the end of the affair (THREE, part II)
A red-shirted cashier eyed me as I scurried into the 7-11 behind a sweaty trucker. I scanned the first two “aisles.” Charcoal, shampoo, NoDoz, lighter fluid. I don’t know why there were pregnancy tests on these shelves in my mind. I circled the store twice and finally approached an employee who polished the Slurpee machine.
“Do you sell pregnancy tests?” I whispered.
“Do you sell pregnancy tests?” I said a little louder.
“I don’t hear you right.”
Sure, I thought. Of course you don’t.
“Do you. Sell. Pregnancy tests?”
“No.” He raised his voice. “We don’t sell, how you say, those tests.”
The trucker turned from the coffee station and looked me over. At least I wasn’t the only white trash in 7-11 at 5am.
I fled the store.
* * *
I pulled into a 24-Hour CVS at the same time as a young guy in a Mustang. He smiled to himself and locked his car.
We were not there for the same reason. And whatever his reason was, I wished it was mine too.
I ran into the store and headed straight for the aisle with the tests. My hands shook. I scanned the shelves for whatever test was on sale and vowed that this would be the last time I reached for one.
This week’s sale was a digital test. I’d never used that kind before. I paid for the test and a bottle of water and started to chug as I walked back to my car.
This sucked. I couldn’t be pregnant. I didn’t want to be pregnant. It would ruin everything. I loved things the way they were. I loved my girls. I loved that I finally felt confident (most of the time) when I was home with them. I loved how much they loved each other. I loved that when TWO learned how to walk I’d have one hand for each of them when we crossed a street. I loved that we were a one-kid-per-parent family.
I cried on the ride home. But just little tears, because I still held out hope that I was wrong.
* * *
The word Pregnant flashed at me. And flashed and flashed and flashed.
I took the second test. Ripped out the wick, replaced it and willed myself to pee again. The word pregnant flashed through the whole thing.
Pants still around my ankles, I cried. In <:10 I bawled so hard that I gasped between sobs. And then I felt guilty for starting off a pregnancy this way. It wasn’t the baby’s fault. It didn’t deserve this.
I cried harder. I so didn’t want this.
I composed and redressed myself. I stuffed the sticks in a bag and washed my hands. I looked at myself in the mirror. Eyes puffy. Cheeks flushed. Skin paler than usual. I leaned against the sink and cried.
I took a deep breath and opened the door.
There was the dog. She sat at the foot of the stairs. Head cocked, she watched me. I neared her; her tail thumped on the floor.
Sure, I thought. Of course you’re happy. You LOVE babies.
I cried again. Hard. Harder. Sobbing.
Then I thought of my husband. Blissfully ignorant father of two. Asleep. Probably dreaming about nice things. Like sex and sports and not having a third kid.
I raced up the stairs. It was time he woke up.