My heart has never been in so much pain.
The two little pink lines weren’t even faint. They were solid, and left no room for doubt—even after I’ve been hurling my guts out all week. It didn’t even give me time to think of more ridiculous possibilities as to why my period was so late.
Mara quickly takes the test stick out of my hand, before I have a chance to pitch it across the bathroom.
“Don’t worry, Ro,” she hugs me, “Everything’s going to be okay.”
“No,” I sob, hugging my best friend tightly. “No. I messed up bad.”
This isn’t how my life is supposed to go. I was stupid. I was really stupid.
“Don’t cry. You’re going to make me cry!” she whines.
“I can’t have a baby, Mara. Not Judah’s. Not like this,” I shake my head.
But it’s my fault. I must accept it.
Mara looks me over and asks, “But, are you going to tell Judah?”
I laugh at the idea, nervously, because I believe I’m going insane.
“He can’t know. He doesn’t need to know.”
“Of course he does,” Mara frowns at me.
“And what do you think he’ll do for me? Huh?” I throw, walking to sit down.
It was more of a question for myself to figure out. He’s nothing but a liar and a heartless jerk, Rosalie. Don’t even think about it.
“But, Ro...” she stretches.
“Can we stop talking about it, please?” I beg, as my voice cracks.
My eyes sting and my throat dries up.
Mara places her hands on her hips and turns to me. She opens her mouth regardless, and I sigh with my eyes closed.
“When do you want to talk about it? When the baby is born?!” she asks, sarcastic.
I’ve considered my life over. What about school? What about my parents? And my future? While I try to cope with overwhelming thoughts, Mara picks up her phone and presses it to her ear.
“Things’ll get easier, once we get pizza.”
“Well, it’s up to you. The fetus is growing. You’ll want to make a decision as soon as possible. The earlier the better, as there are fewer complications.”
Make a decision? Why is it so difficult? What’s more difficult is to understand how I let myself get into this mess. Questions pile up in my mind.
I have a hard time saying my words.
“And how would it be? Do you hospitalize me or...?”
“No, not at all,” the doctor smiles, “It’s a quick process, lasting no more than half an hour.”
“And, um,” I rub my cold hands together, “You mentioned... complications?”
“It is a procedure, and there is always a risk. Every woman is different. It’s minimal, but there is one,” she lets me know.
I nod, “And if everything goes well?”
“Then everything is well,” she smiles. She shows me the form that I must fill out. “You should have your partner come with you that day. I recommend it to patients. It’s so you’ll be more relaxed. Many women say it helps.”
“Um, I don’t have a boyfriend,” I shake my head, which prickles with heat.
“That’s alright. A friend or someone close to you is just as good,” she nods, “When shall we schedule it?”
“Right... um,” I exhale.
Mara snores next to me, deep in sleep. The room is dark. Cramps grow beneath my stomach.
I lie on my side, letting tears roll off my eyelids. The nightmare seems endless for me. It’s been weeks since Judah threw me away like I was nothing, and it still hurts.
No matter how many times I wipe my eyes, they still cry.
I wanted to believe that he had a reason... that somehow he didn’t really mean his words. But he’s never called or texted or anything. He left me—completely.
I try to find strength. But all my life plans that I used to have are faded.
You thought I loved you?
His words play over and over in my head without ceasing.
The next morning, Mara and I take a walk to Starbucks. I share my concerns.
“Isn’t two months a long wait?” Mara asks, stirring her straw in her Starbucks cup.
“It was the only appointment available, apparently.”
We walk up the hill towards the dorms, crunching the snow beneath our feet. A few exhausted people ahead of us slip and slide a few times. So, I slow down my pace, cautious.
“But your baby will, like, have little toes and tiny fingers by then,” she comments, purposefully to torment me.
“Mara,” I groan, knitting my brows together. For a split second, I wonder if her statement is even accurate, since I know nothing about it. “Could you not... call it my baby.”
She grunts a short laugh and looks at me with sly eyes, “Then whose baby is it? Judah’s baby?”
“Mara, stop being annoying,” I plead.
