Inside these three minutes a life is suspended. The plastic stick sits on the windowsill and I sit on the other side of the room. I’m superstitious; if I sit next to it there’ll only be one line. If I don’t sit next to it, two lines will appear. I fight with myself to sit still.
It’s a risk, all of this. Andy doesn’t know. There’s no limit to what he doesn’t know, at the moment. But my feelings of remorse are pushed down by the much more burning desire inside me: to have a baby. If there are two lines, I’ll deal with all of it then. If there’s one line, nobody gets hurt, nobody needs to know.
I think of all the ethical codes I’ve broken, that my friend Kelly has broken. She’s the one who told me the results first, she’s the one who will sit with us tomorrow in the clinic, and lie, saying that Andy’s sperm count was fine. We’re doing him a favour, I keep telling myself. Knowing he’s infertile would devastate him because all he wants is to be a father. The plan was mine and I’m helping him. I’m preventing his depression getting any worse. If he knew the truth, it could kill him, I tell myself.
This way, if there are two lines, he gets to be a dad. If there’s one line, we need to wait a little longer but he’ll still get to be a dad, I’ll just need to make another plan. It’s a win-win. A no-brainer.
It took a while to find someone who looked like him. Kelly covered for me; the nights out were about her celebrating a promotion, her birthday, a random girls’ night just because. And all the while, I was hunting. Hunting for an Andy lookalike. When I found one, it was a cinch. I know my cycle well, the timing was just right and let’s face it, men are easy. When I said I wanted a no strings attached one night stand, he practically fell at my feet. And that was that, done and dusted, the seed planted, just like that song.
Three minutes is up. I walk towards the windowsill as slowly as I can bear.
There are two lines.
My tears are of pure joy. I jump in the air, dance around the flat, whoop aloud my success. I dash to the phone to call Andy, to tell him what he’s been waiting to hear for the past year.
As I reach it, it rings. I answer, the happiness in my heart cut short by Kelly’s tone.
‘I’m sorry,’ she’s saying. ‘They sent a letter. It’s this new, automated system. It began yesterday. Supposed to save appointments. He’ll receive it this morning. I’m so sorry. You better get to him, quick. He’ll be in pieces.’
I hang up. Immediately, it rings. I see from the caller ID that it’s Andy. I take a deep breath, and pick it up.