Story: Elizabeth Stainton Walker
Buying a Pregnancy Test in Dublin
On the way back from the castle, walking single file down Longford Street, they passed a homeless man in a doorway. He had a dog, and she adored dogs, was obsessed with them really, but that was not what caught her attention. It was the rabbit that did it. The rabbit, or possibly a hare, she did not know the difference, was cradled in the man’s forearm. The dog stood beside, unconcerned.
They had passed the man before she even had time to consider him. Later, she wished she had stopped, gone back, offered him a five-Euro note to answer some questions: where did he get the rabbit? Did he have it or the dog first? Did the two animals get along? Did he buy rabbit food or just collect bits from the floor of the produce section?
Her family was unable to contribute anything meaningful to the discussion. They did not think the presence of the rabbit was as remarkable as she did. Her husband said his first wife had a rabbit that lived in the laundry room and ate Timothy hay. Her husband’s mother said that when they were in Rome she saw a gypsy with a cat on a leash.
When they had reached the hotel, and gone back to their rooms, she realized she had missed her period a week ago. She decided to run down to Boots by the Molly Malone statue and buy a pregnancy test. “I’m sure I’m not,” she told her husband. She had been on birth control since she was nineteen.
They did not tell his parents what they were going out to do. She did not want to see the look of hope well in her mother-in-law’s face, especially when she herself, the potential mother, was not yet sure how she felt about the thing yet.
The cashier at the Boots tried to send her out without a bag, but she asked for one. She did not want to walk down Grafton Street with her wallet in one hand and a First Response in the other, thank you.
On the way back, she squeezed his hand continuously. She worried about all the drinks she had consumed since getting on the plane. She worried about what kind of mother she would be, more concerned with hobos with rabbits than play dates and vitamins and field trips. He did not see what she was so worried about. She was very loving and responsible with their dogs.
She was almost too nervous to pee, and when it turned out she was not pregnant, it was a great relief, even though, she assured him, she did want children someday, soon even, just not yet. She lay down in their bed to rest until dinner. He sat in a chair and read Flann O’Brien. She wondered about the rabbit, where it came from, if it was warm enough.
Elizabeth Stainton Walker is completing her Master’s in English at the University of Arkansas. Her work has appeared on the MonkeyBicycle site, among other places. She is married with three dogs.