Authors: Melody Carlson
Tags: #ebook, #book
Sophie turned away and sighed. She knew exactly where that particular clinic was located. She’d gone there numerous times with Carrie Anne and her family. They would gather on the sidewalk in front to pray and to protest against the abortions performed. She had even carried a sign with a colored photograph of an unborn baby while picketing there. She’d tried to talk young women out of going inside that terrible place. She’d tried to make them understand that just because a baby was unborn didn’t mean that it wasn’t a living human being.
But she wasn’t so sure anymore. Not about anything. Mostly she was confused and frightened. And she was beginning to understand why a woman would even consider such a horrendous act. Not that she was considering it herself. Not really.
Sophie honestly did not remember driving there. She didn’t even remember leaving school, getting into her car, driving across town, and finally pulling up into the parking lot in back. But as she got out of her car, she knew exactly where she was. And as she went through the back door and down a dimly lit corridor, she knew exactly what she was doing. At least, that was what she told herself.
Her hands shook as she filled out the form. But it was like a part of her had shut down. She wasn’t sure whether it was her head or her heart, or perhaps it was both. She filled out the lines in a mechanical way, as if she was on some kind of automatic pilot. Or as if she was dead.
Maybe she was dead. If she was, then what she was about to do could not be considered murder. Because you couldn’t kill something that wasn’t even alive. Right?
Like a robot she went to the counter and slid the clipboard to the receptionist. The woman smiled, but it was a sad smile, a knowing smile—a smile that had probably given up a long time (and a lot of babies) ago.
“You might want to read these while you wait to see the counselor,” the woman said as she slid a couple of pamphlets toward Sophie.
Sophie nodded. “Thanks.” Then, still moving on autopilot, she made her way back to the seating area, which thankfully was empty. She sat down and attempted to focus her eyes on the material in her hand, but it seemed to jump out at her in blips and spurts. “Half of all pregnancies are unplanned . . . one in three women have had abortions . . . morning-after pill . . . aspiration . . . vacuum . . .”
Sophie set the pamphlets on the coffee table next to a bunch of others. Maybe everyone left the pamphlets behind. Who would want to take that with them? Who would want anyone to know?
Sophie jumped, then looked around. Who knew she was here?
Sophie realized it was the receptionist. “Yes?”
“The counselor will see you now.” She nodded toward a hallway. “The second door down.”
Sophie slowly stood, glancing left and right and wondering if she should just make a run for it. Get out of there before she was sorry. But she’d left her name and phone number on that form. What if they called her at home? What if they told her parents? Why hadn’t she thought of this sooner? She’d always heard that these places kept people’s names anonymous. But what if she was wrong? What if that was just a trick?
“Excuse me.” She paused by the receptionist’s desk.
“I forgot to ask you something.”
“Well, the counselor is the best one to answer your—”
“No, I mean about the form I filled out.”
“Oh, was there a mistake?”
“No. I mean, is it confidential?”
The woman frowned. “Well, the counselor and the doctor will have to—”
“No, I mean confidential outside of this office. Like will my parents be informed that I came—”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, dear.”
“Really? You don’t notify them at all?”
“Not unless you ask us to.”
“Honestly. Your secret is safe with us.”
Sophie sighed. “Okay.”
“Right.” Sophie nodded.
“The counselor is waiting, dear.”
She nodded again. As she walked down the hallway, she tried to grasp what she’d just heard. How was it possible that she, a minor, could undergo a surgical procedure that ended a human life while her parents remained totally clueless, yet just last spring when Sophie had gone to the school nurse due to menstrual cramps, the nurse had refused to administer Advil without calling Sophie’s mom first? Not that she’d wanted her parents to know exactly. But it just didn’t make sense that an abortion was perfectly permissible without parental consent when a simple over-the-counter pain reliever was not. It was actually kind of creepy when she thought about it.
“Sophie Ramsay?” A short, dark-haired woman extended her hand. “I’m Mary.”
“Hi.” Sophie attempted a weak smile.
“Come into my office and let’s chat.”
Sophie wasn’t really sure she wanted to chat. Mostly she just wanted to end this thing. But perhaps it was required to chat first.
Mary sat down at a cluttered desk and looked at the form still on the clipboard. “You’re seventeen?”
“Yes. Is that a problem?”
Mary smiled faintly. “I guess it depends on your perspective.”
“You mean seventeen and pregnant?”
She nodded. “And you’re certain that you’re pregnant?”
Sophie explained the test. How she did it once with only six seconds of flow, then did it again, and then did it a third time with another test. “But it was the same result every time—they were all positive. Do you think I did it wrong?”
Mary just made another note.
“I thought the first test was an old one. The box looked kind of old, and I got it from this weird little drugstore, and . . . well, I wondered, do those tests have some kind of a shelf life?”
“Sometimes a test can be faulty.”
“The second test, well, I accidentally dropped one wand in the toilet. And then the other one was, well, positive.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to be retested.”
“Like maybe I’m not really—”
“When was your last period?” Mary skimmed the form, then pointed to the line that Sophie had filled in. “The first week of August?”
“I think so. I wasn’t really paying attention, you know. But I’d been at this camp—a youth camp I worked at during August— for about a few days, I think.”
“Uh-huh.” She read down the form. “And you were sexually active afterward?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call it that. I mean, yes, I had sex. But it was the first time. I mean, I’d been a virgin until then.”
“You got pregnant the first time you had sex?” Mary looked dubious.
“I’d heard you couldn’t get pregnant the first time.”