“Okay, sorry,” she waves her hand, and then clutches my arm when she slips. “But just for the record, your baby would be gorgeous. So gorgeous.”
I ignore her and keep walking. If she spoke any louder, my parents back home would hear her.
That’s another thing on my list of things to worry about. What am I supposed to tell my parents? I’ve already lied to them on so many things. What will they think of me? Not only am I on the verge of dropping out, I’m also knocked up by the worst person on the planet. They’ll be beyond disappointed that they just might disown me.
Mara plays a random YouTube video with the volume up, “Easy DIY Baby Blanket Sewing Tutorial!”
God, help me.
I’m not yet showing, but I’ve gain a pound or two. In my two months waiting time, I’ve bought new books and spent my days, reading on material, determined to get back on track for the summer term. Yes, I’ve cheated myself and napped during most of the time. But I tried.
I dress myself warm and twist my scarf around my neck. I file my way to the clinic after hoping on the bus.
My body gets the jitters. My mind starts to worry. My nerves get tense.
Watching the snow fall makes me want to cry all over again. I try to convince myself that I’m doing this for me. I’m doing this so that I can finish school and make my parents proud of me. I have to.
When I arrive, the nurse gives me the form to complete. I take the pen in my hand and sit among a bunch of pregnant ladies. I read through it slowly.
I snap my head up and mumble to myself, “Oh, I forgot to ask how much it costs.”
Before I could stand up on my feet, a very pregnant lady next to me mutters, “It costs a life.”
I glance at her and her bursting bump. Ugh! Why the hell would she say that? Now? Really? God, why? Come on! You’re here for the same reason? What the hell? NO!
My eyelids slowly fall down, as I roll my eyes. I drop the form and the clipboard on my seat and walk right out.
“Shell casings are littered on a street, in front of a bar after an early morning shooting, between two cars. A witness says he heard about a half a dozen shots being fired.”
Witness with a blurred face says, “Uh, multiple shots... two vehicles, uh, were chasing the other, I heard gunshots.”
“It happened one in the morning on 44th Avenue near 188 streets in front of a bar. It doesn’t appear anyone was injured, and both vehicles fled the scene.”
A police officer appears, “The reports we have received from witnesses are that a red pick-up truck and a silver or gray SUV were involved, driving westbound... Unknown at this time if the shots were fired from one of the vehicles or both. We’re still processing the evidence seized at the scene overnight, and trying to establish exactly what occupants took what role and this latest shooting incident.”
Anchor Tom comes back on, “The latest shooting came just hours after the authorities issued a warning about a drug war, issuing a curfew that affects public transportation going towards downtown, as well as closing malls and small business by 9pm. Police released photos of eight men who were intended targets; they are not cooperating with investigators. During yesterday’s announcement, police said since January, 20 shootings, across the downtown area, were related to drug trafficking, between two groups. One arrest has been made. It’s too early to say if this shooting is related to the ongoing drug war.”
“You’re about twelve weeks along,” says the obstetrician, as she preps the sonogram machine. “So it’s normal to have morning sickness.”
The large screen lights up, but I don’t look at it. My eyes stay focus on the ceiling.
“Twelve... weeks?” I ask, as the words get stuck in my dry throat.
The doctor nods, “Your baby is the size of a kiwi.”
I didn’t need to know that—didn’t need to visualize it. My hands rub my drenched forehead, despite my whole body shaking in fright. Oh God...
“I’m throwing up every day, though.”
“Yes, and you’ll still gain a significant amount of weight in the next two weeks,” she adds casually.
I feel my pulse hasten, like I’m watching a horror film. Why is this happening? Why me? Regret is the heaviest feeling.
Judah and I met 7 months ago; broke up 2 months ago; I’m now 12 weeks pregnant, due in November—time goes quickly.
“Take a deep breath,” she tells me soothingly.
I inhale a great deal, as my eyes dart at the blackish screen. My mind runs on Judah now. What am I supposed to tell him? Do I tell him? I don’t think I can. But if I did, what would he say?
