By Tracy Engelbrecht
From Her Novel – The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No
I carried the enormous plastic thing at arm’s length in front of me, as you would the Holy Grail – or a giant cup of wee, for that matter. My future was in there, and I knew it. Quite a bit of my future was also squelching inside my damp school socks.
I handed the sample to the sister and she told me to sit and wait – she’d call me once they’d tested it.
We seemed to be sitting around for ages. People were coming and going, being called to see doctors, getting bandaged up by the sister. New patients arrived and left again, hobbling, oozing, expectorating. And still we sat. Getting a little worried, I could wait no longer. I approached the nurse who’d sent me to the sister for the test.
“Sorry, I know you’re busy. I was here for a pregnancy test and they told me to sit and wait. Are they finished? Where should I go now?” Ever so polite, I was. I should have taped a ‘Kick me’ sign to my back right then.
The nurse looked me up and down, her eyes lingering on my name badge, which I now realised I should have taken off. I pictured her phoning the school principal during her tea break. I pictured myself being frogmarched off the school premises…
This was what raced through my head in the time it took for her to look at my badge and say, “Oh yes, you. You’re pregnant.”
Just like that. In front of everyone in the waiting room and as loudly as she possibly could without shouting. And she was loving every moment of it. Heads snapped around to check me out – this being a government hospital there was no TV in the waiting room. They had to take their entertainment where they could find it.
“Did you hear me, girlie?” grumbled Gestapo Nurse, now impatient. She’d had enough of me. “Sometimes it’s a false positive. You should come back next week and do the test again to be sure.”
I don’t think I answered her. I was in a daze. My friends steered me out of the hospital like I was an invalid or a drunk. I remember giggling. It’s something I seem to do in times of extreme stress or shock. Giggle. No swooning, no violent tirades or even hysterical tears. Just daft giggles.
Among the confused jumble of panic, one thought was still. Lying curled up tightly underneath all the others was a tiny pink blossom of a thought, waiting for the fright to subside.
Slowly my head started to empty a little, and that’s when I heard it – just a whisper: “This is it.”
Later, when everybody knew and there was so much unhappiness and recrimination, I began to doubt myself, and nearly gave up. I almost believed that I’d been wrong. But just then I remember feeling gratitude: faith that everything would be okay. And I remember feeling a strength in me that seemed to come from somewhere else.
“This is it.”