Monday, September 22, 2003

I was sitting on the toilet with a Clear Blue test I’d bought at the pharmacy. After spilling a few drops of urine, I left the stick on the sink for the obligatory two minutes while I went out on the balcony for a smoke. The taste disgusted me and I quickly stumped it out. A minute left. I checked my emails. A few mails from university friends, none from Carl. I read them all to kill the excess time, but inside my belly, butterflies were making somersaults. Enough to make my stomach churn and spoil a potential breakfast.

When enough time had gone by, I returned to the bathroom and picked up the test. Two blue stripes indicated a near certain pregnancy. My head was spinning, and for a while I just sat there, slumped on a toilet seat pondering what my future would be like. The prospect of victory suddenly seemed far from assured.

 

I sat down in front of the computer, putting great focus on composing my feelings. As emails go, this one was of great, great importance. Everything depended on it. Everything.

Dear Carl,

I’ve written to you a number of times, and I promise this will be the last time should you wish not to reply. It’s entirely your call, and you have every right to dismiss me. I know this now, having wanted to hold on to you for so long. I realise I hold no claim over nor right to you. Yet there is something that has changed things so drastically that I feel you have a right to know. There is no easy way I can explain this, despite preferring some sort of introduction to it all. So I can only spell it out I suppose. I just took a pregnancy test, and it turned out positive.

Symptoms are there, nausea and an overdue period (5 days).

Don’t know what more to say really, any suggestions?

If you get this email, call me…or at least mail. And, well, if you prefer not to, then don’t worry. I get the message.

Justine

I had a shower and got dressed. Then went to fetch some breakfast at the local boulangerie. As I was walking back I got a call on my cell. The phone number started with +46. It had to be Carl.

“Hello,” I started, having difficulties hiding the tension in my voice.

“Hi Justine. I just got your email.” I tried to decipher his state of mind but drew a blank. I waited for him to continue.

“I don’t know what to say really. Are you sure it’s…” He stopped himself.

“You mean to ask if I’m sure I’m pregnant or if I’m sure it’s yours?” I emphasized the last word before continuing. “I can assure you on both accounts.”

“I didn’t mean it like that. Just, have you had a second test? To be sure I mean.”

“Yes, I have,” I lied.

“So how do you feel about it?” He sounded uncertain and anxious.

“Well I was hoping for you to enlighten me on that account. You left our relationship in, how shall I say this…limbo. You could have had the decency to at least break up, don’t you think?”

“I know, I’m honestly so sorry. I really haven’t handled this very well.” There was another pregnant pause, signifying the final disintegration of what used to be us.

“I’m not ready to be a dad Justine. What we had was beautiful and I will always cherish our time together…but it is over. I thought you’d understand. I mean, we argued for a month non-stop. And when I left, well it was like a stone was lifted from my chest. In all honesty I felt relieved,” he continued.

“I thought you would eventually forget me, and the calls and emails would dry up.” He paused again and I could hear him taking a deep breath before continuing. “After I came back to Stockholm, I met up with my ex. I don’t think we ever closed our chapter and, well, we’ve started to see each other again. I’m sorry Justine, but there really is no future for us.”

I listened to his diatribe. Mostly in disbelief.

“OK,” I said. “So what do you want me to do now?”

“Justine, you are young. You shouldn’t be a mother at this age. Think about your future, your studies, your career. I can’t tell you what to do, and whatever you choose to do, I promise I will support you. But at this stage I don’t see any other option than abortion.” There it was, the word every woman dreads coming from her partner’s lips. And there it hung between us, loud and clear without any apologies or padding to soften the blow.

“I hear you, Carl. I’m also sorry it turned out the way it did, but I will not bother you with this. You are right, we are too young to be parents, at least in the situation we’ve created. I have to be honest with you: I had hoped you would turn around and see what you are about to lose. I honestly thought we could be a family. You could finish your studies here. I could get a job. But I understand this is not what you want. And if there is someone else, well then there really is no point, is there?” I felt dizzy and needed to end the conversation.

“I will have an abortion, don’t worry. And you don’t have to support me in that. I wish you all the best in your life. Goodbye.”

I hung up.