‘Don’t you dare!’ I grate, and he recoils. ‘Sit!’ I point to the chair and flash him the most threatening face I can muster. It’s hard. I could vomit at any moment. I feel terrible, and really really hot.
Much to my utter shock, he wisely lowers himself back down to the chair gingerly, his expression truly dazed by my outburst. I turn and leave him looking like he’s been slapped in the face, and take a deep, encouraging breath before entering my doctor’s office.
‘Ava! Good to see you.’ Doctor Monroe is probably one of the nicest women I have ever met—early fifties, a little bit of middle age spread and a sharp blonde bob. She has all the time in the world for you… normally. She wasn’t so pleased when I presented myself for the third time to replace my lost pills.
‘And you, Doctor.’ I reply nervously, as I perch myself on the end of a chair.
She looks concerned. ‘Are you okay? You look a bit green.’
‘I’m fine, I just feel a bit icky. It’s probably the heat.’ I fan my face. It’s even hotter in here.
‘Are you sure?’ she asks, genuinely concerned.
I feel my chin start to tremble, only serving to increase the concern on her round features. ‘I’m pregnant!’ I blurt. ‘I know you’ll give me a hard time about the pills, but I really don’t need it, so please don’t make me feel any worse. I know I’m a fool.’
Her concern transforms into sympathy immediately. ‘Oh, Ava.’ She reaches for my hand, and I feel like I could cry harder, her empathy only making me feel like even more of a hopeless fool. ‘Here.’ She hands me a tissue, and I blow my nose nosily. ‘When was your period due?’
‘Today.’ I answer swiftly.
Her eyes widen. ‘Only today?’ she asks. I nod. ‘Ava, what makes you so certain. Your period can be a few days late, just as it can be early.’
‘Trust me, I know.’ I sniffle. I’m no longer in denial, and I’m facing this head-on. My emotions are all over the place.
She frowns and reaches into her drawer. ‘Take this to the toilet.’ she says, handing me a pregnancy test.
I very nearly ask if I can do the test in her office, but with the absence of a toilet, I quickly realise the problem, so leaving Doctor Monroe’s office, I peek down the corridor to the waiting area and see Jesse’s back. He’s still sitting down, but he’s leaning forward, elbows braced on his knees with his head in his hands. I don’t dwell on his obvious despair and walk quickly into the ladies.
Five minutes later, I’m back with my Doctor and staring at the test, which is neatly positioned at the other end of her desk. She taps away on her keyboard while I frantically tap my foot on the floor. I hold my breath when she reaches over and picks the test up, looking down at it briefly before turning her eyes on me.
‘Positive,’ she says simply, holding it up for me to see myself. I knew it would be, but the confirmation makes it even more of a reality, and it also enflames the hurt and madness that has brought me to this point in my life.
I can’t seem to cry, though. ‘I want a termination.’ I say clearly, looking straight into Doctor Monroe’s eyes. ‘Can you please make the arrangements?’
I watch as she visibly sags in her chair. ‘Ava, of course, this is your decision, but it’s my job to give you the options.’
‘Adoption, support. There are many single mothers out there who manage just fine, and with your parent’s support, I’m certain you’ll be well looked after.’
I cringe. ‘I want a termination.’ I repeat, ignoring all of her advice and sincerity. She’s absolutely right, though. I would be looked after by my parents… if I was single. But I’m not. I’m married.
‘Right,’ she sighs, ‘Okay, you’ll need a scan to determine how far gone you are.’ She starts re-tapping away on her keyboard, while I sit feeling small and stupid. ‘I’m prescribing some more pills so once you’ve sorted yourself out, you can make sure you keep protected. The hospital will give you plenty of information with regards to aftercare and side effects.’
‘Thank you.’ I murmur, taking the prescription from her. She doesn’t release it immediately, and I look up at her.
‘You know where I am, Ava.’ She looks at me questioningly, obviously doubting my decision, so I offer a small smile to reinforce that I really am fine, that I’m making the right choice.
‘Thank you,’ I say again, because I don’t know what else to say.
‘Take care, Ava.’
I leave her office and prop myself up against the wall outside. I feel sicker all of a sudden.
‘Ava! What’s the matter?’ He’s at my side in a heartbeat, his voice spiked with panic. He hunkers down in front of me to get to my eye level. ‘Jesus, Ava.’
A sweat breaks out across my forehead and my mouth is invaded with saliva. I know I’m going to throw up. I dart across the corridor and crash into the ladies, then proceed to eject the contents of my stomach in the first toilet I find. I brace my hands on the seat and ignore the compulsion to wash my hands immediately. Jesse’s big, warm palm is gently circling my back as I heave, and he pulls my hair out of the way.
‘I’m fi…’ My stomach convulses again, and I let rip another evacuation. I crouch and slump in front of the toilet, resting my head on my arm. Why the hell do they call it morning sickness when it hits you randomly throughout the day? I hear the door to the ladies open.
‘Oh dear, should I get you some water?’ It’s Doctor Monroe. If I had the energy, I would be concerned that she’s found Jesse with me in the toilets.
‘Please.’ Jesse replies.
I hear the door close again and Jesse squats down behind me, cradling me from behind. ‘Are you done?’ he asks softly.
