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Innocent Decisions: Revised Edition
“Has it been six minutes yet?”
Adam watched Gabriella as her head shot up, tendrils of untamed ginger hair slapping the air around her. She stared blankly at him for a moment as if she had difficulty understanding what he had said. Slowly, she peeled her bloodshot eyes away and glanced down at the thin pregnancy test in her hands.
“No, four and a half more minutes to go,” she finally responded. Adam heaved a sigh and ran his fingers through his curly hair. An uncomfortable silence engulfed the closet-sized bathroom. The brightness of the mint green walls burned Adam’s eyes, further irritating his throbbing head. The hue was more obnoxious than usual. Massaging his temples gently, Adam began to pace up and down the length of the room.
“Are you sure you, you know, did it right?” He halted mid-step, waiting for his girlfriend’s answer. Gabriella sighed loudly and retorted,
“I think I can pee on a stick, thank you.” Adam ignored her and continued pacing, muttering prayers under his breath. He felt her gaze fixed upon him but said nothing, unsure of what words could ease their tension. Theirs was an undesirable reality.
Gabriella placed the pregnancy test next to the sink and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Can you just stay still for, like, a second?” She exclaimed, covering her eyes with her hands. “You’re making me anxious.”
“Anxious?” Adam repeated. “Anxious. That’s an understatement of how I’m feeling right now.” Try terrified, misanthropic, infuriated. He turned away from her and slammed his fist against the door. “Damn it!”
“Will you just calm down?” She hissed. Lovingly, she pushed herself off of the counter and placed a gentle hand upon his shoulder. “Your attitude isn’t really helping.” Immediately, Adam shoved her hand off of him and turned to face her.
“My attitude? How the hell did you expect me to react to this, Gab? For Christ’s sake, you might be pregnant!” He looked straight at her with a wounded expression painted on his face- a look of betrayal. “You promised that you were taking the pill.”
Gabriella scowled. “I was. But we still should have used-”
“Jesus, Gabby, it was one time!”
“Well, still!” She glanced down at her watch. “Three more minutes.”
“This is hardly my fault.”
“You’re right,” she said sarcastically. “It’s mine. Just like everything else.”
“Oh, stop acting like you’re the victim here,” Adam grumbled. Gabriella laughed maliciously.
“Yeah, it’s not possible that I’m carrying a baby or anything. You’re the one acting like the victim here. As if you were the one whose future would be entirely changed!”
“This will affect everything for me!” He shouted viciously. “I’m going to college- to Dartmouth. How am I supposed to get a job, make money? How am I supposed to…” Adam winced. “…Raise a family? Be a father? If that damn test’s positive, my life is over.” Gabriella heaved an irritated sigh, replying,
“Shut up. This is hardly the worst thing that could happen to you.”
“What in God’s name could possibly be worse than this?”
“Oh, I- I don’t know! Just stop yelling!” She punched the door out of frustration. “Damn it!”
Adam shook his head and swore incoherently as he turned away from her. For a moment they stood in complete silence, waiting for the other to say something, anything. Suddenly, he opened his mouth and blurted the thought that he’d been tossing back and forth in his mind since learning of his girlfriend’s possible pregnancy.
“I knew we should have waited.” He spoke softly and frankly. Upon hearing this, Gabriella burst into a spiteful fit of laughter.
“That’s not the impression I got that night,” she spat. Deepening her voice to match Adam’s, she mocked, “‘I love you Gabby. We’ve been together almost two years, and we love each other so, so much. I think we should take our relationship to the next level. It’s time we make our commitment official’.” Her mimicking ceased, and Adam watched harshly as her face contorted into a severely serious expression. “Admit it: the problem here isn’t that you might have gotten a girl pregnant-”
“Well let’s hope to God that you’re not.” Adam interrupted, rubbing the palm of his hand over his eyes. He could sense her anger brewing as she slowly and deeply inhaled.
“The problem is that the girl is me.”
He rolled his eyes incredulously.
“Now who’s being dramatic?”
“Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know it’s true. You’re freaking out because out of all the girls in the world, it’s me you might have knocked up. Me. The ‘daughter of a mindless alcoholic and druggie bum'. The ‘skinny girl with no prestigious background or prospects for a respectable future’.”
“Jesus, where do you get this crap from?”
“You can pretend all you want, Adam, but I know you only started dating me to piss your parents off. I know what they say about me when they think I can’t hear them. I know they, and even you, think I’m just trash.”
