[This is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, Shades of Our Reality. Comments are appreciated! :) Rated PG-13 because Marron has a dirty mouth when she's upset.]
Marron was sure she was pregnant. She fell through my (second story, I’m not really sure how she managed it) bedroom window in a panic that was making her usual graceful self quite clumsy, and I would have laughed if…well, if I were the sort of person who laughs when her friend is in a precarious state of mind, and even more possibly precarious state of physical well-being.
“Marron, honey, listen, shh. It’s going to be okay,” I hushed her, moving the palm of my right hand in what I hoped were comforting circles on her back. The burgundy corduroy of her jacket (burgundy drew attention to the fiery red colour she’d been dying her naturally blonde hair since seventh grade) had dew from the roof – do roofs gather dew? – collected between the wale ridges, making it stiff and cold and boy would she have been pissed, had she been in any condition to focus on her clothes at the moment. Marron never leaves her house – not even her room – without checking, double checking, and triple quadruple extra checking that the outfits covering her perfect model-height body are exactly 100.1 percent drop-dead gorgeous. She never wears suede shoes in the winter, never mixes plaid with stripes, never pairs skinny jeans with a skinny top (exceptions are made for clubbing) or loose pieces together (“A skirt and that hoodie, Emilia? The skirt’s cute, but what in hell is with the paper bag look? Darling, there's these things called hips. You have them. Don’t be afraid of them!”). She never wears socks with her Birkenstocks – only perfectly pedicured toes in some outrageous shade of teal, probably. And, though her obsessive love of all things fashion may seem frightening at first (and still is to me, at times), Marron never brushes me off, never judges my writing too harshly without cause, and never panics. She’s good in stressful situation.
“Fuck, this is my new Elizabeth and James blazer!”
Marron never fails to surprise me.
“It’s okay, Mar, that’s not the major problem at hand, I’m pretty sure a bit of water won’t hurt corduroy – I machine wash my corduroy bell-bottoms all the time,” I babbled, thinking that perhaps talking about fashion would cheer her up. It didn’t work.
“You wear corduroy bell-bottoms!? Oh, just let me burn them. Please, it’ll make me feel so much better.” Hey, I like my bell-bottoms!
“Is that you or the hormones talking?” Oops, wrong thing to say.
Marron burst into tears. (And I felt properly ashamed.) “I don’t know what to do, Em,” she sobbed against my shoulder. “I can’t tell my parents, and I hate kids, and I hate pregnant ladies too, because they’re so creepy! And anyway, I wouldn’t be able to fit into any of my clothes once I got big! What would I wear, maternity clothes!?” Her eyes, watery and blue and looking as much like two miniature oceans as anything that wasn’t even one miniature ocean could look, grew big at this unfathomable horror. Oh, that would be her biggest worry. But at least after exhaling all of her worries in one breath, she seemed in less danger of hyperventilating.
“So the pregnancy test definitely had a little pink plus? You’re sure?” I was going entirely by what I’d seen in movies…but there had to be some basis in reality for that. In any case, maybe somehow, some way, she’d managed to read the test wrong. Maybe she was mistaken. By now her hiccupping sobs had mostly quieted and I patted her back gently before moving my hand to her shoulder in a sort of half-hug, which felt slightly less awkward. Marron seemed to sense my awkwardness and put on a somewhat-brave smile, pulling away from my arm and turning to face me. She picked up my left hand and played with my fingers in an odd habit of hers, and it was a few minutes before she looked up.
“Oh. Pregnancy test? I never said anything about a pregnancy test. I didn’t take one. No, can you imagine walking up to the register at Walgreen’s with a box of those? I’d die of embarrassment! That pretty much labels your forehead with ‘stupid slut’, in capital, neon lime green letters. And lime green doesn’t go with anything, you know. Plus, then there’d be documented security camera footage.” She paused, shuddering. “What if my dad saw?”
Marron’s dad had a job in the CIA. No one was really sure what he did, but as kids we used to pretend he could see us from every security camera. We’d wave to him when we saw them; in fact, there were probably secret security people who told stories around their dinner tables about two weird ten-year-old girls they always saw waving manically at the cameras.
