Crossed Legs

By Hallie Duffy

She sits with her legs crossed, reading a book she borrowed from the library last week. The words on the page dance into one no matter how many times she tries to refocus. She flips the page, again trying to concentrate on each word that her eyes just glaze over.

Her mind still wanders, the buzz of the bright lights in the ceiling and ringing of the large phone on the counter across from her catching her attention. Her mom sits to her left, a grim expression plaguing her soft features. The skin around her mother’s eyes looks red and worn, like she’s spent the past few weeks flooding her eyes with salty tears. She has never seen her mom like this, her face and shoulders heavy with disappointment and sadness. She gives up, closing the book and peers around the room, taking in all the other women.

Each girl sits the same, their feet pushing into the tile floor while the rest of them sit motionless, like the fear in their bellies have paralyzed them. Their faces glow with color, the softness of youth touching their cheeks. The clock on the wall is still ticking, even though time feels frozen, the hour and second hands moving with each passing moment. Yet, for her time stands still. Her mom stirs in the chair, repositioning so her legs are crossed like hers.

She wondered if the thing inside would’ve been like her. She was so much like her mom, carefree and outgoing. Her mom was a bit more careful though, waiting to do things and experience the big stuff when the time was right. Her mom always told her she was a bit more anxious, always rushing things instead of taking her time. She knew that this was no different, she got ahead of herself. She always did.

The man in the clean white coat finally enters the room, walking light on his feet through the door that is to the left of the desk. She imagined him floating, like an angel who could carry all her sins far away. That didn’t make her belly settle though, the nervous kicks still fluttering inside.

“Violet Pearson, you can come back now. We are ready for you.”

He was a large man, upper 30’s with greying hair. She thought it was ironic how a big man does a job on something so small. His voice filled the room, sitting on her chest like a heavyweight. She filled herself with a deep breath, sure to let the breath reach low in her abdomen.

Her mom reached for her hand, squeezing gently before letting go, urging her to stand up and follow the doctor to the sterile rooms that lay beyond. Carefully, she rose, methodically placing one foot in front of the other. The large man gave her a forced smile, not big enough to show teeth but enough to make it noticeable. She couldn’t smile back. Instead, she looked past her belly and down at her feet. She followed him through the door, hesitating a moment as he shut it behind her.

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