"Shit." I flung the plastic, pink and white stick into the bin. It was the fifth one. They all had two little lines on them. Some were blue, some red. One of them even had the gall to dot the response with a smiley face. A fucking smiley face. Who gave them the right?
"Shit," I muttered again, flushing the toilet and scrubbing my hands with more effort than was necessary. Anger and nerves and depression and disbelief at how stupid I'd been made my stomach spin and I rushed back to the toilet to vomit up my lunch.
Minutes later I was pacing my apartment. My thumb hovered over his name and squeezed the side button on my flat, black phone whenever the screen dimmed. The picture of him that showed up was perfect. Taken a month ago in Paris, his thick black hair was messy from autumn winds, green eyes sparkling, skin browned to perfection from walking everywhere. I hadn't even known him a month ago. We'd met exactly fourteen days before I'd woken up and realized that my period, always perfectly on time, was suddenly four days late. Four. Days. Late.
What would I say? We were barely even friends. Would he believe me? We'd used a condom, it broke and we'd rushed to a pharmacy at seven in the morning to get a pill. It should have been fine. But here I was, two weeks after the chaos of music and alcohol and raging hormones, and I was staring at his green eyes and his grin and trying to figure out how to tell him that I was pregnant.
Should I invite him to dinner? Send a text? Send a picture of the pregnancy tests?
What sort of mother was I going to be if all I could do right now was swear?
The thought chased me to the toilet again. I dropped to my knees and gripped the cold seat and hurled while his face went dim. I brushed my teeth and washed my face with cold water but my emotions were everywhere. My heartbeat was hard and fast and I wanted to cry and curse and hit him.
But it was my fault, too.
My phone buzzed from its spot on the floor and I crouched down. His grinning face tormented me for the seconds it took to swipe the screen and say "Hi, Michael."
"Hi, Alli. How are you doing?"
"I'm good." How bizarre was this?
"Awesome. What are you doing -?"
"Actually, I'm not good."
"Oh. Are you sick or something?"
Silence pressed hard on the line. "Oh. Fuck."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes I'm sure!"
He swore again and I barely, barely, swallowed a laugh. This kid was going to have a dirty mouth.
Or was it?
"What do you... what do you want to do?"
I knew what he meant and it made me sick. I slumped into a corner of my bathroom and fingered my towel, remembering how we'd wrapped it around ourselves after showering together. And we'd had sex again.
"I... I don't know." My heart broke because I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
I wanted to keep my nightly job at the bar where I'd met him. I wanted to finish my master's degree and get a real job and pay off my student loan. I wanted to be 25 years old without a baby. Especially one whose father I would never see again because he was busy travelling the world with his other single, childless friends.
So I knew. But this wasn't the decent thing to do. It wasn't the right thing. Was it?
"Shit. All I've been able to do is swear." The first sob sputtered clumsily through my lips. "I'm freaking out!"
"Let me come by. I'm bringing chocolate."
And he was good to his word. Thirty minutes later he was in my doorway with a huge chocolate, a DVD, a tight hug and a kiss on my forehead. We sat on my second hand couch and I turned on the small TV, wondering how I would ever manage to squeeze a crib in here. It was so tiny - just a bathroom, my bedroom, a sitting space by the TV and a wall for my fridge and oven and some counter space for a sink and a microwave.
A baby literally couldn't fit here.
We watched the movie as though his child weren't growing inside of me. We laughed at dumb jokes and he covered my eyes for kissing scenes. He was trying to be funny but the irony made me want to scream and cry and disappear. When the credits rolled, reality settled in the room and he turned the volume down so that the background music hovered around us like a shield.
Michael turned towards me and my heart gave a kick. Of course I'd slept with him. He was gorgeous and funny and didn't want to commit. Perfect. He was supposed to disappear and take that night with him and I was supposed to go back to my life of work and school. How had this happened?
"Allison, we can do anything you want," he said in a quiet voice. "If you want to keep it I'll send money and I'll visit and everything." It sounded earnest, but I didn't know how honest he was. I didn't know anything about him.
I exhaled hard and stared at his jeans, but he cupped my face and tipped my gaze up and I wanted to just be transparent. "What if I do know?" The whisper floated between us and he nodded, understanding softening his eyes. "Am I evil?"
He shook his head and I fell, limp, into his arms and cried hard. Michael's hands, rough from travelling all over the world, smoothed over my head and down my back. His deep voice comforted me. He swore that it would be okay, that we'd find somewhere safe and legitimate, that he would postpone his next flight until I was back on my feet.
My "Are you serious?" came out between a cough and sniffles and I looked up. He nodded. "Michael, you don't have to."
"I know." He stroked my wavy, brown bangs behind my ears. "I know. But I would never leave you to do this alone."
Was this the kind of guy he was in everything? Did he always own up to his responsibilities? Was I being unfair, not getting to know him at all? Not giving him a chance?
I wanted to ask him everything about himself, but we sat there in silence. My head rested on his shoulder and his head was slightly leaned against mine. The big chocolate was half eaten and tall glasses of water sat before us. Condensation trickled down to temporarily stain the coffee table and all I could think was that the life inside me wouldn't last much longer than those stains.
Michael shuffled through the TV stations and I stared ahead. Was there really a something in my body? It didn't feel that way. What did it matter anyway, if it would be gone soon? Much like any other mistake, over before it really started.