It was Seth and Sophia’s turn to do the dishes. For the most part, they were silent. Sophia with her arms elbow-deep in the soapy water and Seth drying the pots and pans, putting them away where they belong.
“Soph,” Seth said suddenly, turning to look at her. “How would you feel if I made you an appointment with a gynecologist?”
Was this the sex talk? Sophia found herself wondering. Immediately she blushed a bright red color. Did that mean she had to have a pelvic exam? And a PAP smear? Would they judge her if she was honest about being sexually active? Dear lord, would her dads be in the room?
Did he know she was having sex and that was what sprung the topic?
“Why do I have to go?” she asked him in a small voice, running a sponge on the inside of a pot that was used to cook rice.
“It’s just for health reasons.”
She couldn’t know if her dad was telling the truth about that or if that was just his standard reply. Sophia had a sinking feeling that he knew. But he was asking her if she wanted to go instead of just making her an appointment on a whim. So, maybe he would listen if she told him she didn’t want to go.
But. This could be her chance to get birth control pills without having to ask her dads for them.
* * *
Sophia sat in waiting room of Dr. Gordon’s office next to Chris, who was reading some magazine and acting like he did this on the regular. She was fidgety, regretting her decision of letting her father call and make her an appointment. There were at least three women there with their screaming babies and all the rest looked pregnant. Of course, she had to be the youngest which made everyone else glare at her, under the assumption that she was a teenager who had gotten herself “in trouble.”
To distract herself, she stared down at the clipboard in her lap to answer the questions.
Number of pregnancies ___
Number of live births ___
Number of miscarriages ___
She swallowed, answering zero for all three and hoping that she was telling the truth. Her period had yet to rear its ugly head.
Sophia checked Male.
Have you ever had a negative PAP smear result?
Swallowing, she chose “no” for her answer. After another couple of pages asking about her sexual history, asking things that she didn’t really know about, she gave it back to the receptionist who handed her another paper.
“Wait a second, hon.” She smiled. The woman was large, with blue eye shadow and fake eyelashes. She had big, dyed red hair and a southern accent. Sophia stopped and watched her point to something on the paper with her pen, held poised in her sausage-like fingers with gold rings on every one. “This paper says that you give us permission to release information to your parents. Anything like STD tests, pregnancy tests, PAP smear results, you know. Things like that.”
She didn’t read it over, but just stared at the line that asked for the patient’s signature.
“But I’m not eighteen.”
“That’s okay, sweetheart. It’s still your decision if you’d like any information to be released.”
Sophia turned to look over her shoulder at her dad, still flipping through a magazine nonchalantly. Then, she turned to look at the woman who was smiling at her. “I don’t think so.”
The woman grinned and placed the paper, unsigned, with the rest of the files that she had to fill out. “Okay, then. Not a problem. Go ahead and have a seat and we’ll call you as soon as we’re ready.”
She sat back down next to her dad and wished she were anywhere else but there.
It felt like she was waiting for three eternities before a middle aged nurse with short, extremely curly hair and light pink scrubs opened the door and said, “Sophia Grafton?” She rose, tossing a glance back at her dad as she made her way to the door.
“You’ll be okay,” he whispered, as the nurse closed the door behind her.
“How are you?” she asked Sophia who smiled shakily.
They went into a room that said Exam Room 3 on the door. The nurse closed it and motioned for Sophia to step up on the scale.
“Hm,” she said when Sophia got off. “You’ve lost some weight.”
She figured as much, considering she didn’t necessarily eat. And what she did almost always came back up again. It had started to show, the weight that slipped off of her, by the way that her clothes fit.
“Okay, go ahead and hop up on here,” she said, patting the exam table to which Sophia sat upon as the nurse set her file on the counter. She took her blood pressure. “When was the date of your last period?”
“A month ago. On the fourth, I think.”
She wrote something down on the paper and turned to look at her smiling. “Alrighty, then, Sophia. Dr. Gordon will be in shortly.” And before she knew it, Sophia was alone.
It didn’t take too long for there to be a knock on the door before it was opened again. A thin woman, that part shocked her, strode in wearing a white lab coat that hung open to reveal a smart dress in navy blue. She wore her blonde hair in a short bob and looked like she had just stepped out of medical school. Regardless, the doctor smiled brightly at Sophia and sat down in the stool across from the exam table, outstretching her hand. “Hey, Sophia. I’m Doctor Gordon.”
“Hi,” Sophia muttered in response, thanking her dad for setting her up with a female gynecologist for her sake.
Dr. Gordon crossed her legs and looked over Sophia’s file for a few moments. “How’s your period?”
“It’s uh, fairly regular.”
“Are you sexually active?” She asked suddenly, not glancing up from the medical records in front of her.
Sophia chewed hesitantly on her bottom lip. “Yes,” she answered finally.
She didn’t do anything in response except nod her head and make a small note on the paper she was looking at. “Since when?”
