mama bear!"
This time Aria managed a small, weak smile and the girls lapsed into a long silence.
Hanna's phone went off and she looked at the screen, then gave Aria a grimace. "I have to get back home. Mom needs me for something stupid, I'm sure. But hey," she put a hand on Aria's knee. "Let me know if you need anything. And I mean anything. The stupidest, smallest thing is okay." With one last comforting squeeze of Aria's knee, Hanna reluctantly stood up and left the room, closing Aria's door softly behind her.
Content that her mom wouldn't be bothering her for a while, and knowing she didn't need anymore sleep-or want it after that nightmare-Aria sat straight up against her headbord and wiggled around to find a comfortable position. When she had finally found one, she reached over to her nightstand and picked up one of the novels she was currently reading. As she flipped to the bookmarked page and began reading, the terror and lingering negative feelings of her dream slowly left her and she grew more and more relaxed. Aria loved reading-there was no better way to escape your life and live in another one without carrying your fears and problems with you, and that was exactly what she needed right now. A last moment of peace.