C14 Isabelle - No way, I can be pregnant
“This is stupid.” Isabelle tugged on Julia's arm. “I'm not pregnant.” She would have a feeling or inkling, right? Something besides nausea and days of little energy.
“No, it's best to know then worry. Besides, if you are, then you need to start prenatal vitamins and—”
She sighed, not liking this discussion one bit. “Yes, doctor.” Isabelle followed her friend down the aisle of baby and feminine products. A woman with an infant walked past them while a toddler wailed about his broken cookie.
“Ah, here we are.” Julia rattled a glass case in the isle full of pregnancy, fertility tests, and condoms. The locking bar slid open a bit. She wiggled her hand through and removed three different pregnancy tests brands.
“What are you doing?” Isabelle snatched her arm. “You're not thinking of stealing those are you?” she asked in a hushed whisper.
“Of course not.” Julia pulled out her wallet from her purse, then tucked a hundred dollar bill behind one of the remaining boxes. After she closed the gap in the case, then stuffed the three boxes in her purse.
“What are you doing?” Isabelle stormed after her.
Julia said over her shoulder, “Saving your ass. This is a small town that loves gossip.” She lowered her voice to a whisper when Isabelle caught up with her. “You really want someone to know you bought a pregnancy test? Even if you aren't, people will say you are for months...maybe even a year. And once Cooper gets wind, he'll figure out how to fire you without blaming the baby.”
A wave of dizziness washed over Isabelle, and she hugged herself. “Thanks, but I'm sure it's nothing. Let me pay you back. Care for pizza at my place while I pee on a stick?”
They left the store and headed for the parking lot. The car rumbled down the street and Julia adjusted the radio to a rock station.
“Hey, why did you grab three tests anyway?” Isabelle asked. And how did her friend have a hundred dollar bill just sitting in her purse on their meager teacher's salary? Her friend had spent the money without blinking an eye. It was more than what Isabelle budgeted for bi-monthly groceries.
Julia flipped the vent higher, the ac blowing her honey-colored hair back. “Trust me, you'll want to use all of them.”
“Sounds like you're speaking from experience.” Isabelle turned a corner and stopped at a red light. A glance over at her friend and she swallowed her smile. “I'm sorry, Julia. That was rude of me, I shouldn't have asked.”
“No, it's fine.” Her face grew pale. “Three years ago, me and my boyfriend thought we were expecting. The first test was negative and we ticked it off to stress of me starting a new job in New York.”
“What? I never knew you lived there.” Julia had told her she grew up in Michigan before moving down to Louisiana.
“Yeah, it's not even something I put on my resume.” She shivered and rubbed her arms, but didn’t turn the air off.
Was she remembering something bad? Cars behind them honked as the light had turned green. Isabelle drove through the intersection.
Her friend inhaled a shaky breath. “Anyway, we went on with our lives and two days later went to a party. Both of us had too much to drink. We were young and thought we were invincible. Tony hit another car head-on. All I remember was the screeching metal.” She glanced ahead, her voice hoarse. “Next thing I know, I'm in a hospital. The doctor tells me that the family in the other car are okay, but that Tony’s dead. Then the doctor tells me he's sorry that I lost the baby.”
Isabelle’s heart shattered for her friend. She reached over and took her hand.
Julia let a small mournful sob. “Turns out if I had bought a better test, it might have shown the truth. Some are more sensitive than others and can determine pregnancy a day or two sooner. And maybe if I had tried another test, it would've shown a positive and Tony and I never would have drank that night. It was all my fault.”
“No, honey, no.” Isabelle shook her head, pulling the car into a gas station and gave her friend a hug. “You had no way of knowing something bad like that would happen. I'm so sorry for your loss.”
Her friend cried on Isabelle’s shoulder while she patted her back. Her own heart aching for Julia and the horror of what happened.
Julia pulled back and wiped her eyes. “Okay, enough crying. Let's go to your place and try these three out.”
* * *
Isabelle sat on the living room floor with Julia on the couch next to her. Both staring at the pregnancy test strips and waiting for the three-minute alarm to beep so they could check if the tests were negative or positive.
Waiting dragged on. What was she going to do if it was positive? Her life was going to change forever. She always wanted a big family. Her nerves felt as though they were dancing along her skin.
No, she couldn't be pregnant. She tapped her foot on the carpet. Is the timer broken?
When the ding sounded, Isabelle jumped. She scooted closer to the table. Her body shook. Beside her, one of the cats purred and batted at her shoelace.
Carefully she turned over the first test. Two lines. Her tongue thickened in her mouth. “H-how many lines for not pregnant again?”
Julia fumbled through the three sets of instructions. “Let's see. That's the early pregnancy one. One line means you're not expecting.”
No, she couldn't have a baby. Not now. Not when she didn't even know the guy's last name or where he lived. Queasiness sank into her gut. Maybe it was a mistake. Like Julia's had been false negative so perhaps this one would be false positive. Yeah, had to be the case.
She turned over the second test. “And a pale blue line?”
“Pregnant if there’s a blue line.” Julia met her stare. “What's the third one say?”
Panic squeezed her chest and she couldn't take a deep enough breath. This one wasn’t lines or marks but digital and said the word either pregnant or not pregnant. No misinterpreting or seeing a faded line. Simple. Direct. Swallowing down the lump pressing against her throat, she turned it over. This one was a word. Pregnant.