Slowly she ambled her way through the marketplace, taking in all the sights and sounds and protectively shielding her stomach from the throng of people as they jostled her to and fro. A lot of them were in a hurry, running to be somewhere, buying gourmet foods to be used in that evening’s dinner. She did not feel hurried. All she felt was an incredible peace. This time was going to be different. This time she had made it past the dreaded three month mark. She slowly made her way to the coffee booth. “White Chocolate Latte, with whip. Decaf, please.” They had the best chocolate whipped cream and after all she could afford a few extra calories; she was eating for two, now. She smiled a little as this thought crossed her mind. It must have been contagious because the girl behind the counter smiled back as she handed her the warm paper cup piled high with chocolate whipped cream. She closed her eyes as she took the first sip, the whipped cream leaving a little “mustache” above her lip. Her tongue reached out and ran along her upper lip to retrieve the remnants of the velvety, frothy cream. It was funny how she enjoyed the small pleasures lately. It seemed her senses were heightened, lying in wait for her next indulgence. Leisurely, sipping her cup of decadence, she made her way through the market.
A table full of colourful, little, knitted hats caught her eye and she stopped to admire the handiwork. She fingered one of the hats. It was a little orange pumpkin with a green stem at the top. So cute. She held it wistfully. The woman behind the table asked if she had a little one in mind. She smiled and replied that, yes, actually she did. Impulsively, breaking all her rules, she decided to buy it. It was her very first purchase for the child that would be hers. She accepted her change and held out her hand for the bag, while telling herself that it was okay to break the rules, she was past the crucial point. This time it was going to take, this time her uterus would accept the little embryo just as willingly as she would cradle the little babe in her arms when the time came. Until then, she would cradle it inside of her, letting it know somehow that it was unconditionally loved, even now.
She decided to take the rest of her coffee and sit outside in the warm October sun. It was a beautiful fall day, one of those days that tipped the balance in favour of fall being the favourite of seasons. She found a wooden bench and sat back with her eyes closed, the combination of the warm sun and the ocean breeze was delightful. She drifted into a lazy, languishing state, not sleeping but completely relaxed. She was tired lately but that went with the territory, so she was told.
She was pleasantly startled from her reverie by the sound of a small child emitting a belly laugh, the sort of chortle that came from deep within and from a place of pure delight making all those who witnessed at least smile, if not laugh themselves. The little boy, blonde curls bouncing at the back of his head, was rushing into a flock of pigeons causing them to all fly away and when they alit a little ways away, he would do it again, and again, all the while giggling infectiously. She observed this scene for a while until the little boy tired of the game and decided that he was going for a walk down the pier, his mother, closely, in tow behind him.
As she watched them walk away, mother chasing son, she supposed it was time that she left as well. It was getting late and she need to think of something to make for dinner, although this was difficult these days as nothing really appealed to her.
One more stop in the bathroom and she would make her way home. She had to pee a lot these days, but she didn’t mind because it went with the territory. She found the bathroom, no lineup, which was good because she really had to go by now. A quick glance under the doors revealed that all the stalls were free. She tried to open the door of the farthest stall but it wouldn’t open. Someone had locked it from the inside. She opened the door to the next stall, went in and locked the door. She took down her pants and hovered above the seat. Knowing she was alone in the bathroom, she let go with an audible sigh of relief. Then something caught her eye. She looked down. It was unmistakable, the angry, crimson streak on her panties. She fell onto the toilet seat, her heart sinking to her ankles along with her pants. Again. It had happened again. She allowed herself a moment as hot tears streamed down her face. Then resolutely, she stood, pulled up her pants and walked from the stall. As she washed her hands, she made a decision. She dug deep into the bottom of her purse and sorted through the receipts and business cards. There it was: a piece of paper about eight inches by five inches. She looked at it, sadly at first – she didn’t think that she would have to do this – but then determined. She dug deeper into her purse and found some tape. She looked around for somewhere to put it. The hand dryer was as good a place as any. People would see it as they walked in the door. She taped the piece of paper to the dryer and read over the words she had written one more time as she drew her hand across the piece of paper in a gesture that seemed to finalize her decision. As she walked out of the bathroom she threw the bag with the pumpkin hat into the garbage can by the door.
From her perch atop the toilet seat upon which she squatted, Mia watched this scene unfold through the crack in the stall door. After the lady had left the bathroom, Mia place her hands on either side of the stall to brace herself, slowly unfurled her legs from underneath her and stepped onto the tile floor. She opened the stall door and went directly to the hand dryer, curious to see what the lady had put there. She stood reading the sign:
Earn money for bills, student loans
or for your children’s education.
SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY
This piece was inspired by the note above that I actually did see in a bathroom at Granville Island Market last fall. We were attending the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival and I think somebody planted it there specifically as a writing prompt. Who knows, but our writing group had fun interpreting it. The phone number is fictitious.