CH. 25: HEATHER
There was too much stigma surrounding Planned Parenthood; too taboo and cliché.
There was no parenthood, and nothing about it was planned. The name was a deception.
The test had come back positive, she’d taken three to make sure before breaking the news.
There had been a part of her hoping that Andrew hadn’t really been serious about terminating the pregnancy. Is this how Rachel felt? she’d found herself wondering. Was this karma? No, she’d thought, shaking her head. Karma isn’t real.
Heather glances at her phone for the umpteenth time. Time is standing still.
She shifts her focus to the various young women ushered in by the security guard. Anything to take the attention off the tight nipple clamps Andrew forced her to wear—her reminder of who’s in charge. Her ass had been beaten raw, the skin on her bottom and back of her legs still throbbing.
One by one, the women all check in and take their seats, behaving as though this were nothing more than a routine pelvic exam.
“Remember to take the clamps off in the bathroom before your surgery,” Andrew says, gripping her wrist tightly.
“Yes, I remember, sir,” she says obediently.
“After your little indiscretion is dealt with, I’d like a blowjob and a thank you.”
“Yes, sir.” she answers, staring at the green carpeting.
A heavy-set woman holding a clipboard emerges from the front room. “Heather Anderson?” she calls, scanning through faces.
Women sit unflinching with their partners, mothers, or friends. Absorbed in their phones. Nobody looks up. Heather exhales and stands. She walks forward, too aware of the way her feet seem to drag against the carpet.
“I’m sorry sir, just her please.”
She hadn’t even noticed Andrew stand up with her. She spins to look at him quickly, then averts her gaze.
“What do you mean, just her? I have every right to be in that room, too. It isn’t just her decision.”
She blinks, her polite smile straightening into a firm line. “I’m sorry sir, but I’m going to have to ask you to please take your seat or wait for her outside.”
A lump forms in the back of her throat, making it difficult to swallow.
Andrew sneers, cramming his hands into his pockets.
“Heather?” the woman says. She slowly looks up at her. “Let’s talk in my office, shall we?”
The room is cramped. There’s only just space enough to fit a desk and a couple of chairs. Heather looks around, eyes scanning over posters of uteri and diagrams of the inner workings of the female body. The walls are papered with Mental illness and Suicide prevention slogans.
Silence Hides Violence
Enough is Enough
The room is quiet save for the sound of the rustling paperwork between the counselor’s fingertips. She taps the papers together neatly and clears her throat. “How are you feeling today?”
“Fine,” she says, wringing her hands.
“I’m going to ask you a few questions, standard procedure. Is that okay?”
Love is Not Abusive
Protect. Prevent. Empower
“Are you here against your will?” she asks, looking at Heather, but then back down at the sheet of paper in front of her.
Standard procedure. She doesn’t actually care, she can’t even maintain eye contact. All the women outside in the waiting room on their phones, in their magazines, tapping their feet. How many of them does she interview per day? A hundred? Of course she doesn’t care. “No,” she answers.
Take a Stand
“What were you using as a contraceptive?”
“Nothing,” she trails, pulling her hands into her sleeves and wrapping her arms around herself.
“It’s okay,” the counselor assures. “Nobody is here to judge.”
Pain is Real but so is Hope
Speak up Reach out
Heather clutches her stomach and leans over.
“Are you alright,” the counselor asks, momentarily dropping her pen. “Heather?”
“I’m fine,” she murmurs. “Sorry, it’s just…”
“This is your choice,” the counselor says. “Your choice to go through with the procedure or to walk out of that door.”
“I know, I’m just anxious, I’ll be fine,” she manages.
“We have some really great women working here, you’ll be in good hands.”
“We have a wonderful group of highly-skilled gynecologists who volunteer their time to help women like you. Now let’s discuss some contraceptive options for you.”
Heather’s eyes flit over the pictures of women. Sad silhouettes. Outlines of imaginary victims.
“Would you be interested in an implant? It can be installed while you’re under anesthesia. We have a few options here for you...” Her words are a void, sounds with no meaning.
“Just the pill would be fine,” she mutters, wiping the sweat from her brow.
“The pill can be tricky,” she says, tilting her head. “It can be hard to remember to take it everyday at the same time.”
“Okay, fine, I’ll take the implant then.”
“Good choice,” the counselor says, marking the sheet of paper. Smiling, she stands. “Well that concludes our interview. Best of luck to you.” She opens the door, effectively throwing her back into a sea of apathy. Zombies with zygotes. Embryos. Fetuses. What was hers? Just an Embryo. 6 weeks, by her math.
“Everything good?” Andrew asks, not looking up from his phone.
“I won’t be able to have sex for six weeks after the procedure,” she says, looking at her hands.
“Sure you will.” he says, resting his ankle on his knee. He places a half-open fist under his chin, his elbow on the armrest. “You have an ass and a mouth.”
“Is there something else?” he asks, eyes narrowing, foot bouncing on his knee.
Heather’s shoulders pull in as she slumps slightly, pulling at the sleeves of her gray long-sleeve. “I agreed to an implant,” she says, scanning his face quickly before looking back down at his foot. It stops a moment and then starts again.
“What does that mean,” he asks, his tone uninterested. His pinkie rests over his lips as his eyes bore into hers.
“Birth control,” she murmurs.
“What about it?” he asks.
“They’re going to put a birth control implant inside of me during the procedure.”
“Oh,” Andrew says, shifting. He places his foot back onto the carpet and looks back at his phone.
“I can tell them I’ve changed my mind,” she says in a rush. “I don’t have to take it, they said it helps with recovery… The hormones help regulate. I can just ask for the pill.”
“I never said anything against it,” he says firmly. They’re speaking in hushed whispers, but Heather is sure all eyes are on her. She doesn’t look up to confirm. “It’s better we wait. I’m sure it isn’t any good for you to get pregnant again right after, anyway.”
Heather’s heart begins to beat hard against her chest. She opens her mouth to respond when a voice cuts across the room. “Heather Anderson.”
She looks up, wild eyed and then back to Andrew, mouth still agape.
He stares hard at her, his eyes growing wide as he motions for her to go. His eyes shift from hers to the woman in the green scrubs.
Heather swallows hard and stands. She doesn’t look at anyone, keeping her eyes squarely on the short, dark-skinned woman holding the clipboard.
“Follow me please,” she says.
How sad is it, she thinks, that the kindest women are the same who will strip her of everything she’s ever wanted?