Lina was a good friend of ours. She came from a moderately wealthy if dysfunctional New York family, and she seemed to know everyone. Gina and I often had lunch with her, she worked nearby and always had good gossip.
Lina was seeing this guy called Paul. They had a fairly good relationship on a day to day basis, but of course Lina was not allowed to mention words such as: relationship, commitment, future, girlfriend, boyfriend, family, children. Obviously the word marriage was not permitted in his presence, even in relation to other people.
Like most women, Lina was on the pill. She had sex with Paul about four times a week at his apartment, when he could fit it around work. He was a club promoter. He spent a lot of time around pretty girls, but as far as I know he wasn’t sleeping with anyone other than Lina.
I heard about this conversation because Lina recounted it to me when we went to lunch. She was en-route to buy a pregnancy test:
Lina said to Paul, “I’m late for my period.” She was quiet and withdrawn, the words barely making it out of her mouth.
“What do you mean?” demanded Paul,
“Normally I would have got it by now, and it’s not come. I don’t feel ill. But normally I’m quite regular.”
“This is ridiculous, what are you trying to say. I thought you were on the pill.”
“I am,” said Lina defensively. “All I said was, I should have got my period by now, but I’m late.”
“I can’t deal with this right now,” said Paul, grabbing his things, and leaving for work. His breakfast unfinished on the countertop.
Lina called me later that day. I was sitting in my office trying to prepare a catalogue for an upcoming exhibition.
“It’s ok,” said Lina, “false alarm.” I was so relieved for her. Not that Lina wouldn’t make a great mum, or that there is anything wrong with people having kids.
“That’s great,” I said,
“I spoke to the doctor,” said Lina, “she said that if you’re very stressed, or tired, or lose a bit of weight, it’s not unusual to skip a period.”
“I didn’t know that,” I said. “What are you going to do about Paul?” I asked, before I could stop the words from tumbling out of my mouth.
“What do you mean?” said Lina,
“Nothing,” I said, trying to backtrack.
“I have to go,” said Lina.
We hung up and I tried to concentrate on my work.
Image: Baby, by Connie