Lola is terrified, shaky.
Her and London are in the public bathroom of the local Walmart. It's been weeks since these two have seen each other.
London has spent the most of his time crashing on friends' couches every night, and has even resulted to staying behind a few convenience stores. Food has been hard to come by. He didn't have time, or the effort to worry about trivial things - Lola, his parents, school. The only thing his thoughts were rapped up in were surviving and how to get the next hot meal. It's been difficult, but London feels at home on the streets. He wanted to stay with his brother, but Criss has is own life to tend to. His girlfriend and newborn baby defiantly didn't need another mouth to feed.
Lola called London up one day. She was hysterical, he could hardly understand her.
Between her sobs and broken words, he was able to piece together one phrase: 'I think I'm pregnant.'
"Go whine about it to Tim then." he had responded.
More sobs. Then, unexpected silence, followed by: "Tim's dead."
London was on the next bus back to his old neighborhood. He dropped everything and returned to her.
He had stolen a box of pregnancy tests and locked the door behind them.
Lola sits on the counter top next to the sink. Her hands are nervously folded in her lap.
London stands with his back to her. His forehead is against the wall next to the door, eyes closed tightly in anticipation.
Time ticks away, and they can hear the seconds dying.
Lola looks down at the strip beside her. Her eyes are heavy, already brimming with tears.
In blotted green ink, there is an image of a smiley face. It's positive.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" London says, quietly. He walks over to look at the pregnancy test himself. Frightening rage. "Are you fucking kidding me?!" he repeats, shouting it for the world to hear. He punches the stall door next to Lola repetitively, until his knuckles swell into purple.
Lola lets the tears roll silently down her face, unaffected by his outburst.
London's eyes are sharp. He grabs Lola's thighs and spreads them slightly, allowing himself to walk up to the portion of counter that she's perched upon. Her legs lie parallel around his hips, and her vision is fixed downwards.
"Hey - look at me. Look at me." he moves her chin up until their gazes meet. He forces himself not to blow up in her face. "Just tell me one thing... Is it mine?"
"I... I don't know."
He slams his fist into the wall beside her again, making her jump. She doesn't offer anything else, so he falls away and kicks the stall in until it breaks. He runs a hand through his hair as it falls into his face.
Composure. It's hard to come by, but he's eventually able to calm himself. "So what the fuck are we gonna do, huh?"
Lola is unable to hide the shame and regret of her past, her track marks. She already imagines the weight of the world expanding as heavy as a rock in her stomach. Her fingers intertwine in her lap. "...Do you love me, London?"
Her question feels like a slap in the face. He stands on the opposite side of the rest room - hands in his pockets, eyes averted. "You know I do." his voice, for once in his life, is small.
"Then...I need you to stand by me... I can't do this by myself..."
"Do what, Lola?" he asks her again. He's agitated, tired. Raising the child of a junkie and his ex girlfriend is defiantly not something he wants to dedicate his life too. But he is not the kind of man who would run out on his child, either. He is determined to be a better father than he had growing up.
"I'm sick." she forces herself to look him in the face. "And I'm sorry... But I can't keep this baby... We're kids, and I can't... There's nothing... I-" she is unable to form coherent sentences.
London feels her pain, her suffering. They're both breaking into pieces. Seeing her so upset makes the selfishness of his anger burn out. "Hey, come here." he wraps his arms around her protectively, and she buries her face in his chest. She is hot enough to burst into flames. He strokes her hair and kisses her forehead. "We're gonna figure this out."
Author's Note: graphic, possibly offensive material ahead. be warned
London and Lola take the public bus to the grey-brick clinic, and deuce a cigarette in the alley way beside it. It's surprising to see that there are no protestors outside. There's no clichéd religious zealots wielding picket signs and spitting verbal threats. There's no one in sight in the dull, hazy morning.
"Are you sure it's open?" Lola asks as they climb the stairs to the entrance. London pulls on the door and it swings wide open. The inside is clean, with a black and white tile floor, but it has the same kind of grey pallor hanging over it that the outside of the building emits. Lola squeezes his hand.
A nurse behind the desk asks for the name.
"London Only." London says without hesitation. The black stitched hood of his sweatshirt half-shadows his face. But the lady cracks a small smile at his anticipation and nods her head towards Lola. "I meant her name."