“So…you…didn’t take a pregnancy test?” Now I was confused.
“Uh, no. But I can tell.”
“Oh, can you?”
“Yes! My period is…” Mar stopped playing with my hand so she could count on her fingers, “four days late. And I’m always regular. Always!”
“Oookay…but you know, that doesn’t automatically make you pregnant. You could be stressed, or anxious, or consuming too much fiber, or…something. Maybe spirits have occupied your uterus? That’s probably a more plausible cause of pregnancy, come to think of it. You haven’t been practicing voodoo, have you? Maybe they’re here for revenge!” I am so coherent in sticky situations. I make so much sense, you could call me Miss Sensible. Or Sensibility Girl. Or the Sense Machine. But…don’t. Because that would be stupid.
“How can you joke about this!?”
“I’m not joking, Mar, I’m entirely serious. Voodoo is not a laughing matter.”
"I hate you." Mar smiled a bit as she spoke, then went back to playing with my hand.
I smiled back, then frowned when a thought struck me. "So. I just have to ask...who, ah, made you think you were pregnant? I mean...who's the father? If there is a father - can you have an accidental pregnancy without sex? Walk into a sperm bank and trip? Boom, pregnant?" I had avoided this question up until now but it really was rather important. If my best friend was pregnant, I needed to know which bastard to beat up. Or rather, plot to beat up and then never actually confront because he'd probably be three times taller than me and seven-point-six times as strong. But a girl can dream.
Marron paused. "Sex?" I nodded. It's not like it was an accusation - more of a valid conclusion, given the circumstances. "No. You know me, Em, I wouldn't do that. Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm not a whore. I just like to flirt!" She looked insulted at the very thought and I wonder how she can't grasp the grounds of my worry here.
"You're sure? I mean, under some circumstances they say you can't remember. Drugs and such..."
"Oh, now you're jumping to drugs!?"
"I...I...well, what else am I supposed to think? You come here saying you're PREGNANT, haven't had sex, and haven't even taken a pregnancy test. I'm trying not to panic but you're not giving me very much to work with here!" My throat hurt now from whisper-shouting, and I immediately regretted taking out my frustration on Mar, who needed my help, pregnant or not.
"Here, let me see if my mum has any..." I stood up and began to walk towards my bedroom door. It was weird to think about, but my mother was a relatively young woman and somewhere in the bathroom she probably had, "...pregnancy tests."
I didn't want to leave Marron alone but the prospect of clearing up this confusion once and for all propelled me towards the bathroom that my mother and I shared. I tip-toed, just as a precaution, but as Mum was a really deep sleeper, I wasn't worried. The bathroom was three doors down the hallway from my room; I approached the door, eased it open, and turned a sort of pirouette in order to enter the narrow room and flip the light switch on the wall opposite the door. Whoever built this godforsaken house must have had something against kids who were afraid of the dark. Not that I was. A kid, that is. Now that the light was on, I relaxed, and began rummaging through the drawers on my mum's side of the sink.
First drawer - toothpaste, hair brush, facial cleanser, assorted beauty products. Second drawer - tampons, homeopathic remedies galore, and a hair drier. Her methods of bathroom organization sort of worry me. Third drawer - extra toilet paper, hand towels, and a-HAH! Pregnancy tests. Four. Four? I tried not to think too hard about why she'd feel the need to have four pregnancy tests on hand, but...I guess she won't miss one.
"MARRON!" I didn't bother containing myself with a whisper this time. I grabbed the test, ran back to my room to grab my friend, then dragged them both back to the bathroom to spend some time together.
“Go. Pee. Now.”
I paced anxiously in the hallway (after turning all the lights on) for what seemed like five minutes. It was probably five-point-three. When I heard the door unlatching, I jumped.
"Did you...is it...what...are...?"
"Negative," she grinned. "You can breathe now, hon."
"I...ah...well. That's a relief," I took a few breaths. "What would we have told your girlfriend?"