I’m sitting here on the floor of the bathroom throwing up MOSTLY into the toilet. I hope I’m not coming down with something. My stomach’s been queasy, my head’s been dizzy, and I haven’t felt like myself at all today. Maybe it’s the late hours at work. They’ve been holding me over WAY past my typical shift. I’ve been working from 7 to 7, sometimes beyond. So many of these new, young, fly-by-nights have been “hired” but never seem to notice when their names actually appear on the schedule. Maybe I’ve worried myself sick about that pile of bills lying in my email box. Instead of “overdue” papers, I have a boatload of failed auto-payments accumulating late fees. Even with all these long hours I’m working, the money never seems to be enough. Maybe it’s this hot guy I fell in love with. He bit his bottom lip and convinced me to elope a couple of months into dating. He says he loves me. I believe him. He makes love to me at least twice a day. I started thinking that he might just be an addict, but he assured me that he only does it with me ’cause he loves me, ’cause I saved his life. Turns out, he’s tied to all kinds of shady deals behind the scenes. He loves me and all, never hurt me or anything, but it’s just the life he was living has now crashed into my already hectic one and I think I’m on overload. Maybe I’m just tired. All these weird things going on that I never thought would be happening. They say that stress can kill, so I know I must be dying.
I manage to finger my wavy hair out of my face, struggle to my feet and rinse out my mouth. I half wipe down the bathroom before throwing on a navy blue hoodie and heading to the corner drug store. I raid the shelf of multiple pain killers, cold medicines, flu fighters, and some pink stuff in a bottle that I hear is good for nausea and upset stomach. Briefly glancing at a label while standing in line, I realize that most of the medication in my hand cart is suggested to be avoided when pregnant. Suddenly, all types of thoughts bombard my brain. I see the woman ahead of me cooing at a two-year-old sitting in the buggy seat. I am NOT ready for another stressor to be added to my already overflowing plate. When the cashier calls “NEXT!” in her understandably slightly annoyed tone, I step up.
“Uhh, ma’am, hi. Ms. Hattie?” I fumble, trying to read her nametag while simultaneously looking around for any familiar witnesses, “Do you know where the--”
“Pregnancy tests are?” she finishes, producing one out of thin air and sitting it on the counter.
“How did you--”
“Suspicious looking young girl in hoodie browsing through the medications?” she chuckles, “I’ve been working here for thirty years, honey. Nothing’s changed.”
“Okay,” I pout, not feeling any better, “Well I’ve never bought this kinda thing before, so...”
“It’s 5.99 and no. You don’t need to waste your money buying two. These things are proven to be 99.9% accurate on the first reading. Plus, nine times out of ten, if you even think you need to buy one of these, deep down inside you already know the answer.”
“Are you sure?”
Ms. Hattie smirks, glancing towards the door. “Child, that woman who just walked out the door bought one of these from me about three years ago. Do the math.”
As I upchuck half onto the seat, I cringe despite myself. He’ll be home any minute now. I wonder what he’ll think. He’ll probably blame me for forgetting to take the pill that morning. He’s doesn’t take responsibility for doing anything in that regard-- except me of course. And, I’ll admit, it’s good. Like, out of this world. But he’ll probably want some tonight and I’m really not feeling it. I’m staring at these two lines and praying its a false positive. Deep down, I know Ms. Hattie was right, and either he’s gonna have to deal with it, or I’m gonna end up a broke, single mom, begging my parents to let me move back in.
Suddenly, I find myself waking up, sunlight hitting my sensitive eyes. “Babe, you awake?” I hear his voice crackle. I try to arise and push off the covers from the bed I don’t remember climbing into. I turn to see him anxiously staring at me with his bright, brown eyes, seeming to hold back tears. “We can do this, right?” he smiles. I squint in confusion. My head is pounding, and I vaguely remember anything. “Are you okay with it? I’m okay with it,” he sniffles, biting his lip in that sexy way. “I love you so much,” he gasps, pulling me into a hug. Behind him, I can see the drug store bag on the floor near the bathroom, lit from the light I forgot to turn off. Suddenly, the memories come flooding back along with involuntary tears. “You know about it? You saw it?” I cry. He nods his head, still holding on tight to me. “We’re gonna be okay,” he whispers. I smile and finally breathe. Maybe the stress isn’t so bad when you have someone fighting by your side.