"Oh, Lola Stormare." London informs as the words turn to cotton in his mouth.
She flips through a few papers on the clipboard before her, and they follow her to a back room furnished only by a metal chair with padding on the seat, a table with stirrups, and an old contraption in the corner that looks like a miniature washing machine.
The nurse looks only at Lola as she speaks. "I hope you had a chance to read over our pamphlet, but in case you didn't, I will quickly go over the procedure you are about to have. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them. Okay?"
Lola starts to say something but it gets tangled around her tongue. She clears her throat and tries again. "Okay." she whispers.
"The procedure you are about to have is called vacuum aspiration." She points to the machine in the corner and Lola sits down in the chair, still holding tightly to London's hand.
"With this machine, the doctor will quickly, in five to ten minutes, empty your uterus. But first I will need you to get up on this table-"
Lola stands up quickly to get on the table.
"Not yet, honey, just let me finish telling you what is going to happen with the procedure and then you can get up there." The nurse smiles at her with a gentle tilt of her head and continues talking.
"I'll need you to get up on this table and let me inject your cervix with a numbing agent. This numbing agent will allow us to insert a plastic..."
London isn't listening to what the nurse is saying. He can't fathom that they are even here at all. This was not his choice. Even if this isn't his child, he doesn't believe that it's right. But he let Lola make the final decision, and she is doing what she believes to be the correct thing. London used to dream of starting a family with this girl. He would never have thought that they would have to succumb to this.
He looks down at Lola as the nurse performs her speech and he can see that she is closing down; he can see it in her eyes. She is ready to go through with this. She is blocking everything out, shutting down emotionally and in every other way. She will do everything that they tell her to do.
"...It creates suction to remove the uterus contents. Again, the entire procedure should take less than ten minutes to complete. Do you have any questions?"
London looks at Lola again. She is silent, starring at the table.
"Okay, then let me get you to put this gown on. Take off your pants and underwear and I'll be back in a moment."
Neither of them speak. The only sound in the room is the rustling of Lola's jeans and the tinkling of piano whispered through the overhead speaker. She climbs up on the table and lies back, holds her arm across her eyes. London pulls his hood lower on his face.
The nurse returns minutes later with a tray on a cart. She snaps on some white latex gloves pulled from the dispenser above the machine, then takes a large syringe from the tray. Her face disappears beneath the gown. Lola squeezes London's hand, winces in pain.
"It's okay, you're doing fine." the nurse's voice says. She stands up and places the syringe back on the tray. "We're going to let the anethesia work for a few minutes." she says, looking at Lola. "Then the doctor will be in to complete the procedure."
The indiscernible song playing over the intercom sounds louder now. The doctor enters, makes no eye contact with either of them, but gives a gruff of acknowledgment with his back turned as he hooks a tube up to the machine.
"I need you to stay as still as you possibly can." he says as he turns the contraption on. It hums unsettlingly.
The doctor is short and balding, wears glasses, and has pinches features. His forehead furrows and his breath whistles through his nose. He disappears under the gown. Lola tightens her grip on London's hand again as the sound from the machine seems to pick up in intensity.
Lola cries out, digs her nails into the muscle between London's thumb and forefinger. "Fuck." she whimpers, making London look down at her. She is looking up in return, and there are tears streaming down her face. "It hurts." she says.
"I need you to stay still." the doctor repeats himself, the unmistakable tinge of impatience framing his voice.
"She says it hurts." London chimes in, his words firm and unwavering.
"Of course it hurts." he replies. "It will be over in just a few minutes."
There is blood and other matter visible in the plastic tube as it makes its way back to the machine. London is unable to swallow the brick expanding in his throat. This shouldn't be happening. His arm is numb from Lola's grip, crimson liquid slowly trickling down his hands to his fingertips.
And then, it's over.
The doctor pulls the tube out, tells her to try to make herself comfortable and that the nurse will be in shortly.
Lola convulses in tears, moaning, her frail body quivering. She wraps her torso around London's arm, and holds herself up to him.
"I killed my baby." she sobs, then repeats more quietly, "I killed my baby..."
The Muzak is playing loudly now, it's so loud that it nearly drowns out the stir of death.
"I killed my baby." she's whispering.
London doesn't say anything. He wipes his eyes on the sleeve of his sweatshirt and remains strong enough for her to continue clinging to.