I was never good with numbers. In my world, if two trains left the station at the same time going different speeds, the only thing I cared about was whether or not they were on the same track. If they weren’t, they’d be just like ships passing in the night. If they were on the same track, then it was an accident waiting to happen.

An accident waiting to happen. That pretty much sums up my life right about now. Waiting. Waiting to find out whether or not my life is going to change in the next three minutes.

These are going to be the longest three minutes of my life.

People play the numbers game to get themselves into exactly this situation. They sit down and they look at days on the calendar. They know they have a three-day window to get it right. They have thirty days until their next opportunity comes around. Even then, there’s a one-percent chance that it’s just the right time and just the right conditions. It’s as many as four weeks before you find out if you’ve missed the boat. If you caught it, it’s a nine-month preparation period followed by a lifetime commitment. If you didn’t, then it’s back to the drawing board, counting the numbers and balancing the days.

What do I know about peak days and most fertile times and all that stuff? I told you, I don’t do numbers. I did as much school as I felt I needed before I stopped going. And they definitely didn’t give me any real world applications like this in math class.

What really would have helped was my health teacher pointing to a week and saying “See this? Stay away from anything male for this entire week. You’ll thank me later.” And I probably would have. At the very least, I wouldn’t be sitting here now on the lid of a cold ceramic toilet with my bare feet on smooth tile. I’m entombed in my bathroom. This could be the final resting place of the person I am now. All that I am could change.

Two minutes left.

This whole thing has put me on edge. It’s made me more aware. I’ve started to notice things, different things. Like how there are five churches between my house and where I work. I see them every day on my drive. There are two Catholic churches, one Baptist, one Anglican, and one Danish Lutheran. There’s also two walk-in clinics, three doctor’s offices, a hospital, and a woman’s clinic. I see them but I never stop. As if only one or the other can save me. Faith against science. Even if I did choose one or the other, I’d have to tell them all about me and my situation, and I just don’t want to. I don’t want people to know. The fewer people who know, the better.

My boyfriend doesn’t know. He’s nineteen, older than me. He works in the town grocery store making thirteen dollars an hour. Then he takes that money and uses it to buy beer and video games. His mom takes care of everything else. I like her. She’s always been nice to me, even when he hasn’t. I wonder how many diapers thirteen dollars an hour will buy? And baby food. And milk.

One minute left.

I wish I had been more careful. I wish I hadn’t missed those two days. I thought I would remember to take it at nine. I always remembered to take it at nine. But then I missed. I wish I hadn’t missed. I’d like to say it’s his fault that I missed them, but it’s not. But people forget to take pills all the time, or they take them twice. I don’t know too many people who got into this kind of a situation from forgetting something so small. I wish I’d thought of that sooner. I wish my boyfriend was going through this instead of me. I wish I wasn’t doing this alone. I wish I had listened to my mother. I wish I still talked to my mother.

Thirty seconds left.

I wish this was intentional. I wish I wanted this to happen, that I was sitting with someone right now who loved me and wanted this with me. He would hold my hand and try to distract me while we waited for the three minutes to run out. He would tell me how many days he’d loved me before he told me, how this would be the first of three kids we would have, how many times a week we would take our kid to the park and how many hours of sleep we would lose in the first two years.

What if I find that guy? And one day, I sit down with him and we figure out the calendar and the days, and plan it out, and I’m ready for this. But what if I plan, and then nothing happens?

What if this is the only chance I get?

Five seconds left.





L.V. Brooks is a short story writer who hopes to one day have a good novel to her name. She lives in Canada.

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