‘Oh shit!’ Jake growled. ‘The condom’s split…’
Kelly felt a shudder of fear. Swallowed. Tried to curl small on her side of the narrow bed, to be inconspicuous. Rage painted Jake in spiky black and red, made her afraid.
‘You’ll have to go and get the Morning-After Pill,’ he said. ‘We can’t have a baby at our age, not with you still at school…’
She answered, timidly, trying to make a case for it all being fine: She did not know the workings of her own body that well, but – hell, they might not even have conceived; should they not wait and see; weren’t there known risks associated with taking this tablet?
All very reasonable and said in a soft, placatory voice – but, what she wanted to say, to wail, was, ‘There might be a real baby starting in my womb and this pill feels like an act of murder…’
Jake over-ruled her weak objections very speedily. Not difficult. She was used to bowing to his wishes.
As she dressed for school, put her books in her bag and made sure she had money for lunch, she thought of the lie she would tell her friends, and the staff, about her reasons for being late: She’d missed the bus; her mum wasn’t well; she’d had a gastric bug all night…
The nurse was faintly disapproving, brisk – explained what Kelly had to do, and how she might feel, told her symptoms to look out for.
Kelly looked at the two innocuous white pills for ages. Fear roiled in her belly. A crazy dance of ‘What if?’s and ‘This is wrong’s fought for space in her tired brain. But she gulped them down, the water cold and faintly metallic – as if, she thought afterwards, the instruments of abortive death had been dipped in to the liquid; as if it held the stain of all babies killed before their time.
‘Abortion is a woman’s choice,’ she told herself – and this was something she held firm to, had often argued the pros and cons with her friendship group at school. Had always said that, whatever decision she ended up making (should she ever fall pregnant under such circumstances), she would defend the right of any woman to decide for herself.
Her body fought the pills – or, perhaps, gave way spectacularly to them; she was never sure, afterwards, which statement was closest to the truth.
All day, as she tried to be cheerful, tried to concentrate upon her lessons, listened to the latest gossip from her friends, did some homework at lunch break, her skin blistered with intense heat, her stomach churned with nausea and she sweated as if in the grip of a nasty infection.
On the bus, after school, the furnace of preventative action turned to a bitter chill – and Kelly, gripping her lower abdomen with both hands (as if trying to keep the little ghost, who may never have been, safe), allowed a couple of tears to fall.
‘I feel,’ she thought to herself, ‘like a teenage tart. I feel like a statistic. A silly girl who cannot keep her legs crossed; who, in a moment of drunken lust, gets pregnant and has to take remedial action because, at fourteen, she is far too young to ruin her life, the young man’s life, with an unwanted baby…’
The bus lumbered over the bridge. Home was near. Jake would be waiting for her, would want to be sure that she had done as she was told: That the Morning-After Pill was working its necessary magic inside her foolish body.
‘But,’ Kelly thought, as she trudged up the road, her bag of Maths books to be marked weighing heavily, ‘I am forty-one, not fourteen; I am married, a wife, a mother, a teacher of children. I am not a tumble-in-the-hay feckless girly. This is not right…’
She knew, as she put the key in the lock, as she called, ‘Jake! It’s done! I’m home!’ that she would never whisper any of this to another soul. Not as long as she lived. That she would die with the memory of those two white pills clutched firmly against her grieving and broken heart.
Note: As a teacher, I often saw the reality of teenage pregnancy. This gave me the idea for the short story.