Please pardon my absence. I was fine-tuning my wand. No burning-out here. Just burning-in.*
The abortion clinic waiting room reminds me of the DMV in Los Angeles, only decked-out with woman art. I hope I’m next. Next, to kill my baby, not to drive around mom and dad’s Jeep Cherokee.
(You do understand that embryos and fetuses are not actually babies, but this story is not about getting your facts straight.)
Mom is there. One honeybee hovers in our corner. Mom and I are settled on a somewhat soiled couch. In many ways, the clinic looks like it is archiving the 70’s. In many ways, it is.
Mom reminds me that bees are our ancestors come to say, hello. I do not want the honeybee to follow me to my room for surgery. Even if the honeybee is my grandmother. I do not want her there.
(You do understand that the bee dies in this story, but this story is not about the bees dying.)
When mom’s father died, I was twelve years old. We drove across New York and Pennsylvania to attend the funeral. On the way back East, I found blood in my underwear at a rest stop but waited to tell mom until we were home. When I told her, I felt embarrassed, but she acted elated even though her dad was dead.
(You do understand that dads die, but this story is not about dads dying.)
I started using pads, but I was distracted by menstruating on a wad of laminated cotton during class. However, no matter the tampon, I’d bleed.
The ultrasound technician was the first to discover I have two vaginas at my initial appointment for the abortion—one cervix and one uterus, but two vaginas. No wonder the tampons, I blurted.
(You do understand that some women have two vaginas, two cervixes, two uteruses, but this story is not about biology.)
The ultrasound technician assured me I could do with them what I wanted, that having two vaginas would not harm me. You have two pockets, spaces, canals, two places to bond with and explore, two avenues. She is a hippy. She wore a scarf around her head. I went home and looked in a mirror.
Early on, the Man-Involved liked to spend time on me. I thought he knew my body better than I did. Now, he gets hard immediately, and slips himself right into me. We have sex for roughly ten-minutes, and then he’s done, and I am sort-of wet and bubbling. He lies to the side to catch his breath, and I feel cold.
(You do understand by, Early on, I mean, the first week, but this story isn’t about dumb-fucking.)
In the mirror, having two vaginas looks like having the number eight instead of a zero. The sign of infinity. I will not tell the Man-Involved about the abortion or the vaginas.
I choose to go to sleep for my abortion. I wake with a feeling of elation that I am not pregnant. The hippy technician is rubbing my back where my uterus beats. I think back to my rape before I met the Man-Involved and wonder, which vagina? I hope I had the abortion there too. One still untaken. Everything unexplored. I am only sixteen.
(You do understand that every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States, but this story is not about how men can stop rape. Or is it?)
When it is time to leave the clinic, mom leaves me on a bench in the sun to retrieve the car. I enjoy the heat but am nauseous maybe or exhausted really. A honeybee lands on my can of ginger ale then buzzes across the small parking lot to sting an abortion protestor’s dog—a yellow lab. The protestor is holding an image of an enlarged fetus that appears to be smiling. The protestor is a man. He looks from his whimpering dog to me.
Before getting in my mom’s car, I snatch the dying bee from the sidewalk. It is still pulsating. My uterus tugs. I put the bee in my sweatshirt pouch. I wonder how long the protestor spends on women. He breeds his dog. Her nipples sag like leaking snow cones.
He says god will forgive me if I repent. I tell him I have two vaginas. He says he’ll pray for me.
(Oh, please. You do understand that abortion IS a prayer.)
* Concept of burning-in directly inspired by the words of poet, Jack Kerouac: The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”