Fiction · Life-Defining Moments · Writing

Fiction Series: Roads Not Taken (Part 5)

[This series was inspired by this post, and is a fictional inquiry into what might have been if I’d made different choices.]

 

2011

It is late December, and I am at the Nutcracker with one of my best friends when I receive a call from the doctor. They have not begun yet, so I answer. I had gone in for some tests as I’d been feeling unwell, something like the flu. The tests, they tell me, have returned. They want me to come in, to get the results. I ask them to please just tell me yes or no. Reluctantly, she tells me yes, and before I hang up I promise to call back to make a follow-up appointment.

I repeat to my friend what the call was about. I tell her, the tests came back positive for what they were checking for. They were checking to see if I am pregnant.

I am in shock. It’s been at least two months since I had sex, and I’ve only had sex with one man in the last three years. I have just broken up with him, and he lives in a different country. I sit through the ballet thinking, will I be bringing a toddler to this in a few years?

When I get back to my apartment – which I share with another girl – I go straight to bed and do not emerge for what feels like a week. Do I get an abortion, I wonder, or do I carry it to term? Should I put it up for adoption? I’m not ready for a child. Not yet. Not alone. Definitely not one that ties me to my ex. He doesn’t believe in abortion, not really. The times I had to take the morning after pill were bad enough, when we were together.

Because I believe it is the right thing to do, I inform my ex that I am pregnant, and that I don’t know what I am going to do. He is upset with me, because I should have prevented this from happening. I have trapped him. I tell him I have no interest in being with him, regardless of my choice. Not only is it impractical, but it is expensive. I have no desire to pay American health care costs when my child could be born in Canada, for free. It is the first time I think of it as my child.

I decide after much consideration, to have an abortion. They’re free in Canada, so I make an appointment through my doctor. I inform my ex of this choice, and he is enraged. There is nothing he can do, however, besides call and email me, trying to change my mind. He is in school, and cannot afford to come and try to convince me in person.

On the day of my abortion, one of my girlfriends comes with me. She’s home from school for Christmas break. The doctor is kind. She talks me through everything, and once I’m on the table, I’m put under general anesthesia. After a slightly uncomfortable needle and some cramps, I’m all done. My friend drives me home, and we and a few more girls have a ice-cream eating, movie-watching, wine-drinking party, just the four of us. Two of us get drunk; the other two laugh at us. It’s just like old times.

Once I tell my ex it’s done, I do not hear from him again.

I talk to my psychiatrist after this happens, and am well on my way to figuring out what I want to do. I decide that I’ll take an extra year and improve my grades so I can get into graduate school. During this extra year, I start to make friends, and I even join a club or two. Better late than never, I figure. I also use this extra year to find a better paying job. My roommate knows a lot of bar people, and I really enjoy the scene. Getting out of the house inspires my writing, and it even helps me lose a bit of weight. My hormones do some fucky things post-abortion, but I prefer that to having to deal with pregnancy and a baby.

When I graduate, I decide to take a year off before applying for my masters. I want to pay down my loans a bit, and maybe take time to read and write for myself. Get some life experience. I travel to Turkey with my grandmother. She doesn’t entirely approve, but she’s also pleased I’m making money. I never tell her about the abortion.

When I return home, I find a message in my inbox from a friend of my ex. We’d flirted innocently enough while I was with my ex, but now we flirt for real. He is charming and sweet. Sometimes we play video games together, or have movie dates. I work nights frequently, but he stays up just to talk to me (and to play League, but I don’t particularly care). On his birthday, I surprise him with cookies in the mail. At some point, we say “I love you,” but we can never agree on who said it first. We try to contact my ex, to tell him about us before we make it “Facebook Official”, but we receive no reply.

Eventually, I take a weekend off and go down to New York to visit the new guy. When he meets me at the train station with flowers, I kiss him. It is the most awkward first kiss I’ve ever had, and I love it. We have fun together. He’s living with his parents while he finishes school, so I get to meet them again, as well. Turns out they remember me from a previous visit. I am flattered. During this trip, I open up to him about my relationship with my ex. He is understanding, and sympathetic. We stay up late talking, and by the time I leave, I’ve decided he’s the one I want.

While all this is happening, I’ve been working and writing. I end up publishing a short story in a local magazine, with requests for more. I enter a writing contest for short stories, and a few other things. I’m getting noticed, some, and it’s very exciting.

My now-fiance and I take our time. We’re both impatient, but we both are busy with other things. He eventually finds a job near his parents’ place. As I’ve saved up quite a bit, we hire an immigration lawyer. They recommend we apply from outside of Canada. The wait inside, he says, is very long.

He proposes just after New Years, and we decide to get married in the Autumn. We arrange it around a long weekend so our American friends and family can join in, too. After our honeymoon, he flies back to New York, and I return to Toronto. It takes another two years for immigration to come around.

While we’re waiting, he finishes school, and I keep on keeping on. I work. I write. Sometimes I’m published. I start adding foodie things to my blog, and now, between the bar, my blog, and my publishings, I’m making OK money. I submit my first novel. It’s a flop, but at least I wrote it. My second one actually gets a look see from a publisher. My third is a hit. I celebrate with my friends by organizing a girls’ weekend. I celebrate with my husband by meeting him in the Catskills for a romantic weekend.

I do a few book readings locally, and start work on my second book. It goes well. I have a fan base now, so when it’s released I go on a short tour. It’s very exciting. My husband is in Canada, finally, and we find an apartment together. He gets a job as a bartender at a place I know, and together we start saving for a house. It takes us a few years, but since we live in the city, we skip buying a car. We walk almost everywhere, go to the gym together when we can, and rent a car when we need to. Our families help us out, and we eventually buy a place. We adopt a cat.

My writing career takes off, and I get into other projects. Some screen writing, some graphic novels. I’m busy all the time, and I love it. My husband finds a job he enjoys, too, and we are eventually stable enough to have a baby. We try, and it takes some time, but eventually we manage. Since I mostly work from home, anyways, it works out great. We buy a bigger house. We get a dog.

Our kid grows up, and we start to travel a bit. My husband joins me on book tours, and it’s great. We spend more time together. He retires, eventually, and my writing slows down, but I never really stop. Our kid has a kid, eventually, which we spoil.

My husband passes away, and I am devastated. I spend the rest of my life with our family, surrounded by books, and publish little before I follow. I’m remembered by my family and friends, as well as some devoted fans.

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