His Choice

Last year I entered a short story in the NARAL Pro-Choice America Choice Out Loud contest. While I didn’t win, I thought I would share this short piece with you today:

His Choice

By A.J. Walkley

Nobody ever asks me.

“Did you want it? Did you want what she wanted?”

Nobody ever asks. No. They fawn over her, though. Plenty.

“Are you okay? Are you feeling better? Do you need anything?”

They ask and they ask while inside they’re either thinking, I could never do what she did.

Or, There was no other decision to make.

Meanwhile, she seems not to notice I’m there. Standing in the background. By her side – yet not too close. Too close is a reminder. I remind her.

She reminds me, too, but I’m still there.

Why wouldn’t I have a say in the matter? Why is that? Why shouldn’t I? The two of us were involved in making it happen.

The two of us should have made that choice.

Would I have chosen differently? Maybe.

Probably not.

No.

But she didn’t ask.

She didn’t have to ask – but I wish she had.

Even just to see if I wanted to come with her. To hold her hand. To reassure her. To drive her home. To sit with her while her body healed.

To make sure she knew, her choice was my choice – and that choice couldn’t be wrong.

Instead, she is surrounded by women who say they know, they understand, they get it.

Some say they’ve been where she is now.

They say this while they look sideways at me, their meaning implied –

He could never understand.

But, I do.

I would have been a teenage parent, too.

When I found out, after the fact, two thoughts went through my head.

  1. Why didn’t she tell me?
  2. Her body, her choice.

And then, fleetingly, just for a second, I thought: We dodged a bullet.

Instead, here I stand, willing her to look my way, past her friends, her mother, her aunt. When she does, I say all I can with my eyes.

I love you. I’m here for you. Whatever you need from me, you’ve got it.

There is no anger in me, just guilt. And a sadness I cannot put into words.

I should have shared this burden. She didn’t have to go through this alone.

She glances quickly away, her lip trembling, before she tells everyone to leave the room.

Except me.

We are alone for the first time since before…

I stay still until she reaches her hand out and I feel pulled towards her, accepting this lifeline. I sit down and she rests her head on my shoulder. Our hands entwine and I pull her even closer.

I love you. I’m here for you. Whatever you need from me, you’ve got it.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, her voice raw.

“There’s nothing to be sorry for,” I assure her.

She cries and I follow suit.

And I stay.

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Filed under Abortion, Choice, Social Justice, Writing

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