‘I don’t know.’ I still feel sick.
‘It’s okay, we can stay. Are you okay?’
‘I’m fine.’ I say haughtily.
He doesn’t say anything. He takes the water from Doctor Monroe when she returns and assures her that I’m in good hands. I don’t doubt him. I always feel safe in his hands. If it wasn’t for the small problem of him being so sly and underhanded, he would be perfect. We would be perfect.
He remains crouched behind me, holding my hair back and offering me water every now and then whilst I compose myself. ‘I’m good.’ I assure him as I wipe my mouth with tissue. I know there’s no more to come up. I feel empty.
‘Here,’ He pulls me to my feet and settle’s my hair down my back. ‘Do you want some more water?’
I take the glass from him and walk over to the sinks to wash my hands. I sip, swill and spit to clean my mouth out, and as I look up into the mirror, I see Jesse standing behind me. He looks worried. I brush my cheeks and ruffle my hair.
‘Let me take you home.’ he says as he comes to stand closer.
‘Jesse, I’m fine, really.’
He reaches around me and strokes his hand down my cheek. ‘Let me look after you.’
It suddenly registers that he wants me to need him. He feels useless, my absence from him since I walked out probably worsening it. Can I be so mean and deny him this?
‘I’m okay.’ I step back and pick my bag up from where I dumped it.
‘You’re not okay, Ava.’
‘Something hasn’t agreed with me, that’s all.’ My hand is twitching by my side.
‘For fuck sake, lady! You’re at the fucking doctor’s, so don’t tell me you’re fine!’ He clutches at his hair and shouts as he swings his body away from me in frustration.
‘I’m not pregnant.’ I blurt quickly, but then suddenly contemplate the horrific thought of him not wanting me if he thinks that. My heart constricts painfully in my chest. I feel sick again.
‘What?’ He’s quickly facing me, his eyes shocked, his body twitching. He really does want this badly.
I fight my natural reflex, trying desperately to keep my hands by my side. ‘I’ve had it confirmed, Jesse.’
‘Then why are you throwing up all over the place?’
‘I have a bug.’ My excuse is feeble, but by the look on his face, which I’m definitely not mistaking as devastation, he believes me. ‘You failed. My period came.’
He doesn’t know what to say. His eyes are flicking all over the bathroom, and he’s still twitching. My fear is only strengthened by his reaction to my lie. I’m confused, exhausted and utterly heartbroken. No baby equals no Jesse. It’s all very clear now.
‘I’m not happy about this. I’m taking you home where I can keep an eye on you.’ He takes my hand, but I pull it away, bristling immediately at his comment. He’s not happy? He wants to keep an eye on me? What, to check if I’m bleeding?
‘You’re never happy with me.’ I look him square in the eyes. ‘I’m always doing something to upset you. Have you thought that perhaps you would be less not happy without me around?’
‘No!’ He looks horrified ‘I’m worried, that’s all.’
‘Well, don’t be. I’m fine.’ I snap, leaving the ladies in a complete haze.
I walk out of the Doctor’s, straight into the chemist outside of the surgery and hand my prescription over the counter, then sit myself in a chair and watch as Jesse paces up and down outside with his hands shoved into his trouser pockets. Returning my body forward, I notice the pharmacist glancing up at me every now and again, and it’s then I realise he’s probably thinking that I eat my pills. The temptation to explain myself nearly makes me stand and approach the counter, but he calls my name, and I’m approaching to take the paper bag from him.
‘Thank you,’ I smile before making my escape, but only to go and face my brooding man outside.
‘What’s that?’ His eyes are fixed on the bag.
‘Back-up pills.’ I hiss in his face. ‘Now we know that I’m not pregnant, I want to stay that way.’
His shoulders slump and his head drops. I’m battling consuming guilt at his reaction to my news, but I have to ignore it. Sidestepping him, I start walking away, my legs a little shaky, my heart pounding relentlessly in my chest.
‘You’re not coming home, are you?’ he calls after me.
I squeeze the bulge back in my throat and march on. No, I’m not going home, but the plan was for just five days so I can avoid being caught lying to him, then worry about the hospital when I get an appointment. But his words carry an air of finality, and more worryingly, he’s not demanding that I stay with him. If I remove this baby from my life, it’s becoming quite obvious that I’ll be removing Jesse, too. That thought alone has my emotions taking hold. A life without Jesse?
I walk against the breeze, my face wet with tears.
The empty feeling was inevitable. The hollow, desolate, miserable feeling was inevitable. But the overwhelming guilt that has swamped me was not so expected. I fought off twinges here and there, when he was in front of me, looking so defeated, but now I’m consumed by it. And I’m furious for feeling like this. The lack of urgency to chase my scan appointment is also screwing with my mind.
It’s Friday. It’s day number four without Jesse. My week has been a steady torture, and I know it’s never going to get better. My heart is slowly splitting, each day widening the crack until I know I’ll probably cease functioning. I’m close already. What hurts the most is the lack of contact, leaving me wondering if Jesse is drowning in vodka, which also means he’s probably drowning in women. I jump up from my desk and run to the toilets, throwing up immediately, but I don’t think this is morning sickness, or anytime of the day sickness. This is grief.