The pink cross slowly appeared on the pregnancy test like a headless horseman emerging from the night fog. I was by myself at noontime in my apartment the day after Patrick and I were supposed to get a pregnancy test but never did. Never did because we were running around the supermarket like two pitiful coke addicts looking to get our fix, looking to get an absolution for a peace of mind that no, I was not pregnant. Not now, not ever with Patrick’s baby.
And as the story of life too often goes, you can never find what you are looking for even though it stared you straight in the face all the times you didn’t need it. Never needed a pregnancy test until now as I was on the cusp of realizing my dreams as a wedding photographer and jumpstarting my corporate career. On the cusp of abandoning a relationship with Patrick that served me well for perhaps only the first few months but has been proving, like a bottle of cold medicine, to be hazardous to my health in larger doses. Our relationship, like a helpless child of no real fault, simply failed to withstand the little southern California earthquakes that shook us along the way so now, this very moment, was when I needed that darned pregnancy test. Guddammit.
But we couldn’t find what we needed that night. Nope, it was not stashed alongside the isle with the feminine products or the condoms or the flavored lubes so after losing a small bet to Patrick, I was sent out to ask a checker, stealthily, where on earth—or at least within the supermarket—I could find that darned pregnancy test. And he pointed with almost a smirk on that acne pock-marked skin of his that the tests were all locked up by the cigarettes since, you know, so many “kids” try to steal them. I took that as a sign that no, I am not pregnant and “Patrick, I promise you I will get my period tomorrow morning like I always do when I am teensiest concerned that I might be pregnant.”
Lo and behold, the next morning, September 23rd, I let out a “Hallelujah!” in the women’s bathroom at work when I saw a bloody stain on my panties. I just knew there was no way, not now, that I could possibly be having a baby. Not me, this 22-year-old fresh out of college, this driven, determined, and disciplined (for the most part) young adult who took the straight line (for the most part) her whole life. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen to girls like me, the girls that will be making her own money before having a precious wedding ceremony in front of 150 of her closest friends and family to marry the esteemed business man of her dreams who also dabbles in real estate. And then, only then, will girls like me start a family but ALWAYS on her own terms and timeline. So when my period started, I, almost in a snobby huff, thought to myself, Of course I am not pregnant because stuff like that just don’t happen to girls like me. Period.
On my second trip to the bathroom a couple of hours later, however, I discovered that there had been a false alarm, so to speak, and my period was actually a women’s bodily phenomenon I have yet to experience: SPOTTING. After many frantic conversations going back and forth with my sister, Carly, on Instant Messenger, she finally convinced me to have her take me to a drug store during our lunch breaks to put the end of all ends to our worrisome speculation. And when the test gave “inconclusive” results because the control line did not show up, I dropped off Carly at her office since her break was over and went straight back to the store to buy one more, no, two more, pregnancy tests.
So here we are now, the pink cross slowly appearing on the second pregnancy test, and I felt, in the cheesiest way imaginable, that I was in some sort of a coming-of-age melodrama with the camera gradually spanning a full circle around me in the room, as if I were the center of the universe and chronological time had stopped at this juncture for me. Stopped for me like it did for Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character in the ending of Cruel Intentions when shit hit the ceiling, when the game was over, when the events finally all came together with an unfavorable outcome so someone cues the violins to play “Bittersweet Symphony.” One of those very rare, confusing, and dramatic moments in life when, say, you find out that you are unexpectedly a little bit pregnant.
I was released from my trance when I saw that I had taken almost a two-hour break from work and was running desperately late for a mandatory department meeting so the third test, to be extra sure of my condition, had to wait until later. I rushed back to our office building, a mere mile away from my apartment that seemed so much longer when burdened with the possible baby I was carrying, and ignored all the calls I kept getting from Patrick. I walked into the meeting room discreetly, so discrete that I even took a couple of extra seconds in the hallway to calm down as much as I could, and slipped into the first empty chair I could find. My boss, this boisterous, happy-go-lucky woman no more than 50 years of age named Trish, turned on the lights that had been dimmed for a projector presentation and yelled across the room, “Where have you been, Missy?!
Oh my goodness, you look so pale! Is everything okay??”
To be continued.