Update: - I fixed a few errors and changed a few details. That is all.
"Don't change… don't change…" Heather pleased, crossing her fingers and staring down at the long white plastic stick with two windows viewing a paper like surface. She was hunched over her sink in her small apartment bathroom. Her long red hair was pulled back into a sloppy bun and held in place by a pair of black lacquered chopsticks. A smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and apples of her cheeks gave her a youthful appearance. She had always hated how young her face looked; people still mistook her for a teen at times. The look the drug store clerk had given her had nearly caused her to commit suicide then and there on the store floor. She was a grown woman; she shouldn't be ashamed of her purchase. But if the test came back positive, then she could be ashamed.
"Please don't change…" She begged the inanimate object in between repeated glances at her watch. The forty five second mark came and went. She held her breath knowing this was the moment of truth. Her heart fluttered in anticipation, then sank to her ankles. A little pink line appeared in the middle of the stick.
"No… no… no…" She picked up the instructions from the trash can and read them over several more times. "Single pink line… positive… No!" Heather threw aside the box, moaning in dismay. "I can't be pregnant! I'm on birth control! I'm too young!"
Her cries of protest went unnoticed, no one was around to hear or react to them. She lived alone in her modest one bedroom apartment. Just a few months ago she'd graduated college with a degree in criminal psychology. She was on the cusp of starting a new and exciting life. Or so she thought. Hot tears poured down her pale cheeks and she sank to the tile floor. She hugged her knees to her chest and sobbed quietly.
"What am I going to do?" She asked herself, looking around the bathroom, as if something in there would have an answer. "I can't have a baby… What am I going to tell Donovan?"
Donovan, she'd met him right before she started her last semester. They met at a big charity event hosted by her boss. Outside of her high school prom it was the first time she'd been able to wear something formal. It was even the perfect opportunity for her to rub elbows with the rich and famous. The party was being held to honor the sizable donation that Drake Enterprise had given to a local battered women's shelter. The only reason she'd been invited was because she worked for the head of the group that ran the shelter. She'd been so excited, so giddy, then she saw him. He was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen. At first she doubted that he was even real and thought she was hallucinating. Then his eyes, a hypnotic amethyst color, met hers. She didn't think it was love at first sight but it was something. Lust, infatuation, yet at the same time greater than that. He'd swept her off her feet with his charm, wit and of course his considerable beauty.
After the night was over she gave him her number, not expecting to ever hear from him again. A month later however he suddenly called and asked her out. She didn't hesitate and accepted eagerly. That was three months ago. Only three weeks after their first date she slept with him. He wasn't her first but he was really the only real lover she'd ever had. Both of them were careful, she was on the pill and he would almost always use a condom.
They'd broken up, a mutual agreement, just a week before. She was going to move and start her new job in Dallas. Both of them knew it was impossible to continue dating so they just parted ways. Though, they did have one last night together. She knew that night couldn't have been the night it happened. It was too soon. Still, it was impossible for her to pinpoint just when. Their relationship had never lacked in physical intimacy.
The thought of abortion suddenly popped into her head. She'd heard plenty of stories for and against it, all first hand. Outside of her generic support of a women's right to choose, she'd never really considered her personal stance on it. She considered herself a working woman, with her career first and maybe a family later but deep down she'd always dreamed about one day being a mother. It had always been a far off dream though, for when she'd settled down and had a successful career to depend on.
She uncurled and spread her legs out in front of her on the cool tile. Her bare legs felt almost unpleasantly cold but she didn't move them. She put a hand on her lower belly and looked down. Life, life was growing inside of her. It scared her so much to think about it but also excited her. Was it going to be a boy, or a girl? What color would its hair be? Would it have its father's eyes, or her more boring brown color? She hoped it was the former.
Heather started to cry again, but this time it wasn't out of fear and frustration. Strong emotions overwhelmed her and there was only one outlet, her tears. She knew in that moment that she couldn't possibly kill it. It was part of her. She may not have expected or thought she wanted a child so soon, but now that the choice was forced on her she felt she had no other alternative. There was no way she was going to give up on it. Not like her mother had given up on her…
Four months later…
"Why haven't you told him?" Julia asked, pushing through various gaily colored shirts on the display rack. She frowned and examined a chartreuse blouse with a sever v-neck. "Now that is hideous…"
"I'm… just afraid to." Heather replied weakly, finishing off the last bite of her chocolate bar. She crumpled up the wrapper and shoved it in her too big messenger bag. "I'm afraid of how he'll react."
"He's rich, he'll probably sick his lawyer on you." Julia said cynically. She held up a baby blue shirt and pouted. "Now that isn't offensive enough."
"He's not like that." She said defensively, glaring at her friend.
Julia looked at her then rolled her eyes. "Come on, be serious. He's rich, he knocked you up and as soon as you tell him, I guarantee he'll get his lawyer. That's why you're afraid."
"No. That's not it at all." Heather grumbled, walking over to her friend's side, searching through the racks of clothes as well. "What kind of shirt are you looking for anyway?"
