Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Appointment (02/09/12)
TITLE: Right on Time
By Carol Alwood
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Fine, she thought, securing the belt on her black dress coat and flipping her silky chestnut hair out from under the collar. I’ve made the right decision, she told herself as she checked to be sure she still had the five hundred dollars tucked securely in the side pocket of her purse. It was the end of week twelve of her pregnancy, and she was unwilling to wait any longer. If she waited, the bump she had hidden under her designer dresses would grow and give her secret away.
Drawing back the blinds, she saw that Jane had already pulled up along the palm lined street. Taking a deep breath, Maggie relaxed, grateful that everything was going according to schedule. The way she saw it, every aspect of life was meant to unfold in order. Graduate college, get a job, find the right guy, get married, have children. That’s why the moment Andrew told her he decided to take the internship in New York she knew it was over between them. They couldn’t have a relationship on track for marriage on two different sides of the country, and she refused to quit her job at RC Pharmaceutical. I’ve worked too hard to give it all up, she reassured herself.
Stepping gingerly down the wide stone steps, she wondered why her knees felt like jelly when she was so certain that the appointment she had made was for the best.
The nearly silent car ride flew by, and before she knew it, Jane stopped outside of the Planned Parenthood facility making no move to unfasten her seatbelt.
“You’re not coming in?” Maggie asked.
“This is your thing. Besides, I don’t want to have to deal with those wacky pro-lifers that are going to eat you alive on your way in. Just text me when you need me to pick you up.”
“Fine.” Maggie tried not to appear as shocked as she felt at Jane’s lack of support.
Without looking back, Maggie continued toward the ramp outside the facility that looked more like a portable school room than a professional organization. Tiny weeds stuck out of cracks on the ancient blacktop and pieces from a broken glass bottle skittered aside as she walked by.
Almost there, Maggie told herself, averting her eyes so that they didn’t meet with the people holding signs that read, We’re praying for your baby, and Life Begins at Conception. Five more steps and she could pull open the door and be past the people who opposed her.
“Wait,” a soft voice behind her spoke. “Can we pray for you?”
Maggie turned toward the voice to see a young woman with long dark hair and compassion in her large, green eyes. The question took Maggie by surprise. She had expected condemning jeers, not a gentle request.
The small group took her pause as consent. In a moment she was surrounded at the bottom of the ramp by the quiet group. Having never been prayed for in this fashion, the sweetness of the moment caused tears to spring to Maggie’s eyes. As the prayers continued in near whispers, Maggie was suddenly aware of the baby inside of her. She had read that women typically don’t feel any movement until fourteen to sixteen weeks of life but there was no mistaking the strange sensation she felt inside. It was like a butterfly testing its wings, or a tiny fish wiggling inside of her. The clearest image she recalled from high school biology class popped into her mind - that of a tiny fetus sucking its thumb.
As the group backed away with tears in their own eyes, Maggie stood dumbfounded. Unsure of what had just happened, she was brought out of her stupor by the chime of her phone.
Her hand shaking, she reached into her pocket with all eyes on her.
“We need to talk. I’m in town. Meet me at noon?” A simple text from Andrew, not a minute too late, that meant everything to Maggie and her unborn child.
As she turned and took the final steps off the ramp, her confused mind drowned out the cheers and praises from the group when they realized Maggie was walking away.
It turned out that Maggie had a new appointment.
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