Summary: She wanted love, attention and acceptance, but she didn`t know she was looking for it in all the wrong places. Instead what she finds leads to her own self-destruction.
That night, I did not let him touch me; I begged him to. I begged him with seductive smiles and fluttering lashes. I invited him to take me home by flattering his stale wit and hanging off every word that escaped his wet vodka lips. He said I was hot. In my mind, I assumed his husky tone also implied beautiful and exquisite. His caramel eyes were glued to my lips, my breasts, my legs as neon lights flashed across his face. My pulse adapted to the rhythm of the music vibrating through the dance floor of the club. I ran my hand along his jaw and felt dark stubble bristle my pink-nailed fingertips. His hand clutched my hip every time people tried to pass between us.
"Ah – what was your name?" That was the third time he's asked. The first two times, we were pushed near the speakers, so I quickly disposed any negative thought.
My lips brushed against his ear as I yelled, "It's Kelsey!" I barely heard my voice underneath pounding drums.
"No. Kel-sey. Kelsey!"
"Oh. Cool." He grinned. "I'm Mark."
I knew that. I didn't know then, but I'd never be able to forget Mark. I wouldn't forget his name, his caramel eyes, or even how he forgot my name four times, but I'd only remember because of the mark he would leave on my conscience. He'd told me his name earlier, when the club was quiet and my throat wasn't sore from repeating idle chit-chat three times in a row. Clubs were a good place to meet random people, but not to know them. I already knew Mark. He was the same as the other few men I met here. The entire night, Mark intended to have at least one hand touching me; he was persistent to keep me by his side. He wasn't aware how easy it was to take me home, if he played the right card – I'm a damned fool for affection.
Softly, he caressed my cheek and then shouted, "Let's get out of here" He said the magic words.
He took my hand, threaded our fingers together and led me out of the club. Crisp air prickled my heated skin. I forgot my jacket at coat check but as Mark guided me briskly up Davie Street I had no choice but to follow. "I live just off Burrard," he assured me as my sweaty arms and face welcomed the cold. It was the first day of March and the wind blew up from the water and pushed through the streets. I shivered. Mark walked behind me, wrapped his arms around my waist, and pressed his chest against my back. His breath tickled my scalp and his body tickled my nerves. "We'll be there in a few minutes. Relax, beautiful." I melted.
Fifteen minutes later we entered his apartment building. Here my assumptions were confirmed; he was a replica of all the others. He took what he wanted and feigned sleep when he'd had enough. I couldn't complain. He gave me what I was looking for: for a moment, I felt beautiful. In one brief second, when he kissed me softly and tangled his fingers through my hair, I tricked myself into believing that this is how love felt. I decided not to go home right away. It was a thirty-minute walk to my house and I had no jacket and no money. I'd wait until it warmed up.
I woke to a warm hand shaking my shoulder. I turned my head to look behind me. Mark sat with his legs tucked underneath him. His face was contorted into a mix of confusion and fear: eyebrows drawn together as he bit his lower lip. Like all the rest, he'd hoped I would leave before he woke again. Maybe they wanted me to be an erotic dream instead of a reality they had to face. The heat of his palm suddenly made me uncomfortable. If he didn't want me here, then he should stop touching me.
I tried to force a smile to my tired lips. I think I managed to frown. "Morning."
"Hey. Ah – listen, babe." He forgot my name a forth time. Behind him the alarm clock blinked 8:30 am. It was Saturday. At least I didn't have to go to school. "I've got to go somewhere soon and… Yeah, so I'm leaving and…" You need to leave.
I quickly shifted away from him. The loss of contact made me feel at peace. Did he have to be so awkward about this? I wasn't exactly insisting that he had to come to dinner with me tonight to meet my family. "Yeah, no problem." I searched for my clothes that had been tossed around the room. Mark watched and waited. A few minutes later I was still missing a sock.
There was a sigh in Mark's voice when he asked, "What's wrong?"
"I can't find my black sock."
He shrugged. "It's just a sock."
I took a deep breath and ran a hand through my hair. "Look." My voice was tense. "I have to walk home, and I'd like to have socks on my feet. I'd get a blister without them."
He glanced around for a moment until his eyes landed back on his alarm clock. "You can use a pair of mine."
The entire walk his socks continuously slipped down my calves. I paused every ten seconds to pull them up because I couldn't stand them hanging around my ankles. Letting out an irritated sigh, I crossed my arms, tucking my hands underneath to keep them warm. The socks once again descended to my ankles. It reminded me of when my little sister would borrow my clothes, without my permission of course. Endlessly she'd adjust skirts, sweaters, jeans and socks as she pranced around. I remember her favourite item was a pair of green and purple polka dot socks. I gave them to her once she moved into the children's hospital. Sometime's they're the only clothes she can wear besides a hospital gown. At fourteen years old Hailey is battling leukemia. At nineteen I'm sleeping with strange men and failing college. No wonder our parents save all their adoration for her.
