Copyright © 2013 C.L. Mannarino
All rights reserved.
“I feel so dirty.” Clare hid her face in her hands, closing her eyes as another wave of nausea passed through her. A hand rubbed her back and the couch creaked as her friend, Shay, leaned closer. Clare could feel her friend laughing a little. There was uncertainty in the sound.
“It’s just being pregnant,” Shay said in a low voice. “It’s not the end of the world—“
“I don’t even like him that way!” Clare said, lifting her head. She watched as Shay’s wide eyes and tense smile froze under her scrutiny. Another wave a nausea rolled through her stomach and Clare rested her chest on her thighs, staring at her chipped pink toenail polish. “And it’s not just being pregnant. It’s never just being pregnant. There’s so much more involved than that. You can’t just be pregnant.”
Silence fell between them. Then, “Does he know?”
Clare felt something trigger in the back of her head and then the tip of her nose began to sting. She dropped her arms to hang beside her legs. As she traced the edges of her feet with her fingertips, she snuck a glance into the next room. Her roommate Jason’s dark head hovered above the top of his chair, profiled in the light of the computer. Beside her, she could feel Shay sit back.
“I’ll take that as a no.”
“What the hell am I supposed to tell him?” Clare hissed in a low voice, sitting up in her seat. Shay’s honey-colored hair seemed to glow in the mid morning light, haloing her head, and for some reason, this angered Clare even more. Her face, already pinched with frustration, darkened even more as she mimicked the conversation. “‘Oh, hey, Jason, guess what? I missed my friggin’ period for the second time in two months, so I took a pregnancy test and guess what? It came out positive. How could this happen? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it was that one time we both got smashed talking about our exes and wound up fucking in the bathroom!’”
Clare felt the prickle in her nose travel to her eyes and she pressed the heels of her palms to her forehead, breathing through her mouth. Her hands shook. “We were old enough to know better. We were old enough to know not to mess around like this…”
“You wouldn’t know that if you were drunk—“
“When you’re twenty-seven you do,” Clare said too loudly. She froze, lowering her hands from her head, and both girls looked towards the other room. The only movement he made was to tap his foot against the leg of his desk.
Shay took her hand from Clare’s back and folded both of them in her lap. For a moment, the only sounds they could hear were the clicking of a computer mouse and the low rumbles of Jason’s giggling. They grated on Clare’s nerves and she curled her fingers, digging her nails into the soft skin of her palms and stretching her arms out in front of her. She took a deep breath and then relaxed her whole body with a sigh.
“You think I should tell him,” she whispered.
“Yes,” Shay said. Clare could feel her friend staring at her shoulder, something they did so that the other didn’t feel pressured to meet someone’s gaze.
“I don’t even know if I’m keeping it.”
She saw Shay shaking her head from the corner of her eye. “I still think he deserves to know. He’s not a bad guy, and he’s as much a part of this as you are. And I think that if you were in his place, you’d want to know, too.”
Clare stared at the floor for a moment before it hit her that Shay’s right, I really would like to know, if I were him. She nodded and took another deep breath. On her exhale, she pushed herself up from the couch with both hands and walked into the next room. Her fists were clenched at her sides. “Jason?” she said.
Shay saw Clare’s roommate glance up from his computer, swiveling around in his chair. “What’s up?” she heard him ask as Clare closed the door behind her.
Prompt: I feel so dirty.
In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.
Photo credit: Jackie Sullivan