I stare at the first pink line and wait.
One, two thr– oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god. A hand – the one attached to my arm, is shaking uncontrollably.
I’m only 19! I squeal.
It wasn’t my fault and
It broke and
I took the pill and
I followed all instructions and
I’m studying and
I don’t have a job and
I don’t have a home and
I have no money…and…and
I close my eyes and hope this will appease the god I don’t believe in to take pity on me and stop the horror emerging in the little box. I peak through the lashes of my right eyelid. The second pink line, callous and undeniable, brightens.
“Quit joking around dear, what time are you going to be at the library?” His voice is cheery and light above the familiar voices in the background.
No. I’m serious. My tears are silent. He’s silent.
The appointment is this Saturday; I’ve asked for the day off, can you get out of work too? I’ll need you there. I’m proud of the calm business-like tone in my voice. I hold my breath to stop it from trembling. My five-year old brother tugs at my skirt. “Kate, are you ok? Why are you crying?” His little arms wrap around my knees, his big brown eyes wrap around my heart. “It’s ok, don’t cry.”
The smell of vomit makes me dry-reach. There’s nothing left in my stomach, I heave and try to catch my breath. I walk back into the reception room laughing at the irony. A moment later Prada shoes click on the floor as a woman emerges to grab a tissue. “Don’t worry, your body is doing what its supposed to, one or two more months of trying and you’ll have one on the way! Just hang in there.” My boss is a kind, motivational speaker to all of her patients. She started off working as a general practitioner but fell in love with the “miracle” of birth and helping couples with problems in fertility. These patients now make up more than 90% of her clientele. Yup, this is going to be an interesting day. One by one the patients file in and out. Some have bags full of stuff they hope will help them finally get the two pink lines and the two pink cheeks nine months later. Some glare through Dolce & Gabbana sunnies at their “miracles” in arm, sling, one of those trolley prams or a click-in-click-out car capsule. Other women stumble around in Beautiful Bellies Maternity Wear ready to burst. All around me is life, life’s first breaths, life on the way and life waiting for the right moment to happen. I make several trips to stick my head down the office toilet. There’s no choice, you don’t have a choice, you don’t want to have the choice.
His wiry red hair sticks up in tuffs behind his laptop screen. Luckily no one has spotted him. I sit down. Be brave. I swallow it all deep down hard. The familiar feeling of a compactor pushing on my chest reassures me that I can pull this off. How’s the study going? His eyes are red and thankful. “Yer good I guess, I wanted to ask you a question, have you had a chance to look over the last biology lecture yet?” I pull out my notes. No, but thankfully this subject doesn’t cover more than what I did in high school – what’s the problem? “Hey guys! Awesome, your doing biology mind if we join?” Our table of two fakers becomes a table of five artists drawing out the circulatory system and five poets of the TCA cycle connecting rhyme with reason. We conclude as neurotransmitter ambassadors. “Dopamine is important for well-being” “Ah yes, but so is serotonin, do you know about serotonin?” “Of course, serotonin, that’s what anti-depressants up-regulate or something, right?” “Right…ok, guys what about oxytocin and prolactin?” “Oxytocin…hmm…it says here its important for pair-bonding, trust and…hahahaha! Orgasms…” “God, how old are you? Five? It’s also released when giving birth. It causes dilation of the cervix and uterine contractions.” I let out a silent whimper. “Prolactin is important for stimulating breast milk production.” He detects my second silent inflection of sound and stares at the fly on the wall with enthused diligence. Vasopressin? Everything is fine until I feel the safety of his warm bed, his arms around my rapidly growing breasts and the darkness of an imminent death.
Each of these nights, just as the long lonely hours of the early morning set in, the cold reminder of life’s fragility plays around in my head.
What is the meaning of life?
What about if you never experience it?
Mum had me at my age.
It’s not my fault, why should I have to deal with the consequences?
Life doesn’t mean anything.
What if I was never born?
I would be depressed for the rest of my life!
Does my life have meaning?
What if you’re depressed?
Life is too important to me.
Life doesn’t mean anything.
How could you stop your own child from existing?
Life is too important.
His little arms wrap around my knees, his big brown eyes
Life has just started; I’ve been waiting to explore it all.
I want to finally start living.
If you never exist you don’t die, do you?
Why do I exist?
I don’t have a choice I have to do it...Don’t I?
And he wouldn’t want it either.
Why do I exist?
I don’t have the right to ruin both our lives.
Do we have that right?
Would it be horrible?
Why do I exist?
I would be a good parent one day wouldn’t I?
Life doesn’t mean anything…Life doesn’t mean anything…Life’s too important…Life doesn’t mean anything…
I feel him stir next to me and I’m awake. I hear the haunting thoughts revolve around in the middle of my mind. My crusty windows to the world close as I try to replay the silence of unconsciousness. Every night, in those lonely hours, a cheek - my cheek, sinks into a wet pillow. The body my mind vacates feels the heavy burden of its pointlessness.
Each night I try to forget what my thoughts have solidified.
Today is the day. Kate be brave. You can contemplate your life after you contemplate its death. A pasty grey-eyed woman with dark circles slumps on the couch next to us. He reads from a Cosmo mag and makes crude remarks about daytime television under his breath. He does this deliberately to remind me that anger towards the crassness of popular culture is something we both share. “Katherine Mercer” a shrill voice announces from behind a desk. “I’ll wait here for you with Oprah.” He gives me a half smile and I try to give him one back. I turn and march behind the woman in white.
I give her the yellow jar and she dips the stick in. Within a second I see the two pink lines bleed into position. I feel the fragility of a naked body – my naked body masked by a thin gown. I see a man holding my arm and feel the heat creep up to my shoulder. One, two, thr-
I’m too weak to cry. A hand is coaxing me. “Darling, it wasn’t your fault.” I close my eyes and hope this will appease the god that I don’t believe in to take pity on me and stop the horror emerging in the box of my mind. I peak through the lashes of my right eyelid.
Do you think I’ll ever be the same again?