Maya couldn't stop shaking her leg for the entire hour and a half train ride from New York to Philadelphia. Her heart was pounding out of her chest as she stared out the compartment window, trying to keep herself together. Pregnant. How could Riley be pregnant?
Well, she knew how Riley could be pregnant. They'd both taken the same sex-ed class in grade nine, and Maya could remember giggling wildly with Riley after both of their mothers had sat them down for a debrief of everything they had learned.
But still, Riley? Riley wasn't the type of girl who took risks. Riley would have been the very last person that Maya would have expected to find themselves in this situation. If Maya had taken a poll of their graduating class and asked their classmates to vote on which one of the two girls would be more likely to get pregnant on accident, 100% of the votes would have gone to Maya. Hell. Maya herself probably would have voted against Riley.
But here they were. Riley was probably sitting in her cramped dorm room, going out of her mind, while Maya sped towards Philadelphia, with a small white paper bag from the pharmacy tucked discreetly into her bag.
Maya's head had raced with a million questions as soon as the word " pregnancy test" has come through the phone, but she couldn't bring herself to ask any of them.
For a split second Maya had thought maybe it was some sick joke that Riley was playing on her, a months early April fools, but the fear in Riley's voice told Maya that this was the real deal. That her best friend was in serious trouble and was seriously scared.
A few hours after Riley's call, Maya was climbing out of an uber in front of Riley's dorm room. UPenn's campus was teaming with life and energy, but Maya was focused on only one thing, getting to her best friend.
She caught the dorm door as another student was leaving, and hurried inside, frantically pushing the button to call the elevator.
She'd only been to Riley's dorm once, the first day Riley had moved in, but Maya remembered the floor and the general direction of her room, if not the room number. She was lucky that the RAs had hung brightly decorated name tags on each of the doors identifying their occupants. Maya hurried down the hall until she finally came to a stop in front of the door with the names BONNIE and RILEY emblazoned on it in bright pink and gold letters.
Maya wrapped her fist Sharpley on the door, and it swung open almost immediately. Riley looked like a wreck. Her hair was dishevelled and her eyes were red and swollen. Maya's heart broke at the sight of her best friend, who was clearly on the brink of a breakdown. Riley nearly collapsed into Maya. Maya wrapped her arms tightly around Riley, holding her tightly to her. Riley broke away from her embrace, but held onto Maya's hand, pulling her back into the small shared living room that Riley split with her roommate and back towards her bedroom door. As soon as the door clicked shut behind them, Riley spun around to face her.
" Did you bring it?" the panic in her voice was enough to make Maya's heartache. Maya quickly reached for her bag, digging around in it until she unearthed the now crumpled pharmacy bag. Riley took it from her, and pulled the test out of the box. The sight of the test in her hand seemed to set Riley off, and her eyes filled with tears.
" I can't believe this is happening," Riley whispered, she stared down at the box in her hands.
" What is happening?" Maya didn't even realize that the question had left her lips until Riley looked up at her.
"I'm sorry" Riley murmured.
"Riles" Maya began but Riley cut her off.
" I haven't been honest with you. I haven't been honest with anyone." Riley moved over to her bed, sitting on the side and pulling a pillow close to her chest. Maya moved to sit by her best friend, watching her carefully, afraid of what might come next.
" I haven't been happy here. I mean I love school, I love my classes, but I miss home. I miss my family, I miss you. I miss the way everything used to be. Everything made sense before. I knew who I was and where I was going and now I just feel lost." Riley took a deep breath, trying to steady herself before she continued.
" and then, I don't know, maybe it was November, and I got this email out of the blue from Lucus and it just felt like before. It felt right, but I didn't think it was anything. I just thought we were becoming friends again, but then over Christmas break, he came to New York and he took the train down to Philly and I didn't tell you because you've moved on. You've been thriving outside of highschool, and I didn't want you to think that I was still clinging to the past."
Maya's heart was sitting in her stomach. She remembered that day over winter break when Riley had disappeared to see friends. She had been acting so out of character but never in her wildest dreams did Maya think that Riley would be sneaking off to meet Lucas.
"But we met up, and it just...it just felt like before and then we were together and it felt right but then he left. He went back to texas and we all went back to school and I was more confused than ever because nothing has changed, there are still a million reasons why Lucas and I don't work and I don't want to get caught up in that again but" Riley's face fell into her hands.
"I've been feeling off for weeks and then I realized today that I'm late, and not like a day late, but like a lot late. So either I'm stressed and I've skipped a period for the first time in my life or I'm-" Riley couldn't even bring herself to say the word pregnant.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you." Riley continued, her words caught in her throat as she spoke.
"Riley it's okay. No matter what happens it is going to be okay" Maya promised.
" Is it?" Riley responded doubtfully.
" Because what the hell am I going to do if I'm pregnant? How am I going to tell my parents? How am i going to tell Lucus? He has his own life now, on the other side of the country and I'm supposed to make him give all of that up? Because he would. He's a good person. He would step up. But what then? Do we resent each other for the rest of our lives? I can't do that to him." The tears were rolling down Riley's face now, and Maya could feel tears building up behind her own eyes.
" Riley please don't think about that yet. We don't know anything yet. Just take the test and we can go from there." Maya encouraged, picking up the test from where it sat on the bed between them. She held it out to Riley but all Riley did was stare at it.
" I don't know if I can," Riley admitted. Maya stood up, picking the test up off the bed and offering Riley her hand.
"Come on. We're doing this. It won't be the first time I've watched you pee."
Riley cracked a smile at Maya's attempt at a joke. She took her best friend's hand and let her pull her out of the room and towards the bathroom, Riley shared with her roommate.
