She decided to have the abortion.
When she first found out she was pregnant the only thing she understood was that she was unsure how to proceed. For the first two and half decades of her life she never imagined that she might want to be a mother. Now, she was unsure.
After she graduated from college, she found a job a an administrative assistant at a clothing company she followed in a New York fashion magazine she had been subscribed to since she was in high school. She came from a modest, but lively Midwestern town. At an early age she would have already known this position was nothing short of a dream job. She would be in the fashion industry.
She had always been a pretty girl and she made sure, as soon as she understood it would be to her advantage, that she would always be prettier; more attractive to both men and women, if she was conscious and discerning of what she wore. For as long as her friends could remember, when she saw something in a catalog or magazine or in a department or thrift store and she truly believed it, she would tell them how good they would look in it. "You have to try this on."
Can't you see? It was a dream job.
She put up with a lot of shit her first year at the company. She put up with it with a smile on her face for the first few months, but eventually she started to give shit back. She also gave her opinions and her ideas about fashion to people she respected, as well as, people she did not agree with. Someone from the company noticed and was impressed. Within a year she was hired on as a fashion agent. She and several others had a collective budget for research and development. She understood that fashion was never finished and, at her age, she was very happy this was true.
There were always men around (there always are) who would make advances: old industry creeps, mail-boys, corporate men, moody man-boys in the copy writing and creative department, etc. She had sex with some of them when the loneliness of being by herself another night seemed unbearable. Some of them were just friends though, and she would spend the night with them, laying in her sweatpants; they would talk as they would hold her in their arms; both men and women she knew and loved.
Those nights where we must not be alone.
She loved many of them, if only for a time, but she required herself to be eventually disappointed with the relationships at least 50% of the time. The other 50% were banked in her mind for longing when she needed it.
With this mindset she met him. He was smart, but not overly arrogant. He was attractive, but not overtly narcissistic; this would later manifest itself more apparently when he revealed his true life goals which did not involve her. He was bookish, but still faintly athletic, with enough muscle structure to make her believe he could be a model if he tried a little harder; for some reason she was glad he didn't try harder. He cared about the things he wore (of course, for he was in R and D, as well), but had a hard time flat out admitting it. He remembered being a know-it-all when he was younger, so he tried to fight the urge as an adult; sometimes he failed at this. He apologized when he was wrong, always hoping to make amends, earnestly, for the mistakes he made.
She told him she was pregnant with their baby.
"What should we do?"
"I don't know."
There was a long silence. He had his head down and she pensively ran her fingers through her long brown hair. She was looking out the window of her small Brooklyn apartment.
"You should get an abortion."
This surprised her; his blunt statement. He was the only suitor she could honestly remember thinking I could have this man's child, and after just a short thought, he believed she shouldn't. He couldn't.
She said "I need to think about it."
She decided to have the abortion. He paid for it and held her and kissed her after they left the clinic. She cried into his shoulder. "I don't if I can take how I feel right now." she said, her voice muffled in his shirt sleeve.
"You're going to be alright." He said earnestly. "I'll be here for you." It's not that he didn't want to have children. It's not that he didn't want to have children with her. It was simply too soon. As talented as they both were (she was an agent and he was a field photographer for the fashion company) it would have been nonsense for them to give up on their dreams.
She suddenly felt flush with a white hot rage within her. "Why would we have to give up on our dreams." She screamed as she pushed him away from her. She punched him in the chest with as much force as she could muster at the time. It did not hurt him, but he knew she meant it. "Tears began streaming down her face. "We could have been a team. We didn't have to give up anything, you asshole. We just would have had to adapt."
He put his head down and clenched his forehead with his fingers.
She looked at him with his head down. "Despite what you may think about this relationship, we are not together. I can't be with you after this."
He looked up at her.
"I thought I loved you, but I was wrong."
She found a better job at the same magazine she had been subscribed since she was in high school. Before she found out she was pregnant, she had sent her personal portfolio of recreational fashion writing to the magazine and they turned out to be impressed. "The way you describe these printed pencil skirts is divine." The slender woman with solid white hair, all black pant suit, and thick rimmed glasses with circular lens announced as she sat in her office. "It's as if I'm seeing them myself, or better yet, wearing them."
She was offered the new writing job after the abortion and she took it. She eventually became head writer. After that, eventually, editor in chief.
She got married. Or she didn't.
I wrote this story.
It's not the worst thing she regrets, but it haunts her from time to time.
It haunts him sometimes, too.
After she started writing professionally they never saw each other again.
Aaron C. Molden