Two little pink lines, that’s all it takes. You wouldn’t think that somebody’s whole world could hinge on two little pink lines, but you’d be wrong. Two little pink lines can mean the difference between being welcome at home and being forced out, between going to school full-time and picking up a job, and between being a “good girl” and being the other kind.
You also find out pretty quickly who your friends are and what your real support network is. In Ann Marie’s case, the network consisted of her mother, her advisor at the college, her boyfriend Jim, and, oddest of all, her priest. But that was only after. After The Decision.
* * *
Ann Marie knew all of the arguments for abortion, and even agreed with them. She was too young, too immature, not ready. She was not in “a stable place” in her life, whatever that means these days. But every time she imagined going to Heaven and having to face God if she went through with it, she’d burst into tears.
“So what’re we going to do?” she asked Jim.
“I dunno–what do you want?” he said.
“I can’t keep it.” Ann Marie shook her head firmly. “I can’t. There’s no way. I would kill it within the first month, and my mom’s too scared of my dad to help.”
“Well, I can’t keep it, either,” said Jim. “You know I’m probably going to be sent to Iraq once I get done with Basic.”
“So if we’re not going to get rid of it, and we’re not going to keep it, I guess there’s only one choice left,” Jim said. “Adoption.”
More silence. Then a nod.
* * *
The weeks turned into months. The loose pants turned tight, then were substituted for elastic. The whispers and looks and snubs continued nonstop. Jim stayed by her side right up until he left, but it got hard afterward. She found herself waiting until the last possible second to slip into the back of the lecture halls, hoping to cut off the worst of the sniggering and pointing. She got so tired of people checking for a ring at the store checkout that she took to wearing gloves.
What kept her going was what the lady at the adoption agency had told her. “You have the power to give someone the most precious gift of all.” Ann Marie repeated it, almost like a mantra, every time someone sniffed at her in disdain, wouldn’t make eye contact, or refused to wait on her.
* * *
Her water broke while Jim was home on leave. They made it to the hospital with plenty of time to spare, which meant plenty of time to be scared. But things happened just the way Doctor Harrison said they would, with no surprises or complications. He wasn’t supposed to tell Ann Marie whether the baby was a boy or a girl, but she heard him whisper, “Girl,” to the resident assisting him. She didn’t tell Jim.
The next day, the lady from the adoption agency showed up with the paperwork. “I’m required by law to read you this statement and then have you sign this form,” she said, “which indicates that your are relinquishing your rights to the baby voluntarily and permanently.”
Ann Marie and Jim looked at each other for a long moment, and then nodded together. “Let’s get this over with,” she said. She signed the document first, then he signed next to her name. Just some squiggles on another set of lines.