Release date: February 5, 2019
Genre: Psychological Thriller
When I told Abi that I was pregnant, she was, obviously, all wide eyes and concerned. Shocked. Yes, I admit she was bubbling a bit with the drama of it all. That was not her fault—we were only nineteen and I didn’t know how to react appropriately, so how could I expect her to know? We were both a little giddy.
“How far on are you?” she asked.
“I think about two months.” I later discovered at that point I was officially ten weeks pregnant, because of the whole “calculate from the day you started your last period” thing, but that catch-all calculation never really washed with me because I knew the exact date I’d conceived.
Wednesday, the first week of the first term, my second year at university. Stupidly, I’d had unprotected sex right slap bang in the middle of my cycle. That—combined with my youth—meant that one transgression was enough. And even now, a lifetime on, I feel the need to say it wasn’t like I made a habit out of doing that sort of thing. In all my days, I’ve had irresponsible, unprotected sex precisely once.
“Then there’s still time. You could abort,” Abigail had said simply. She did not shy away from the word. We were young. The power, vulnerability and complexity of our sexuality was embryonic, but our feminist rights were forefront of our minds. My body, my choice, my right. A young, independent woman, I didn’t have to be saddled with the lifetime consequences of one night’s mistake.
There had been a girl on my course who’d had a scare in the first year. I’d been verbose about her right to choose and I’d been clear that I thought she should terminate the pregnancy, rather than her education. The girl in question had agreed; so had Abi and pretty much everyone who knew of the matter. She hadn’t been pregnant, though. So. Well, you know, talk is cheap, isn’t it?She’s the chief financial officer of one of the biggest international fast-moving consumer goods corporations now. I saw her pop up on Facebook a couple of years ago. CFO of an FMCG. I Googled the acronyms. She accepted my friend request, which was nice of her, but she rarely posts. Too busy, I suppose. Anyway, I digress.
I remember looking Abi in the eye and saying, “No. No, I can’t abort.”
“You’re going ahead with it?” Her eyes were big and unblinking.
“Yes.” It was the only thing I was certain of. I already loved the baby. It had taken me by surprise but it was a fact.
“And will you put it up for adoption or keep it?”
“I’m keeping my baby.” We both sort of had to suppress a shocked snigger at that, because it was impossible not to think of Madonna. That song came out when I was about five years old but it was iconic enough to be something that was sung in innocence throughout our childhoods. The tune hung, incongruously, in the air. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the irony hit me: an anthem of my youth basically heralded the end to exactly that.
“OK then,” she said, “you’re keeping your baby.”
Abigail instantly accepted my decision to have my baby and that was a kindness. An unimaginably important and utterly unforgettable kindness. She didn’t argue that there were easier ways, that I had choices, the way many of my other friends subsequently did.
Nor did she suggest that I might be lucky and lose it, the way a guy in my tutorial later darkly muttered. I know he behaved like an arsehole because before I’d got pregnant, he’d once clumsily come on to me one night in the student bar. I was having none of it. I guess he had mixed feelings about me being knocked up, torn between, “Ha, serves the bitch, right” and “So, she does put out. Why not with me?” I tell you, there’s a lot of press about the wrath of a woman scorned, but men can be pretty vengeful, too.