“I don’t want to have it”

Once Christy stopped crying, she curled into a ball on her futon and let Ramon cradle her in his arms, her back to his chest, as he leaned against the bedroom wall. Her face was pale, her features etched in sadness. They’d been staring silently into space for a long while, watching the flickering shadows cast by the candles she’d placed around the room. She was grateful Ramon wasn’t pushing her to talk. At least he knew. The easy part was over.

Although she hadn’t put her feelings into words even to herself, she knew she had to take the next step. Gathering courage around her like a cape, Christy cleared her throat, turned to face Ramon, and whispered, “I don’t want to have it.”

Ramon didn’t answer right away. The intense, serious look on his face didn’t give her any clues.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, help us sinners now and at the hour of our death, she prayed silently, clenching a soggy tissue in her right hand.

Finally, Ramon looked at her and whispered, “Neither do I.”

“Well, that’s good,” said Christy, releasing a huge sigh. “I was so afraid you might….”

“I know. You were thinking Puerto Ricans don’t have abortions. But that’s not true. I know several girls….”

“You never got anyone pregnant before, did you?”

“Of course not. Have you ever been pregnant before?”

“Of course not. You know you’re the first and only.”

“I know.”

“Besides, I wasn’t thinking about ‘Puerto Ricans,’” Christy protested, making quotation marks with her fingers. “I was thinking about you.”

Ramon nodded. “Just checking.”

“I wish you weren’t so sensitive about being Puerto Rican.”

“I’m not ‘sensitive,’ Christy. Please. I’m proud of being Puerto Rican.”

“Just checking.”

“OK, OK.”

They linked little fingers and pulled tight.

“How much does an abortion cost?”

“Skye’s mom said about $275, but some places might have a sliding scale. We could put it on a credit card and pay it off.”

“Oh, great,” Ramon snickered, “I can just imagine Poppi asking me if I know anything about a $275 charge for Planned Parenthood.”

Christy took a strand of hair and stuck it in her mouth. “But ­Harriet — that’s Skye’s mom — told me we could use her credit card if we needed to.”

“That’s real nice. But,” he said, staring sternly at her, “I would have liked you to talk about it with me first.”

“I couldn’t,” she said defensively. “I was too afraid to take the test alone. I had to have Skye with me. Besides, I was afraid you’d say we had to keep it.”

“Well, now you don’t have to worry about that.”

Reaching out to stroke his cheek, she said, “I’m grateful for that. Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. It’s real simple. We can’t be parents now. We have our whole lives ahead of us. Now is not the time.”

“Exactly.” She paused. “Do you think we have to tell our parents? I really don’t want to.”

“No, let’s not.”

“I felt comfortable talking about getting an abortion with Skye’s mom. But I can’t imagine telling Mom. She’d go ballistic.”
Snapshots of her mother flipped through Christy’s mind — sewing kitchen curtains, trimming a client’s hair in the shop Dad had made in the basement, cooking dinner. Always cheerful, always striving to make everything nice for everyone, always trying to do the right thing, Mom would be horrified. What had she said two years ago when she took Christy to Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills? “I don’t want the same thing to happen to you that happened to me.” Christy couldn’t tell her.

“Mami, too. She’d be furious — even if it was an accident.”

“I’ve got to think about it like that. It’s not like we were screwing around without protection. Accidents happen.”

“But you’re pregnant. That’s all that matters.”

“But it was a mistake,” said Christy, flailing her hands as tears rose in her eyes. “You know it was a mistake. The doctor should have asked me when he gave me the antibiotics if I was taking the birth control pill. He should have warned me. Or the pharmacist should have. Or the gynecologist should have told me when he gave me the pills. Somebody should have told me.”

“Baby, I know,” said Ramon, pushing down her hands, trying to soothe her. “But they didn’t, and here we are.”

“Could you stop calling me ‘baby’ now?” she snapped. “It really upsets me.”

“Sorry.”

“You know my parents had to get married, don’t you? Because of me,” Christy said matter of factly, staring at Ramon. She refused to feel guilty. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t ask to get born that way.

Ramon whistled. “Yeah, you told me when you were going to get the pill. Are you worried that if you tell your parents, they’ll make you have the kid?”

Christy nodded, sucking on her hair.

“But they can’t make you. It’s your decision.”

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