Late

That night Katy dreamt that she woke up in her old house, everything was normal, her mum was doing something in the kitchen with Le Creuset pans, the house wasn’t repossessed, “your dad will be home from golf soon”, she kept saying, which was a bit weird because he didn’t play golf, but it was the sort of thing he might do,

Then she work up, she was lying in her apartment in New York, and she had a job interview in the morning, at a shop which Lina’s mum’s friend owned.

Katy felt humiliated inside, but she aced the interview.

“Come over tonight”, said Gareth,

“I can’t” said Katy, “I have work in the morning”,

“But it’s Saturday”,

“Yes, I know, my job is on Saturday”, said Katy,

“Are you sure you have to go?” he asked, a slight whine in his voice, as if Katy were being difficult,

“Yes, otherwise I will run out of cash for the rest of this month”, she said, firmly, “I’ll call you later”, she snapped her phone shut, and reached for her coffee, cradling the mug in her hands, winter was setting in, Katy and Lina were sitting in a café, it was Lina’s treat, Katy was broke,

“Can’t you just stay with Gareth?” asked Lina, who thought nothing of shacking up with a man,

“We’re not really at that stage, and besides, I don’t want to feel obliged to him”, said Katy,

They watched people pass by, Lina wondered about all the men out there, what they were really thinking, and what they really thought of women.

“Are we up for Hollywould’s tonight?” asked Katy, she had just received her commission cheque from the job at the shop, and was up for some fun having lived on a shoestring for the past three weeks,

“God I feel crap, can we make it next week?” said Lina,

“Wrong time of the month?” asked Connie,

Lina nodded,

“OK, let’s do a trip next weekend”, said Connie. She took out a photo album, and started showing them her latest creations, weird life size statues, with words painted on them. “I’m doing a show soon”, she said. Connie was an artist, but she actually had a day job at star buck’s, where they would tell her off for having too many piercing, and try to make her be cordial to customers after a hard night’s painting or partying. She took a drag of her cigarette which was dangling out of the window, the waitress gave her a dirty look.

“Fuck, I’m late”, said Katy suddenly,

Connie paused, thinking that it was five thirty on a Friday, what was so urgent, then she said, “oh”, and nodded sagely,

“But you’re on the pill aren’t you?” asked Connie,

“That’s bollocks, I knew a girl at school, who got pregnant on the pill”, said Lina,

Katy turned white, “I’m sure it will be ok”, said Connie,

“Yes, it’s probably nothing”, said Lina, as kindly as she could, Katy nodded, thinking of all those times she had been sick in the mornings. Maybe from wine, too much coffee, eating the wrong stuff, the weird hours they kept on shoots, or now this. A baby. Maybe.

“Oh god, what would I even do with it?” said Katy, “fuck, I have no money, what kind of life could I give a child?”

“I grew up poor”, said Connie, helpfully, “It was ok, not great, but ok”,

On the way to the chemist, Katy thought about abortions. They were one of those things. You hoped it would never get to that stage, but if it did, you would just have to go through with it. “It’s important to bring a child into the right environment”, Katy’s mum had always said, scornfully glancing at the few single mothers or less well off families in the neighbourhood, to do otherwise was just cruel.

In he circle of friends at Uni in England there had been a fair amount of bed-hopping. But, to be fair, people had always been “careful”. Almost religiously so.

The exception had been when Gina had drunkenly slept with a male friend, Lewes, and not used a condom. “I’d come off the pill because it made me fat and sick”, she later explained to Katy.

Katy had gone with Gina to the abortion clinic. It was in the early stages, so it was just a chemical abortion. No surgery. Gina was ill for a few days afterwards, but then everything went back to normal, and they didn’t tell anyone about it.

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