Pegged as the hottest feel-good summer read. What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts is published on the 22nd August. Today I have a sneaky peek for you to enjoy.
‘No question about it, there are two little purple lines. I’m pregnant.’
After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen?
Well it’s pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single, thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.
Lil’s ready to do the baby-thing on her own – it can’t be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he’s not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn’t ignoring Lil after all…
I wasn’t sure I had enough wee for the stick. I pressed my bladder through my jeans with my fingertips, holding the pregnancy test in the other hand. Not bursting but it would have to do. I peeled off the top of the foil packet, balanced the stick on the top of the loo roll and unzipped my flies. I sat down and reached back for the stick.
Looking down at my thighs, I realized I was sitting too far forward on the loo seat, so I shuffled my bottom backwards and widened my knees until there was enough space to reach my hand underneath me, trying to avoid grazing the loo bowl with my knuckles. Christ, this was unsanitary. There must be better ways.
I narrowed my eyes at the bath in front of me and wondered if it would be easier to step into that, crouch down and wee on the stick in the bath, letting it trickle out down the plughole. No worse than weeing in the shower, right?
I shook my head. I was in my parents’ bathroom. Couldn’t do a pregnancy test by pissing on a stick in my mum’s bath. She loved that bath. She spent hours in it wearing her frilly bath hat, shouting at Radio Norfolk.
I frowned down into the dark space between my legs again
where the stick was poised in mid-air, ready for action. What a simple bit of plastic to deliver such potentially life-changing news. It was the shape of the vape my friend Clem carried round with him everywhere, loaded with lemon sherbert- flavoured liquid.
‘Why lemon sherbert?’ I’d asked him once. He’d shrugged and said he just liked sweets.
I shook my head again as if to try and physically dispel thoughts of Clem and lemon sherbert. Concentrate, Lil. The stick. Wee on the stick. Get on with it. But I couldn’t. At this, the most important moment of my bladder’s life so far, it had stage fright. Funny how, when you really concentrate on weeing, you can’t. And yet normally, when you sit yourself down what, six, seven, eight times a day, out it comes, no trouble.
I sighed. The other problem was I wasn’t sure where to hold the stick in order to catch maximum wee. I shifted my hand slightly towards the front. Was that a good place? Maybe. But if it came out as more of a trickle than a jet it would need to be in the middle.
‘Oi,’ came Jess’s voice from outside the bathroom door. I’d locked it because I knew she’d come in otherwise. ‘Have you done it yet?’
‘Shhhh,’ I hissed back. ‘No. I haven’t. And pressure from you won’t help.’
Jess went quiet for a few seconds, then I heard her whistling from outside the door.
‘Why are you whistling?’
She stopped. ‘It makes horses pee when you’re riding them.’ ‘I’m not a horse.’ Although it gave me an idea. With my left hand, I reached across for the bathroom sink and twisted the hot tap, then held my hand underneath the warm water. It worked instantly. I started weeing and moved the stick into prime position, sort of between the front and the middle. Please could I not be pregnant, I thought, my eyes fixated on the stick as I felt warm wetness on my fingers. Brilliant, I’d weed on my own hand. Please, please, please could this not be positive. I was thirty-one, single, barely able to afford my rent. I had a life plan. Well, a vague life plan. This was not it. I finished and jiggled up and down on the loo seat, trying not to drop the stick. Then I turned off the hot tap with my left hand and tugged off a few sheets of loo roll. I retrieved the stick, resisted the urge to tap it on the section of loo seat in front of me like a teaspoon on the side of a teacup – ting,
ting, ting! – and wiped myself.
I looked at the test in my right hand, feeling as if I’d swallowed a jar of butterflies, before gently dropping it on a pile of Mum’s History Today magazines and pulling up my jeans. I picked up the stick without looking at it and unlocked the bathroom door.
Jess was standing there, picking at her cuticles like a nervous father outside the delivery room.
‘Show me,’ she said instantly, holding her hand out for the test. ‘What’s it say?’
Come on, Lil, I told myself, stomach still churning, look down. Get it over and done with and then you can go to the pub with Jess and have a drink to celebrate. After that, no more sex. Never again. Not worth it. Not worth the hassle and the drama and this panic attack over the infinitesimally small chance you might be pregnant. I’d take a vow of celibacy and get a cat. I’d become a priest. I’d move to somewhere in the Far East, become a Buddhist and renounce all physical desires. I’d convert to asexualism. Just please, please, please, God, if there is one, if you are there, I know I’m always asking you things and swearing I’ll never ask again, but this time I really mean it. I promise I’ll never ask anything trivial again if you grant me this one tiny wish: please can I not be pregnant.
I looked down at the stick.
‘Fuccccccccck,’ I said, looking at it, holding it out for Jess. No question about it, there were two little purple lines. ‘I’m pregnant.’
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