I won’t be pregnant.
The pregnancy test window fills with liquid, and my heart flips when two lines appear in the first window, and one in the other.
What does that mean?!
I grab the instructions, lifting the stick up to match the results.
Two lines indicate a positive pregnancy test.
Sucking in a breath, I stare at the pink lines, aware that one is slightly fainter than the other.
It could be wrong. I’ll get another to be sure.
Feeling numb, I stand up and wash my hands, clutching the sink as I stare at my reflection.
Lauren is right: I look like shit.
I look pale, the skin beneath my eyes is slightly dark. My lips are dry, and my hair just looks greasy.
Sort it out, Jolie.
Despite my internal pep talk, all I do is run some lip balm over my lips, ignoring the pregnancy test that glares at me from the side.
I cannot be bloody pregnant.
The reality of being a single mum suddenly feels too close to home, and knowing how my mum completely fucked it up, I panic.
Sorry kid, I don’t even know your fathers name.
Is it Cohen? I vaguely recall hearing that name before we started having deliciously hot sex—
Jesus. Calm down!
My raging libido got me into this predicament.
I realise I’m still clutching the edge of the sink, my knuckles whitening.
I whirl on my heel, grabbing my keys before heading to the car. I drove to the furthest store I could, hoping no one recognised me. As if on cue, my nausea returns, and I spend fifteen minutes breathing through it in a Tesco car park.
This is the shits.
When I make it into the store, I head directly for the aisle I need, scowling at the condoms as I pass.
I opt for the clearblue testing kit, which sets me back a significant amount of money. I could just go to the doctor—but that’s too real. I can’t face that yet.
I swallow down my nausea, heading to the checkouts as I slap the test down on the conveyor belt. A man in front of me glances down at it, offering me a sympathetic smile.
Then the checkout woman grins at me, scanning the test like it’s a winning lottery ticket.
“Exciting!” She beams, and I do the worst thing.
I completely ignore her.
I’m not a rude person by any stretch, but honestly, I don’t have any tolerance right now. In fact, I want to tell her it’s not for me, and that I can’t have kids.
Just to wipe that stupid smile off her face.
I pluck my receipt from her hand, ignoring the stare she gives me.
It’s hard enough buying a pregnancy test without discussing it with a total stranger.
Well, you are pregnant by a total stranger, I remind myself.
Great. Now I’m talking to myself. In my head.
The drive home is relatively painless, and yet again my bladder is ready to be emptied.
I follow the instructions, pleased that this test seems dummy proof. It would tell me, in digital words, what my result was.
I slide the lid back on, and await my fate.
Please don’t be positive.
My stomach drops, and before I know it I’m sobbing.
“Fuck!” I tell, dragging my hands through my hair as I pace the tiny bathroom.
I throw the tests in the bin, refusing to acknowledge them.
By a stranger.
I call the doctors surgery, making an appointment. The closest they had was a week away, so I took that. Then I call Lauren.
“Sweets can I call you back?”
“I’ve done a test.”
Lauren inhales sharply, muttering something to someone she’s with before she addresses me.
I swallow, clutching my phone tightly. Admitting it out loud somehow made it more final. As though the sheer act of saying it put the baby in my womb in the first place.
“Apparently, I’m pregnant.”
My vision is blurry, tears filling my eyes as I hear my best friend exhale in an attempt to absorb the information.
“Are you at home? I’ll come round.”
“Yeah, but I have so much work to do—”
“I’m coming,” Lauren says firmly.
We hang up, and I stare at my stomach miserably.
Pregnant by a stranger.
It doesn’t feel real. Most women are elated to find out they’re pregnant, but other than Lauren and Aunt Lillian, I don’t have anyone to share it with.
Certainly not the baby’s father.
Oh, God. I can’t even tell the baby their father's name.
This seems to be a recurring anxiety attack. I push the thought away, but it haunts me regardless.
“Jolie,” she whispers, holding me tight. “Are you alright?”
“No. I’m pregnant with a stranger's baby!” I wail, as Lauren sighs.
“Come on, we aren’t living in caves Jolie! Lots of people make mistakes and—” her face twists into a grimace as I gasp.
“Yeah, they do, but we used protection! It doesn’t seem fair that after years of being with Brad I would let have a single pregnancy scare, and then one night with this guy and I’m up the duff!”
