Driving Home



Dashboard, steering wheel, and air freshener in car on a highway in Moskovskaya Kovaltseva Avtomobilnaya Doroga. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Driving Home

Ariana Goulkin

I cannot believe this. My hands are shaking but the 2 pink lines on the test are still clear as day. I wish Bailey was wrong. But B is never wrong and I checked, everything they said checks out. How am I supposed to drive from Kansas to Massachusetts without my parents suspecting anything? Why is it even necessary that my parents consent to me getting an abortion? I am the one who got pregnant and I am the one who can handle it. And why do I live in a state where both parents need to consent? That is ridiculous. Once this is all over, I’m gonna change that. I don’t know how, but I will. Right now though, I need to work on how to drive halfway across the country without too many questions.

“We are gonna go visit Bailey’s aunt in Massachusetts. The whole trip will probably be a week and a half, to two weeks long. Bailey’s aunt suggested I go, I swear I didn’t invite myself. Can I please go?” I ask my mom and dad desperately praying they agree. And just like that, they do. Telling me how I need to be safe and careful but they trust me and Bailey. Even going as far as to say what a fine young lady I am friends with which makes my body shrink and my stomach crumble into pieces. But my parents wouldn’t understand they/them pronouns and Bailey’s parents don’t know yet so mine sure as hell can’t.

Day One- We had already been on the road for 7 hours when the green sign came into view. In bright white letters the sign read Missouri, The Show Me State. B is driving. My eyes are getting heavier by the second begging me to take a break. I feel bad leaving B so I turn up the car radio in the hopes of staying awake. As I listen to Meet Me at Our Spot my mind drifts back to the night it all began. Jake was sweet and it wasn’t spontaneous or anything too special. We had talked about it before and we were safe. But I guess what they say is right, the only way to not get pregnant is to not have sex. All of a sudden the car is turning and I instinctively reach out holding onto the handle of the car door. Looking to my left I see Bailey and a sign “The Edge of Hell”

“What are we doing here?” I ask, coming off probably more harsh than necessary.

“Listen, I know we need to get to Mass, and we will, I promise you that Jess. But we might as well have some fun. And this place has the world’s longest snake in captivity. How many chances does someone have to see that?” Bailey questioned, looking at me with their big puppy eyes.

Before I know it, I am face to face with Medusa, the reticulated python. Any of the tiredness I felt earlier is gone as I stare at this huge slithering beast. The eyes look vaguely familiar. Judgemental, beady, and a little angry to be locked up. Mom. Before I could continue this super super fun staring contest Medusa and I had going on, I needed to throw up. I had made it to the bathroom just in time which I was oh so thankful for but oh my god this place was ugly. The walls were absolutely covered in graffiti and it made me miss my tidy white bedroom more than I thought possible.

Day 2- When I woke up, we were in West Virginia, I completely slept through Kentucky. B greeted me by pushing a tiny box of Froot Loops towards me. Smiling, I take the box and pop a couple in my mouth. The citric loops swirl around in my mouth like a ballerina doing a pirouette. The sun is rising and Bailey’s skin is glowing. They are singing some song but I am too busy watching them to hear it. 

In like a half hour we will have made it to Pennsylvania!! I told Bailey to trust me and follow my directions and I send us to a little diner called Patty’s Family Restaurant. As we get out of the car Bailey says something about being excited for our lunch date and I swear to god it is like my legs turn into kinetic sand. Just absolutely crumbling beneath me. I want to ask them if they are being serious but they are already dashing towards the diner door. I laugh despite all the nerves about what they mean and follow them in.

The diner is kinda weird but in a comforting way. The walls are covered in seashells and concert tickets as well as band tees. I don’t really understand what possessed them to choose this as the decor but I am trying to judge less. Their menu is long, like really long. I was not expecting such a tiny diner to have so much. This place keeps surprising me. They have BLT’s which I adore and theirs are only 7 dollars so I made up my mind pretty quickly. Bailey on the other hand takes a little longer. Eventually, they end up getting grilled cheese. While we wait for the food I can feel my mind start to wander but I can’t stop it. My brain is booking it, like a four year old running towards their local playground. Jake is sweet. But Bailey? They are more than sweet. What about my parents? They don’t even see Bailey for who they are. They go to church every Sunday. What would they say if they knew I was in a diner possibly on a date with Bailey trying to get an abortion? 

