Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
It smelled like pee. Everywhere. Like a thousand drunk girls had peed on the floor last weekend and the bar owner had let it dry before spraying floral air freshener and restocking the toilet paper. Splotches of red paint marked the black bathroom walls. She knew the floor was wet, but Jay didn’t look down. Holding her tan trench coat over her arm, she watched as Feven’s hand cracked open the stall to hand her a shaggy white coat. Jay was sure she was the only praying girl in a bathroom this disgusting for the next mile, at least. It was Tuesday night.
Jay didn’t know why Feven would want to take a pregnancy test, stolen from the CVS up the street, before going out for the night. But she understood the feeling. Sometimes you have to know. Before you start thinking of names, and how he’ll take it, and if your family will help out until you get on your feet. Feven and Jay’s conversation on the way to the bar consisted of baby names, optimistic hypotheticals, and abortion as more than what old white men made laws about. Jay spoke of the little girl with flowing brown hair whose possibility stayed in her dreams long after she’d been physically removed from her.
So they were here. Feven promised Jay that they would celebrate if there was only one pink line on the stick and to kill herself if there were two. Jay wondered how committed Feven was to the last part of the promise. She prayed there was only one line, no curly-haired wide-eyed ghosts to haunt dreams, or trips to clinics and both kinds of hurt that happen after.
Jay thought of her “him,” and the hims before, that deemed themselves fit enough to not need to use protection. She thought of drunkenness and consent and rape and being young and a woman and it not being as fun as she was trying to make it. She thought of her and Feven, two Black girls, waiting and praying for just one line on a plastic stick in one of D.C.’s nastiest bar bathrooms. Another one of Feven’s hims, unrelated to this scare, was bartending a hundred feet away.
The test needed three minutes, but they waited five because they’d been taught the virtue of patience as children. They were still deciding what to carry into adulthood with them. The girls didn’t speak. They listened to the music scratching at the door and shifted their weight so that nothing too sinister soaked through the soles of their shoes. Feven checked and rechecked the stick. There was only one line.
They opened the door to music and blue light on black walls. The light usually bounced off of bodies vibrating against bass, but it was Tuesday night. Feven had quit drinking last week. They sat at the bar and ordered shots of free tequila. Jay preferred a chaser, but Feven wanted it straight. After all, it was a celebration: to all that they had carried and all that they no longer had to.
Sydnee Monday is a writer and filmmaker most interested in exploring what shame has told us not to talk about. She sometimes writes about her mental wellness experience as a Woman of Color on www.blackgirlblue.co.
Read more from our 2017 Fiction Issue here.