On the day of my abortion, I am thinking about my childhood neighbor and the time she dove headfirst into the chalk world we sketched out on my driveway. We were playing mermaids and pretending to swim among blue squiggle lines. We’d watched The Little Mermaid on DVD recently and I couldn’t understand why she would trade her voice and her family for legs and a man she’d only known for three days. When Ariel gets her legs, they are easy for her to stand on. She only topples over once. She does not have to crawl on the sand, she does not have to learn to walk or figure out how to work her body. I wanted to shed my body, even then, and get lost in a different world. Swinging my arms out wide, I fake-dived into our drawn sea. Jumping and landing in nothing. My neighbor followed.
As my brain focuses in on the two of us at age seven both light-blonde and too short, I walk from my car to the entrance of the Planned Parenthood. An old man approaches and attempts to stuff rosary beads into my hand. I’ll help you, he says. I don’t believe him and keep walking. Choose life for your baby, he calls after me. I tell him to go away and when I text a friend about the encounter later, I say I told him to fuck off because it sounds more impressive that way. I think about the day my neighbor and I created an entire world out of nothing; drew stick figure citizens with teal fins just like Ariel’s and filled in vast bodies of water next to my dad’s Honda. And we almost convinced ourselves it was more than a game until my neighbor—expecting water—hit cold, hard earth.