You know what's super fun to do when you're bored? Take a pregnancy test!
Especially when you've had unprotected sex (admit it--condoms suck) and your period's one week late, even though it never comes on time anyway and when it does it lasts ten fucking days. So wait and wait and hope and wait, and then go out and buy whichever brand is on sale. Try to get the one that's supposed to be able to detect pregnancy up to "five days sooner" than the others. Those two-for-one boxes are great, too, because then you can take the test again when you still don't get your period after another week goes by.
If you plan to go out that night, don't take the test right away because if it's positive you'll be all depressed. So put it off until you have nothing better to do and tons of time to cry and figure out how you're going to come up with the money for an abortion--even though you're super scared of having an abortion and don't want to be one of "those women" and think it will be so emotionally and physically traumatizing that it won't be worth it. Of course, you've considered for two seconds having the potential child because people have done it, but you know that the potential father is an asshole and probably won't want anything to do with it and will just resent you for fucking up his life even more than he already has.
Try not to pee for as many hours as possible because then the hormones that indicate pregnancy will be denser in your urine. Read the directions in their entirety before beginning. Remember those tests you had to take in junior high with the instructions that say "Read all questions before answering"? But you start answering them right away, and then when you get to the end it says "Now only answer every other question starting with number 2." It's sort of like that. You have to know before you start that you can only hold the Absorbent Tip in the urine stream for five seconds, and then you point the test stick down as you replace the Overcap, and then lay it on a flat surface with the Result Window facing up for three minutes. You can't be midstream while you're reading the instructions about what to do next because you can't count and read at the same time, unless you are some kind of genius, in which case you would not be taking a pregnancy test in the first place.
When you start peeing, don't stick the Absorbent Tip in the urine stream right away (if you've waited a good four or five hours or until you can't hold it anymore you'll be peeing for a lot longer than five seconds). Once the urine is coming out nice and straight, not spraying in a million different directions, then place the Absorbent Tip in the stream. Now, it's really hard to stop at exactly five seconds because once you've learned how to count you just want to go on and on, but make sure you remove the Absorbent Tip from the urine as soon as you hit Mississippi number five.
While you sit for those excruciating three minutes, have a cigarette and watch TV, keeping an eye on your computer screen as the seconds tick away in the upper right-hand corner. Feel your heart pound and steady your shaking hand by taking the longest puffs possible. Be sure that you are definitely pregnant because God wouldn't let you off this many times. Even though the asshole pulled out, those little spermies still could have made their way up into your uterus or fallopian tubes or wherever the hell that damn egg lurks.
Think about how you ended up in this unfortunate situation (yet again). After you'd been seeing (i.e., fucking) the asshole (the potential father of your potential child) for two months, he tells you he doesn't want a "relationship," even though you ditched the condoms about four weeks into the supposed nonrelationship. You can't really figure out why you let that happen but you secretly wanted to ditch the condoms too (because of the aforementioned sucking aspect) and never really talked to him about it, and you think that maybe it meant he loved you because he was willing to risk you getting pregnant. When you brought up the pill he said, "We should probably use condoms," but then the next time you had sex, he made no move to get a condom. So you went to Planned Parenthood and got the pill to be on the safe side--though it's supposed to take an entire month until you're really safe, the doctor said it should technically start working right away.
Then a week after you started taking the pill, all this shit went down because he didn't call you for like eight days, and then when you finally talked to him, he acted like it was a big chore to see you, saying his schedule was so hectic and he was so tired, as if smoking pot and waking up at noon every day and working at a bar four nights a week is stressful. So you asked him point-blank if he really even wanted to see you, which turned into this whole "I don't have to make excuses to you" and "I didn't want it to get this intense this soon" thing, which really meant "I didn't want you to get this intense this soon," which led to "I'm not really looking for love right now because I just got out of this horrible relationship"--eight months ago--"and she was nagging me to marry her every day." This, of course, devastated you because you were actually falling in love and thought that the whole point of dating someone was to fall in love, because isn't love the best feeling? Apparently it was not for him. For him, it meant bad feelings and pressure and fighting and anger. When he poured his heart out to you in the beginning, telling you how the ex hated his dog and accused him of cheating on her and threw things at him and hit him and how so many of his friends have died in gang crimes and car accidents that he can't get attached to people, it wasn't because he wanted to talk about his rough emotional past so that you and he could become close and start a new healthy relationship. He was trying to let you know that he is not ready for a new relationship because he is still fucked up from the last one and from everything that has happened to him, although he never actually said that.
And then a month after your breakup, if it can be called that since you supposedly weren't even in a relationship, the asshole apologized, blaming his behavior on money problems and roommate problems and insecurity, and he said he does like you and wishes you could still hang out and be friends. And you'd been thinking about him nonstop the entire time (except for the night you made out with that other guy) and you really want to hang out with him again and maybe perhaps sleep with him again, though you would definitely make him use a condom. Of course, the night you finally did hang out, you drank beer and smoked pot and then it was late so he offered to let you stay at his place, in his roommate's bed because he was out of town. But the asshole fell asleep with his head in your lap while you cuddled together on his twin bed listening to old Steve Martin stand-up. So you turned off the record player and the lights and took off your jeans (for comfort reasons) and lay down on the bed next to him and tried to go to sleep, like that was going to happen (hello, you were wearing your underwear), and one thing led to another, and that's how you got into this predicament for the second time with the same person.
Now as you wait for the two lines that indicate you are pregnant to show up in the Result Window, rehearse what you will say when you call the asshole to tell him you are getting an abortion because you will want to let him know before you do it even though you are absolutely sure he will agree that it is the best solution, but you still think it's fair to give him the option, the chance to disagree. Of course, you will not listen to him if he does disagree, and you will not expect him to give you money for it because he barely even has enough money for rent and has all these problems right now that you have been helping him deal with, trying to be his friend, trying to be his girlfriend to be exact.
He will be mad that you are pregnant, despite the fact that it takes two to tango. He will blame you for being the source of yet another burden in his oh-so-overwhelming life. He will associate you with the guilt he feels for never doing the right thing and the frustration from his never-ending streak of bad luck and the depression that will undoubtedly follow, the depression that he tries to numb by smoking pot and drinking and never thinking about anything real.
Finally, after three long minutes, go into the bathroom and look at the Result Window. See only one line and feel relieved. But then get pissed because why haven't you had your fucking period yet?
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Laura Park.