There are lots of words nobody wants to say or hear during sex, but I think the two syllables I’d just uttered were at the top of the list.
“What do you mean, ‘uh-oh’?” Andrea asked as I eased my sweaty body off hers. We were in our usual spot, parked halfway down an abandoned driveway off Route 12, scrunched into the back of my beat-up Impala. Several weeks ago when we’d first come here we’d tried doing it on a blanket in the grass, but I got too nervous thinking about a cop or somebody coming along and had what I euphemistically called performance anxiety.
“I think it broke, Andrea.” I reached down, fumbled between my legs. “Shit.”
“Yeah. I always do with you.”
It’s not that I didn’t like Andrea. Andrea the Honor Student, as my friends referred to her, guys who seemed more comfortable smoking weed in their parents’ basements while playing video games and fantasizing about girls like Andrea than actually making the effort to get to know them, to convince the girls to fall in love with them.
She wasn’t at the love stage — she’d made that clear enough — although I wasn’t either, not yet. I probably could’ve been, easily, but I wanted it to happen to us together. Right now it was enough that she let me come down here with her and go all the way, as long as I always had protection. She’d been adamant about that from the beginning, and that was fine by me. I paid attention in health class; I knew the stats about teen moms and STDs. And I knew enough classmates with babies, and chlamydia, to know I didn’t want that. Neither did she. After sex sometimes we’d just lay there in the backseat, talking about college plans, skirting around getting married, having kids someday. It’s just that at seventeen, someday was still so far off.
We must’ve sat there in the dark for a good ten minutes, quietly adjusting our clothes, before I gathered enough courage to break into her thoughts, my voice trembling just a bit. “What now, Andrea?”
“We…I don’t know. What do you think we should do?”
We. Not me, but we. Both of us, in this together. I felt something welling up deep inside me. I opened my mouth to tell her but something else came out of hers first. “Are you sure it broke?”
“There’s a big tear at the end.”
“And you’re sure you…?”
“Don’t you think I’d know if I did or not?” My voice came out peevish, higher pitched than usual. I willed myself to calm down.
She reached over, squeezed my hand. “Yeah. Sorry.”
I thought back to health class, to what we were supposed to do. Not doing it was the big thing, of course, but it was too late for that. If you were going to do it, use protection. Fat lot of good that’d done.
“There’s that pill thing.” My fingers laced through hers. “We could try that.”
“It’s fifty bucks,” she said, as if everyone knew that. “I don’t have that kind of money. Do you?”
“Not with me, but I could get it.” Somehow. Maybe.
I imagined asking my mom for extra money, money she should be spending on groceries or shoes for my little brothers, for me to have so Andrea wouldn’t be knocked up.
“Money’s not the issue though,” she said, frowningly chewing her lip. “My aunt works at Walgreens. She’d find out and tell my dad, and then everybody would know.”
I saw myself going into the Law Offices of Andrea’s Father, approaching him behind his massive desk, and explaining that I’d impregnated his precious daughter, in the backseat of my car, no less. She was right, of course; the last thing we needed was everyone in our business.
“There are Walgreens in Lafayette. We could drive over there tomorrow.”
“He’d still find out. And then he’d kill you.”
I sank down into the seat. We’d been responsible, or as responsible as two teenagers having sex in the back of a car could be. This wasn’t supposed to be happening.
Andrea leaned against me, and I slipped my arm around her. In a voice muffled against my chest, she said, “If it comes to it, there’s always the clinic. They could…do something about it.”
She’d never been much for snuggling. This felt nice. Comforting.
“Maybe we could just wait and see.” I pulled her more tightly against me, that swelling inside getting warmer with each beat of her heart next to mine.
She nodded. We sat like that, us together, silent in the dark, until my watch beeped ten o’clock and we had to move up front so I could drive her home.
The next day, Saturday, Mom had a double shift and I had to babysit my brothers, leaving no time or privacy to call Andrea. And then Sunday was church, and another double shift for Mom. Back at school Andrea the Honor Student had clubs, and tests, and sports, so it was Thursday after school before I had a chance to talk to her.
“Andrea.” She was coming down the hall, alone for the first time all week. “Did you decide what we’re going to do?”
She ducked into a classroom doorway and I followed, my hand tightly clutching the bookbag strap on my shoulder.
“You were right. We’ll just wait and see.”
I nodded. “How long should we wait?”
Her shoulders rose an infinitesimal degree, dropped back down. “A couple weeks?”
“Will it be too late then?”
A slight shake of her head, and then her phone buzzed. She glanced down at the display. “I gotta run. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”
That we again. Andrea and I, together against the world. “Are we on for Friday night?”
“I really gotta go.” She stood on tiptoes to kiss my cheek, then hurried down the hallway, her tennis racket banging against her back.
While Andrea filled her weekend with a trip to see her grandma in Chicago, I filled mine with hypotheticals. She was pregnant, and then we skipped forward a decade to several little ones and our own house in the suburbs. She drove a minivan, and I worked as an award-winning journalist at the Times. Or maybe she wasn’t pregnant, and instead we had vacations in the Alps, backpacking our way across the mountains as Julie Andrews twirled around us.
Andrea and I, or Andrea and I and baby. Either way, it was us, together.
Another week passed before I had a chance to talk to her. I pulled her away from the water fountain, from her friends, on their way to lunch.
“So?” I asked. My gaze flickered over her belly. Flat but it was too early to tell either way. “What are we going to do?”
“I took care of it.” I. No emotion. Staring at me, at the spot just above my left ear.
“I like you, Jake. What we did was — ” She stopped. Wonderful. Mind-blowing. Soul-altering. “ — nice. But what happened was a wake up call for me.”
Me. I. What about us, together? my mind screamed.
“Andrea — ”
“We’ll still see each other around.” She kissed my cheek before I could respond, then walked over to her friends. A look back over her shoulder, and then they disappeared into the cafeteria.
The bell rang. Students flooded the hallway, shouting and laughing as they surged past me, alone.
E.D. Martin is a writer with a knack for finding new jobs in new places. Born and raised in Illinois, her past incarnations have included bookstore barista in Indiana, college student in southern France, statistician in North Carolina, economic development analyst in North Dakota, and high school teacher in Iowa. She draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of “what if” thrown in.
She currently lives in Illinois where she job hops while attending grad school and working on her novels. Read more of her stories at her website.
This story originally appeared in Fiction365, March 27, 2013.