It was her perfume that made me wonder, not because I could tell she was wearing it; it was that if pressed I could identify the floral notes and the vanilla finish. I could almost taste it. And her hair spray, too. It was fruity.
The next morning, I rifle through the cabinet under the sink to take a monthly test, the tests I stock up on at the Dollar Tree, the tests I take even though we’re “careful.”
It was her perfume that made me open the box this time. Another month it might have been a peculiar sensation in my gut, or an aversion to my morning coffee, or the tilt of the earth or the barometric pressure. I’ve been pregnant five times. Everything feels like a symptom if my period is 32 seconds late.
I’m so silly with these tests. My friends laugh at me. My husband rolls his eyes. The Dollar Tree employees fist pump the air when I walk in. I should stop this.
But I open the box and read the instructions. I don’t need to read them. They’re always the same. If I’m ever stranded in a Spanish-speaking country, I can recite the pregnancy test instructions by heart but probably not order lunch…except queso and agua.
Dollar Tree pregnancy tests are weird because there is a cup involved, which is always awkward, and a little dropper that makes me feel like a science experiment. I am, I guess.
I notice I need to drink more water as I fill the plastic dropper and squeeze it onto the test window: the only real Magic Eight Ball with insight into the future.
I should put the test on the sink and walk away, but I never do. I’m not patient about anything, really: standing in line, boiling water, taking pregnancy tests.
With the test in my hands, I watch the wet travel from one window to the next, and I realize that I’m waiting for my future while I’m perched on the toilet. I’ve gotten some of the very best news with my cheeks pressed against the cold porcelain seat probably leaving a red impression on the back of my thighs like a brand.
The wet enters the test zone.
I need to clean the bathroom again, I think. From the looks of area around the seat, a 7-year-old boy peeing is the equivalent of a fireman turning on the hose and stepping away. There’s no telling where the stream might go. It just goes. I might have to use Clorox.
Sylvie starts knocking on the door. I’ve been in the bathroom for 47 seconds.
“I’ll be right out, babe!”
“Mommmeeeeee! I need you!”
She probably wants me to change her clothes because she’s been wearing the same outfit for 15 minutes. Or maybe her Anna doll’s arm is stuck in her dress.
“I’ll be right out, okay? Mommy’s using the bathroom.” Bad answer.
And then it’s Chloe.
They’re both right outside the door and if Noah weren’t at school, he’d probably need a snack.
The test is still in my hand. My rear is still on the seat. A cup of my urine is staring at me from the sink. My girls are knocking.
So I look at the test.
The girls keep knocking. I’ve only been in the bathroom for a minute, but now we’re probably late for a play date with a new friend. We should be in the car right this second. But we’re not. I’m in here. Our snack bags are on the counter instead of in the car. I need to get out of the bathroom.
Two bright pink lines.
Two bright pink lines tell me life is going to be so very different and also the same. They tell me that I shouldn’t have sold so many of our baby clothes at the community yard sale. They tell me that it wasn’t the best idea to get rid of the crib.
Suddenly it feels like someone opened the emergency exit on an airplane. I can’t catch my breath. I’m out of air.
Sylvie is yelling for me.
And I wonder how this happened: two pink lines.
My husband is working in the basement, but I can’t tell him. I don’t have the words. I’m not sure when they’ll come. In nine months?
We need to go back to middle school sex ed with cartoon pictures of how this all works.
Chloe is back.
“I’ll be out in a second,” I tell them, but I’m not sure it’s true because I don’t really know how to be.
I can’t stay in the bathroom.
I wrap the test in paper and tuck it into the box. I put the box under the sink and close the cabinet door.
I flush. And then look at my face in the mirror, but I can’t really see it because I only see two pink lines.
I don’t hear the girls anymore.
I open the door and call for them, “Let’s go! We’re late!”
I’m feeling every emotion all at once, and it makes my ears buzz and my eyes fuzzy. When they’re all finished assaulting my insides, I hope that in the end…
“Sylvie! Chloe! It’s time to go!”
It always has.
This article was originally published in 2014.