"I'm meeting Davis' parents so I need a nice shirt." She said with a loud sigh. "I'm not looking forward to this."
"That's a pretty big step, meeting the parents." Heather remarked, pulling a bright red shirt off the shelf to her left. It was sitting amid a pile of similar styles of shirts but all different colors. She held it out to Julia. "How about this one, it's cheery."
Her friend eyed it then snorted. "You know that I can't wear red."
"Oh yeah, forgot about that…" Heather folded it back up and returned it. She grunted in pain and grabbed her stomach. "Can we go sit for a while?"
"Something wrong?" Julia asked in concern.
"I think I've just got bad indigestion… I need to sit." She replied, walking about of the rows of women's clothes. Julia trailed after her and they left the department store, heading for the food court. They found a small table on the edge of the semi-circular dining area and sat. Heather sighed in relief and rubbed her belly. She was only five months into her pregnancy and she was already showing, a lot. People though she was at least seven months pregnant.
"So, you know it is sex yet?" Julia asked curiously, looking at her friend's swollen belly.
"No and I'm not going to find out until it's born." She said shaking her head. "I want to be surprised."
Her friend leaned over the table, holding her pointed chin in her hands. "I still can't believe you decided to keep it…"
"You wouldn't understand…" Heather smiled fondly and looked towards the skylights and the weak light filtering down through the clouds. "You can't, at least not until you get pregnant."
"Not happening anytime soon!" Julia announced, sitting back and holding her hands up.
Heather chuckled. "Yeah, and I was saying much the same a few months ago."
"I just think he's freakishly fertile." Julia said conspiratorially.
"He's nothing of the sort!" She laughed in response, shaking her head violently enough to send her curly red locks dancing about her head.
"How else would you explain it?!" Julia asked.
"The odds just caught up to us. We didn't always use a condom and with the pill there still is a chance… though it's really very slim." She shrugged and leaned back. "I guess it was just fated to be."
"You know what, maybe if you do tell him, he'll propose. You always did say he was the old fashioned type." Her friend remarked thoughtfully.
"Who says I want to marry him?" Heather snorted. "We have fun, I like him and he's great and all but… spending the rest of my life with him? I don't think so."
"What was wrong with him!?"
She looked at Julia and said wryly. "He was more concerned with his looks than any straight man should be. Not to mention the lack of emotional connection."
"Connection? How needs emotional connection? He's rich!" Julia proclaimed loudly.
"I do!" Heather announced just as loudly.
It was a Monday afternoon in the middle of the school year. The mall was almost completely empty. Outside of a slew of older people wondering about aimlessly they were the only ones there. Though there were a few children playing hooky. They'd both taken the afternoon off from work so they could shop and spend some time together. Between both of their jobs they didn't get to see each other as much as they used to. They'd met in college and shared a dorm together. Almost from the first moment they were fast friends, despite their glaring differences.
Julia came from a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-national family. Her father was an African American service man who ended up falling in love with an Israeli woman while in Jerusalem. Despite him being a devout Catholic and her being an Orthodox Jew they were still happily married and often traveled to Jerusalem to visit her family. Because of her eclectic upbringing, she'd been raised in both religions; Julia was a very open and honest person. She was never afraid to speak her mind and sometimes didn't know when to pull back and soften her tone.
Heather came from a very different background. Her mother had gotten pregnant when she was just sixteen and gave her up for adoption after caring for her for two years. She'd never met, nor knew anything about her father. Being a beautiful red head with curly hair and doe like eyes Heather had been almost immediately adopted. Still, she never fully bonded with her new family and after going off to college she rarely spoke to them anymore. She wasn't raised in any one religion, or taught any specific values. They'd mostly left her to figure everything out on her own. It didn't fit well with her personality. She wasn't nearly as independent as her friend and often needed reassurance and support.
Julia leaned over the table again. She reached across it and took Heather's hand. This time she spoke in a sober kind voice. "Still, he has a right to know."
"I know… I'm just so afraid of what he'll say." Heather mumbled, squeezing her friend's hand.
"Might as well get it over with sooner than later. I'm sure you could use some help and maybe he'll be a real man and play the part of daddy." Julia stood up, reluctantly releasing her friend's hand. "Sorry sweetie, but I've got to go meet Davis for lunch."
Heather glanced at her watch and groaned. "I didn't notice how late it was! I better hurry before I'm late for my doctor's appointment."
"Tell him." Julia ordered her gently, looking at her friend with deeply serious eyes.
"Alright, after I get out of my appointment. I promise." She had a hard time meeting her friends gaze, mostly because she didn't want to make the promise.
"Have fun." Julia chirped, patting Heather on the shoulder and rushing towards the exit.
Heather didn't move to leave the mall right away. Now that she'd made the promise to call Donovan, she wasn't eager to get to the doctor and then make the call. She knew her friend was right though, better sooner than later; even though by then it was getting real close to later.
* * *