women. writers.

Flash Fiction: "Onward" by Jamie Kahn

Two lines can be really beautiful to some, but I hoped to see a singular one. The anxiety

did not fade like the last time. Rather than wrapping it in toilet paper and throwing it away like a

dirty tampon, I held the test in my hand, the two lines glowing like neon beacons of my bad luck.

Rather than washing into nothingness with a sigh, the apprehension turned into the sheer panic

that every teenage girl fears in these situations. Pacing back and forth in the bathroom for five

minutes, and at the pacing's cease either returning to life as usual, or pretending to.

     I was only eighteen and still in high school. By then I'd had six pregnancy scares. I'd 

also had two pregnancies. Each time this happened (especially the times that bore those two ugly

lines) I would kick myself for not using the condoms that sat in my underwear drawer. My sister

was the only mother I ever had, and the worst part of all this was the disappointment I knew I'd

see in her face as I begged her to take me for my third abortion. She always made sure I had

condoms but they seemed to go to waste every time. I was out of the house and forgot or I felt

awkward asking about it or he said it didn't feel good or something else. There was always a

seemingly good reason for them to remain unused.

     My mom never knew about when I got pregnant or when I was having sex or when I was

doing drugs or drinking. She'd be mad as hell if she knew but she didn't pay close enough

attention to find out about a thing, even if I chose not to be sneaky.

     Either way, I'd have to ask Laura to take me to get an abortion. I had no car and no fucking

money. I wasn't sixteen like the first time but I knew I was nowhere ready to have a kid. I was

nowhere ready, or even able to get an abortion by myself either.

     She sighed as I got into the car. I knew she was wondering where my mom went wrong,

where she went wrong, where someone went wrong with me. She was wondering how I could be

so stupid. She was wondering when I would learn to be a little scared of my habits. Getting

pregnant once a year since you're a sophomore isn't really a shining accomplishment to anyone.

     I wondered if I was testing fate. They say that getting an abortion even once can make you

infertile forever, but that was proven a myth by my second and third fuck ups. I wondered

though, not even about that, but more if this would somehow jinx me. If I had this abortion,

would I yet again be shouting into the universe with full force, "I DO NOT WANT A BABY! I

SHOULD NEVER HAVE A BABY!" How many pregnancies is one allowed to have before

some great almighty declares that you're cut off?

     I guessed that was something I had to live with. I wanted children one day, but I couldn’t

stomach the idea of caring for anything living at that point in my life. I could hardly care for


     I glanced at my sister from the passenger side as the shame set in further. It was more

than shame. It was sorrow. Letting her down made me feel sick at that moment, but in a way it

was a good thing. It left me with the determination to never do it again.

     Watching her shell out two hundred dollars was like watching her reach inside her own

mouth and pull out a tooth for me, setting it down on the counter of the clinic bloody and

dejected. I got my abortion and we left, never to speak of the situation again. I’d never expect it

to go any differently.

     I spent a few years after that fussing over my pending fertility, wondering if I would be

able to have children when I desired. Wondering if my carelessness had truly cursed my chances.

Wondering, until I had a beautiful baby girl at twenty-six. She was beautiful, the world was

beautiful, and everything was beautiful. Three abortions, and still, I was beautiful.

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