Day 3- Yesterday, around 6 PM we made it to Mass and decided to spend the night at a hotel. It wasn’t the best but also wasn’t the worst so we got that going for us. The HI Boston Hotel had been running low on beds though, which meant Bailey and I had to share. Which was technically nothing new, but the way I felt about them surely was, which made the whole experience, very interesting to say the least.

I think it is around 8 but honestly I am not too certain. My phone is on the coffee table and I don’t want to wake Bailey. For the past hour I have been watching them. It makes me feel a little bit like a stalker but there isn’t much else to do. Their breathing is really rhythmic and comforting. And their mouth is open ever so slightly. I wish there would be one moment during this trip where they stop looking so cute. All of a sudden they start rolling around the bed and their arm ends up landing on my leg. What. Do. I. Do. 

After like 2 hours of straight panic, Bailey woke up. Their hair was all messed up and they looked so goofy and dazed. As if it were 5 in the morning, not 10. Planned Parenthood was about 20 minutes away and my appointment was for 11 which gave us plenty of time to get ready and be there a couple of minutes early.

The walls of the building were kinda smooth and metallic looking. And outside were dozens of protesters screaming at me for “murdering a helpless baby.” I knew that it wasn’t true but when dozens of people are screaming at you it is hard to think rationally, it is also hard to move. My feet felt like they were being held down. I was frozen. Bailey stopped to look back at me and grabbed my hand, giving me a reassuring smile. Then this worker walked up to us saying something about how the protesters are always here but it is okay, she is here for me,   how I am gonna get the help I need, and how it isn’t a bad thing. I wish her words had over powered those of the protesters but the knot in my stomach hadn’t left. Before we left Kansas, Bailey did most of the planning and I just listened. I don’t actually know how this all works.

Turns out abortions are really simple. All I had to do was take a couple pills. Mifepristone, and then Misoprostol. Mifespristone stops the pregnancy from continuing and Misoprostol then empties the uterus. Unfortunately for me, that meant bleeding and a lot of cramping. I laid in the hotel bed wishing for it to end. Bailey held me and stroked my hair. It wasn’t until about 2 hours into the cramping that it finally hit me. I did it. I got an abortion at 17 without my parents knowing. And Bailey was there for me the whole time. They cared more about me than my parents did. More than the guy I was trying to convince myself was sweet and didn’t breakup with me the second I told him I was pregnant. Just like that, everything was out in the open and I couldn’t hide anymore. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t drive halfway across the country. I couldn’t lie. All I could do was cry. 

For dinner we went to this really fancy restaurant called Yvonnes. I packed this super sparkly dress just for it. And Bailey wore this suit and they looked super good. We both got these soups because apparently fancy restaurants have multiple stages of eating. The soup was okay but it tasted expensive and like something I didn’t deserve. I wanted to have fun but the whole place seemed above me and my uncomfortable-ness must have been obvious because Bailey’s hand grasped mine. As we made eye contact I had a feeling everything that I had been thinking about them, they had been thinking about me. Soon enough the actual meals came and we let go of each other, but there was a second of hesitation on both ends that made my whole body light up.

Yvonnes was okay but honestly I preferred Patty’s Family Restaurant. When I was there, I felt like a person, not just something they could get money from. As Bailey and I walked to the car, I wondered whether I should say something. I stopped and looked at them. The streets were dark except for a circle of light from a street lamp. I could see every part of them as they stepped forward. Their soft hand grabbed my face as they kissed me, their other hand grasping my hip and pulling me closer. No talking was needed, we knew each other, and we knew how we felt. Then we started the long trip back from Massachusetts to Kansas. This time I drove and Bailey looked up world records we could see. I knew when I got home I would have to face my parents and tell them about Bailey. But for the next 5 days I felt like I was on top of the world. I had got an abortion at 17. My best friend was now my partner and I got to spend so much time with them this summer. When I saw that positive test I thought my life was over, but maybe it was just the beginning.