The Greatest Struggle

by bdhesse

What am I going to do? Mary wondered as she walked down the hall. What’ll I tell people?
She walked down the hall away from the clinic. She was on her way to her next class, but she wasn’t really in the mood to sit through it.
What am I gonna tell Joe? she wondered.
For the first time since leaving the clinic, she looked up and stopped. A tear trailed down Mary’s cheek.
She walked over to the wall and collapsed onto the floor. What am I gonna do? she thought again.
“Mary?” a voice behind her said. “What’s wrong?”
She turned to see her professor behind her. “Oh,” she said. “I…I’m not really feeling well.”
Her professor frowned. “You don’t have to come to class, you know,” she said. “Why don’t you go home and rest?”
Mary wiped her eyes and nodded. She was about to speak when a sudden wave of nausea over came her. She put her hand to her mouth and ran to the bathroom.
She called Joe as soon as she got to back to her dorm.
“What do you mean?” he asked when she told him the news.
“What do you think I mean?” she cried as her anxiety shot through the roof.
“Okay, relax,” he said soothingly. “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “God, my dad’s gonna kill me.”
“He doesn’t have to know,” Joe replied.
Mary was silent for a moment. “Do you want me to get rid of it?” she asked.
Joe was quiet too. “It’s your choice,” he replied.
Another tear climbed down her face. “But…I don’t know what to do,” she cried.
“I know,” Joe said. “But you could make an appointment. It can’t hurt to make the appointment even if you don’t go through with it.”
“What if I keep it?” Mary asked.
“Then I guess we’ll have to decide what to do,” he replied.
“We?” Mary asked.
“I won’t leave you,” Joe replied. “I love you.”
“Will you resent me?” she asked.
Joe snorted. “Of course not,” he said. “I won’t blame you. It’s not your fault.”
Mary couldn’t help it, she began to cry over the phone.
“Mary, are you all right?” Joe asked. “Should I come over?”
“Yeah,” Mary sob. “Please?”
“I’ll be there shortly,” he said. He hung up.
Mary threw herself onto her bed and continued to cry.
The next day Joe sat with her as she called the nearest abortion clinic.
“They said I need to get some blood work done,” she said when she hung up. “We need to do it today: my appointment is on Wednesday.”
Joe nodded. “Let’s go then,” he said.
On Wednesday, Joe and Mary found themselves sitting in a nearly empty waiting room. They said nothing. Mary stared in front of her, only partially aware of what was going on.
“Mary?” a petite woman called.
Mary looked at her blankly.
“Are you ready?” she asked kindly.
Mary nodded haltingly.
“Follow me,” the woman said.
Mary followed the woman through to doors and into a small room.
“Someone will be with you shortly,” the woman said. “Then we’ll get on with the procedure.”
Mary nodded. She sat in the empty room staring at yet another wall until another woman walked it.
“Hello, Mary,” the woman said kindly. “How are you?”
Mary shrugged.
The woman proceeded to ask Mary a series of questions.
“Don’t worry,” the woman said when she was finished. “Very few women experience any negative side effects. Most report feeling relieved. Mary, you deserve to have the life you want. You deserve to be able to finish your degree.”
Mary sobbed and nodded.
The woman led her out to another room. “Wait here,” she said. “It should only be a few minutes.”
Mary nodded and waited again.
Another woman called her into another room. This one had a table to lay down on and a lot of expensive looking machinery.
“Don’t worry,” the woman said. “It’ll be over soon.”
Mary nodded and laid on the table.
The woman was right: it hadn’t taken long at all. Soon she was walking out of the clinic with Joe, smiling for the first time in what felt like months.