Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No. 10: Captain

Twice we drove by the clinic, knowing where it was but not wanting to stop. We pulled into the parking lot and we both took deep breaths. “I’m gonna smoke,” Kristin said as she got out of the car. A protester approached us but only came as close as the lot—they weren’t allowed on the clinic’s property.

“I’ll stay with you,” I said as Kristin came around to my side of the car.
We stood in silence for a few seconds, protesters directing their voices toward us. “Abortion is murder.” “It has a heartbeat.” Kristin’s cell phone rang and she answered it.


“She’ll have your eyes, mommy,” the protester closest to us said. I turned and glanced at her. She was short, glasses, a weak chin and reddish hair pulled back into the ponytail.

“Yeah we’re at the clinic. Found it pretty easy,” Kristin spoke into the phone.

“Stand up for your baby, daddy,” the protester said.

“Protesters. Yeah, it is kind of weird,” Kristin chuckled. I smiled.

“It’s not a laughing matter.”

“We’re not laughing at that,” I muttered under my breath.

“We’re leaving right after we’re done here. I’ll call you when we get home. Bye,” Kristin hung up and finished her cigarette. “That was Jen making sure we got here all right.”

“If he’s making you do this, mommy, we can protect you.”

“Let’s go in,” we walked up to the security guard who signed us in and buzzed us through. We walked up the stairs and approached the receptionist. “Four o’clock appointment under Summers.”

“Okay, please take a seat. Here’s some information and a form to fill out. We’ll call you in a few minutes for your evaluation,” the receptionist said.

“Thank you,” Kristin took the form but I took the pamphlets.
There were quite a few people in the waiting room. All ages, races, lifestyles. There was an enclosed glass room where patients could go in to smoke without having to go outside with the protesters. We sat down in a corner and Kristin started filling out the form. I sat back and watched one of the TVs mounted from the ceiling.

After awhile the silence between us began to unnerve me. “You doing all right?” I asked Kristin.

“I’m fine,” she answered, not looking up from the form.

“Are you sure…?” I wanted to finish with “you want to do this?” but the words stuck in my throat. We couldn’t afford a baby and we were only five months into our relationship and had plans that didn’t include children. We talked it over. We agreed to do it. We agreed to make the four hour trip. I looked over at Kristin and then down at the form. “I hate filling out forms,” I chuckled.

It’s not a laughing matter.

Kristin said and did nothing. I looked back up at the TV and sighed.

Almost half an hour had passed when they called Kristin’s name. She stood up and walked toward the woman who called her name and disappeared behind a wall. In that half hour, several people had left but about six guys and two women remained. Even though those eight people sat in the waiting room with me, I was completely alone. I could only imagine how alone and scared Kristin was right now.

I began reading through the pamphlets and leaflets the receptionist had given us. I read through everything. Only fifty percent of relationships last after an abortion, was the one that stuck out to me. I loved Kristin and didn’t want to lose her but that seemed like an inevitability.

There was a cost sheet also. The word vacuum stuck out on the powder blue sheet of paper. I quickly moved on to a pamphlet about counseling afterward. “Maybe I should look into that,” I muttered.

I was done with the pamphlets—only three people remained now—and started reading a local independent magazine. I actually read every single page as I wanted for Kristin. It was over an hour and a half before I saw her again. I got up from my chair and hugged her. She hugged back but with a stiffness. She also stared off into space as I embraced her.

Fifty percent.

“Why were you in there so long?” I asked.

“Evaluation. It’s a quick physical then I talked to a doctor about the procedure then a therapist,” Kristin explained. “The doctor told me that the procedure is the same as what they do after a miscarriage so we can just tell people I had a miscarriage, not an abortion.”

“Well, that’s good. I’m glad we got that figured out,” I was happy because we weren’t sure how we were going to tell our families.

“Yeah,” she sighed. She looked doubtful. She wanted to leave. “They want to see you now. They want payment.”

We went into a small room where a nurse finished typing on a computer then turned toward us. “Is this Brian?” Kristin nodded. “Follow me, we’ll get the payment from you then it’ll be just a few more minutes and we’ll do the procedure.”

We followed her through a maze of offices until we got to an open room. She motioned for me to sit down in a chair. I was getting tired of sitting. “And how will you be paying for this?”

“Check,” I answered.

“Okay, the total is $436. Just make it out to the clinic,” the nurse said sweetly.

As I wrote the check, my mind drifted to those signs along highways that read 'What does abortion cost?' One human life. I chuckled, “And $436.”

It’s not a laughing matter.

I finished making out the check and handed it to the nurse who ran it through a machine that automatically took the money out of my account. She handed me the check back and said we could go back out to the waiting room.

“I’m gonna go smoke,” Kristin said and veered off toward the smoking room.

“I’ll join you,” I said and followed her into the glass room. We sat down on a couple of chairs and Kristin began smoking. I had quit smoking a few months ago and was recently regretting it so the stale stench of cigarette smoke that clung to every atom in this room actually made me relax. “I wonder how much longer we’ll be here,” I noted as there was only one guy left in the waiting room.

Once again, nothing came from Kristin.

“You’re gonna have to talk to me again at some point,” I said.

“Don’t yell at me,” she snapped.

“How was that yelling?” I spoke louder. “You’ve hardly said anything to me since we got here. I know it’s awkward and I feel uncomfortable too but we agreed that this was the right decision. We’ve had all month to talk about it and all day to back out!”

“You’re the one who doesn’t want this baby,” Kristin said. She said it in a tone like she didn’t mean it but wanted it to hurt.

“That is complete bullshit,” I began. “We cannot afford a baby. I would love for you to have my children but right now is not a good time. But if you really feel that way, let’s go home,” I said. We looked at each other for a long time.

A nurse called Kristin’s name. It was muffled coming through the sealed room. Kristin put the cigarette out, got up and left the room. She followed the nurse back behind the wall and was gone. The one guy’s name was finally called and he followed a nurse out. I was now completely alone in the waiting room.

I didn’t have a watch or any visible means of time keeping but as I watched one sitcom after the other I figured a couple of hours went by. Finally, they called my name and led me to a smaller waiting room where they told me that everything went fine, that she’ll be a little dizzy and may get sick—at that point she handed me a barf bag.

After fifteen minutes, a nurse led Kristin out. I took her hand, we thanked everybody and I helped Kristin down the stairs and to my car. Since it was after 9 P.M., the protesters were gone.

“I’m gonna call Jen,” Kristin muttered and was soon on the phone with her best friend. “I just got done. I’m a little hungry so we may stop to grab something to eat but we’ll be home in about four and a half hours.”

Soon, we were on the road, heading back home. Kristin seemed like her own self after getting something to eat but soon had fallen asleep. For almost four and a half hours she slept and even though she was just a few inches from me, I was still completely alone.