This was absolutely the last time she was going through this. This morning, carefully counting the days on the calendar, she had felt the familiar panic. 35 days between cycles. Not completely out of the ordinary, but definitely pushing the boundary, even for her. It was still too early to worry but she couldn’t dismiss the possibility from her mind. Another child. That was definitely not part of the plan.
Too early or not, she had tossed a pregnancy test in her basket at the grocery store. As she loaded the groceries on the conveyor belt, the test was too conspicuous. Three boxes of cereal, four gallons of milk, juice boxes, snack crackers, and the other products advertising the fact that she already had a large family made her self-conscious. What would the check-out girl think when she scanned the pregnancy test? Irresponsible. Welfare Mom. As the girl scanned the test, she watched her face. Nothing. Paranoid.
When she got home, the kids were outside helping their father with the yard work. She lugged the groceries into the kitchen. It was a mess. Cereal bowls with stuck-on dried cereal littered the counter. The empty cereal box and gallon of milk was still out on the table and there were pools of milk on three of the five place mats. The fourth was a sprinkling of crumbs. Her coffee cup on the fifth. A high-chair covered in baby cereal the consistency of concrete would fit right in. She started putting away the groceries, carefully avoiding the bag with the test inside.
That done, the laundry was next. The kids were out of socks. Again. She headed to the kids’ bathroom to gather the whites from the hamper. She found about 10 socks in the hamper, the rest were on the floor among the other laundry. She also checked the kids’ rooms and found odd socks amidst the toys and books all over the floor. There were always odd and mismatched socks when she did the laundry. Tiny baby socks will be even harder to keep up with.
When the whites were churning in the washing machine, she sat down to have another cup of coffee. Enjoy it while you can. The pregnancy test sat in front of her. She read the instructions, as if that were necessary. One line, no. Two lines, yes. She wanted to do the test while she was alone in the house. She went into the bathroom and carried out the unpleasant procedure. Now all she could do was wait. And think.
She cleared the kitchen table, obsessively glancing at the clock. I was going to go back to work in the fall. One minute gone. She scrubbed the cereal bowls. My body is almost back to normal after 3 kids. Two minutes down. One left to go. She stood in the middle of her kitchen, watching the hands on the wall clock tick, too quickly. We’re financially strapped as it is. I wanted to take a few college courses, get my degree. I’m already overwhelmed. The bedrooms are full. Where will she sleep? I gave away all the baby clothes. I can’t do this! Three minutes. It was time to check.
She took a deep breath and walked into the bathroom, her future waiting for her on the side of a sink. One line, no. Two lines, yes. She looked at the test.
She exhaled. She could carry oot her plans for school and work. She didn’t have to give up coffee or her newly toned body. She thought she’d be happy. Elated.
She was wrong.
This post was written according to the following prompt from the red dress club:
Write a short piece – 600 words max – that begins with the words, “This was absolutely the last time” and ends with “She was wrong.”
Have fun with it. Think outside the box. Don’t go with the obvious.