A tangle of thoughts swirled around each other as Allie sat on the not-so-comfortable chair in the not-so-comfortable room, waiting her turn. She would be next, she knew.
Out of the swirl marched her mother. “Allie, for the life of me, I don’t understand why you can’t do anything right!” Allie was a little girl again, cowering at her mother’s feet. Was it the time she broke the living room lamp? Or was it the time she failed to do her chores, and the dirty dishes stacked up and the garbage overflowed? It was probably both, she thought.
Mr. Armbuster emerged from the swirl. That wasn’t his real name, of course; that is what the kids called him. “No, no, no, Allie,” she heard his booming voice. “Why can’t you understand a simple concept like an equation? One thing equals another. That’s all there is to it.” But that wasn’t all there was to it, not for Allie. Out of the swirl came the big, bold and red “D” Mr. Armbuster gave her. Her mother had words about that as well.
Then Marti emerged. Young. Handsome. Her Prince Charming. “It’s OK,” he said, more than once. “After all, we love each other.” But when she told him about the new life inside her, he said, “How could you be so stupid?” and stormed away.
A door opened, and the swirl vanished as a middle-aged woman dressed in white entered the room. “Allie,” she called.
Allie hesitated. The woman called again. Allie rose from her seat and slowly walked to the door.
“How are you today?” the woman asked. “Fine,” Allie said. But she wasn’t.
“The procedure will only take about ten minutes,” the woman said when she had finished preparing Allie. “The doctor will be with you shortly.” She left the room leaving Allie alone.
But the swirl of memories returned. Out stepped Janie, Allie’s high school friend. Janie had a strong faith, and she sometimes tried to get Allie to accept her faith. But Allie resisted. In spite of this, Allie liked Janie and was glad she wanted to be her friend.
“Don’t do this, Allie,” Janie’s voice came from the swirl. “Don’t do this.” Allie thought about the time she and Janie had taken a class at Janie’s church. The teacher, a nurse, had talked about life beginning at conception, and had shown pictures of human beings, tiny and vulnerable, but safe inside their mother’s womb. “It is wrong to destroy life,” the teacher said.
The room and the swirl that occupied its center began growing dimmer, and Allie felt nauseous. It was as if a fog had settled over her. All she could see clearly was the vision in her head, of a tiny, complete human being resting securely inside her.
“Hello, Allie.” The male voice penetrated the fog. She could see him, smiling at her, in an aura of lights and shadows. Beside him stood the woman dressed in white. “Just relax,” the male voice said. “It will be over shortly.”
“No,” she said. But the word did not escape her lips. The doctor began his work. “No,” she said. But still the word died inside her. She felt a sharp pain. “No,” she screamed as loudly as she could. But in the room it was but a whisper. “Did you say something, dear?” asked the woman.
“Please don’t do this,” Allie said. “Please don’t do this.”
“What did she say?” asked the doctor.
“She said, ‘Please don’t do this.’”
Allie struggled to sit up, tears dripping down her cheeks. “Don’t do this,” she screamed again.
The doctor put his instruments down. “Put her in the recovery room until she comes out of the anesthetic. And tell the front desk to charge her the full amount. My time is valuable, after all.”
As Allie lay in the recovery room, she placed her hands on her swollen belly. Inside was a life. Tiny. Dependent. And Allie made a promise. Little One would live. She would grow up. She would not make the same mistakes her mother did; her mother would see to that. Allie would call Janie, and get her help. Tears flowed as Allie thought how close she had come to destroying the life she was now committed to love.
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