Grey areas show up. My vision blurs, and when I reach to rub them, tears fall out.
Oh God, Judah would kill me. Or I’m going to kill myself. I don’t know which will come first. The doctor applies pressure with her probe over my stomach. I try hard not to dive into a panic attack.
“So there’s the head,” the doctor speaks lightly, “These are the hands. The baby is a bit smaller than average. You’re going to have to eat a healthier diet and get more sleep.”
I’m not really listening. I focus on snuffling my nose and controlling the snot that tries to run down. The doctor says something about nerve development and that it’s moving. I only take short glances and blink the tears away.
I’m not ready. I’m not ready for any of this.
Then she mentions the baby’s heartbeat, and unknowingly tortures me by turning the volume up on the speakers.
The rapid thudding sound finally gets me to actually look at the stupid screen.
I see it. The gummy bear... That’s what it looks like.
“A gummy bear?” Mara giggles.
She holds the picture in her hand, staring at it for God knows how long. We leisurely walk around the mall, because I need a distraction, and Mara needs a new pair of shoes.
I shrug my shoulders and look forward, “That’s what it looks like.”
“I guess you’re right,” she observes the glossy print some more. She grabs my arm, all excited. “Can’t believe I’m going to be an aunty! Let’s go to the baby shop!”
She drags me towards the nearest pastel-coloured boutique with the tinier versions of everything.
I halt in my tracks, before entering, pulling Mara back.
“No,” I hiss.
“Why not? I want to see those tiny bibs,” she squeezes her eyes, “I need to see those tiny bibs!”
I press my lips in a tight line. She’s so dramatic, jeez.
“I’m not buying baby stuff,” I say.
She turns and stares at me, waving the ultrasound picture in my face.
“You’re having a baby. Hello-o?!”
I snatch the picture out of her hand.
“Doesn’t mean I’ll keep it,” I snap.
Then my hot head gets dizzy from the sudden emotional outburst.
After blinking my eye, I sob. Mara pulls me in a hug, although she can’t contain her laughter.
“Aw, Ro. Don’t cry,” she stifles, “We’ll come back when there’s a sale, okay?”
I hug her back, feeling the snots come down, not appreciating her teasing.
“It’s not funny, Mara!”
“Alright, alright. I’m sorry,” she smiles supportively, “Just stop worrying so much. It’s not like the baby is coming now. You’ve got 9 months.”
I look at her weird, knitting my brows together, “Seven months, now.”
“Sure. Math,” Mara shrugs, walking straight into the baby store, despite my previous opposition.
I shove the ultrasound in my pocket.
My stomach was starving in the middle of the night, and I had no choice but to stop by the corner store below the hill. My feet pace swiftly despite the icy sidewalk.
For some reason, my back aches, but I subside the pain by thinking about the city’s mayor needing to do a better job of de-icing the streets for people’s safety.
My pendant feels cold against my chest, as I remember that I still have it.
Was I really that in love with him... or was it all in my head?
I should have left him long ago—I would have saved myself so much pain and trauma.
I step inside the corner store, glancing at the lone cashier watching the news on his little television. I pick up a vitamin water and a ramen packet, humming softly to myself. Hm, maybe I should get something healthier... the baby...
Through the soda refrigerator’s glass reflection, I see two buff men appear.
Before I could spin around, they shoot the old cashier right in the head. The loud shot makes me jolt, and I quickly cover my gasp with my hand.
They come straight towards me, as if they knew I was in here. Panic runs through me, because there is no escape. I nearly fall, trying to run to the other side. What the hell? The men had their lower faces covered with a black mask.
I pull the magazine stand to the ground. They try to grab a hold of me.
I scream and kick them. No! This can’t be happening! Something crashes on the ground. Their grips loosen and I slip back.
I shove a second stand at them and make a run for it towards the back door of the corner store. The short hall wasn’t lit, so I couldn’t see clearly.
They both pounce on top of me, before I’m able to twist the stupid knob. My arms are pinned behind my back.
They then blanket my face with a cloth that smells awful, and before I know it, I blackout.