A Scarlet Letter

Reader’s note – piece contains potentially triggering language involving a woman’s right to choose

No regrets about the decision, but it hurt like hell.

Worse actually. There really isn’t an accurate way to describe that pain. The discomfort. The sound of the machine. The biggest needle ever manufactured. The gray, shiny room. The cold, clean sterile floor. Even thinking of it now brings about a quickened heartbeat. A pulsing in my veins that reminds me of muted innocence.

I’d met a man one day. In the diner where I was finishing up my shift. He stopped at the dessert case and suddenly all I could feel were eyes stinging the back of my neck as I wiped down the counter-top. He was tall, muscular, fit with big, big lips and these eyes that looked at me like steak. He was twelve years my senior and knew what to say and do to hold my attention. It was too late.

I kept feeling sick.

I couldn’t shake it and I didn’t know why. I assumed it was because I was working so many hours, double shifts making ends meet and constantly on the go. Then one day, I slept through an entire shift. A whole day gone. That never happened before. Prided myself on reliability. Of course, when I called my manager, Hugh, he was a complete asshole. Docked my pay for the day. When I did make it in for my next shift, the once familiar smells from the grill triggering hunger suddenly made me ill. It was then it all became clear and I knew, I was pregnant. Shit.

He was the kind of guy good at only a few things. Just good-looking enough for a girl fresh off a break up. Someone to bide time. Good for taking my mind off issues surrounding my broken heart. It wasn’t supposed to be anything serious.

My most immediate thought? No, I can’t be a mother. Not now.

Laying there on the cushioned table, with a thin piece of paper between my body and what was just around the corner. The white gown and a gaping slit up my back. The doctor came in and explained it all again once more to me. This was my last chance to run. He broke it down to the very sensations. The nurse held my hand through the whole thing. I flinched, she clenched. I cried, she wiped my tears. I whimpered, she told me to breathe. “One more, we’re done.”

By far, the most painful lesson ever.

The day I told him, he didn’t take it well. At all… Called me nearly everything but my name and completely refused to share responsibility. He was already a father a few times over and wanted more. Called me a different ‘breed’ of woman because I wasn’t lining up to be another “baby mama.” We’d barely even known each other a month. No way was I to commit my life to a stranger just because we got… hot. Looking back now, I still know it was the right choice. No matter how difficult the recovery, suffering and repercussions. I was ill-equipped. I still am.

“A”. A different scarlet letter, but I wear you everyday.

-Olive Benson

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