Sometimes I look out of my window and instead of glancing at the beauty of Bridgeport's rolling hills i look up.
When i look at the hills i know what to expect, i know what's out there down to the last detail.
But when i look up all i see is the unknown.
Sure the stars are pretty but thinking about that many planets out there in the solar system is kind of daunting.
Sometimes i imagine that there's another world out there, similar to mine in many ways yet different in a few.
My other worldly self would have had all of my good experiences, but none of my bad.
I look up at the sky sometimes and i wonder what it would be like to be that version of me instead.
So much has happened to me that it helps me to try and escape, but then there are those days when I'm just content to be Iris Traytor.
Like the day Hope was waiting for the results of her time in the police academy and Chase had come along for moral support.
When she ripped open the envelope and squealed in joy at her results he hugged her so tightly and i could see the look on his face when she hugged him back.
He loves her so much, anyone can see it.
I couldn't figure out why she was so surprised when he dropped to one knee and proposed, but anyway she jumped up and down for ages before finally saying yes!
I was so pleased at the time that they gave Mom and Dad something else to think about, planning a wedding takes up a lot of time.
Time when they didn't have to sit and worry about me.
Or rather worry about my bump.
OK so i know what you're thinking, being 17 and knocked up isn't great but it could be a whole lot worse right?
Well how about being 17, knocked up and dumped to boot?
Cody decided to ditch town and me right after that night on the beach when i told him i was pregnant.
OK so i wasn't sure i definitely was but i thought he would have at least stuck around long enough to find out.
When the summer had ended and i started my senior year i was so nervous, turning up at school with this big bump in front of me. As if the kids needed another reason to avoid me.
It wasn't so bad on reflection, except people didn't wait to talk to me before deciding i was a freak, they just stared, pointed and whispered behind my back that i was.
Whatever, i never cared what they thought of me, i still don't.
The one big change was Ivy, she stuck by my side at all times, ready to fight anyone who dared to say what they thought of me to my face.
Things had cooled off between her and Bobby, back then it was my hip she was joined to and he was on the outside looking in.
I felt bad for him, i know how that feels.
Ivy fussed over me constantly, always making sure that I was OK and always talking to the bump.
I thought it was weird, i mean what did she think it was going to do answer her?
But i let her do it anyway, at least she had something to say to it.
I didn't have a clue, I mean what could i have said to the little bug?
Sorry baby but your Mom's a teenager and your Dad's invisible?
Honestly i felt bad for it, imagine being rejected before you were even born.
I used go to the beach a lot, i knew he wouldn't be there but every time i walked down the track that leads to the sand i would think to myself, what if?
What if today is the day that he decides to come back to me?
But it never was.
I figured that this was my life now, just me and that bump.
I imagined how Cody's life would be all surfing and camping under the stars.
I wondered if he ever looked up at them and thought of me?
I tried to feel angry about Cody leaving but i know why he did it, my Dad.
I guess I wasn't supposed to know that he ordered him to leave me alone, but i heard him telling my Mom one night. She told him that he broke my heart, and she was right, how could he do that to me?
As if that wasn't bad enough he acted like I was invisible at home, like if he pretended that I wasn't there then i wouldn't be such an embarrassment to him.
I wanted to confront him, i wanted to yell at him and let him know how angry i was but i didn't.
He's my Dad and i love him, i knew he was only trying to protect me.
He went all out for Hope's big day, no expense spared.
She looked beautiful though and Chase looked so happy to be marrying her.
A few days later she got a belated wedding gift in the shape of Grady.
He'd recovered from his coma and was healed enough to make a visit. Aunt Eliza says he still has a lot of therapy to go through but the police aren't planning on sending him to jail, apparently being in a coma for 3 years gives you a free pass.
Getting him back really completed Hope's happiness.
I bet my Dad wishes he'd picked her as heir now, she's really made a life for herself, getting married and promoted to traffic cop all in the space of a week.
But he gave the responsibility to me, his most irresponsible daughter.
When i think back to how big i got and all the extra weight which used to kill my back, i smile. I used to think it was hard to sleep then but that's nothing compared to sharing a room with a screaming child!
