Two – Nitya Gupta

On August 3, Bach was playing when Stacey walked into the abortion clinic. The waiting room was empty, save for a teenage boy sitting in the corner, hunched over as if he’d hurl at any moment. Stacey eyed the brown curls sprouting from his head, the nervous twitching of his left knee, and the lingering chubbiness in his face. He was young, but he was there. Even the boy looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but the Heartland Women’s Health Center at 3:30 pm on a sunny Friday, he was there for someone, and her boyfriend wasn’t.

Stacey’s conversation with Kabir wasn’t so much of a conversation as it was the soft utterance of “I’m pregnant” followed by a prolonged pause. A pause that carried through the next four days. For four days, Stacey tended to two bodies. She walked around with a hand pressed to her stomach. She retched in the morning after breakfast but still ate it the next day and the day after that and the day after that. She cried every night after realizing her decisions were tangled for not one, but two.

“Would you still like to go through with the procedure?”

Stacey’d already signed the forms, and now she was reclined in bed, hooked up to monitors. A middle-aged woman with a heart-shaped face was peering down at her, ready to begin.

Stacey wondered how many twentysomethings like herself backed out at the last moment, electing to remain as two until their bodies could no longer take it. Did the woman ask all her patients this question? Or did Stacey look distraught, as if she wanted to change her mind? Stacey was stuck on a question: How could women bear to be two bodies—one large, misshapen shell and one small, rounded egg—for nine months, only to become one lonely soul again, destined to love the babe from afar for forever?

“Yes,” Stacey answered. “Yes,” she said again, because she was still two, not one.

Nitya GuptaNitya Gupta is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She holds a B.A. in English with a sub-concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in the Environment. Nitya currently lives in Chicago, where she’s at work on her first novel.