Long distance news

The phone rang and I heard his voice on the other end, muffled and broken. I was catching every third word.. “morning… the… and… is… can’t… you… ring…in… out”. “Ring me back now”, I hissed, “I need to speak to you.” I picked up the incoming call moments later. “Sorry babes, I was in the Guggenheim. What’s up?” Despite the distance, he sounded so close, so familiar. I sensed that, in moments, he would sound a million miles away. “I’m pregnant”. There was a pause. “Wow”. “Wow.” Another pause. “Wow”. And then the usual questions spilled out. Was I sure? How many tests had I taken? Could it be wrong? Was there such thing as a false positive? Should I take another to make sure? I answered them all. I was sure. Two. Maybe. I think there can be false negatives, but not false positives. Yes, I would get one that didn’t cost £3.99.

I don’t know what I expected his reaction to be. He’d been the friend that I’d confided in for a long time, chosen because of his calmness and his rationality. I knew many people who felt the same way as he was often picking up the phone to mildly-hysterical friends who needed a dose of his kind, reassuring take on life. But I had no idea whether that stretched to his own life, to me phoning him on a Wednesday morning and turning his life upside down. We agreed that I would go and buy the pregnancy test that indicates just how pregnant you are and I hung up.

He and I had met nine years earlier. He had been my university friend’s older brother, visiting the campus for a weekend of cheap alcohol, student parties and (I imagine) hitting on his little sister’s fresher friends. He had been getting over a recently ended relationship and had a recklessness about him that only romantic heartbreak can bring. I had yet to be heartbroken at this point, my handsome French boyfriend still eight months from breaking up with me one Saturday morning, leaving me an emancipated alcoholic for many months.

He told me many years later that he had fancied me that weekend, drunkenly and ambitiously flirting as we necked two litre bottles of strongbow and shared around take out pizza. As if in a body armour of idyllic (and nauseating) happiness with the Frenchman, it bounced off me without my noticing. I wouldn’t see him again for six years.

Fast forward nine years, here I was buying a second pregnancy test from Boots. The same Boots where I had picked up the Morning After Pill three weeks earlier. In retrospect, I should have punched the pharmacist on the way out. Again, I was confident of the outcome. Although, this time, I knew it would say pregnant. And because it was one of those expensive digital tests, it wouldn’t only show a little blue line. It would say in black letters very, very pregnant. You drunken slut. I texted him the result. A few minutes passed and then my screen lit up.

“I’ll remember this as the day I found out that I had a child on the way and sat in Central Park as I talked to my beautiful partner about what comes next.”


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