Mom told me that the pain in my back would pale into insignificance compared to the pain of child birth.
I know she thought she was doing me a favour in preparing me for the actual event, but she really freaked me out!
But she was not wrong! I have never known pain like it, tearing through my stomach in the most unforgiving way imaginable.
All the books i read preparing me for the event did not even scratch the surface on how immeasurable the pain felt.
Some of those books talked about the joys of child birth, i think I'll demand a refund on those!
But just when i figured Dad wanted nothing more to do with me and my little bug he stepped up to the plate at my moment of greatest need.
He took me to the hospital and held my hand the whole way.
And now i get it! The joy is not in the birth it's very much from what the end result is.
My little bug turned out to be a boy, just like i hoped.
All i wanted was a little replica of Cody, i think it was so i could see his face again.
So now this is us, me and Joshua.
My Mom helps a lot, she's taught me so much, but at night when it's just me and my baby it's kinda scary.
I mean just look at him! So tiny, his little fingers are like dots.
Don't get me wrong i love him more than words can describe but how terrifying to hold something so precious in your arms knowing that it's all on you, all your responsibility. What if i mess up? What if i drop him? What if i forget to support his head?
There are so many things to consider that it makes my head spin!
But when i look into his eyes it just seems to be alright.
I know I've not given him the greatest start in life but at least he has a roof over his head and a family of people who adore him.
I heard my Dad talking to Joshua today he didn't know i was there.
"I'm so sorry Josh." he whispered, "I shouldn't have sent your Daddy away."
I left the room, i didn't want him to know that i heard his regrets although i am pleased to know that he has them.
So this is it, the big day when Ivy and I turn 18 and finally become young adults, it's funny how i already feel like I've lived my life twice over.
My Dad calls for me to make a wish and i figure that's easy, there's only one thing i want and that's Cody.
I close my eyes and extinguish the flame of the candles watching as the small puff of smoke rises and disappears into the night sky.
When i was little i used to believe that your wish only got granted if that little puff of smoke rose high enough. Well tonight it made it to the moon so I'm counting on the birthday Gods granting my wish.
Ivy does the same sending her smoke just as high, she turns to smile at me and i wink to her. I know what she wished for and it wasn't Bobby.
She wants to be famous and if I'm certain of anything it's that her wish will be granted.
And just like that the transformation from child to adult is complete, i think we did pretty good and if neither of our wishes comes true then at least we were granted a trait each, Ambitious for Ivy and Eco friendly for me. Cody would approve.
No sooner had we started to slice our cakes when our little party was turned on it's head as two events unfolded simultaneously.
Bobby dropped to one knee and produced an Oscar worthy sparkler asking Ivy to marry him and a familiar looking truck pulled up to the curb outside my house.
And just as i had wished it to be, so it was. There stood Cody looking at me as though it had been only yesterday when we last caught sight of one another.
As if in a trance i moved fluidly towards him, bypassing my Mother and Father showing themselves up on the makeshift dance floor i approached him as though i was floating on air.
"Happy birthday Iris." He said to me the hint of a smile forming at the corner of his mouth.
I drank in the sight of him for the longest time, Cody, my Cody, my baby's father.
There was a time when i worried that i had forgotten the exact colour of his eyes, but now that i saw them in front of me i knew it was impossible. I recalled in great perfection the exact grey/aqua shade like the ocean which lapped the shore on the night we had made our baby.
As i looked now into those perfect eyes i knew what i had to do.
With as much force as i could muster i drew back my hand and slapped his face.
I hit him hard so that he could feel just of taste of the pain he had caused me and then without saying a word i ran back into the safety of my house.
I wondered in that instant if the other worldly me had seen my actions and if she had what did she think?
I guessed she was applauding.
Cody watched as Iris turned and fled into the house, his cheek still stinging from her slap.
He moved to follow her but then spied her father heading his way and thought twice, he wasn't sure how his return would go over with Iris but he was certain that her Dad would not be happy.
Finlay surveyed the scene unfolding between Iris and Cody and seeing her run away he decided that he needed to intervene for a second time.
Tensing at the Mayor's approach Cody's mind starting to kick into overdrive desperately clamouring for a valid excuse for his presence.
