Excerpt From Unpacked

*Trigger warning the below goes in detail of my abortion story.*

Two months later I sat in grade twelve English class and tried not to throw up. I couldn’t avoid the smell of unwashed hair and damp, wrinkled clothes that wafted from the boy in front of me. The day before I had run out of my homeroom class too late and had thrown up in the hallway. The day before that, two girls from school had heard me in the washroom. I had hoped they thought I was bulimic. Just smile, I told myself. Smiling repressed the gag reflex and my desire to scream and cry and slap my teacher for not allowing me to leave the room.

I needed to wait three weeks before I could have the abortion. I told my mom. She cried, and blamed herself for not teaching me more about birth control. I told her we had used a condom but it broke and I had taken the morning after pill as well, but fell into the seventeenth percentile where it just didn’t work.

After the condom had broken I had the strange, terrifying, and confusing experience of cum oozing out of me while I sat over the toilet to pee. Impossible to know whether it was all accounted for. Once we were dressed, we had a cigarette on the cement block in the underground garage that led to his parents’ house.

“My family is very Catholic, and if you were to be pregnant,” Seth looked at me with worried but stern eyes. “I’d want to keep the baby.”

I avoided his intense gaze and quietly replied, “Oh… well–we’ll talk about that if it comes to it I guess.”

I broke up with Seth shortly after I found out. The thought of him made me feel queasy along with the thought of sex, cigarettes, or the appointment for the abortion I booked for three weeks time. When I was at his new apartment I could smell the pile of dirty clothes in the corner. I felt superhuman where my power was my sense of smell and yet I felt so weak at the same time. He sniffed a lot, like he was on coke, or holding back tears. He said he had just done a lot the night before, but I didn’t believe him. I looked at him with disgust. How could this be the father of the human forming inside of me? I told him I didn’t care about his religious beliefs; I’m not having this child. End of discussion.

During those coming weeks I thought about how trivial my past worries had been compared to having another life inside of me, and such a heavy decision. A decision I had to make that required action. An action that people protested against, that Seth and his family were against. I couldn’t tell anyone about it other than my mom and best friends, who had no clue how to relate to it. Our biggest concerns as teenagers were what to wear to a party or how to do our hair, whether our fake IDs were good enough, what rumour was spread about whom, who got wasted at the semi-formal and threw up in front of everyone.

I had to hide my morning sickness from my father, who I couldn’t bear to tell and have his disproval and look of judgement. My mom brought me crackers and a glass of water every morning when I woke up and I ran down to the basement bathroom to throw up with hopes he wouldn’t hear me.

In the clinic there was a poster of Cider House Rules on the wall, which I had read that summer, by chance. I usually smiled at the connections that The Universe gave me, as little nods that I am on the right path, but this sign disturbed me. From the book I knew a detailed description of the fetus I was about to abort. My name was called and I thought it was time for the operation but it was a slew of brief appointments: my mental state, whether I wanted to know if it were twins, if I would donate to stem cell research, an ultrasound. “I just want it over with really,” I said with quiet desperation. I passed the test for my mental state. For the nerves they gave me a tiny pill that made things feel fuzzy. I was taken aback at the question about twins. The thought never crossed my mind. I decided to donate to stem cell research. Mildly comforted that at the very least it could help someone. I looked at the ultrasound. It was so tiny. A little spec the size of a pencil’s eraser. So tiny and yet so significant. I found out I was rhesus negative. I didn’t know what that meant but I was told it was important next time I was pregnant and wanted to keep it.

I heard my name called. My legs were shaky and my stomach clenched with the weight of the action. What I did and said at that very moment would dramatically change my future. If I decided not to have the abortion, I wouldn’t graduate high school; it would be born in May. I would be connected to Seth for the rest of my life. My kid would grow up swearing between words and wearing baggy jeans. I wouldn’t go to university or travel.

I thought again of that little dot on the black and white photo, and vowed to it and to myself that I was going to have an extraordinary life and that this shall not be done in vain. There wasn’t an inkling of doubt that a different path was calling me. Desperately urging me to graduate from high school, go to university as far away from my critical father as possible, test the boundaries of true freedom I could experience as a young adult, before I could consider child rearing. Behind a curtain, I lay on my back with my feet in the holster, my bum at the edge of the gurney. The nurse held my hand and asked me what I was going to have for dinner, where I will go, who was waiting for me to take me home. I whimpered in pain and tears ran down my cheeks.

It was over. Physically.

Unpacked is set to release June 11th. Pre order your copy now. www.barefootdaughter.com/unpacked

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