It was just after dusk on a hot summer’s day, the sort that sticks to your skin, heavy and humid. I was 17 and I leaned my head against the cool of the bathroom tiles and waited for something inanimate to reroute the journey that fate had preordained for me. The wait was arduous and long, the sort that makes you restless, stomach knotted like a rope with nerves. Thoughts preoccupied my brain, the sort that hadn’t existed before; thoughts of what if, what could be, what can never be.
As the pregnancy test cast its verdict, the plunge in my stomach felt akin to somebody grabbing hold of my organs and squeezing, contorting and tugging them. I felt sick, scared, shaken; the prospects I’d laid down for my future were like lily pads on a pond, floating further and further into the dimness.
I was one of the lucky teenagers, though. There were services available to me, and others like me, that employed women with soft hands and voices to look after me and tend to me as my body expelled a child I didn’t know had been growing. the woman at the hospital on the day of my abortion had crystal blue eyes that were surrounded by a constellation of shallow lines; in her, I saw hope, I saw a way out.