Sitting in my 4 P.M. French class, the professor’s voice seemed miles away, but that was alright. Right now, I was just glad that we were tackling new material, so all I had to do was to look as if I was paying attention. Focusing my eyes on the coursebook in front of me and doodling in it seemed to do the job. No one was paying any attention to me, and the professor kept talking without interruptions.
Aside from some random geometric shapes, I found myself sketching a girl on her knees and with tears streaming down her cheek. Phrases expressing God’s rage and the promise of punishment adorned the pages as well. The heartburn was getting unbearable. My throat seemed on fire every time I swallowed or took a breath. Nausea, which accompanied me since lunch, lingered. I drew a crucifix as if it was to save me. As if anything or anyone could. It was too little too late.
My jaws clenched, and my fists tightened. My knees started bouncing, unable to contain the nervous energy within me. Energy I could not afford to expel. I have been exhausted as of late, more than usual.
“How will I do this? There is no way I could do this.” Those were only some of the thoughts bouncing around in my brain as I drew a pair of hands folded in prayer.
As soon as the class ended, I threw my books into my backpack haphazardly and left the room, thankful for not being stopped by either my peers or my professor. I was able to survive today, and no one was the wiser, but I knew this would not last forever. The voices in my head assured me that my secret would soon be uncovered.
Xavier was waiting for me in front of the school when I came down the stairs. I exhaled when I saw him, realizing that I was not sure if he would show up. He put his arm around me, and we walked towards my dorm. He asked how I was feeling, and I gave him a whole list of symptoms that have been bothering me for a couple of days.
“Do you want me to go in with you?” he asked when we got to the pharmacy.
“I’m not going in,” I said briskly, unable to hide my agitation.
Without a second thought, Xavier walked into the pharmacy as I remained standing outside, admiring his bravery.
It was October. It wasn’t warm, but it was not cold yet. The darkness at 5 P.M. was an unmistakable sign of fall.
Xavier walked out promptly with a small bag and handed it to me. He was saying something, but I tuned him out. I was not ready to talk about options just yet.
“I need you to leave,” I said as we got to my dorm room.
“What?” he asked, confused, probably wondering how I would handle what was to come next all alone if I was even unable to walk into the pharmacy with him.
“I need to be alone for this,” I replied, opened my door, and then walked in, leaving him on the other side of the threshold.
Once in my room, I could not help but be mad at Xavier for not staying with me. “He should have put up more of a fight,” I said to myself, but the truth was that I could not have done what I was about to do with him there.
I grabbed the pregnancy test from the plastic bag and went into the bathroom. All the movies I have ever watched taught me that you pull out the testing device from the packaging, pee on it, and then wait a minute or two to obtain results. This test kit was different, however. I almost threw it against the wall when I found out that I would need a plastic bottle. That’s what I got for having Xavier get the test. After a few deep breaths, I grabbed a large bottle of mineral water that was always next to my bed and emptied its contents in the bathroom sink. Then, I took a pair of scissors to try and cut off the bottom part of the bottle. The scissors were too dull. The bread knife from the kitchen did not help, either. But, when you have grit, nothing can stand in your way. Alternating between a second pair of scissors I found in my desk, a steak knife, and a box cutter, I was able to saw off a part of the plastic bottle. Once that was done, I peed into that butchered bottle. Then, I took the pipette from the kit and drew a little bit of urine from the reservoir to place precisely three drops of urine onto a litmus paper. Afterward, all one was to do was wait.
Leaving the kit behind in the bathroom, I walked into my room and sat down in front of my computer. Another quick search of my symptoms supported my theory that I was indeed pregnant. Just like a previously forgotten dream, I recalled some of the things Xavier said when we were walking home from the pharmacy. Even though the words were not clear, I seemed to remember him suggesting he pushes me down the stairs. My phone ringing snapped me out of my zone. It was Xavier.
“What?” I asked angrily. If he only knew what I just went through with the test kit…
“Aaand?” he asked, full of anticipation.
“And … nothing. I have to wait. It took me forever to take it,” I said, wishing that he could understand even a fraction of what I was feeling.
“Look, I can’t talk right now. I’ll call you when it’s done,” I said and hung up, realizing that I was in no emotional state to talk to him.
Plus, there was nothing to talk about during that limbo time period before knowing what we were up against.
“I’m in deep trouble,” I wrote in a message to my friend.
“What’s going on?” she replied almost instantly.
“I’ve had sex, and now I think I’m pregnant,” I wrote and looked at the clock on my desk, swallowing hard.
I was either going to live to fight another day, or my life would be over once the time was up. There was no way I could finish my bachelor's degree. There was not enough time before the baby would be born, and it was impossible to study with a newborn. Everyone knew that. Plus, my parents would kill me, so that was that.
My friend was less than helpful. She could not understand how I had sex without protection. She did, however, tell me that the odds of me being pregnant after just one time were slim. My symptoms were telling a different story.
Would I let him push me down the stairs? I winced at the thought. Not because of the unborn baby, but because of myself. I did not want to get a concussion. Breaking my limbs did not sound appealing, either.
Would I get an abortion performed by a stranger with a coat hanger? That must hurt. There was no way I could do that.
He did mention “Plan B” – an abortion pill, but it was too late for that. We have had sex about a week or so ago.
As a Catholic girl, I was mortified to be pregnant without being married. My family would be less than thrilled. Would they stop paying for my school? Would the image of their perfect girl shatter?
I could not take care of a child.
But getting rid of the baby was murder.
I could not do that.
But I couldn’t have it ruin my whole life.
And Xavier. What would he do if I told him he was going to be a father? He was not ready, and I knew that. He would be of no help.
The alarm rang, announcing that the jury is back with the verdict. I walked into the bathroom and looked at the slip.
It said I was not pregnant, but did I perform it correctly? It seemed so complicated to me that there was a lot of room for error on my part.
“It’s negative,” I told Xavier over the phone, refusing any further conversation.
Maybe I didn’t wait long enough? No matter how long I waited, it was still negative. Maybe I waited too long?
Having checked in the bag by the door, I noticed that Xavier brought a few more tests “just in case.” Good thinking. Surely, I have to do the test in the morning and monitor the litmus paper as it develops just to make sure. I took the test probably four more times at various times of the day throughout the next two weeks. All negative. The symptoms have resolved within a month.
What would I have done if things didn’t play out that way?
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My top favourite story of the week!
Oh, wow. That's very generous of you. I'm humbled. Thank you.