“You fucking bitch,” he spat. “You’re a fucking bitch.”
Well, I deserved that. I also deserved it when he called me a whore, and professed his disbelief in my behavior, and when he told me that he never wanted to see me again. Yes, I deserved all of it. I hadn’t intended to deserve any of it, but that’s like saying you didn’t cheat, you just tripped and fell onto someone’s penis. Which I’d kind of done.
Fucking someone else wasn’t something I’d planned, but I suppose I did put myself into the situation. There are only so many things that will happen during a pagan camping trip, and going without your boyfriend makes it rather easy to enjoy all of them. It wasn’t the beer or the wine that upset him. It wasn’t the pot or the mushroom chocolates, either. But winding up in a tent the size of a studio apartment with several other people and neglecting to wear clothing was something he couldn’t forgive. Beyond that, celebrating the solstice by being penetrated by a man I was only slightly familiar with and going down on a woman I knew quite well were moot points. He left my stuff in a box, which his roommate wordlessly handed over when I could bring myself to knock on the door.
I drove myself to the free clinic.
Abby had called me the week before to ask me if I felt...different. I explained that aside from feeling like a total asshole for cheating on my now ex-boyfriend, I was pretty much the same. And by the way, thanks for those chocolates. Now that I no longer have to worry about ruining a relationship, I’d like some more whenever you get your hands on them.
“Well...” she began, and I noticed that her voice had lost its breathy lilt. Instead of floating along on a dreamy, slightly idiotic cadence, it came over the phone with gravity. She wasn’t telling me about the restorative properties of goldenseal. She was talking about penicillin.
“Who?” I asked.
By the time I took a clipboard to my seat in a too small, too loud waiting room, I was itching like crazy. I couldn’t find a position that didn’t make me want to claw out my insides. Every time my pen scratched another checkmark onto the symptom sheet, a maddening peal of discomfort flared below my belt.
I glanced at the girls across the room. High school. Probably here to get their first taste of the Pill. One didn’t look up from her texting to watch the Telemundo soap opera airing soundlessly from a staticy TV. The other chewed her nails with such intensity that she’d slobbered over half of her hand. God, girls, I thought. Get some manners.
Manners. As if any regard for those had landed me here. It seemed an eternity before a bored nurse called my name. Another eternity to sit wrapped in a paper towel, cold everywhere but my crotch, which must have been burning a hole through the table. While I waited, I thought about how to tell the boy who’d foolishly trusted me to head into the woods with a bunch of witches. I wanted to wait until I knew exactly what caused me to wish for buckets of ice to sit on. I wanted to be able to tell him without wailing into the phone. I wanted to tell his voicemail instead of having to apologize to his voice. Above all, I wanted antibiotics.
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