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The Place You're In

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Twenty-five year old Casey McDonald paced impatiently from one side of the small bathroom in her one bedroom apartment to the other, waiting for the timer to ding. How long did it take for five minutes to pass anyway? Two minutes in, she'd decided that the bathroom was far too small to pace adequately. This situation called for some serious pacing that could just not be done in the bathroom. No, Casey definitely needed to be pacing in the living room.

Once in the living room, she set the timer down on the coffee table and continued her pacing. Casey's impatient pacing was quickly replaced by tidying up the already practically spotless living room. She needlessly straightened the pile of Derek's hockey magazines that were sitting next to the timer on the coffee table. Next she turned her attention to the DVD shelf, which held numerous DVDs that were both hers and Derek's but had long since mixed together to become "their" DVDs. She made sure that all of the cases were lined up neatly in their slots before deciding that her attempts to clean were futile. An activity that usually calmed her nerves and made things seem like they were spinning less out of control did nothing to soothe her tonight. With a minute left on the timer, she grabbed Derek's University of Toronto sweatshirt that was draped over the back of the couch, slipped it over her head and resigned herself to sitting on the couch to wait out the last minute on the timer.

Casey could barely wrap her mind around the whole situation. She was alone in her apartment and taking a pregnancy test at 3:00am. She'd never pictured herself in this position again. She'd always figured that the next time she thought she was pregnant, she'd be married and her husband would be holding her hand and they'd both have their fingers crossed waiting for a positive response. She mentally added that it would have been at a decent hour as well, as long as she was imagining the ideal circumstances to be taking a pregnancy test. Needless to say, none of the above applied to her life at the moment. She wasn't married, and she didn't know if the reason she was crossing her fingers was because she wanted the test to be positive or negative.

It had started innocently. She'd woken up one morning two weeks ago feeling sick. It didn't even cross her mind that she might have been pregnant. Why would it? It was the middle of December and on any given day around this time, at least one of her students would have been out sick. It had been that way every one of the past three years that she had been teaching high school English. Derek said it was the same at his school too. She'd shaken off the nausea, downed a glass of orange juice for breakfast and grabbed a can of chicken noodle soup to make for lunch that day during her prep period. No big deal. A week later she'd just figured that she'd caught a particularly stubborn cold virus and upped her vitamin C intake.

Her doctor had taken her off the pill for a few weeks, but she and Derek had immediately started using condoms. She still hadn't really made the connection that she could be pregnant. By the time her period was three days late, panicked thoughts had filled her brain. What if they'd slipped and forgotten a condom once? Or what if one had broken on them and neither of them had realized? She'd been so worried that she'd been having trouble sleeping. After hours of tossing and turning and worrying, she got out of bed, threw on a jacket, grabbed her car keys and headed towards the nearest store that was open at that time where she could get a pregnancy test.

The timer beeped, jolting Casey out of her thoughts and rudely bringing her back to reality. She was immediately overcome with an intense desire to throw the damn pregnancy test out of the living room window. She suddenly had no desire to see what was written in that tiny little window. Ignorance was bliss, right? If she didn't look, she'd never know and she'd never have to deal with this, right? Except that she would, and that was what the little voice in her head kept telling her. She gathered up every ounce of the courage she had and looked at the stick. There it was, clear as day.

Casey McDonald was pregnant.

She immediately burst into tears. Why? She still couldn't figure it out. Was she happy she was pregnant? Maybe. But it was also entirely possible that this was the last thing she wanted. Casey wasn't ready to try to interpret why she was feeling what she was feeling. She'd gotten over one emotional hurdle tonight and that was enough for her. She let herself drop to the floor, her back pressed up against the couch with her knees up to her chin and sobbed.

Somehow, she'd managed to get to her bedroom and fall into a fitful sleep. She was sure she hadn't stopped crying by the time she'd drifted off and when she woke up the next morning there was a pile of tissues crumpled next to her on the bed. She was grateful that today was Saturday and that she wouldn't have to work. She didn't think that she could handle teaching all of her classes today. It was all she could do to get up and make herself a cup of coffee. She'd been hoping that some sleep would make things seem less intimidating, but she apparently wasn't that lucky.

After a cup of coffee, she picked up her phone and called Tanya, her old college roommate and one of her best friends. Truth be told, Casey would rather have called Emily or her sister, but Emily lived two hours away now and her sister was about to start finals and dealing with her overly hormonal big sister probably wasn't on Lizzie's End-Of-Semester To Do list. Not that there was anything wrong with Tanya, it was just that Casey had known her sister and Emily for a whole lot longer.

"Hello?" mumbled a very groggy Tanya. Casey quickly glanced at a clock and saw that it was barely after 7:00am. Casey hadn't realized how early it was.

"Sorry Tanya, I didn't realize how early it was," apologized Casey. Casey's scratchy voice was all it took to wake Tanya up.

"Casey, you sound terrible. What's wrong?"

"Can you come over?" asked Casey, grateful to hear the concern in her friend's voice.

"Be there in twenty minutes," promised Tanya.

True to her word, Tanya walked into Casey's apartment twenty minutes later. She took one look at Casey, saw her red eyes and wrapped her in a hug. Casey handed her a cup of coffee and the two girls settled into the living room.

"What happened? Did you and Derek have a fight?" asked Tanya, taking note of the fact that Derek was not currently anywhere near the apartment, where he could usually be found.

Casey shook her head. "We're fine. Derek's at a hockey tournament until tomorrow afternoon." Casey was silent for a few moments before deciding to just spit it out, "I'm pregnant." It was easier to say out loud than she thought it would be.

Tanya's face changed from one of concern to excitement and back to concern.

"This is a good thing, isn't it?"

"I don't know," confessed Casey. "I don't know anything right now."

"What does Derek think?"

"I haven't told him yet. I mean, what if he reacts like he did last time? I'm not sure I could handle that."

In their senior year of college, Casey and Derek had had a pregnancy scare and Derek had not taken it well. He'd completely disappeared for a day when Casey first told him that she might be pregnant and when he did resurface, he'd made it clear that he did not want a child. But he'd held her hand while she waited for the test results and both had been equally relieved when it came back negative. Things were rocky between them for awhile, but they'd made it through everything together.

"Casey, that was three years ago. A lot of things have changed since then. Have you talked to your mom?"

"I. . .I can't talk to her. Not yet anyway. There's too many questions that she would ask that I can't answer right now. She and George don't know anything about me and Derek."

The only people in their family that knew about the relationship were Lizzie and Edwin, and that was because they lived in the same city and it would have been impossible to hide the relationship indefinitely from the two family snoops.

A few tears escaped from Casey's eyes even though she felt like she'd cried every tear possible and Tanya wrapped Casey in another hug.

"I just don't know what to do."