Tell yourself that it’s just late. That you’ve been exercising a lot recently. Do mental math.
Joke about it with your friends. Don’t tell your boyfriend. Buy a box of tampons at CVS and give your change to the homeless woman outside for karma. Put the tampons on your shelf, right there, by your bed. Let their perfume nauseate you at night. Hold your breath when you slide off your underwear. Wear white jeans.
After a week, go to Google. Can you get pregnant on the Pill? Click the top hit. Scroll, scroll, scroll, scan stories from women who did everything right but now can’t imagine their lives without their tiny little baby. Shut your computer. Look at your stomach in the mirror. Poke it. Ask yourself if it’s just fat or if it’s your uterus expanding. Reach no conclusion. Put on a big T-shirt.
Go out with your friends that night and wear your slinkiest thong, red, the one your boyfriend gave you for his birthday. Drink. Have a rum and coke, and a vodka red bull and three tequila shots with the old guys at the bar that you run away from as soon as the last sip burns down your throat. Don’t care that you’re mixing your alcohols.
Go to another bar and buy your own shots. Wonder if the last one you took will be enough to get rid of anything inside you. Realize what you just thought. Feel like an awful person. Stop drinking.
Feel bloated and crampy the next day. Reach for your computer anyways. Signs of early pregnancy. Realize that PMS and early pregnancy are identical. Say Fuck loud enough for your roommate to look up from her theatre criticism reading and make a face at you.
Check the calendar app on your phone and realize it’s been a week and a half. Feel your heartbeat quicken and try not to cry so your roommate doesn’t notice anything because if you explain this to her then it’ll feel real, it’ll be like you actually could be–Stop yourself. Don’t say the word.
Finally tell your boyfriend over FaceTime and watch his brows furrow, pixilated, reminding you of the caterpillars you used to pick off the oak trees in kindergarten. Try to stop thinking about kids.
Make a pact with him that tomorrow you’ll go and get a test, the thing you’ve been wanting to do and not wanting to do since you bought those tampons, those tampons you can still smell when you go to sleep. But if you buy a test that means you’ll have to take it, that means it could actually be positive which would mean–
Listen to your boyfriend tell you that you can’t think that way.
Go in the morning. Most people have class in the morning, but not you, not on Mondays and that feels like a good sign to you. Walk through the revolving door of CVS and feel the rush of heat. Unzip your jacket and grab a basket because you can’t just carry a pregnancy test in hand to the register. Consider wearing your ring on your ring finger and decide against it because it wouldn’t fool anyone anyways.
Go to the feminine care aisle and stop. Immediately walk past it because there’s someone there, a someone your age, looking at pads, so very clearly not worried about being pregnant and wish that you could be her, buying pads, even though they’re gross and you haven’t worn one since middle school.
Look at the snacks, perpendicular to the period aisle. Make the observation that a woman must have designed the store.
Think about the truth you always said to yourself, that you supported other women’s choices but you could never, no never, get an abortion, and think about how naïve you were a week ago. And think about the congressmen with their suits and their briefcases and their penises and how they’ve never felt like this, this swooping feeling, like you’re standing with your toes over the edge of a cliff and you just looked down.
Look down the aisle again and see that she’s gone, that girl you wanted to be, and dart in there and pretend to look at the tampons at the end of the row, by the pharmacy, right next to the tests. Scope them out out of the corner of your eye and find the second-cheapest one because the cheapest one might not work and you can’t take that chance. Feel the pharmacist watching you.
Time it perfectly so that you grab it right when the pharmacist looks away and stuff it under your jacket in your basket. Go immediately to the self-check out lane. Look at the floor while you walk.
On the way out, realize that you don’t have any quarters to give to the homeless lady and promise that you’ll come back and give her $5 if it’s negative, even if it’s snowing you promise you’ll come back. Feel confident in your bribe, because what God would deny a homeless woman $5?
Go immediately into the bathroom when you get home and peel off your coat, taking the blue and pink box out of your pocket. Open it carefully, gently, like it’s a sensitive weapon that could blow up and kill you and realize that it is, really.
Unfurl the instructions and read them twice, practicing your yoga breathing. Remember why you quit yoga in the first place. Read the instructions in Spanish, look at the pictures, read them in English once again. Get a rush of adrenaline, like you did before the starting whistle of your lacrosse games, and decide that you’re just going to do it. Right now.
Yank down your leggings and your thong—blue, this time—and sit on the toilet. Uncap the test. Notice that it looks like a paintbrush. Scoot back on the seat and spread your legs like you’re used to, like you’re at the doctor for a UTI. Peer down. Hold it under you, hand in the toilet bowl, resting against the edge of the rim. Wish that your boyfriend was here. Curse yourself for getting into a long distance relationship. Decide against calling him.
Take three deep breaths and force yourself to relax, will your pelvic muscles down. Do this for a minute before they loosen enough that you can pee. Feel it stream down you, snaking down your butt cheek before it drops in the bowl and wonder if the test is getting wet. Get some on your hand because its shaking so much but don’t stop to wipe it off because you need this test to be perfect.
Finish peeing and cap the test with the little plastic cap. Like the click that it makes. Set it facedown on top of the toilet paper dispenser, perfectly flat, just like the instructions say.
Sit naked from the wait down on the toilet seat, pants still at your ankles. Put your elbows on your knees and your head in your hands and try the yoga breathing again.
Feel the urge to pray but decide against it, because God told you not to have sex but you did, here you are, so it’s not really his fault if you get pregnant, is it?
Check your phone five times in the next minute. Watch the clock turn to 9:42. Wait another minute just to be sure.
Reach for the test. Lift it up, slowly, peeling it off the dispenser like you’re opening the lid to Pandora’s box.
Look at the white oval and see if there’s one line, or two.
Either way, cry.