...stood in the bathroom stall, staring at the toilet paper in her hand, at the water in the toilet. There should be blood. That monthly reminder of her blossoming womanhood, her femininity, her fertility. The promise of future babies to hold. But, there was no blood. There really should have been -- at least a couple of days ago, actually. And she wished for it and prayed for it -- for that blood. Because -- really -- now was no time for babies.
The job was new. She was young. And she had just endured soul-crushing loss, for which there hadn't been much comfort. So, she had sought comfort in arms around her which really had no business being around her. She had known it, too, at the time -- that his arms really had no business being around her, that there was no real love. But, bone-weary, gut-wrenching loneliness can sometimes cloud the judgement. And so she hadn't pushed those arms away. She had allowed herself to feel the closeness -- the only closeness to another person that had seemed available to her at that moment, at that time in her life.
The man was gone now. And she was glad. He was in no way someone she would choose to be the father of her child. Too late now, though, for wise decisions that should have been made on one lonely night. There were only the decisions that had been made.
And so she stood in that bathroom stall, panic flooding through her, barely able to stand, barely able to breathe, wishing for blood that was not there, that would not come. What would she do, if she were pregnant? She had always been "pro-life," a Christian. She never thought abortion was an answer -- never thought it to be an acceptable alternative. But, here she was, all alone. Yes, she had parents. The thought of telling them, though... She didn't know if she could. The sound of the crying and the shouting and the name-calling that she knew would come rang in her head, as real as though they were actually happening. Yes, there would be much shaming, many accusations, relentless judgments about her lack of judgment. And this horror, she knew, would not last for just a couple of days or even a couple of months, but would last all through a pregnancy -- and beyond. She did not know if she could face it. She didn't think she could bring herself to face it -- the red-faced anger of those who "loved" her. But, how could she have an abortion? But, how could she not? Because, even if she survived the horrible confrontations with those who "loved" her without becoming suicidal -- and becoming suicidal, she knew, was a distinct possibility -- how could she care for a baby? She barely made enough to support herself. And everyone would demand to know who the father was -- and she could never tell, would never tell, because she would never want him to know. Because she knew he was not a good person. She knew he could never be fit to be a father. And adoption? There was that. But, even if she could bring herself to do that, she knew she would forever face being shamed by those who "loved" her. Of that, she was quite sure. And that seemed just too much to bear, at that time, at that age, after already enduring soul-crushing loss.
So, she prayed. She prayed, "Please, PLEASE God, don't let me be pregnant. I can't be pregnant. Don't let me be. PLEASE." She also prayed, "If I am pregnant, let me have a miscarriage. I just want to have a miscarriage. I can't have a baby. Not now. PLEASE. NOT NOW. Not this way. PLEASE."
And she walked out of that bathroom stall and went back to work at her new job and smiled at her co-workers and prayed for the blood to come. Prayed for days.
And finally it did. And it didn't seem to be a miscarriage. Just a normal period. And she breathed freely for the first time in what seemed like a long time. And she wondered, for the rest of her life, what she would have done if she had really been pregnant. And she never really knew.