I have never felt both further away and closer to confronting my reality.

by Megan L. Harding

May 28, 2019

photo by Elizabeth Rudge

Meditations on Abortion

Part I

I reach deep inside the warmth of my body to remove the barrier we use to keep things the way they have been, and it’s missing. The familiar, translucent ring is gone. Can you please help me find it? Can you get a flashlight? He stretches his familiar, long fingers in me and returns with nothing.

Part II

My body is predictable; it swells, it warns, then it bleeds. But the blood is missing when I peer inside myself. Hours later, the contraceptive ring I’ve relied on for months is still missing. I’m on the street and I need to get inside, but I left my keys at the office. And then they aren’t in the office, and so they’re gone.

The next day is Friday and we work from my bed together, stopping frequently to hold one another. His lips fit mine and unlock me, unhinge me. I nonchalantly pee on a stick to show him I’m not afraid, and while we wait, I shower. I even let the hot water become hotter and I dwell there until I shouldn’t. On the counter, on the stick, a second red line faintly appears. Can you please come here?

The internet—the space in which I work, in which I consume, in which I found love with him—brings me to message boards on mothering for expectant, or hoping-to-be-expectant mothers. I am part of a conversation where I am being told that a second faint line means that I’m pregnant, but I don’t belong in the conversation because it’s for people who want to mother. I use the internet to find a place that will remove me from this conversation because I am not a mother, and we go to that place.

We wait there for hours, and I am lost in a sea of women with bellies and other women with the same unfamiliar fear as me. There is a huge photo of a black woman from her neck to her toes, her belly bulging over her vagina. Her breasts are swollen with milk. A bad Katherine Heigl movie is playing, and when it’s over, it plays again. He holds my hand and we respond to work emails from this strange place, doing the jobs we should have been at, feigning where we are and the illnesses we don’t have.

My name is called, and it jerks me back to reality. Can he come with me? I enter alone, and the urine test and a sonogram come back negative. They take my blood and I wince. I have to wait 24 hours to know.

We go to Shake Shack and I eat an entire hamburger, which I haven’t done in 10 years.

I pretend it isn’t real for the night, as I celebrate my 23rd birthday with friends. Only my older friends show up.

The phone rings and I am in bed alone. The lady tells me to return in two weeks, because I’m pregnant. It’s dark but it’s only 1:00 p.m. I relay the news to him but he already knows.

Part III

I arrive on his doorstep. Since I moved two months ago, his doorstep is much closer, so we are much closer. I’ve never felt so close to anyone before, and I think that the only way we could get closer is by welcoming something we created into the world, or by saying goodbye to it.

We spend the day celebrating year 23 with my family. My aunt, her wife, my uncle, his husband, my mom, my sister, and her fiancée. We go to brunch together, and I wear a maroon dress—a nod to the period I never got. We call my mom later, the two of us on speakerphone as we walk home from a park that we do not frequent. We stop on the sidewalk and deliver the news. “I can relate,” she says, and I feel so much better.

Part IV

I travel to San Francisco for work and spend time with my best friend, who was recently trained as an abortion doula. We smoke weed every day, she holds my swollen body, and we sleep soundly next to each other.

Three days after returning, I travel again for work, and I have never felt so exhausted or irritable. No one knows and no one cares why I’m not having fun.

Part V

He and I travel upstate to my mom’s house. I never considered it “the country” growing up, mostly just a sleepy suburb. But in the autumn air it feels remote, far away, a sanctuary. I have never felt both further away and closer to confronting my reality.

I take the first pill.

We go to farms, we hike, we walk seven miles. I start to bleed as I’m walking the same exact walk I would travel with my other best friend when we were teenagers and we were both depressed. It was on those walks that we revealed we were both self-destructing, pulling up our sleeves to show each other the proof. Different types of blood. I bring him on this walk and it feels like I’ve come farther in my own life and farther with him than I ever expected of myself, had you asked me 10 years ago.

Part VI

I take the second pill, and he stays awake with me in the night through the discomfort and the blood. He passes me pads and looks into my eyes because he isn’t afraid of this reality, of my past, or of me. The two of us share in the lack of a loss and smile about what we have.

Returning to the city, I thrust myself back into work, and it’s too soon. I’m awake when it’s dark and I return to him late. I’m still bleeding and I resent that it has to be a secret.

I arrive on his doorstep again. It’s the only place in the denseness of buildings and bodies that I feel like I belong today.

Story originally appeared in SYA BK Vol 3.

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