It's time for another WEP/IWSG Challenge! This month's prompt is special because it's the result of a IWSG contest. Lots of great ideas came in, and Toinette Thomas submitted the winner.
28 Days. A lot can happen in the course of 28 days. I'm sure we'll have a lot of excellent entries. Here's mine. I hope you enjoy it.
Word Count: 755
* * *
My blood runs like ice in my veins.
I double check the calendar and count forward from the star scribbled in black pen. That little star is nestled in the corner of an ordinary Saturday. When I put it there, I didn’t imagine I’d soon be agonizing over it.
28 days have passed.
No matter how I break it down, the numbers aren’t fundamentally different. They all point to one inescapable truth.
It’s amazing how many events can fit into such a short span of time. You can meet someone who seems like everything you’ve ever wanted in a partner. You can go on a few dates and stay up late into the night talking about anything and everything. You can open your heart and lay your soul bare in front of someone for the first time.
And then that person can take all that trust and hope you’ve placed with them and shatter it. They can disappear from your life as quickly as they entered it.
All those things can happen in 28 days.
I sigh and stare at the numbered squares. I told myself I would wait it out, that I was freaking out over nothing. My stomach rolls as I think about all those lies I formed in my own mind. And I can’t help but form a few more. The stress might be throwing me off, I tell myself. It’ll come. Of course it’ll come. I try to ignore the glaring fact that my body runs like clockwork. I’ve never been late before.
There’s a first time for everything, my brain tries to tell me.
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Stars burst before me as I press my hands against my eyelids. When I pull them away, it takes several moments for my vision to clear. The brown paper bag I picked up from the store this morning waits for me on the counter. My shoulders slump as I move to pick it up and head to the bathroom.
I triple check the instructions on the rectangular box before I open it. I’m numb as I go through the motions. If I don’t think too much about what I’m doing, then it won’t be real. The thought is ludicrous, of course, but it’s a constant problem for me. If I’m too anxious about a situation, I can’t face it like I should.
That’s why it took you four days to realize Ethan wasn’t going to call you again, my brain tells me.
The truth cuts deep.
I finish the test and sit down on the edge of the bathtub to await the results. The stick sits beside the sink, just above my line of sight. The cool porcelain grounds me a little. The seconds tick by as I try to calm my racing heart.
I wonder where Ethan is. He certainly isn’t about to tear his hair out with worry like I am. He’s blissfully unaware of how unstable the world is beneath my feet. If he knew, would he care? My gut tells me no.
My brain has plenty more to say on the subject. Why did I trust him? I barely knew him. He seemed like everything I ever wanted, but I should have known better. Anyone can pretend to be the perfect partner for a couple of weeks. Why was I so stupid? What will Mom have to say about all of this? She warned you about guys like him, didn’t she? Is finishing college still possible?
The thought spiral threatens to swallow me whole.
Then it’s time to check the test. Results in 2 minutes or less, the box said. I grip the side of the tub until my knuckles turn white. My fingers ache. “You have to look now,” I tell myself sternly. “Waiting isn’t going to change the answer.” With one forceful motion, I push myself to my feet and look at that fateful stick.
I let out a shaky breath. My stomach drops, and I wobble in place. Such a little sign. Simple. In elementary school, it resulted in easy answers. 1+1=2. Except that equation doesn’t seem so uncomplicated, either. Not anymore.
The numbers in my world have changed.
Then 18 years.
No, not 18 years. A whole lifetime. A lifetime of guidance and worrying about another human being. The gravity of it washes over me, nearly knocking me off my feet.
In a mere 28 days, my world has changed forever.
* * *
Word Count: 755