Beneath the layers of panicked perspiration and the faint waft of antiseptic, the air in the waiting room smelled of something.
It took Angela a moment to work out what it was, but then it came to her.
It clung to the pale avocado-green walls and was trapped between the pages of every magazine. It oozed from the pores of the other young women lining the seats, flared raggedly in their eyes.
Some of them seemed so impossibly young. A girl who looked no more than fourteen sat opposite Angela, almost crouched in her seat, like a quivering little mammal caught in the headlights. Beside her was a boy, pimply and adolescent and awkward, with feet and hands too big for his gangly frame. He was out of place in that plastic chair, that sterile room. He looked hunted.
At least she has someone, thought Angela. Some of the other girls in that room weren’t so lucky.
She wasn’t so lucky.
Angela cupped her hands over the slight swell of her belly, and closed her eyes against the hot prick of tears. In her mind, she could hear the smoky thump of music, the clink of glasses. Behind her eyelids, the glitter of fractured light slid over dark walls. It was a celebration – one of many. School was over, dreams of future glory beckoned, the holidays stretched endlessly ahead.
Angela had her own reasons to party. That day, in the mail, she had received word that she had been accepted into law school. Her parents had hugged her, both at once, right there in the kitchen, until she could hardly breathe.
“We’re so proud of you, Angie,” her Dad had said, voice husky. “You’ve always made us proud.”
Well, not anymore.
A tear squeezed out from under one eyelid and ran down her cheek. Why did you let this happen to me, God? Her life had been perfectly planned out, in control. She would graduate from law school with distinction, an accolade that had always been the stamp on anything she did. She would work for a big law firm, move up through the ranks, eventually make partner. Angela Perrington, the young and rising star. A brilliant mind. That’s what her teachers had always said about her.
It had all gone to her head. The giddy excitement, the vodka, the electric energy in the room. He had been looking at her all night, and there was something in those dark velvet eyes that made her forget too many things. By the time he had brought over her ninth drink, she couldn’t remember what it was she was supposed to be holding on to.
“Perrington,” called a nurse from the doorway. Angela started, eyes opening. She stood up, and a sudden wave of panic hit her weakly just below the knees. She was here. She was really going through with it. It was her turn.
It’s not my fault that I have to do this, she said silently to God as the nurse led her down the hall. I’ve always done the right thing. It was just that one time – that’s all. It isn’t fair!
This was the only solution, of course. Her parents would never have to know. She would go to law school, as planned. Her life would unfold perfectly, as planned.
She would be in control.
And what about me, daughter? Where do I fit into your plans?
The voice whispered through her head, faint as gossamer. A lump rose in her throat, and she swallowed fiercely.
“Here we are, Ms. Perrington. I’ll get you to change into this gown and then lie on the table for me. The doctor will be along shortly.”
The nurse left, and Angela stripped off her clothes. She couldn’t stop shivering. She lay on the table, and hot tears poured down her face. She had always believed abortion was wrong, but now… well, what else could she do? What did God expect of her? To live always amid the ruins of a wasted life?
I know the plans I have for you, my love. Plans to give you a future and a hope… but you must first trust me. Let me have control.
The door opened. The doctor entered.
Something fluttered weakly inside her. Conscience? Hope? The first stirrings of her unborn child?
The weight of her decision fell away.
It was in His hands now.
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