Vanessa came first. As she felt Rick’s rhythm alter, building to his own rapidly approaching climax, she had a flicker of doubt that blossomed into panic.
“Did you put on a condom?” she gasped, not having had time to catch her breath yet.
But it was too late and Rick finished with one last thrust. He only rested against her breast for a moment, then rolled still holding on to her, still inside her (though diminishing). Now on his back with Vanessa astride him, Rick responded.
“Did you say something?”
“Were you wearing a condom?”
“You idiot. Why not?”
“You said you were on the pill now. I thought that was what you decided. You said that, since we’ve been together for a while, and we’ve agreed to be exclusive, and we got tested and we’re both clean, you said you were going on the pill. Didn’t you tell me you picked it up the other day?” The severity of her tone was making him nervous. He wasn’t used to feeling so nervous this soon after having great sex and he didn’t like it. He wanted her to reassure him so he could relax and work himself up for another round.
“It takes more than a few days for the hormones to build up in my system and become fully effective.”
“What?!” He sat up in bed and Vanessa got off of him. “Why didn’t you say that before?”
“I thought you knew. I didn’t know you were going to jump right in without checking first.”
She headed for the bathroom, grabbing the terrycloth robe from the back of the desk chair on her way. She turned on the shower and began doing her best to clean herself off and clean herself out. Her movements were swift, sure, controlled; anxiety directed her actions and pushed for the careful execution of every precautionary measure that came across her mind.
In the bedroom, Rick dug around in his pile of clothes, located his boxers, and pulled them on. He rose and pulled the blankets up on the bed, covering the sweaty impressions they had left on the sheets. Pacing across the room perpendicular to the foot of the bed, Rick listened to the shower running. When he spotted Vanessa’s laptop, he grabbed it and began Googling “how many days before the pill contraception is effective.”
The results list did little to relieve his fears as he struggled to remember details of female reproductive cycles from sex ed classes ten, maybe fifteen years earlier. Some sites said it could start working as soon as two to three days, others said one to two weeks. One site advised using a backup method for one to three months. It would all depend on what she was taking, when she had started taking them, and where in her cycle she had been when she started (none of which he knew with any degree of certainty). She had been reluctant to have sex two weeks earlier and had opted for oral sex as a compromise but she had been far bitchier the week after that.
Vanessa emerged from the bathroom toweling her hair dry.
“What kind of pill are you on? When exactly did you start taking it? Where in your cycle are you?”
Vanessa flushed and crossed to her dresser, fetching the packet of pills from the top. She popped one out of the foil and swallowed it dry, then tossed the packet to Rick where he was perched in her desk chair. “I picked them up last Tuesday and started taking them Wednesday, so it’s been seven… no, eight days. I should get my period in two, two and a half weeks.”
Rick looked at the prescription information on the package and refined the search. His rapidly beating heart was starting to calm down. “It looks like it should be fine. Wait,” he clicked on a link at the bottom of the page. “You’re not taking any other medications or antibiotics right now, are you?”
“Just a multi-vitamin, why?” she came up behind him to read over his shoulder.
“That shouldn’t interact in a negative way. We should be in the clear.” His voice was noticeably calmer but it did little to reassure Vanessa as she returned to the bed and sunk down on its edge.
“What if it isn’t?”
Rick glanced up from the computer screen. There was a not in her voice that checked his spreading calm and put his nerves back on alert.
“I want to get the morning after pill, just to make sure.”
Rick looked to the screen again, unable to look at her while his mind and emotions ran wild on what she’d said. “Why don’t we wait and see if it’s even necessary first?” His voice was measured and deliberate in his delivery and he maintained eye contact with the cursor on the screen.
“You know it’ll be too late for that then. I don’t want it to get that far. I’ll go to the drug store first thing, tell them the condom broke. Or nothing. They don’t need to know what happened. It’s none of their business.” She paused, hoping he would finally look at her. But he didn’t. She sighed and continued. “I would like it if you’d come with me.”
“No,” he said reflexively. She at least knew he was still listening. “I don’t see why we can’t wait this out. We probably don’t even need to be having this conversation.”
“I can’t go two to three weeks with this hanging over my head. And the next conversation would be worse.”
That got him to look up at her. “You’re saying you wouldn’t want to have it, aren’t you? You’d have an abortion.”
“I’d definitely consider it but I don’t know if I would be able to go through with it. And I don’t want to find out. I do know that I’m not ready for a baby and I do know we aren’t. Right now it could go either way and that’s why I want to get Plan B. As long as I can’t know for sure, I know I can do what I need to do, to stay on track. Once I am definitely pregnant… I just don’t know.”
“You don’t want to have our child, is that it? Do I get a say at all?”
“I do want a family but not yet, not now. Maybe with you. But if we started like this, I don’t think we would last. We’d start doing things for the wrong reasons and things would get away from us. I don’t want this, want us, to move too fast because I want it to last.”
“How can you be so sure we can’t handle something like this? Do you think I’ll do something to screw it up?”
Vanessa stood and crossed to the desk. Sitting down in his lap, she prayed the chair wouldn’t break beneath their combined weight. “This isn’t about you. I’m not ready, period. When I have kids, I want be making more money in a year than I have left to pay off in student loans. I want to live somewhere they can play outside in the grass and not in the street. I want to enjoy them and not worry so much about how to afford anything and everything. I worry about us not because I think we have problems but because of my parents. They were together for thirty years and then I just get a call one day that they’re splitting up. I don’t feel like I can be sure of anything right now. Please, please understand. I want the thought of being pregnant to put me on cloud nine, not send me into a blind panic.”
Rick sat silent for a few minutes and Vanessa stood up from his lap and went back to her spot on the bed. She picked up the hairbrush from the bedside table and started in on the damp, tangled mess. The rasp of the brush did little but call attention to the quiet of the room.
“There’s a twenty-four hour pharmacy two blocks from my apartment.” Vanessa paused and turned her head back towards Rick. He was still staring hollowly at the screen. “If we get ourselves together now, we can probably get there in forty-five minutes, maybe an hour. Depends on how long it’ll take us to find a cab at this time of night.”
Vanessa walked up behind his chair and, bending from the waist, she wrapped her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder. “Thank you.”
But he shrugged his shoulders and shook her off. “I don’t want to do this. But it’s a time sensitive situation and we don’t have enough to waste arguing and debating about it. I’ll probably come around in a few days and when I do, I’m sure I will probably regret being a stubborn ass and fighting you on this. So I’m not gonna keep fighting. But I’m not happy right now and you need to give me some space until I’m okay with it. Back off and let me be upset for a while.”
Vanessa’s gratitude outweighed the hurt she felt and after hurriedly dressing, they left her apartment in silence and headed in the direction of Rick’s place together.