When I got home my stomach started rumbling like a motorcycle burning rubber down the highway. I couldn't find a clean plate so I rinsed one sitting in the sink and popped toast in the toaster. I then discovered the marmalade in the cupboard where we kept our mugs and glasses. I grabbed the marmalade and my favourite mug – a picture of piano keys – and filled it with water. Eventually my hunger was satisfied, but m mind was far from that. I lived with three other girls who were also students at Vancouver Community College. We lived in a town house by the school. I wasn't close to any of them; this arrangement was made so we'd all save money. Unfortunately none of them could clean up a mess. Old newspapers were scattered on the chairs and coffee table; binders and text books piled up on the floor to form difficult pathways. I found makeup in random places. I didn't like to clean either, but this house was going to drive me insane if I didn't pick up after them; it was too much.
The phone rang just as I was contemplating over attempting to write a paper for my biology class. I picked up the phone on the second ring. "Hello?"
"Kelsey? Where have you been all morning?" It was my mother. I chewed on the last piece of my toast before I bothered to answer. "Kelsey?"
"I was out." I said, swallowing.
Her voice was low with suspicion. "Where would you go on a Saturday morning?"
"Grocery shopping," I lied.
"You're lying." I rolled my eyes. What did it matter? "I never gave you any money for grocery shopping this week."
"I have my own job," I reminded her in a bored tone. "I don't want your money." Because you use it to bribe me. "Save it for important things." Like Hailey.
"You're failing college because of that lousy minimum wage job. A college education can help you earn a real living. If you picked a school closer to home you could save so much money living here…"
And what, live in Surrey and put up with you every day? I scoffed and easily tuned her high pitched voice out. It took years of practice but I'm glad I persisted to learn the art of ignoring her. I thought about vacuuming the living room.
"I'm very disappointed in you!"
That jolted me out of my daydream. "What?"
"Your roommate told me where you went last night." Damn it, Julie must have talked to her. She was still mad at me because I accidentally told her boyfriend she was out with another guy. I didn't even know she had a boyfriend! "I've heard about these meat market clubs. And Julie implied you were hunting." I could hear her cringe as she said the last word. Her expression was as vivid as a photograph– solid and flashing in my mind: her face painted perfectly even on a Saturday morning with subtle colours, her forehead and the corner of her lips creased in displeasure as her hazel eyes narrowed to slits. She let out a loud hiss and I guessed she was also gritting her teeth. "I know what that must mean! You're there to become a nurse. I didn't raise a slut."
My jaw went slack, my mouth dry and a bubbling sensation formed in my stomach that felt like nausea; it was always the same reaction when she said this. Although I went out almost every week, I've only been with three men. But then, that tally started in November.
My mother was still talking. She can skilfully to shift to a completely different subject with the power of one word: anyways. I hated that word. It was careless, selfish and -
"Anyways, it's Hailey's birthday tomorrow. Are you coming?"
"Of course." My voice was quiet. Fading. She didn't seem to notice. She never did.
"Good. You should be. Wear your blue dress, the long one. The others look terrible." She hung up with a rushed farewell.
I couldn't help but wonder if she finished that statement with terrible on you, in her mind. As if she can't stand how dresses outline my wide hips and thick legs. Maybe she thinks they clash with my almond brown hair and eyes. Or maybe they fail to bring out my pallid face, just like I fail to please her. I looked at the fridge door and lost myself in a picture Hailey had drawn for me, when she was ten: pink and blue flours, an orange sun and green mountains. In the corner she wrote, 'To Keys, Love Hailey'. Tomorrow she would turn fifteen. I hoped Hailey lived to celebrate her sixteenth birthday.
A month later, I discovered I was pregnant at a gynaecologist clinic I picked out of the yellow pages at random. I realized my period was over two weeks late and asked to come in as soon as possible. Sprawled out on a tiny cushioned table that was covered with paper, I tried hard not to fidget. Every time I moved a loud crinkling sound filled the room. I stared up at the white stucco ceiling, and prayed that the three at home pregnancy tests I took were at fault. They weren't.
The doctor pulled his gloves off with a snap and said, "Congratulations." He then informed me about my health and how I should be taking care of myself. His voice washed out in my mind as I watched his thin, chapped lips form letters of different vitamins. His mouth opened and closed like a black hole that threatened to swallow me whole. He handed me pamphlets crammed with information. In a trance, I accepted them and tucked them inside my purse without a single thought to ever read them. All I really wanted to know was how I could get out of this mess. I failed at my own life, how could I be a mother?
