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“I’m okay if you consider dying okay,” I said, wondering why the sink felt so far away.

The door opened and Holly slipped inside.

“Where’s LJ?” I asked, not wanting the little man to witness this. The kid would never be the same.

“Passed out under the table,” she said, looking concerned. “You got sick?”

“What gave that away?” I said, glad I’d just cleaned the toilet yesterday, since my cheek was resting on the seat.

She glanced at the toilet, her nose wrinkled.

“Oh, shoot. Sorry,” I said, flushing.

Holly grabbed a washcloth and ran some water over it. She knelt beside me and wrapped it around my neck. It was cool and made me feel better right away.

“I must have eaten something bad,” I guessed. My stomach was seriously pissed at me and revolting.

“You had Kashi cereal for dinner last night and your standard apple for breakfast,” she said, pulling my hair back and braiding it. “I don’t think it’s anything you ate.”

“Then it must be some kind of flu bug,” I said, starting to feel better. For how long, I wasn’t sure.

“It’s early September, Lucy. This isn’t flu season.” She wrapped a tie around the end of my hair before sliding the braid under my sweater.

“Then I must be one of the fortunate few who catches that rare summertime bug,” I said, not wanting to talk about why I was sick, but rather how I could get better. Fast.

Holly sighed and scooted around until she was looking at me. “When was the last time you had your period?”

I was startled at first by her question, which was as abrupt as it was random. Two seconds later I understood what she was getting at.

“You think I could be pregnant?” Now, in addition to feeling sick to my stomach, I felt a little faint, too.

“Well, it’s not like you’re exactly abstinent, Lucy,” she said.

“I’m on the pill,” I replied, feeling like I was trying to convince her as much as I was myself. I’d missed a pill here and there, but was usually so careful.

“Yeah, but did you miss the part where it says the pill is only ninety-nine percent effective in preventing pregnancy?” Her voice was as soft as Holly’s had ever been. She wasn’t saying this to upset me, but upset was just the way I felt.

“But sometimes we use a condom, too.” Though not often.

“So that means sometimes you don’t,” she said, grabbing my hand. “I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure ‘sometimes’ isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get knocked up.”

I was starting to panic now. I was breaking out in a clammy sweat, and my hands were trembling, because I knew what Holly was saying could be a possibility. I was on the pill, and we used a condom during the times I was supposed to be at my most prime for getting pregnant, but she was right: I wasn’t abstinent, so I couldn’t rule pregnancy out 100 percent, given the way I was feeling today. As much as I wanted to.

“When was your last period?” she asked again.

I couldn’t think. I could barely breathe, so it took me a while to answer her. “Um . . . a couple of months ago. I think.” This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. “But I don’t get my period every month. It’s irregular.” It was a common thing for dancers to have sporadic periods, or even for them to stop completely. The lifestyle, paired with the low body fat, really messed with our cycles.

“Yeah, but you still get your period, so you could be pregnant.” Holly scooted toward the sink and pulled out one of the drawers. Shuffling inside it, she pulled out a pink-and-white cardboard box. “There’s only one way to know for sure.”

This whole thing got even more surreal as Holly waved the pregnancy kit in front of me.

I shook my head. “I don’t think I can do it.” One part of me already knew Holly was probably right, and I wasn’t ready for that to be confirmed. I wasn’t ready to think of how my life would change in a total and forever kind of way.

She opened the box and pulled out a white stick. “I’ll help you.”

I don’t know how long I stared at that white stick, but Holly had to help me up, because I wasn’t capable of moving. After telling me what to do, she waited with me while I peed on the test. A test that felt like it was holding my whole life in the balance. Like all my dreams, and hopes, and my future rested on the outcome of one or two pink lines.

After capping it, Holly set it down on the sink. “We have to wait two minutes.”

Two minutes might as well have been two decades. I wanted to sneak a peek just as much as I didn’t. Holly hugged me the whole time, rubbing the back of my neck and patting my back. It was moments like these when you were most thankful for your friends, because there was no way I could have made it through this without her.

“Okay, I think it’s time,” she said, giving my braid one gentle tug.

“Just tell me,” I said, closing my eyes. “I can’t look.”

“All right, Lucy,” she said. I heard her pick the stick up from the counter. She barely gasped, but it went off like a foghorn in my ears. “Lucy . . . you’re . . .”

I opened my eyes at the last minute. Two pink lines.


And then I passed out.

The voices around me sounded like they were coming through a tunnel. They were all echoes. I wanted to open my eyes, but I couldn’t. Not because they felt heavy, but more because they felt like they’d been taped closed. I wanted to escape the darkness, but I couldn’t.

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