Lauren makes a face, shrugging.
I know that look. She’s got something to say.
“Go on then, say it. Whatever it is,” I groan, staring glumly at the floor.
Lauren hesitates, heaving a sigh as she leans down to my level, her hands on my knees.
“Babe, I’m not being funny, but thank fuck you didn’t get pregnant by Brad,” she shudders. “You two just aren’t right for each other.”
“Toxic,” I mumble, my lower lip quivering.
“What?” Lauren frowns, wrapping her hands around mine, her eyes wide.
She’s so caring, and I love her so much. But she never held back when it came to her opinion, and Brad.
“You said our relationship was toxic.”
“It was,” Lauren says softly. “We got through more wine and vodka in that relationship that I ever drank at Uni.”
A smile plays on my lips and she frowns.
“Shit. No more vodka. If you’re keeping it, that is,” she adds hastily, chewing on her lip.
“Lauren, I’ve not even considered not keeping the baby,” I whisper, my eyes filling again. “The baby didn’t ask to be here, and you know…” my voice trails off, as Lauren lifts my hands to her lips.
“I know. I love you for the way your mind works. I love that you want to keep your baby.”
We sit like that for a while, before Lauren insists on making us some food. My fridge is beyond neglected, but Lauren rustles up some cheesy pasta with a garlic bread she’s found in the freezer.
“Are you going to contact the father?” Lauren asks through a mouthful of pasta. Her legs are tucked up under her, and we’re watching DIY SOS.
The show is sad enough without any hormones in play, so Lauren joins me in being misty eyed when a young disabled boy and his family have a whole new home modified so they can spend time together.
“No!” I scoff, rolling my eyes. “I don’t even know his name!”
Lauren chews thoughtfully, letting out a heartfelt ‘aww’ when the volunteers on the television start to cry.
“I dunno, Jole. Don’t you think he should know?”
I shake my head stubbornly.
“No. I’m some woman he shagged whilst pissed as an arsehole. He wouldn’t want to know he’d knocked me up. No,” I repeat firmly.
My fork makes a scraping noise against the bowl that sends me over the edge, and I realise I’ve eaten all of it.
“Eating for two already!” Lauren grins, ignoring my answer.
Lauren wouldn’t let it go. She is a Good Samaritan and wouldn’t ever want to think she was depriving a father of his rights.
“I don’t need him, Lauren. I can get tax credits, I work,” I wave my hand around my house. “I have my own home. I can provide. I don’t need him.”
Lauren takes my bowl from me, kissing me lightly on the head.
“No, but maybe you need to tell him anyway. The child isn’t just yours, boo, and it will be hard sometimes.”
I’m pissed off now, and she knows it. She shrinks back, holding her hands up as she does.
“Look. I’m just being the devil's advocate here. I’d want to know if I were him.”
“I can’t even go there, Loz. I’m tired, crabby, and ready to eat you. Please, just leave it,” I plead, looking back at the television with a sigh.
“Alright. I hear you. Are you going to be okay tonight? Do you need me to get you anything?” Lauren calls over her shoulder as she heads into the kitchen.
I snuggle down on the sofa, yawning as my hands cradle my stomach.
“No, thanks. I’ll still pick Grace up tomorrow,” I reply, trying to concentrate on the television.
My head feels fuzzy, and I just want to sleep.
“Okay, sweets. You look shattered. Get some sleep and call me in the morning. I love you.”
Lauren kisses my head once more, and I murmur that I love her too. She lets herself out, locking the door behind her.
I wait for the sound of the keys being pushed through the letterbox, and I’m not disappointed when they clang on the floor.
Tell the stranger I’m pregnant?
How would I even find him?!
No. It’s better I do this myself.
My eyes close, and I doze on the sofa. When I wake up at two am, I’m desperate for a wee and the television is still blaring.
How had I slept through that?!
I yawn, padding to my bedroom. I climb under my duvet, snuggling down as I allow myself to imagine having my very own baby.
One thing was for sure—they’d never know what it felt like to be unwanted.
I’ve wanted them from day dot, and I already adore them beyond belief. It will be hard, but I have no doubt it will be rewarding.
I’m going to be a Mummy.
I don’t need a bloody stranger telling me how to do it either.