For years, I didn’t realise the mechanics. I thought Mummy and Daddy had to send a letter off to the baby factory and in nine months’ time it would pop out fully grown. Before that, I believed wholeheartedly that a stork brought it, wrapped in cloth and dropped it into Mummy’s belly when it was time. I didn’t realise that a lot of things happen by accident…
Music pounded my ears: some techno rubbish, that no one was interested in except the host. House parties suck – end of.
I wandered around the edge of the dance floor, skirting past a couple so committed to each other I thought they were going to do it there and then, out into the open air. Too many vodka and cokes, that’s what I blame it on. I remember tripping over this and that, in my teetering high heels and dress so that I had to sneak out of the hall, and falling head first into his arms. Leather jacket, black jeans, trainers. They’re all I can pull to the surface of my memory when I try to remember the details.
I got home with a hangover and a new identity. I think it’s fair to say the truth got out at the party. I heard the words being hissed under girls’ breath as I walked past: ‘slut’, ‘easy’, ‘idiot’. The last one was slurred from my mouth. I knew what I’d done.
That’s how we got here. Sat in this dilapidated waiting room with sagging chairs and crumbling magazines, which were out of date when I was born. That’s why I’m watching my mother filling out the form in shaking capitals, cheeks burning red with embarrassment. I don’t even know why I’m writing this letter to you; you’re not going to be here much longer. You’ll no longer be the ‘twinkle in my eye’ as all the old pregnancy stories say.
Right at this minute, you’re a bunch of cells, floating around, unaware of what’s to come. I’m really not sure if I can do this.
17-years-old and my life would be over. Gone, in the same painful process as when I arrived. All those years of working hard in order to get the grades, go to University, get a job and then get married and have kids. They would be wasted.
Is it too large a punishment - giving you life? I don’t know anymore. The problem is, every time I close my eyes I see you. I see the brain, eyes and chocolatey hair. I see the giggling and the grinning that keeping you would entail. I can see you growing up, off to Nursery, school, high school, college, University. I can see you having children of your own. Can I take all that from you?
Mum and I have discussed adoption. All those patient, desperate people out there, itching for a chance to have a baby of their own. But I’m not strong enough. I couldn’t survive in the world knowing you’re doing all the things I can see you doing – but without me. I’d track you down. Take you back. I know I would. No willpower is what got us into this situation in the first place.
The doctor is coming over now. Impersonal white robes, blank face; he’s probably seen too many of these cases.
‘You take this tablet before you come in,’ he stated, ‘and no food for 12 hours before.’
‘What should she wear?’ My Mother asks painfully; she’s humiliated.
‘Whatever is most comfortable.’
That’s all you get when you’re about to become a murderer… That’s what I’ll be after all.
If you were bigger, I wouldn’t do this. If it had been four months instead of one before I realised I was late, I would have kept you. You would have been able to feel pain then. I remember the videos in RE class: the baby develops a spine at four months. It can feel pain after that point. We were in the middle of the abortion debate. It’s easier to stick your hand in the air against abortion when you’re not faced with it. When you’re not about to detail all your well thought out plans because of a drunken one-night stand. God disapproves. That’s what Mum says. That’s what Grandma would say if she was ever to find out. That’s all she’d mutter before dying of shame. You see, things aren’t all that simple in my family. My auntie lost baby Daniel a few years ago and never fully recovered. I think she’d disown me if I went through with this. Who am I to take a life, so freely, when so many wish they got to choose?
I know I can’t do this. I know it with every fibre of my being. As cliché as it sounds.
We’ve come this far, you and me. We’re an us now. You’re going to grow up in the way I did, you’re going to run along the beach and climb trees and go to school and have the life I should have had. It’s that simple. I gave up my life that night. I don’t have the right to take yours.
Mum’s reading this letter over my shoulder. She’s smiling – finally. No one else will see this letter. You will not grow up knowing how stupid I was, knowing how close you came to death because I was too self-absorbed to care. You will enjoy this life. I can promise you that.
I don’t want you to think you’re a mistake. You’re not. You may be an accident but you’re not a mistake. I’m going to keep this letter locked away, out of reach of curious hands. Whenever I feel I’ve made a mistake, I’m going to read this.
You will never be thought of as a mistake. You will probably be treated with strong glances from Grandma. Born out of wedlock, what will the neighbours think? But don’t listen; don’t care. They don’t know any better.
We’re going to be amazing you and I.
I found this letter the other day when I was searching for some heels.
I know what you gave up to have me - I’m sorry. I hope you know how amazing you are. You’ve got your degree, job and husband. You’ve each got your other kids.
I’ll always be the first accident though. I hope you don’t mind me writing you a note of my own. I saw how you looked at Grandma’s funeral, teary-eyed but strong. Grandma never did what you thought she would. It’s like you said - we are amazing you and I.
No one could say anything else.