Summary: AU, alternate ending. What if Tess had chosen not to keep the baby? Inspired by Picasso’s Mistress, which is below. Don’t ask me how I think up these crazy plot lines from these poems, I just do.
Rating: PG-14 for language
AN: Okay, my opinion on abortion doesn't matter...yours doesn't matter. It's a story w/fictional characters doing fictional actions. Deal w/it and don't send me hate mails for talking about abortion.
She was once screwed
by that famous painter and
forever after was
accepted as an authority
on the arts. “One has
to feel it,” she’d say,
and I’d sit silent,
knowing that she spoke
* * *
“I need a ride.”
The request had seemed simple enough. Take her wherever she needed to go, drop her off, and then pick her up in an hour or so. She used to have a car, but that was last year when Nasedo was still around and when she didn’t live with me. I didn’t want to bring it up.
I’m glad I didn’t. Because maybe then she wouldn’t have let me take her. I doubt she would have asked anyone else. She probably would have taken the bus.
I thumb through the magazine-a baby magazine. Ironic, almost. But not really; just sadistic and twisted.
Okay, I made that part up. But every time I look at the smiling cherub faces I keep seeing the screaming people outside holding up pictures of dead fetuses. I wonder if one of them sneaked the magazine in. Or maybe the clinic thought it would be a good idea to keep their patients informed.
I’ve been sitting in this chair for the last hour or so. The lady behind the desk said it normally takes twenty minutes.
She also said it’s not the procedure that makes the wait so long. ‘Sometimes the girls like to take a moment afterwards to just take it all in,’ she had said.
The waiting room is cold, the walls are white, and the chairs have metal frames. It gives off this weird aura of doctors, sterility, and numbness. My butt hurts from sitting in the same position for so long. The woman sitting next to me just keeps on mumbling to herself and crying. It freaked me out for the first fifteen minutes, but then I finally heard what she was saying.
“Please forgive me. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what else to do.”
She lets out another choked sob, and then grabs her purse and runs out of the room. I gather from the hushed conversations I hear in the background that she’s been here everyday for the past week trying to work up the nerve.
For a moment the thought that she’s crazy pops into my head again. After all, why prolong the inevitable? Get it over with and move on, already.
But then I remember where I am and wonder if I would run away too. The receptionists starts shuffling papers around. They rustling reminds me of that stupid paper they lay out on the physical table. I mean, is it really necessary? As if you aren’t uncomfortable enough, you have to feel like an idiot rustling around that damn paper.
The image of Tess sitting on that paper comes to mind and I wonder whether or not it has dinosaurs on it. When I was little, Dr. Nell always had the paper with the dinosaurs on it. When he would give me my shots, I’d stare at that paper as hard as I could hoping that if I stared hard enough I’d forget about where I was and why there was an excruciating pain in my arm.
When you’re a kid they give you those butterfly needles. Just look at the name-‘butterfly.’ How bad could that hurt? Trust me, not that much. Especially when you consider what Tess-
A door opens and I stand up, expecting her to appear on the other side. Instead it’s the doctor. She waves at me and tells me to sit, and she takes the seat beside me. She says something about everything going okay and Tess resting in the back. She thanks me for coming on down, something about not many guys taking responsibility or some stupid crap like that.
But I know she’s lying. I can see it in her eyes. She thinks I’m some punk kid who got some girl pregnant and is trying to take the easy way out.
Or maybe she’s feeling sorry for me, knowing that our assumed relationship will never be the same; that my “girlfriend” won’t look at me the same. Or worse, that every time she looks at me she’ll see what could have been.
I don’t know. I’ve never been too good at reading eyes. Either way, I want her to stop looking at me. Better yet, I want to scream at her that I’m not the father. That if I was, I wouldn’t let her step one foot in this place. That I wouldn’t have been stupid enough to get her pregnant in the first place. I’m the captain of the fucking football team. Not that it matters.
She says something but I haven’t been listening. I nod my head anyway. She stands back up, opens the door, and stands there for a minute. I realize she’s waiting for me, so I scurry though the frame, like the idiot I am.
She walks along the hallway, her high heels clipping the floor steadily. The walls are the same nauseating white. Yes, it’s moved on up to nauseating. I wonder if Tess felt like puking.
She opens another doorway and closes the door behind me. Tess is in the chair in the corner and for a second, I think she’s crying, but as soon as she notices me, her face changes. She smiles and grabs my hand saying she’s ready to go. I don’t know what to say, so I let her lead me back out into the waiting room. But the image is still ingrained in my head. Her sitting in the chair, weak and vulnerable, with her hair lusterless and tucked behind her ears. Hands filled with tissues and a red wet face.
