Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: COMMUTE (07/07/16)
- TITLE: Life or Death
By Gary Ritter
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“Sorry, honey.” David was so good. He always accepted responsibility, even when the problem was my fault.
My lips grazed his. “Gotta go.” I rushed onto the platform and just made it in the doors before the conductor closed them. Sweating from my run, I found an empty seat by the window, slumped down, and closed my eyes. At one of the next stops someone sat down beside me. Having commuted much of my work life, I’d adopted an impersonal attitude to others. I didn’t bother to open my eyes until we reached downtown at Union Station.
I would have preferred not being harried for my first day on the job, but roadwork on Franklin resulted in pedestrian delays. I had to detour and just made it to the front door of the medical facility by 8:00. The receptionist looked up. “There you are, Carrie. I was wondering if you’d make it.”
“Sorry. Is Dr. Morrell in?”
“Sure is, and ready to roll.” She nodded at the two young girls already sitting in the waiting room.
I put on a white nurse’s gown and washed as the doctor looked on. He nodded and the first girl came in. With little bedside manner he explained the procedure. Fear showed in the girl’s face, but she lay on the table and put her legs in the stirrups. I assisted as Dr. Morrell used the suction device to remove the fetus. It caused my stomach to turn slightly, but I took a deep breath and didn’t show my discomfort. I needed this job. David had been laid off and we’d agreed he would watch our little ones if I found something first. It was good pay, and I considered it a blessing to have found it in the tight labor market.
By the end of the day I was beat. We’d helped thirteen young women to get on with their lives. Why I wasn’t excited about that fact eluded me.
For the next three months I made the daily trip downtown—on time I might add. Seldom did I bother talking to my seat companion on the commute. The morning I woke up nauseous I had an unpleasant thought. Don’t tell me I’m pregnant again! It felt so much like the other two times I knew it wasn’t illness. All I could think was how inconvenient it would be.
On the train I brooded for the next couple of stops until a woman boarded and sat beside me. I ignored her as usual, but she wouldn’t let me be. She kept trying to start a conversation until I finally relented. “Yes?” I said, in a heavy, sighing manner to let her know how uninterested I was.
With a gracious smile she got my attention immediately. “The Lord told me to find you this morning. He knows you’re pregnant. He also knows you help kill babies. God says you have to make a decision: life or death.” She rose as the train entered the station tunnel and began applying its squealing brakes. “Oh, yes. God says He loves you.” With that she made her way forward.
Stunned, my mouth hanging open, I waited until the car cleared before I exited. My walk to the abortion clinic was much slower than usual. When the doctor began his procedures, I had difficulty focusing. He noticed. “Carrie, get with it today.” I nodded and did my best.
That night I asked David, “What do I do with this?”
We didn’t have much to do with God and church, and David’s face showed his confusion. “It’s your decision.”
That’s what the woman said. I worked at the clinic for another month until I began to show. When Dr. Morrell noticed, he said, “You want me to take care of that for you?”
I recoiled in revulsion.
He tried to be reasonable. “You can’t be pregnant and work here. How would that look?”
“Let me think about it.”
The next day I told the doctor I was keeping the baby. His lip turned up in a snarl. He pointed. “You’re gone.”
On the commute home I felt peace.
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