Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
“Do you want to go play with your friend Edward? I asked Ramón.
“Yes. Can you call his mom?”
“Of course,” I said while grabbing the phone. “Can Ramón go down to play with Edward? OK?”
“She said you could go now. She will call me to pick you up in about two hours. Pick up your toys from the floor before you leave.” I told Ramón trying to hide my enthusiasm at his play date.
We took every opportunity to have Ramón go out on a play date or stay with a baby sitter. Sometimes we just sent him to run short errands, and as soon as he was out the door, Jussef would grab me by the waist, pull me closer to him, kiss me on the neck, pull my hair down firmly, and then bend down, while I stripped my shirt and bra off.
He kissed the side of my breast and then sucked on my nipples, at the same time that his hands pushed my panties away and his fingers played with my clitoris. I begged him to fuck me, to eat me alive, to never stop, reciprocating the pleasure I received with biting kisses, stripping his clothes off, moaning with desire. I dropped on my knees and satisfied him, savoring his penis with my tongue, sucking and sliding up and down, while my hands grabbed his buttocks or played with his testicles. Then he stood up, ran to get a condom as if he was running to save his life. I stood feeling the memory of his hands over my body, relishing the view of El Avila in front of me. When he was ready, he pushed me against the cold door, his thighs pressed against mine, penetrating me with a fire between his legs that could ignite the gas stove. I laced my legs on his waist to let him in, holding between the door and his torso, dripping with lust and thirsty for more. When he tired of holding me on his waist, he put me down, turned me around, and like horses we mated. I stepped on the clothes lying around in disarray on the shiny granite floor, my long and robust legs holding us in our frenetic exchange of orgasms. In the height of our ecstasy, I saw myself on the back of a winged horse, gliding above Caracas’s sky.
No wonder I got pregnant.
Well into my undergraduate program, I was not ready to exchange a degree for another pregnancy. Jussef went with me to the clinic for the procedure. As opposed to a regular ob-gyn office, that cathartic place where women display their feminine endurance, who had suffered the worst birth pain, and whose endometriosis caused more bleeding, among other horrific conversation topics, inside the abortion clinic, an eerie quietness weighed heavy as an anvil over the waiting room.
We all knew what the other was doing there, but we busied ourselves with cat’s hair on our blouses, or peeled the polish off our nails, or curled our hair with playful fingers. One woman took out a little pocket mirror and retouched her lips. Jussef and I talked in whispers, as if attending a funeral and needing to go to the bathroom in the middle of the service. Nobody made casual comments about the weather, or impertinent questions about how long it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy. We treated each other as anonymous criminals, waiting for the snapshot, the number on our chests, the picture in the newspaper. Bonded by the pain of a lonely and controversial decision, we sentenced ourselves to never look into each other’s eyes, nor share a smile or a trivial comment. We felt guilty of a crime somebody else threw at us, like the political prisoners of a totalitarian regime. We were innocent, but we sent ourselves to an emotional jail.
When it was time to register and pay, Jussef stood up and wrote the check. He held me tight when my name was called. Abortion is not legal in Venezuela, but it’s common and mostly safe, if you can pay for it. I was lucky we could afford good service.
“Did you have anything to eat or drink today as directed?” Asked the doctor.
“I haven’t eaten since last night,” I replied.
“That’s great,” he said. “We will first apply local anesthesia. Then we will insert this, you see? It looks like a wand, but it’s actually a vacuum. It works with manual suction and it’s fast. It’ll be over in less than ten minutes. Do you have any questions?” he continued as the nurse placed the IV in my hand.
“I’m fine,” I said even though I was holding tears.
“Now we want you to relax as much as you can,” said the nurse holding my hand for comfort.
The anesthesia went in as I lay down on the table with my legs wide open, looking up into the void. I saw a funny sign on the ceiling, one of those yellow smiley faces I would come to associate with a grocery store years later. A note under the smiley face read, “I know what you are going through.” It made me feel better, and to this day, I thank whoever came up with the idea of putting that there. Somebody understood that I was going against 5000 years of a culture that had stripped women of the right to choose whatever we wanted to do with our bodies. I had an abortion and somebody understood that it wasn’t easy, that I needed support, that I hated the silence in the waiting room.
Jussef waited outside. When it was over, we exited the building in silence and once in the courtyard we hugged in a long embrace.
A year later on a sunny late November afternoon, we were married in a simple civil ceremony. In the same act, Jussef also adopted my little son. Soon we were pregnant again and in late 1996, our second son was born three weeks after my graduation.
Today, my children are grown men with successful careers. We live a pleasant life in Southern California, and I am forever committed to the cause of women’s reproductive rights.
Lisbeth Coiman is a bilingual writer standing (unbalanced) on a blurred line between fiction and memoir. She has wandered the immigration path from Venezuela to Canada, to the US, and now lives between the East Bay and Los Angeles, writing, drinking wine, and working in adult education. Her work has been published in Hipmamazine.com, Literarykitchen.com, and Yaylamagazine.com. She was featured in the Listen To Your Mother Show in 2015. Her upcoming memoir, The Shattered Mirror, celebrates friendship among women and draws attention on child abuse, mental illness, and immigration.