The Day Before Thanksgiving I Got an Abortion

Dear Jacob,

I just want you to know that I don’t want to hear from you. I don’t want you to try to prove your worth to me as a friend, because you already have. I wish things could have been different, but I need to move forward from everything that happened. You really have no idea how hard it was for me to get pregnant in the middle of my semester and to have to keep my abortion secret, to keep everything a secret because I was basically protecting your reputation. I wish you could have gone through that with me in a substantial way. It would have helped so much.

Please, if you care about me at all, do not respond to this email, and please don’t try to communicate with me again in any way. That’s what I need from you. If you want your books back you can ask Ken or Aaron or someone to ask me for them. I don’t want to hear from you.

 I truly wish you the best.

***

This is the email I just sent the man who got me pregnant. I met him five months ago, in the middle of summer. I’d just returned from the West Coast and took a job at a local restaurant where he worked. At first we barely spoke to each other, but eventually we worked a shift together. He bartended, I waited tables, and barely any customers came in. I found out that he was an artist who was saving up to move back to the city. He was funny. We watched bad movies on TBS and bantered with each other and the one bar patron that had come in. I was surprised that I liked him, and as far as I knew he was unattached.

It was about a month later, after we got day drunk at the state fair with some friends and night-drunk watching movies and drinking whiskey that Jacob rode his bike home with me and spent the night in my bed. I loved kissing him. He had a soft mouth. He wasn’t typically handsome, which was just my type. A little chubby with a round, forgettable face, he surprised me with his skill in bed and we stayed up until five in the morning kissing, laughing, and talking. He could make me come easily just with his fingers. When he left in the morning we kissed at my front door and he immediately texted me his phone number.

I’d been single for a long time, and I’d pretty much given up on meeting someone I really liked being around, so I was surprised when I continued to think of him after he left my house. Within a couple days we made plans to watch movies at his dad’s house, where he was house-sitting. I met him outside of work and we rode through the small town we lived in. We were wet with sweat by the time we got to his dad’s house, an old Victorian on a street filled with other old Victorians. Two Saint Bernards greeted us at the door. “I have to take them for a walk,” he said, so I walked with him and we laughed about the dogs. That night we watched The Fifth Element, one of my favorite movies. While it played we talked and laughed and drank only a little bit. We put another movie in but I can’t remember which one. By then we were too occupied with each other. I found Jacob utterly charming. He was excited about who I was and my past. I began to open up to him. When we started to kiss he took me upstairs to the bedroom he was sleeping in. His clothes were strewn across the floor and we fell into the bed. We kissed, but he couldn’t get hard so we just fell asleep. In the middle of the night we both woke up at the same time, naked. The window was open and I could hear the sparse traffic in the street. Jacob and I had sex, and it was amazing. We slept together again in the morning, but I had to shower and leave for work so our goodbye was rushed. I noticed some awkwardness as he walked me downstairs. He kissed me goodbye, but as I rode home I felt a fluttering in my stomach. Something was off.

I thought of Jacob a lot over the next few days, and we spent one more night at his stepdad’s house, where we had sex again and I woke up to the breeze softly rusting the curtains. I liked the way he held me when I was sleeping. I liked the feel of his skin and his body. Then one night at the bar I overheard someone refer to his girlfriend. I looked at him and saw his eyes flash over to my face. We were hanging out that night, taking another trip to his dad’s house, so while we were unlocking our bikes I asked him if he had a girlfriend. He stood up tall and pulled in his breath for a second. “Nope,” he said, and released his breath.

“But Hannah said you have a girlfriend.”

“That’s just because I told her that. She really wanted to sleep with me, so I told her I was still with my ex-girlfriend.”

“Your ex-girlfriend.”

“I mean, okay. If I lived in the city, I would have a girlfriend. We would be together. But I don’t, so we aren’t.”

I looked at Jacob for a second. Someone had pressed a panic button but the wires were crossed. “Have you slept with Hannah?”

“Yeah,” he said. It was dark and the air was warm. I stood for a second, contemplating the sensations in my body. I felt jealousy, I felt mistrust. But he wasn’t still sleeping with Hannah, and he had just said he wasn’t with his girlfriend. I ignored my feelings because I already liked him a lot. Earlier in the day I’d printed a short story I’d written and put it in my bag. I wanted to read it to him. I ignored my intuition and shrugged. “Okay,” I said, and pulled my bike towards me. We rode through the town again to his dad’s house. When we got there he made a show of pulling several movies out of his bag. He’d bought them specifically for my tastes. I laughed and we chose the movie we were going to watch. But first I read my story and he showed me his art portfolio. It had been a really long time since I’d opened up to someone so quickly, and I felt high, giddy. I might have been falling in love. But it doesn’t matter now.

