“Why can’t you drive any faster?!” I scream at my mom.
“I’m going as fast as I can,” she barks back in an I told you so kind of voice. I get out of my seat and squirm around without a seat belt, shifting my weight from foot to foot.
The pressure never disappears, no matter how hard I try to distract myself. I look out at the trees as we zip by them in our minivan, one by one… One, two, three… twelve… thirty-seven… no, it was thirty-eight – it doesn’t matter, anyway.
The hum of the engine is a constant reminder of my mother’s unwillingness to accelerate, and because of the continuous speed, there is a small insect trapped against the window – still alive but unable to move. Its spindly legs are flailing in the wind, and it looks as though it is trying to control them but just can’t. There are other splatters on the window, probably relatives of the insect that didn’t resist. I find myself empathizing with the little insect. We are both relieved once the car stops.
“Um… Mr. Brown, may I use the restroom?” I slowly raise my eyes up from my desk, searching for an affirmative gesture.
“If it is an emergency… I suppose so.” Mr. Brown sighs as I gingerly stand up, for he never believes there is an actual emergency.
But there is an emergency.
My face turns as white as my shorts once were. Before I asked, I was smart enough to remember to remove my sweater and carefully tie it around my waist. This process took around seven and a half minutes because I needed to complete my task as nonchalantly as possible in order to avoid unwanted attention. I begin to walk, one foot forward, then the next. Three, four, five, six more steps to the door.
Just as my hand touches the handle, I hear some boys snicker.
Red cheeks, red chair.
I turn the knob and bolt from the room as fast as I can, and I hear their laughter as I run down the hall.
“Honey, I just want to let you know, that if I don’t make it -” my husband won’t let me finish my plea.
“Shh… there’s no need for that, everything will be fine.” With my skeptical look, he adds,
“And I know I can say that cliche with confidence, because you are a strong, patient woman.” He gives me a closed lip smile, and I know he means it.
“Just breathe with me.”
He takes one large inhale, and I attempt to mimic his control. In and out. One and two. Three and four. Five and – I let out a cry with my breath, automatically moving my hands to my belly.
The contractions are getting closer and closer.
I feel my knees shaking, so I try to focus my gaze on them to gain control, but the mass obscures my vision, and all I can see are the tips of my polished toes. I remove one shaky, salty hand and flail it in the air, searching for its counterpart. A calm, moist one finds mine, and they interlock, forming a sweaty ball of energy.
The pain is temporary, the result is permanent happiness. The door bings, signaling the arrival of the elevator.
Let’s do this.