Mary shook her head. “That’s not true.”
“So you got pregnant the first time you had sex?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I didn’t think it was possible. And then I had sex again.”
“So you were sexually active.”
“No. I only did it twice.”
“So . . . ,” Mary looked slightly impatient, “. . . you’re saying you had sex twice and you got pregnant?”
“That’s what happened.”
“Okay.” Mary picked up a pencil and fluttered it between her fingers. “So, can I assume that you didn’t use protection?”
“Not the first time.”
“The second time?”
“He had a condom . . . but it broke.”
“And he didn’t have a spare?”
Sophie just shook her head.
Mary wrote something down on a little pad. She ripped it off and handed it to Sophie.
“A prescription for birth control.”
“I don’t need this.” Had Mary even been listening to her? “Maybe you don’t need it right now, but after—”
“No. I won’t ever need it. I don’t plan on having sex again.”
“Not until I get married. And I don’t plan on getting married until I’m . . . at least thirty.”
“You don’t say.”
“Seriously.” Sophie shoved the paper back at her. “I don’t need this.”
“You didn’t need it before . . . before August?”
“No. I just should’ve stuck to my pledge.”
“Let me guess—you made an abstinence pledge?”
“A purity pledge.”
“Would you be surprised to hear that a lot of girls make and break that same pledge? And that a lot of girls end up sitting right where you are telling me the exact same story?”
“The exact same story?”
“Well, not exactly. But they don’t plan on having sex. They’re committed to wait until marriage. But then something happens. A boyfriend pressures them. They have an irrepressible urge. Even date rape.”
Sophie sat up straighter. She could feel tears coming on again.
“Then they’re pregnant. And scared and desperate.”
“Yes.” She held out the prescription again. “You’re sure you don’t want this?”
“It’s your choice.”
“My body. My choice.” Sophie heard the sarcasm in her voice.
“So you’re positive you want to terminate this pregnancy?” Sophie nodded, trying to appear confident. And trying to shut down that little voice that was inside of her, screaming,
Stop! Stop! Stop this nonsense and get out of this place
“Because adoption is an option.”
“Not for me.” Sophie resisted the urge to cover her ears with her hands—not that it would make any difference, since the words she wanted to block were on the inside, not the outside.
“I understand.” Mary made a note on Sophie’s form, then looked up. “Do you have any questions about the procedure?”
“I read the brochures.” Okay, that was a lie. But then, wasn’t everything about her life a big fat lie now?
Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!
Had she actually said those words aloud?
But Mary just nodded. “Good,” she said. “I’m glad you took the time.”
“So is that it then?”
Mary sighed. “I guess that’s it. Unless you have any questions.” She waited while Sophie tried to think of something to ask. “But if you don’t . . .”
“I don’t.” Sophie wanted to tell Mary to hurry it up, that if they waited one minute longer, it could be too late and that inner voice would have its way. Or else Sophie might lose her mind. Unless she’d already lost it.
“Okay then. I’ll pass this information on to the doctor. We’ll schedule you for a physical and—”
“Yes. That’s how it works.”
“You mean I can’t have it today?” Sophie’s hands fisted so tightly that her nails dug into her palms.
“Well, you can check with the receptionist. They might be able to fit in a physical.”
“Just a physical? What about—what about the—the procedure?”
“Yes. I mean, I thought that I was going to have it
“Yes!” Sophie felt like she was falling, tumbling down into a pitch-black hole of hopelessness. “That’s why I came!”
“I understand your sense of urgency. Trust me, you’re not alone.”
alone.” Sophie was crying now.
“I know it’s an emotional time. But you need to be examined by the doctor, and he may want to do another pregnancy test just to be sure—”
Sophie’s legs were shaking as she stood up. “I need to go.”
“Don’t forget to make an appointment with the—”
“No.” Sophie’s voice was too loud. “Of course I won’t forget.” Then she walked out of Mary’s office and right past the receptionist’s desk. Without saying a word, she turned down the dark corridor and headed straight for the back door. She felt numb as she exited the building and got into her car.
As if on autopilot, she drove home, where she intended to simply lie down on her bed and just die. After all, she was partially dead already, right?
“Why’d you blow off yearbook committee yesterday?” Wes asked Sophie during journalism class.
“I had a dentist appointment.” Another lie. Not that she was counting anymore. But Sophie knew she wasn’t a good liar. She kept her eyes on the computer screen, pretending to be absorbed in her work as she made some final tweaks to the front page of next week’s paper.
“You could’ve told someone.”
“Are you okay, Sophie?”
She looked blankly at him. What was he insinuating here? Did he suspect something? Was he able to see right past her cloak of deception? Just the same, she would not give him an inch. She scowled. “Do I not look okay?”
He made a crooked smile. “You look great. But that headline is a little strange.” He pointed to the screen and chuckled.
She stared at the headline that she’d just pasted and read it aloud. “‘Who Will Wear the Crow?’” She frowned. “Huh?”
“I think you dropped an
“Oh yeah. ‘Who Will Wear the Crown?’” She shook her head. “Duh.”
“But I do think it’d be amusing to see Katie Dannon wearing a crow on her head.”
“What makes you think Katie Dannon is going to win?”
“Just a hunch.”
Sophie inserted the
and hit save.
“Uh, speaking of homecoming . . .” Wes cleared his throat. “And crows.”
“Yeah . . . homecoming and crows.”
Sophie knew where he was going with this. She had to come up with a nice way to turn him down. Carrie Anne or not, Sophie did not want to go to that dance.