She’s not though. At least not anymore. She looks exactly the same. I even check twice as I start the car and pull out of the parking space. We pull out the gate and mustang gets covered in people. A few pound on the hood with their pickets any my first thought goes to the paint job. I glance in the side mirror to see what they’re doing to the back, and that’s when I see it.
Curled up in the seat with a red face and-no, my mistake. She’s the same. For a second I thought, but then...
It takes us an hour and a half to get home. She doesn’t talk on the ride home, and I don’t know what to say so I leave it alone.
She breaks down when we pass the corner on Main Street and Dickinson. There’s this shop on it that I always used to call the ‘Pregnant Lady Store.’
She clutches her stomach and I have to pull over so she can throw up. Right in front of the store. She closes the door and I look at her and she looks at me. For a second I see a glimmer and then she’s back to her old self. I finally realize what she’s been doing.
“You don’t have to do that, you know,” I tell her because I’m stupid and think that I can understand. I think that I can grasp the concept of what it’s like to have something grow inside of you and then-
I drop the subject because obviously I don’t know.
It’s funny because a week before we were debating in English about a woman’s right to choose and I had no qualms about making a decision then.
But that was then, this is now. I can’t take a side and scream statistics across a room. Or choose a side and then try to sleep through the class while the others debate. Because now I know.
Now I know I don’t know.
And I don’t want to know. Ever. Why make a choice when you don’t have to? Why be stupid enough to put yourself in that position?
I pull into the driveway and she’s out in a flash. She opens the door and closes it behind her. I put my car in reverse imagining what she’s probably doing. She leans against the back of the door and slowly slides to the ground, crying profusely and-
I put the car back in drive and head out towards Main Street. She walks through the door and heads towards the kitchen. She boils some water-making hot chocolate? She drops the cup and it shatters to the ground. Broken in shards like her life, she bends down to try to pick them-
The light turns green and I turn left. She walks through the door and runs to the bathroom. She waits until the water is scalding hot before stepping inside the shower. She sits on the floor of the shower in her clothes. They stick to her and she shakes trying to get warm, but the water isn’t hot enough. Isn’t hot enough to wash away the grime, the feelings, that she-
I pull into a parking space a few stores down. All the others ones are taken. It’s to be expected; the Crashdown is always busy. I lock the car and trek the short walk to the restaurant. The bell over the door announces my arrival and Liz looks up when I enter. Things are still a little weird between us since she asked me to pretend to sleep with her.
She walks through the door and collapses on my bed-now hers.
I make my way over to their booth.
She sobs into her pillow and pulls the covers over her head. She wishes that she could hide there forever, safe under the plaid pattern. Pretend that the world consists only of rooms with wooden paneling, blue jerseys, and plaid comforters.
He stands up. I wonder if he’s going to ask me why I slept with Liz. He probably would; he’s that kind of guy. He should have been there. He should have driven her to the clinic, held her hand, helped her fill out the information, tried to talk her out of it, supported her decision... He should have done something.
But I’m glad he didn’t. In a way, I’m glad she chose me.
I close my eyes trying to imagine her before it all. Wearing my jersey, watching ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ making shopping lists, and decorating the house during the holidays. She smiles and I know she means it. I know it’s real. I know she isn’t using her mind-warpy-thingy on me to make me feel better.
I said try.
I can’t see her anymore. She’s just a muddle of “maybes”s and “perhaps”s-leaning against the door, breaking glasses, sitting in the shower, or lying in my bed. The images swirl, leaving me with white walls, crying women, and red faces.
I open my eyes to see two brown ones. I pull back and punch him right in the stomach.
When I get home, my room is empty and her suitcase is gone. There’s a note on the bed.
Okay, I made that up. Because part of me wishes she was gone; that I’d never have to see her again. Because I know every time I look at her that I’m going to think about today. And I don’t want to do that-not to her and not to myself. It’s not fair to either one of us.
She’s on the couch watching t.v. She’s still wearing her clothes, and they’re dry, so I know she didn’t take a shower in them. I’m half tempted to check the kitchen floor for broken cups, but instead, I sit down next to her.
She turns off the t.v. I doubt she was watching it anyway. She leans against my shoulder. “It hurts,” she whispers. And I know she’s speaking from experience.
It feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach.