I am twenty-three years old, and I’m in love. I love my boyfriend. I’ve known him since grade nine, and he loves me. I can’t believe he loves me. It’s so important that he loves me because I don’t love myself enough. I’m shy and his love makes up for it. His laughter and games and pot. I love him.
We go to Toronto because his friends are there, some of them. He wants to see them, I say of course lets go. We go and we have a great time. We drink and smoke pot and drink. We walk around to clubs and drink more and sneak joints in back alleyways. More clubs of electronic music that I don’t really enjoy so loudly and electronically but I dance and I have fun because I am with him.
We stay in the guest bedroom at his friend’s place. I don’t remember the name of the friend. It was maybe Moe or maybe Rob. I don’t recall. But I recall the room because we slept on the floor. This extra room has a couch and no bed, so we make out on the floor and we are drunk. We laugh and get naked, hoping no one walks in.
I decide to get on top of him. I feel sexy and loved and horny and I want to ride my boyfriend. We’re fucking and it feels good. He didn’t wear a condom because he never does, he always pulls out and comes on my stomach. He tells me he’s going to come and he’s probably thinking I should get off him but he doesn’t say it.
I say it feels good and I think about him coming inside me and I don’t care; I keep fucking him. I don’t think about babies, but I love babies. I’d love his baby. I’d have his baby to love forever and always. He comes and I come and it’s over. I clean up and we cuddle and fall asleep.
We’re back home for weeks and everything is great. We hang out and play video games and smoke pot. We go out to bars and drive to friends places and walk in the woods. He teaches me archery though he’s no expert. We go to parties and drink and smoke pot. He plans camping trips and trips abroad. I love him and everything he plans sounds great to me.
It’s another week or so before I realize I hadn’t started to bleed yet. I’m not bleeding; I should be bleeding. Should I not be bleeding? I call my friends. They pick me up and look like my dog just died. I’m fine, I say, I’m fine. My friend has an extra pregnancy test at home, because why wouldn’t she? We like sex with boys and sometimes shit happens. Shit you don’t plan.
Take my test, she says, and I do and we’re all waiting. Its pink. I have a baby in me, the strip tells me so. I am growing a life.
But that test could be wrong, I should take another test. So we go out to Shoppers like it’s a field trip. We look at all the tests and I don’t give a fuck which one they pick, so they decide. They pick one that says its accurate even before your period is due. So that must be the one. That one will tell me for sure.
There are two tests in the box so I pee on both sticks. I pee on them both and all over myself and we wait. The minutes agonize but I already know. I already know I’m pregnant and I have to tell him. The sticks are pink. My girlfriends say its okay, no matter what happens, they’ll be there. They hug me and pat my back. They sit beside me as I call him.
He’s shocked. How could this have happened? (Well remember that time we were fucking?) How did we let this happen? His mother picks me up. He and his mother. She brings us to his place and sits us down on the couch and my boyfriend sobs. He cries so hard like the baby is already dead. It’s not dead. It’s in my belly; why are you crying so much?
His mother talks to us. She talks to us about our future. She talks to us about our lifestyle. She talks about the choices we will have to make, but what’s she’s really telling us that there is only once choice to make. She leaves us, and my boyfriend is still crying. I’m not crying. Why am I not crying? I feel bad that he’s crying. I love him and want him to be happy.
We smoke pot and watche movies and play video games. We sleep like it’s any other normal night. We don’t talk about the baby in my belly.
They all get up and go to work and leave me alone in their house. It’s not my house, I don’t belong there, but I’m there. I call my mother. I tell her. She’s shocked. But she’s not mad. She’s not mad and she tells me that whatever I want to do is okay with her. She talks and she tells me secrets from her life—dark secrets that I can’t write about because I’m not her. She tells me to think about it and to come home. She says, come home. Come home and think about it here. Don’t let anyone else make this choice for you. She says come home. But I don’t hear her.
I don’t go home. I stay.
I call in to work sick and I stay and smoke pot and play video games. I think about my boyfriend crying and sobbing. I think about his mother talking to us like we are children. Stupid children.
I decide to have an abortion. Everything will go back to the way it was. My boyfriend will wear condoms. We won’t make the same mistake twice.
He comes home and I tell him and he looks so relieved. I am his princess. I am worshipped. I have made him happy.
I go home and my father can’t look at me. My father is disappointed. My father says it’s my own mess; I have to clean it up. My mother doesn’t say much. She says she’ll take me to the doctor in the morning.
We go to the doctor and she’s cheery. We tell her I am pregnant and she congratulates me. I shake my head no. Oh. Her demeanour shifts. She becomes serious. She asks me, how old are you? Does it matter, I think. She should know how old I am. I’ve been her patient since I was thirteen. She sees me all the time. She put me on Paxil and then Effexor, and she renews my prescriptions every three months. She knows how old I am. I tell her anyway. I’m twenty-three.
I’m old enough, she says.
I’m old enough, she stabs me in the chest with her words. I’m old enough.
I don’t want it, I say. I can’t have it, I tell her.
Okay, Okay, she nods and says she’s just making sure. She has to be certain. She refers me to the OBGYN.
Days go by and the baby is growing. I feel sick. I drink gallons of milk.
My mother takes me to the OB. My boyfriend has to work. He hates his job but he has to work. He can’t be there. He can’t talk to the doctor and tell him to abort this baby. I have to do it.
The doctor puts on a glove and sticks his fingers inside me. I’m four weeks pregnant.
My appointment to terminate is the following week. I have to until next week.
I tell my mom I’m fine, this is for the best. I can’t have a baby right now. Abortion is okay. It’s my body and my choice. I try not to think I’m killing her first grandchild. Because it’s not a baby. It’s a thing. It’s not a baby yet, just some mistake inside me. I tell myself over and over, everything will be okay, everything will go back to how it was before when this is over.
For days I’m okay. My boyfriend and I hang out. We smoke pot and watch movies and play video games. We don’t go out that weekend, but we invite friends over to drink and play cards and smoke pot.
The night before my abortion, I can’t sleep. I’m at my boyfriend’s and his father is not home. His mother doesn’t live there; his brother is away. I can’t sleep so I start pacing the house. I can’t sleep because something feels wrong. I feel wrong. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he is wrong.
I start to cry and I wake my boyfriend. He comforts me and tells me it’s okay, it will all be over soon. I sob. I sob like he sobbed on the couch that first night. But I cry harder. Harder than I have ever cried. It doesn’t stop. My stomach heaves and I almost puke. I sob ‘why?’ I keep asking him, ‘why?’ I don’t think he thinks I’m asking him, I think he thinks I’m addressing God or the Universe, like why is this happening? I cry until finally it passes and I am weak and frail and beaten with no answers as to why he doesn’t want to make me happy.
It will all be over soon, he says. It’s okay to feel sad.
My mother and my boyfriend both come with me to the hospital. I feel so hungry and sick. I feel like I want this to be over. I dry heave in the waiting room washroom.
They call my name a few minutes later and I feel relief. It’s time.
But it wasn’t. They poked and prodded and gave me a gown. They tell me they have to insert some sort of rod or stick inside me to open up my cervix. I don’t know what they mean but I agree. They stick it up there and I feel something stretch. I picture a stick as a cross, pushing out my insides like I’m getting ready to crucify my baby. I walk around with this cross in me and it hurts. I can’t cough or move quickly for the pain. I have to wait a half an hour. It hurts, but I wait. I lay down in the waiting room and there are other people there getting babies removed or tests done. I don’t think it’s all abortions because there are old men and women waiting for procedures. I don’t like them looking at me.
They call me again and I go in. They lay me down and talk to me and make sure this is what I want. It is, I tell them. I don’t remember exactly what happened after they put the gas mask on me. I don’t remember much of what happened when I woke up or when I got home.
But it was done. I was relieved. Everything will go back to normal.
Months later my boyfriend cheats on me with his best friend’s wife. I love him so I take him back. Months later my boyfriend decides to go out west for the summer and work. I tell him I will miss him and send him off. When he returns in September, he calls me and breaks up with me. He breaks up with me over the phone. I have a hard time letting him go.
Now, years later, I rarely think of him. I have a husband and three children whom I love and I even love myself, if only a little bit. But when I do think back, I think only of what he could have given me had I the strength. If I’d have loved myself enough, had the courage to trust in myself and my worth, perhaps things would have turned out differently. I think all anyone ever wants is to be loved and feel worthy of this life. I was weak, I am weak, and for that I will always feel guilty.
Katie Flynn lives in Windsor, Ontario with her husband and three children. She holds degrees in Arts and Education and works for the local public library in reference and programming. She enjoys writing fiction and non-fiction and shares her work on her blog and on Twitter @kt_flynn She is currently polishing her first novel.