It dawned on me that I hadn’t had my period in over 6 weeks… but I was never good at keeping track of that kind of stuff. I went to the farthest away Walgreens in town, a place I would run into no one I knew. My cheeks burned a bright crimson when I paid for the test, but the cashier didn’t so much as look at me. No time or capacity to judge. In the bathroom at home, the cold royal blue tiled floors contrasted with the stark white walls.
There was no waiting. 5 seconds. 10 seconds. A second pink line. Sobs on the toilet.
I was only 16.
I still had to go to work. One of the servers asked if something was wrong; I turned my back and grunted. Teen angst, I’m sure she thought. The next days felt like I was walking through a swamp. I stayed home sick from school and truly I was not well. I researched on the table-scraps that were the Internet. I would have to approach a judge to get approval without a parent. How could I tell her?
I crumpled into a ball of nothing.
Day three of missing school. She was irritated. What was this sickness? Why wouldn’t I talk to her? What was wrong?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Are you pregnant?
I had made the appointment days earlier. She took off work or maybe she was already off. If there were protestors I ignored them.
$300. She paid, by check I think. I didn’t know what else to say, so I thanked her.
It was over in an instant. It may have hurt but I was numb. I didn’t feel anything other than a few tears streaming down my face and her warm hand holding mine.
They gave me a pack of birth control pills. I could start the next day.
* * * * * * * * * *
This month I paid the mortgage on time and BEFORE the 15th of the month, (thank you very much). There is money in savings. We went on “vacation” (Chicago for 3 days but STILL) for the first time in over three years. We’re decent neighbors, though I don’t care as much about mowing the lawn as the family to the north. We have clean clothes and have paid off our fuel-efficient cars. We work pretty boring American jobs. We go on walks to the park and pay our taxes and grill meat with a side of veggies for dinner. We live in the city in a house as old as dirt and while we curse its name, we love it deep down to its dungeonous basement. We grow tomatoes and (sometimes) chickens and two little boys that are perfect and crazy and so dang brave.
It was my choice, the only choice. We have this life because of that day in 1998. And our lives are perfect.
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