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
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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.
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Word Count: 755
Very nice tension. Hate Ethan! Empathize with the young woman.ReplyDelete
Ethan certainly is a cad! This drew me in immediately and I can feel the woman's turmoil. How quickly life can change.ReplyDelete
Yep, funny how just a few days can change a life forever. I hope Ethan steps up and takes responsibility, at least!ReplyDelete
Great pace and tension. I was with her when she went to open up that bag. I definitely wanted to call up Ethan and tell him off or invite him to take some responsibility (although it doesn't sound like he will). And her worries are all justified, and yet ... there is wonder to be had in those 9 months and a lifetime of relationship.ReplyDelete
I hope Ethan comes back and has a good excuse for his absence. But anyway, your heroine makes it seem a tragedy, when in fact she just received a gift from that flaky guy Ethan. Whether he returns or not, she will always have her child. She will always love it, no matter what happens with Ethan, and love is always a gift. I understand her tension and fears - she is young - but I can't pity her. I feel like congratulating her instead.ReplyDelete
Laura, this is fabulous. You had me on the edge of my seat, especially while she was on edge in the bathroom. What a tense wait. Those two minutes would have seemed like hours. The result will mean huge changes in her life -- college? the way she responds in future relationships? facing her mother? But she may come to see the child as a blessing. Even though unwanted now, she may fall in love with him/her and be ever thankful that at least Ethan the cad left her with a wondrous gift.ReplyDelete
A great use of the 28 Days prompt.
Nicely done! The tension builds so well - love the pacing and the emotions in this.ReplyDelete
Brilliant as usual. My heart raced too waiting as she waited. I hope her mum is supportive. Or maybe she's mistaken about Ethan? Maybe he is held up somewhere and will get back to her.ReplyDelete
Very well crafted and an excellent use of the prompt.
Excellent! I had the feeling that she was worrying about being pregnant. The timing is great. You've put together a nicely fitted puzzle that flows.ReplyDelete
Wow, I seriously almost wrote this story. It was an idea I toyed with but just couldn't find the right execution. You've done a great job. You built up the tension so well and captured the gravity of the whole situation. Nice entry.ReplyDelete
A well written tale of new love, and young heart-break. Showing how easy your life can change, in the shortest period of time.ReplyDelete
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An emotional journey that I can only feel from the reader aisle - but swept in by your words and phrases. Blood and nature as I said, but this is a different case and depends what happens next. Well done.ReplyDelete
This is a great piece. I could really feel the tension and the sadness. I liked the maths symbolism towards the end: "The numbers in my world have changed. 9 months.Then 18 years." So powerful!ReplyDelete
I always wonder at the immaturity of the kind of man who can completely abandon someone he's gotten pregnant. I think such a man is not a man at all but an immature adolescent. The child is probably better off without him. You did an excellent job of writing this. It is very realistic.ReplyDelete
Amazing story, and the suspense held me right to the end! Well written!ReplyDelete
Marvelously done! I was definitely caught up in the tension and all the what ifs.ReplyDelete
Well done! :)ReplyDelete
Hi L. G.,ReplyDelete
Such a cautionary tale and one too real. You captured it well. I enjoyed reading your vrsion of 28 days.
Wow..almost the exact opposite of my entry. Very cool. I saw where it was going because of that, but it was still enjoyable. That's hard to pull off with me. Well done.ReplyDelete
Yep, thats about how it happens. At least she seems ready to embrace her new life. This is happy and sad both. Just like parenthood.ReplyDelete
I loved the sparse sentences, the terse talk which fit in with her tension. Excellent storyReplyDelete
Great job of conveying her tension. Sorry to see a young woman fall prey to another a-hole :). Like the bumper sticker my son has on his laptop—Just wear it!ReplyDelete
Oh my, so heartfelt - what a change in her circumstances. A very real situation for some young women. Hopefully her family will help her.ReplyDelete
One bad decision or is it? Perhaps this unborn child will rescue this young woman who should have considered the long range implications of not protecting her life from complications. Maybe the child will be the light of her life. Some women aren't meant to be mothers for various reasons. An excellent take on the prompt and you showed her tension and indecision well.ReplyDelete
So vivid. So real. So many young woman face this situation every day. What's next is will she tell Ethan? Or, just disappear and raise her child alone. Would she consider adoption. SO many woman can't have children. So many question... Wonderful tension. Well done!ReplyDelete
Hi Laura - well done and why oh why do women get left with the challenge and horror of dealing with a new life at such vulnerable times. I just hope she can in due time enjoy her child. Great story - well told .. cheers HilaryReplyDelete
I do hope that Ethan comes back. She'll have to start thinking about what to do just incase he doesn't show up.ReplyDelete
I was in the moment... waiting for the test results... praying that it was negative for her sake... and then my heart sank.ReplyDelete
As for Ethan - I don't think she should waste time even trying to get hold of him.
I loved the tension.