“About a month ago.”
“Did you use protection?”
“We…used a condom. But I’m not on birth control.”
“Okay,” she clicked her pen and turned the stool to look at Sophia. “So what I could do for you is prescribe you birth control pills, if you’d like. They have a 99% effectiveness if you take them like you’re supposed to. Would you be interested in that?”
She nodded, relieved.
Dr. Gordon stood and opened a cabinet above her head. When she closed it, she held a box in her hand that she opened, removing a foil packet. Ripping it open, she handed it to Sophia. Three rows of white pills were lined up with the days of the week above them. Below that, a row of peach colored pills. “Start this on Sunday.” She pointed a French manicured nail at the top row. “Take one pill a day, at the same time for it to work properly. This row here,” her fingernail fell atop the last row of peach pills. “Are inactive pills. This is when you’re going to get your period.”
Sophia stared at the pack of pills.
“But.” The doctor said, looking at her in the eyes. “It’s not going to be active for about a month so you need to keep using condoms in the meantime.” Three more boxes were pressed into Sophia’s hand. She picked up the medical records and smiled sweetly. “Make an appointment for three months from now so we could check on how they’re doing, okay?”
She nodded and Dr. Gordon slipped out of the room quietly, moving on to the next patient.
* * *
It wasn’t until about eight o’clock that night that Seth slid into shoes and tucked his wallet into his back pocket. “Where are you going?” Chris asked him, draining the water from the sink after washing the dishes.
“Out with some of the group for drinks.”
The group that Seth was talking about was the group of doctors that he worked with at the hospital. Obviously, he wasn’t on call, which allowed him to go out to drink some sort of alcoholic beverage without facing a lawsuit.
Seth looked at him, blinking his blue eyes. “No, I’m not. What’s wrong.”
Chris, irritated, dried his hands off on a towel and glared hard at nothing. “You’d rather go out with your friends than spend time here with me.”
Groaning, Seth wiped the length of his face. “It’s not like that, Chris.”
“Then what is it like?!”
“I spend every single day with you. God, Chris. I’m married to you.”
“You have a funny way of showing it.” Chris muttered tightly under his breath, turning away from Seth pointedly.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he snapped.
“You haven’t fucking touched me in months.”
“The other night, I-”
“The other night you went into Willow’s room!” Chris cried. “And when you got her to stop crying, you just went to bed.”
“Well, goddammit, Chris. I’m sorry that I’m a father-” Just as soon as he shouted it, they heard her cries sounding from upstairs. They both glared at each other, lips pursed together.
“You woke the baby.” He snarled making to head up the stairs.
Behind him, Seth was still yelling. “I woke the baby?” When Chris turned to rebuttal, Seth turned on his heel, ready to head out the door. “I’m not doing this right now. Goodbye.”
“Seth!” he screamed at his back the second the door slammed shut in his face. “Fuck!” came his voice, echoing in the house, raw and rough. Willow wailing upstairs and the sound of that door banging the doorframe reverberating through his eardrums was enough to send his fist flying into the wall in fury.
The wall, stronger enough to withstand a blow from Chris’s fist, did nothing but mock him with its poker face. However, a picture fell to the ground with a loud crash, the glass shattering upon impact.
Feeling his heart pounding surely and purely against his ribs, the same one tune on repeat, he bent to pick up the frame and found himself staring their wedding photo. He and Seth, much younger, smiling at the camera. In that picture, they had nothing but each other. They lived in a crappy apartment and couldn’t even afford a bed big enough for the both of them. They had nothing; but they were happy. And now, Chris thought, looking around at the kitchen and thinking that they could fit their whole old apartment in it. Now, they had everything they could’ve ever wanted.
And really, Chris couldn’t complain. Because this had been his dream since he was young. A big, beautiful house in the suburbs. Wealthy, handsome doctor husband. Kids, a big family, social standing.
From the outside looking in, his life was perfect. It’s just too bad that Chris was miserable.
He stared at the picture, some pieces of the broken glass clinging to the sides. An omen, he figured, that out of all the pictures nailed to the wall, that was the one that fell.
I am falling to pieces. He thought almost angrily as he climbed the stairs, stomping the whole way. When he got to Sophia’s bedroom, he found it to be empty. Her windows were shut, so she didn’t go out with Jace. And if she had, she usually told them first. Then, he heard it. Gentle cooing noises coming from Willow’s room.
Looking inside the open the door to her room, he saw Sophia humming and bouncing Willow softly on her chest, the baby smiling with her tiny fist in her mouth. “She was crying,” Sophia explained when she noticed her dad standing in the door to her sister’s bedroom.
“I’m going to need you to babysit.” He blurted, watching her face fall. But she didn’t complain or start an argument. Instead, Sophia placed Willow back in her crib and nodded, not looking at him.
Chris didn’t have time to apologize. Still mad as hell, he grabbed his car keys and headed out the door, dialing Zack’s number as he went.