"Look Mayor Traytor i know you told me to leave Iris alone but i, i had to see her again." he began running a worried hand through his messy hair, "I know you think I'm not good enough for her but I've changed i swear i can take care of her, if you'll just give me a chance."
Finlay held up his hands to silence Cody and his ramblings.
"Finn, please think about what you're doing." Charlie said as she watched the two men confronting each other.
"It's OK Charlie." Finn placated her, "Listen son, i realise that i was out of line the last time we spoke, but you need to understand that i was very angry that day." He began.
"I do Mayor Traytor and I'm sorry for what happened." Cody interrupted.
"Please, let me finish." Finn insisted, silencing Cody on the spot.
"I shouldn't have threatened you, it's not something that I'm prone to doing or something that I'm very proud of and believe me if i could take back my part in your leaving town i would, in a heartbeat."
Cody regarded Iris's Dad warily, it sounded very much as though he was apologising, Cody was prepared for every eventuality apart from that one, he found himself dumbstruck.
"I'm to blame for the way Iris feels about you now, but you need to understand how difficult it has been for her to go through all of this alone."
Cody nodded, unsure of what the Mayor was trying to tell him.
"I hope that you will accept my apology, i think that maybe now you will understand how protective a father is of his child." Finlay asked offering Cody his hand to shake.
Cody reached out and shook the Mayor's hand firmly, believing that he now understood what he was implying.
"I'd like to talk to Iris if i may?" he asked.
"She'll be in her room." Finn nodded his consent.
Iris held Joshua close to her chest and gently soothed him with her voice.
"There, there Josh it's going to be OK." She told him, although she realised she was trying to convince herself of this more than her infant son.
Her hand stung from the slap she had registered across Cody's face, she regretted her impulse then but in the heat of the moment she wanted to wound him for the part he had played in abandoning them both.
She bristled as she sensed another presence enter the room.
Cody regarded the scene in front of him, Iris cradling a newborn baby, his baby.
When he left Bridgeport behind he had known there was a chance that she was in fact pregnant, she had been so certain, but in order for him to leave he had, had to convince himself that she was mistaken.
Now as he stood in her bedroom doorway he could not continue the lie to himself any longer.
"This is your son." She said turning to face him, "I named him Joshua."
Cody stepped forward tentatively and peered at the infant nestled in her arms.
"Can I, can i hold him?" He queried.
She held out the baby in offering and he took the tiny body into his arms taking care to support his delicate frame.
Iris stared at Cody, she registered the tenderness with which he held Joshua and her heart lurched at the memory of his tender touch on her skin.
"He's so perfect." Cody said a tear pricking his eye.
"Yes, all ten toes and ten fingers." Iris agreed, "He was 7lb 8oz when he was born but he's growing fast now."
Cody held Joshua closely and took in his fragrant baby scent.
"I'm so sorry i wasn't here." He whispered.
Iris felt her heart lurch again at the weight of the pain which touched his words, but she shook it off as quickly as it had come. There were too many painful questions which she didn't have the strength to deal with then and there.
"It's late, Joshua should be in his crib." She said taking the baby from his fathers arms and placing him safely to sleep.
"Can we talk?" Cody asked carefully.
"I don't want to hear your excuses Cody." Iris cried holding her hands up as if to protect her heart from breaking all over again, "I know my father told you to leave but what i don't know is why you listened to him?"
"I didn't want to Iris, the things he said to me! I wanted to stay to prove him wrong, but one thing he said made me realise that i had to go."
"What was it Cody? Please explain it to me because i don't understand." She begged.
"He told me that the last thing you needed was to be tied down to somebody like me and Iris he was right." Cody confessed, "When i think now about all my dreams, they were stupid, childish even and i realised that if i really wanted to give you the life you deserved then i had to change."
Iris looked at him quizzically, what changes could he mean? She had always loved him the way he was and she didn't think his dreams were stupid.
"I mean sure i love surfing but you can't make a living from it, not one that would support a wife and a child." He admitted sadly.
"But i thought this whole time you were with Alex and Dalton, if you weren't surfing then where have you been?" Iris asked.
"I've been in training Iris, I enlisted in the military."