I found a small, clean clinic downtown called Willow Women's clinic. They set me up for an appointment within two weeks of the phone call. That same nauseous sensation that came with my mother's name calling was forming a volcano in my stomach; that place where a baby was growing. But today I would be on my own again. No need to fear for a doomed future. I wouldn't have to worry what people thought of my giant pregnant belly. Why didn't I feel relieved? I could barely swallow. I struggled to breath. Licking my dry lips I entered the clinic, and gave the receptionist my name. She asked for photo identification and my Personal Health Number. It took me a minute to remember what that was exactly.
"Miss?" Her voice was loud, to grab my attention, but she slipped a soft tone in it. I tried to focus on her face. Her red hair was turning grey and her pale face was carved with laugh lines. She had to be in her fifties. "Miss, do you have your care card with you?"
Ah. Right. Of course that's what she wants. I nodded and searched for my small wallet in the large purse. I took out my lip-gloss, keys and cell phone; my hands were trembling. My body was numb. I couldn't feel the objects in my grasp. I dropped my keys, bent down to pick them up and dropped everything else as well.
The receptionist stretched over her desk to watch me as I picked everything up. "Are you alright, miss?"
"Y-yeah," I stuttered. God, I couldn't even convince myself. How would she believe me? Would they perform the operation if I was in this condition? I closed my eyes and took a slow, deep breath. It's ok, you're just nervous about the operation, I told myself. But I felt no peace with this reassurance.
I opened my eyes. I was still kneeling on the floor, and the receptionist continued to watch me. She looked very concerned. She had that expression on her face that moms had when they wanted to comfort their child. Was she a mom? Why did she work here?
Again she spoke with that soft tone, "Why don't you sit down? I'll get you some papers to fill out."
I read the papers over twice. They called my operation a vacuum abortion. I would be sucked out from the inside.
My mom called me an hour after I left the clinic. Why was I always given the last thing I needed? She told me to come see her and dad at Children's Hospital immediately. I had to sit down for ten minutes before I could walk to the bus stop. When I arrived I went to visit Hailey first.
"Keys!" Her excited cry filled the room.
The excitement immediately faded and was replaced with a dramatic pout. "Don't call me that. I'm fifteen."
"Awe, sorry." I gave her a kiss on the cheek. "But you'll always be my Munch-kin. Besides, you still call me Keys. I've had that nickname sine you could talk. Do you see me complaining?"
"You like that nickname," She stated confidently. I couldn't deny it.
"Kelsey," my Dad's grim voice called me from the doorway. "Can I see you outside?"
I nodded, gave Hailey another kiss and met him outside. His eyes were shiny and red, pink marks trailed down his cheeks. I felt my breath catch in my throat. This is not good.
"Kelsey, today the doctors told us," he paused to take a deep breath. "They told us that they expect Hailey to have four to six months left to live." He pulled me in for a hug, his firm grip surrounded me; he was the only thing holding me up, without him I was sure to collapse. "I'm so sorry."
He took me to a chair and sat me down.
"Does Hailey know yet?" I asked.
His answer came a few minutes later. "No."
Hailey is going to die soon. How is this possible? She's just a child.
A dark realization hit me as I remembered what I did earlier today. How would that child have turned out? Would she have been anything like Hailey? I suddenly felt nauseous. I ran to the bathroom but didn't make it on time. I threw up in a garbage can.
I arrived at home at twelve. A tornado followed my every step. I felt I could faint any minute, and I knew it wasn't the operation. God, why did I do that today? What would have happened if I kept the baby? Guilt pooled inside my mind and drowned my thoughts. I grabbed my favourite mug and filled it with water from the tap. The mug never reached my lips. I dropped it and watched ceramic pieces spread across the floor. Water trailed through the crevasses of the tiles and sunk around my feet. I sat on the floor and added hot, adding salty drops to the journey.
Author`s Note: So I wrote this for a fiction class this summer and decided to post it, because I really like it. Although I`m not sure all the tense is correct. If you catch something, let me know. Anyway, when I was writing this, I was trying to capture the effects abortion has on the `would be` moms. I very strongly don`t support abortion, but I do believe in that God gave us free will, so it is a mother`s write to decide, and of course every case is different. But no one is really concerned with how abortion effects the mothers, they`re always concerned with the baby. I have witnessed how destructive abortion is on a woman`s soul. That`s what I'm exploring here. The story is partly taken from a friend of mine. One day I hope to make this into a longer story, get it published, but for now, it`s a one shot.
And I know some people will probably mention STT here, so if you`re wondering about it, check my Live journal of profile.