No amount of sex education prepares you for that trapped feeling. That constant cloud of concern over your head as you get further and further away from when your period should have come. You can deny it for a while—“Maybe it’s just late, I’ve always been irregular, it’ll come soon.” And then when it doesn’t, you panic.
You buy a pregnancy test. You buy two, just to be certain, because zany feel-good comedies tell you those things fail all the time. You smile sheepishly at the drugstore clerk who double-bags your purchase, telling you “That’s the best I can do.” You try not to feel the sting of her pity. You’ve been there before. Every month since you started having sex you have rejoiced the monthly inconvenience of your period and watched TV shows about teenagers getting pregnant, thinking to yourself “at least it’s not me.” It’s you now.
Taking the test is like preparing for a funeral. Everyone always tells you that sex changes things, that it’s the death of your innocence and you can never take it back. Sitting there staring at that pee-soaked stick, you know they were lying to you. This is the loss of that innocence. You feel damaged, dirty, nauseated. Nothing will ever be the same after those lines appear. Two, of course, and not one.
The first test, of course, turns out ambiguous. Is that a second line? Is it just the shadow of one? You aren’t quite sure. You down a bottle of Coke, you watch a movie that ends far too quickly, you take the second test. It is not ambiguous. That second line is staring you down, decisive and willfully triumphant.
The walls of the already-tiny college apartment start to close in. You feel like you are being squeezed into the space between those two lines. How ironic, that those two lines represent the two solid options you have before you. Option A and Option B. For a moment, you have to chuckle masochistically at how perfectly fitting those letters are.
The person sitting beside you—your significant other—is already crying. They are religious. They think this is a baby. You are exhausted before the conversation you must have even starts.
The next morning you make the call you know you have to make. You cry a lot. You don’t go to class for three days and you stare blankly at The Food Network and sleep. You empty your bank account. You wake up in the middle of the night the night before and find your significant other in the next room, lying on the floor, talking to his mother on the phone, trying to find solace in her promise that they aren’t going to Hell. You wish someone were there to make you that promise.
You sit at seven thirty the next morning in a waiting room that makes no attempt to be cheerful or reassuring. You are numb and exhausted because you cannot sleep enough right now. Everything feels white.
Your significant other will turn to you, while you are sick and shaking and scared as hell in that waiting room, and they will say to you, “Let’s just keep it.” And you feel the most mournful weight you have ever felt because you have to look at them and tell them that you can’t, you just can’t.
No one tells you how it feels. How the waiting feels, like endless time. No one tells you that you will lie there, totally open, totally lost, and that it will hurt. It will hurt like you are having your intestines sucked out with a garden hose and you will cry, at first in pain, and then in relief. You will erase all of those thoughts you had for the past week. All of the fear, and the thoughts of an alternate path that no longer sits, unmoving, in front of you. You no longer have to worry about screwing up a whole bunch of people’s lives, especially that of some innocent being that came about in the most unintentional and resented way possible. You will cry, momentarily, for that second option. And then you will cry because everything can go back to normal.
Nothing goes back to normal. Your significant other will grow distant afterward, they won’t touch you. You will wonder, and you will be relieved, and you will not regret. And you wonder if you should. You regret not regretting, because you should, shouldn’t you?