Adam looked down at his feet, unsure of how to respond.
“Come on, Gabs,” he finally whispered, afraid to look her in the eyes. “Don’t try to make this into something it’s not. You know I love you.”
“Then why are you making this all about you? You never planned on taking our relationship this far, and you know it.” Her voice shook, and Adam could tell she was fighting back tears. She needed to be calmed, and he knew he was the one she needed comfort from. Yet, he had no idea what to do. How could he stroke her hair and wipe away her tears without spoon-feeding her more self-serving lies? Overwhelmed with guilt, he leaned against the tacky wall and said,
“My parents had- have- my whole life planned out for me. Dartmouth, Law School, and then a powerful position in my dad’s firm. But falling in love with you, this pregnancy thing,” he gestured towards the pregnancy test. “They weren’t exactly a part of it.”
Gabriella looked into his eyes apathetically before she glanced down at her watch.
“Well, you’ve got about sixty seconds to think of a back-up plan.”
Gabriella’s wristwatch ticked as they waited. Neither of them dared to speak, let alone move. They just stared at the tiny hands pushing across the clock face.
With thirty seconds left, Gabriella locked her petrified eyes with Adam’s.
“What are we going to do if it’s positive?” She asked, suddenly desperate and vulnerable. “What’s going to happen to us?”
“Everything will be okay,” Adam assured her, though his tone suggested that he was unsure himself what would happen. Putting on a confident face for his girlfriend, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “We’ll be okay.”
“How?” She whimpered, and he gulped hesitantly.
“If you’re pregnant, we’ll get through this together. We’ll get married, and raise the baby as a family. It’s what’s right.” The girl sniffled as silent tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Your parents would never let you ruin your future like that.” Quickly, he responded,
“My future is you. No matter what my parents say. I love you, Gabby.”
“I love you, too.”
“How much time is there left?” They both glimpsed at the watch.
Five. Four. Three. Two…
“I can’t look!” Gabriella exclaimed, handing the test to her boyfriend. Adam reluctantly accepted it, the piece of plastic feeling heavy in his hands. For a moment he stared at it blankly. The moment of truth, he thought, and finally, he flipped it over to examine the result.
“Jesus,” he whispered. Gabriella tugged long strands of her hair and hysterically cried,
“Oh God, I’m pregnant!” She began to cry harder. The boy rushed towards her and grabbed her hand.
“Damn it, Gabriella, no, it’s negative! You’re not pregnant! It’s negative!”
“What?” Unconvinced, the girl ripped her hand from his and grabbed the pregnancy test out of his hand. Seeing for herself that the result was indeed negative, she dropped it on the bathroom floor and sat upon the toilet, cradling her face in her hands. “Oh, thank God.”
“Everything’s okay,” he whispered, more to himself than to his girlfriend. “Just like I said. Everything is okay.” He closed his eyes and sunk to the ground. It was as though the weight of the entire universe had left his shoulders, but Adam could not bring himself to enjoy it, knowing that there had been an equal chance of the worst-case scenario coming true. Instead of melting to the floor as a teenager in love, he could have been melting to the floor as a father. Instead of heading off to college, he could have been heading down the aisle towards failure, towards the demise of any future that destiny had once prepared for him. As much as he wished it were not true, Adam knew that getting Gabriella pregnant would have been like signing his own death certificate.
But he loved her. She was the most amazing girl he’d ever met: funny, witty, and beautiful. Had she been born under different circumstances, Adam was certain that his parents would have loved her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t, and the reality of their situation was just too large to ignore. Their worlds were polar opposites, and no matter how tenacious their love was, it could never last. He’d tried to fight it, and he’d tried to deny it, but now Adam acknowledged the truth. He’d been lying through his teeth from the start. Love does not always prevail. Like Romeo and Juliet, he and Gabriella were star-crossed lovers, never meant to be together. From their first kiss to the scene in the bathroom, they had been living in a dream, and it was time to wake up.
Gabriella dried her cheeks with the back of her hand. Sighing, she wrapped her fingers around Adam’s and gazed lovingly into his eyes.
“This doesn’t change anything between us, right?” She asked him. He nodded his head without looking at her, afraid that she would see the falsehood painted on his face.
“Let’s just never talk about this again. We’ll pretend this little incident never happened.”
“Yes,” He lied to her, slowly freeing his sweaty hand from her grasp. “And everything will go back to the way it was.”