Gemini Magazine
Flash Fiction

Okay, so now I wait. Three minutes. Three
long minutes. And then…what? I guess I’ll
jump off that bridge when I come to it. Maybe
I won’t have to do anything at all. I could be
worrying for nothing, but five days is pretty
late. I’m usually like clockwork. Oh God,
please don’t let the stick be blue. It
can’t be
blue. It
won’t be blue. I was careful. I made
sure he wore a condom every time. Lots of
people do it with no protection at all. Are
sitting here listening to the sickening tick-tick
of a timer as they wait for their entire future to
be revealed to them by a stupid stick? I’m the
one doing that, and I used protection every
single time. How freakin’ unfair is that? God,
what will Kurt say? He won’t want me to keep
it. I can just picture his face. Will he even try
to hide his fright and try to comfort me at all?
I don’t even know. Jesus, I don’t even really
know my boyfriend, and I might be carrying
his child! Never mind Kurt,
I don’t even know if
I’d want to keep it. How could I? But how
could I not? This is impossible. I won’t have to
decide because the stick is
not going to be
blue. Right? Right. Positive thinking! I hate the
commercials for these tests. They all have
happy couples with the wide smiles. Where
are the people like me? We’re the ones
buying the tests, but I guess people pacing
and wringing their hands, chanting, “No blue,
no blue,” wouldn’t make the best ad. It really
doesn’t matter. The ad people could put
Hannibal Lector in the commercials and we’d
still buy the tests. When you need a
pregnancy test, you need a pregnancy test,
no matter what’s in the stupid commercials for
them. Please, please,
please, don’t let it turn
blue! Fifteen year-olds have babies all the
time. How the hell do they do it? I’ve got six
years on them, and I’m sitting here thinking
about how my life will be completely turned
upside-down if the damn stick turns blue. Am I
really less equipped to deal with this than a
fifteen year-old? What is wrong with me? I’m
not a kid. I’m twenty-one! God, wasn’t I just
fifteen yesterday? My life is still just
beginning! Oh, God, just give me a few more
years. I just started my job four months ago.
How are people going to react to my taking
maternity leave? A young, unwed mother—
how did I become this?

Relax. Deep breaths. I’m not a mother yet.
Still a minute and a half left in limbo. What if
Kurt wants to do the so-called honorable thing
and marry me? I don’t even know if I love him.
I’ve only known him for six months. How could
I marry him? And if we did get married and
have a kid, we’d have to move to the suburbs
and buy a minivan, and then I may as well just
lie down and wait for death. I
hate minivans. I
hate the suburbs. God, I’m going to get fat
too. Then Kurt won’t even want me anymore,
and he’ll run off with some bimbo and leave
me to sob uncontrollably and start drinking
vodka in the middle of the day. Damn it. Why
didn’t I go on the pill? I’m such an idiot for
putting off going to the doctor for so long to
get a prescription. What the heck kind of
mother will I make if I can’t even manage to
do that?

Okay, just calm down. It won’t be much longer
now. This stick is not going to be blue.
Everything will be fine. How can I possibly
support a child? I have student loans and
obscene credit card bills. I can’t afford a
baby! Diapers, clothes, food—and I don’t
want to think about how much daycare costs.
I’m going to have to stay home and take care
of the kid because I can’t afford daycare.
Then I’ll have to go on welfare, but I still won’t
be able to afford my rent, so I’ll get evicted
and will have to live on the street and beg for
change. No. No. No! None of that will happen
because the stick is
not going to be blue.
There are plenty of reasons I could be late.
Work has been crazy lately, and didn’t I read
somewhere that stress can make your period

How can three minutes last so long? This
seems like ten times longer than anything I did
to get me into this position in the first place.
Yeah, good old Kurt, the minuteman. I have to
pee again. Damn, I just went on the stick like
two minutes ago. Pregnant people have to
pee all the time, don’t they? Oh, but so do
nervous people, right? I think I’m going to
barf. Oh shit. I got drunk at that party two
weeks ago. What if I was pregnant then?
What if the baby is deformed or something
because of me? I haven’t taken my vitamins
either. My doughnut and mac-n-cheese diet
isn’t good for me, much less a baby! I need to
buy some vegetables. When was the last time
I bought vegetables? They always to turn to
mush in the crisper before I get around to
eating them. How can I make my child eat
broccoli when I find it repulsive myself? It
would be so hypocritical! I’m going to make
such a horrible mother!
Mother. Mommy.
Mama. Oh God, no. That’s not me. Not yet. If
I get through this, I’ll use three kinds of birth
control every single time. Or maybe I’ll just
swear off sex until I’m married and ready for
motherhood. Sure. I could do that. Whatever
it takes. Anything to avoid—

by Elizabeth Barton
Elizabeth Barton lives in Chicago,
where she works as a medical writer
and is polishing her first novel. Her
work has appeared in Skirt!
Magazine, on
wow-womenonwriting.com, and in
the Journal of Ordinary Thought