The Plus Sign

By H.E. Saunders

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She looked at the six shots lined up before her. They stared her down. One, two, three, four, five and six. All vodka. All full to the top and waiting. A lemon-flavored Gatorade stood at the end, the ugly duckling of the bunch.  

She had heard that a fetus less than twelve weeks old would not survive six shots of alcohol. It was how all those sorority girls had gone to keggers and fraternity hookups every weekend and rarely taken home a little linebacker. It was just too much for something that fragile. Something that new and pure. It didn’t matter what poison she picked, any one would do the job. She refused to hear the term “aborted” in her head.  

She didn’t know if it was twelve weeks. Less than, or more. It seemed so long since Jake had left and there had been so many men after. Night after night of letting men drown her sorrows and then drowning herself in them. It was comforting in the repetition, in the endorphins, in the release, in the distance. It was comfortable in the night when she knew she wasn’t alone but was still free. It was shaming in the repetition, in the addiction, in the hiding, in the insecurity. It was shameful in the morning when they left without looking back, revealing her to be empty and weak.  

She wouldn’t know the names of who to call about this little plus sign. Couldn’t even narrow it down. So empty and weak. It would be so much easier to have to make no calls, to have no plus sign. To have instead, a tomorrow with a hangover and a craving for greasy food. And maybe a bottle of wine with dinner just to be extra safe. It would be so much easier. It just takes six little decisions. One decision for every two weeks.  

But how old was this little plus sign? What it if was thirteen weeks? Or fifteen? What would this Gatorade-chased vodka do to Little Fifteen Weeks? Would it still not be strong enough and fade away? Or would it be strong enough to battle through, but damaged forever by her weakness? What if it was seven weeks? What if it was too new to even be a thought? She didn’t let herself think the word “abortion.” 

She couldn’t go see a doctor because then the little pink plus sign would have an age. It would become a heartbeat, a murmur within her. Right now it was just a little plus sign. One she could wipe away with enough antiseptic. It would scrub right out. 

Every second the clock ticks, the little plus sign gets a bit older. The little plus signs beats and pulses within her, stronger with each minute. The little plus sign. Staring down six shots lined up before it.

H.E. Saunders