A Different Blue Page 39

I felt the heat of confrontation leave my face and my heart resume a more normal pace. Wilson looked away from me, but I knew he was still talking to me, especially to me.

“We've written our histories throughout the year. But now I want you to think about your future. If you predict your future based on your past, what does your future look like? And if you don't like the direction you're headed, which label do you need to shed? Which one of those words that you've written to describe yourself should be abandoned? All of them? What label do you want for yourself? How would you label yourself if the labels weren't based on what you thought of yourself but what you wanted for yourself?” Wilson picked up a stack of folders. One by one, he began passing them out.

“I've combined every page of your history into this folder. Everything you've written from the very first day. This is the last page of your personal history. Now. Write your future. Write what you want. Shed the labels.”

Once upon a time there was a little blackbird who was pushed from the nest, unwanted. Discarded. Then a Hawk found her and swooped her up and carried her away, giving her a home in his nest, teaching her to fly. But one day the Hawk didn't come home, and the bird was alone again, unwanted. She wanted to fly away. But as she rose to the edge of the nest and looked out across the sky, she noticed how small her wings were, how weak. The sky was so big. Somewhere else was so far away. She felt trapped. She could fly away, but where would she go?

She was afraid . . . because she knew she wasn't a hawk. And she wasn't a swan, a beautiful bird. She wasn't an eagle, worthy of awe. She was just a little blackbird.

She cowered in the nest hiding her head beneath her wings, wishing for rescue. But none came. The little blackbird knew she might be weak, and she might be small, but she had no choice. She had to try. She would fly away and never look back. With a deep breath, she spread her wings and pushed herself off into the wide blue sky. For a minute she flew, steady and soaring, but then she looked down. The ground below rose rapidly to meet her as she panicked and cartwheeled toward the earth.

I pictured the bird teetering at the edge of the nest, trying to fly, and then falling and hitting the concrete below. Once I had seen an egg that had fallen from a nest in a huge pine tree near our apartment complex. A baby bird, partially formed, had lain in the cracked shell.

I threw my pencil down and stood up from my desk, breathing hard, feeling like I was going to crack too and severed pieces of Blue were going to rain down upon the room in a gruesome display. I grabbed my bag and ran for the door, needing to get out. I heard Wilson calling after me, telling me to wait. But I ran for the exits and didn't look back. I couldn't fly away. That was the kicker. The little bird in the story was no longer me. My story was now about someone else entirely.

I had been to Planned Parenthood before. I had gotten birth control there, though the latest round had obviously failed me. I googled all the possible reasons birth control could fail. Maybe it was the antibiotics I had been on after Christmas, or the fact that I had inexplicably had an extra pill and no extra days, meaning I'd missed one somewhere. Whatever the reason, the test was still positive, and I still hadn't had a period.

I'd called days before and made an appointment for after school – though running out of class had given me ample time to get there with time left over. The lady at the reception desk was matter-of-fact if not friendly. I filled out a medical form, answered a few questions, and then sat on a metal chair with a black cushion and turned the pages in a magazine filled with “the world's most beautiful women.” I wondered if any of them had ever gone to a Planned Parenthood. Their faces stared up at me from the glossy pages, resplendant in their colorful plummage. I felt small, cold, and ugly, like a bird with wet feathers. Enough with the birds! I pushed the thought away and turned the page.

I wondered if my mother had come to a place like this when she was pregnant with me. The thought brought me up short. I was born in the early nineties. Very little had changed in the last twenty years, right? It would have been almost as easy for her to get an abortion as it would be for me. So why hadn't she? From the very little I knew about her, my birth was not convenient for her. I was definitely not wanted. Maybe she just didn't know about me until it was too late. Or maybe she had hoped to use me to get her boyfriend to take her back, to love her, to take care of her. Who knew? I sure as hell didn't.

“Blue?” My name was called, a big question on the end, as was always the case when anyone read my name. People were always sure they were being messed with. I grabbed my purse and walked to the door where the nurse stood, waiting for me to join her. Without even waiting for the door to swing shut behind us, she informed me that they would need a urine sample and handed me a cup.

“When you're done, write your name on the label, attach it to your sample, and give it to me directly. We will test for pregnancy and STDs. You will have your pregnancy result today, but the STD results will take longer.” She walked me to the restroom and waited until I walked inside and closed the door. I looked down at the label I was supposed to attach to the cup. There was a place for my name and a section for the time, temp, and date of the sample, which I assumed would be completed after I turned it over for inspection. Wilson's lecture on labels filled my head.

“ . . . And if you don't like the direction you're headed, what label do you need to shed? Which one of those words that you've written to describe yourself should be abandoned?”

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