After that night Jacob pulled away from me a little bit. I met him one night at a bar because he wanted to give me a book and when he got there he was drunk and obviously nervous. He pulled my body towards him and kissed me but also wanted to leave quickly. I walked him down the street and kissed him goodbye. I felt so confused and hurt. I texted him the next day and said I thought it would be better to be friends. He agreed.

But I didn’t just want to be friends. By then I’d fallen for him. One night he came over to my house with a six pack of beer. Hannah, the girl who’d mentioned his girlfriend, was angry at him for not being a good friend. I understood now that he had been having sex with Hannah up until early June, even though she was dating someone else. I watched Jacob’s mouth as he talked to me. I wanted to be a good friend. I wanted him to love me. I was an idiot.

Jacob and I had sex for the last time when he drunkenly texted me late one night. I had to work the next morning, but he begged me to let him come over. “I just wanna hold you hard” his text said, and I opened my door to him and slept with him twice, even though he smelled like vodka. When we had sex in the morning he came inside me without asking. I knew within a week that I was pregnant, and took a pregnancy test three weeks later. Did I mention that he moved back to the city only a few days after we had sex? Well, he did. I was alone, and he was back in the same town with his ex-girlfriend who, through mutual friends, I discovered he was more with than not-with. He’d also cheated on her over and over again throughout their entire relationship.

I couldn’t tell many people in the town we lived in that I was pregnant. I didn’t want to hurt Jacob’s reputation, so I kept my mouth shut. When I told Jacob he freaked out. “I can’t deal with this,” he said to me. I was standing outside in the rain when we spoke. And then, “what do you need from me?” That was what he did. For three weeks leading up to the abortion, Jacob was there but not there. “What do you need from me?” He asked this over and over. “I need you to be around. To be here.” He called a few times and texted a little bit. This seemed to fill his good guy quota up. Never did he offer to take the short train ride up to be there for my abortion. I went to the clinic with a friend the day before Thanksgiving. I was sad. We joked in the waiting area and when I was taken back for the procedure the doctor commented on my boots and I stared at a painting of a golden retriever smiling in front of several rainbows. It felt absurd that I was there, getting an abortion. When I’d first found out I was pregnant I’d even thought of keeping it. “I could do this by myself,” I thought. But after the abortion I felt intense relief. Because I have very little family and am not very well established in the town that I live in, I spent the day by myself, in bed, sleeping off and on. I felt infinitely sad. The day after the abortion Jacob didn’t call or text. I knew from his Instagram that he was with family, feasting on food and drink. I listened to the wind chimes outside my window and the sound comforted me.

It’s been months since my abortion and I am so glad I did it. Was I irresponsible? Yes. Jacob was, too. He came inside of me without asking and never asked about birth control. If I had chosen to have the baby I would be very pregnant right now and also getting ready to graduate college and enter grad school. I haven’t spoken to or communicated with Jacob since I sent that email, and that was also the right choice. If I had chosen to have that baby I know he would have only been minimally involved. He wouldn’t have been a good father, and I wouldn’t have been able to give my child everything it needed. It’s for these reasons I feel so grateful that I was able to access the services I needed to safely terminate my pregnancy. Jacob would have been able to go on living his life, but I would have had to be a mother, no matter what.

The other day I ran into my college advisor. When she asked me where I worked I told her the name of the restaurant, and she immediately mentioned Jacob. “I’m best friends with his mother,” she said. “Isn’t he great?” I didn’t know what to say. For a moment I almost told her, no, Jacob isn’t great. He’s actually a piece of shit. But then I remembered. We all show different versions of ourselves to different people. Jacob was not good to me. He was irresponsible and cowardly. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t be good someday. Someday he might tell the truth. Someday he might be the person she thinks he is, a talented artist who is kind to other people. For him and his girlfriend’s sake, I hope that’s sooner rather than later. And I’m grateful not to have anything tying me to him, especially a baby.

IMG_3750Anastasia Selby is an ex-firefighter. She’s currently finishing her undergraduate degree in English and will be entering the MFA program at Syracuse University in Fall 2015.

3 Comments

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3 Responses to The Day Before Thanksgiving I Got an Abortion

  1. Sunil Kollabhattula

    Hi Anastasia,

    Read your atricle. Shame on him to lose such a kind hearted woman. He do not deserve to be in your life. I admire your strength and courage to go through all of this. Wish you the best in your career and life. You deserve the best! Be what you are and inspire others.

    Cheers
    Sunil

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