Maya cracked the packaging open and pulled out the test box. She passed it to Riley and hopped up onto the sink to read the instructions.
"It's pretty simple. Just pee and wait. I think technically you're supposed to take it in the morning but-"
"Fuck that. I'm not waiting that long." Riley snapped, shaking her head and trying to calm herself. They were both quiet for a second waiting.
" I don't know if I can pee with you here. I'm having stage fright." Riley admitted. Maya scoffed.
" stop stalling and down to business." Riley sighed. When she was finally done, she passed the test to Maya.
Maya took the stick, trying not to think about the fact that Riley had just urinated on it.
" And now we wait for three minutes," Maya concluded, placing the test down on the counter beside her.
"Dear God," Riley muttered, pacing the tiny floor space of the bathroom. Maya let her eyes follow Riley, her mind going a million miles a minute. She had been trying not to show any of her emotions for Riley's sake, but on the inside, she was freaking out. What if Riley was pregnant? Riley had always wanted kids, but Maya knew this wasn't the way she wanted it to go. Riley was a planner. She wanted things to be perfect, and this certainly wasn't apart of her perfect plan. Maya knew that no matter what happened they would get through it, but she didn't want Riley to have to take on anymore struggle then she already carried.
The phone in Maya's lap buzzed, signalling that the three minutes were up. Riley stopped dead in her tracks.
" I can't look," Riley breathed out.
"Will you do it?" Riley asked, looking at Maya with such a helpless expression that Maya's own heart panged once again. Maya took a deep breath and picked up the test from where it sat beside her.
Maya squinted down at it, staring hard at the little window that held the results.
" I don't know," Maya admitted, looking up from the stick in her hand.
" What do you mean you don't know?" Riley asked, rushing over to Maya and staring down at the test.
"I mean I think that that's a second line but it's really faint," Maya explained, holding the test towards Riley so she could see better.
" Do you see it?" Maya asked, looking at Riley while Riley stared down at the test. Riley took the test and examined it, staring hard at the little stick in her hand. Maya grabbed her phone, typing a quick search into google. Maya looked up at Riley who was still staring down at the stick.
" any second line means pregnant." Maya murmured, her voice just above a whisper. Riley let out a deep sigh.
" So it's positive then?" Riley stated as if she were resigned to it, her voice going flat.
" I mean it could be a false result. We should probably get more tests." Maya suggested, watching her best friend carefully. Before Riley could respond, the sound of the front door to Riley dorm broke the silence.
" Fuck!" Riley exclaimed, her whole body tensing. " Bonnie is here." Riley's eyes were wide with panic as she snatched up the test and the packaging and shoved them in Maya's direction.
"You've got to go. Please take these." Maya recoiled as Riley shoved the test and package into her hand.
" Ew, Riley you peed on this. Just put it in the trash!" Maya exclaimed, holding the items out from her body.
" Are you kidding? What if Bonnie finds it! She's fucking nosey. Just please take it with you. Dump it at the train station or something. Please!" Riley begged.
"Fine fine!" Maya gave in, stuffing it all towards the bottom of her bag.
"Do you want me to stay?" Maya offered, pulling Riley around to face her. Riley's eyes were filled with panic.
" No, you should go home," Riley assured her.
" There's nothing else we can do right now."
" Promise me you'll go and get more tests before you start to really freak out, ok?" Riley nodded. Maya pulled her best friend in for a hug.
"It'll be ok, alright? No matter what. I promise." Maya whispered into Riley's ear. Riley nodded, hugging Maya back so tight that all the air escaped out of her chest.
Maya slipped out of the bathroom and hurried out of the room and into the hallway. She hurried out of the dorm building and waited for her uber to pull up and take her to the train station.
Maya couldn't focus on anything as she sat in her train seat, speeding back towards the city. Maya didn't know what to do. How was she supposed to help her best friend? There was nothing she could do for her at this moment, but god she wished there was.
Maya stumbled through the station once she arrived back in New York, her mind swimming with a million different thoughts. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and for the first time since Riley's call, she paid attention to any of her other messages. She had texts from a new of her friends from class, a string of messages from Sasha and two missed calls from Josh. She hit redial and held the phone to her ear.
Josh picked up on the third ring.
" Hey, babe." Maya tried to keep her voice steady as she spoke.
"Hey. Sorry I missed your calls I've just been…. Distracted today." she finally finished.
"No problem. Are you busy? Did you want to come over?" Josh asked, his voice so light and worry-free that the pit in Maya's stomach grew heavier. Maya wasn't sure how to respond. If she saw Josh she was almost positive that he would be able to tell that something was up with her, but if she blew him off he would still know that something was up.
"Sure. I'll be there soon." Maya promised.
"Perfect. See you in a few. Love you."
" you too." Maya murmured, ending the call and taking a deep breath as she headed off in the direction of her subway station.
Josh had a bright smile on his face when he opened his apartment door to Maya.
"Hey." he greeted her, pulling Maya into a hug. Maya wrapped her arms around Josh, letting the warmth of Josh's chest comfort her.
"Are you alright?" Josh asked, pulling back to look Maya in the eyes. Maya plastered on a semblance of a weary smile.
"Yeah" she promised.
"It's just been a long day." She explained, letting Josh lead her into the apartment.
" Well take a load off. I just ordered Thai. It should be here in 20." Maya followed Josh towards the couch. She had taken her bag off her shoulder and went to place it on the counter as she passed by.
In her dazed state, her bag failed to land squarely on the counter, instead, it had dipped to one side and spilling it's overflowing contents onto Josh's apartment floor.
"Shit," Maya muttered, dipping down to the floor and trying to gather her belongings that had rolled in every direction. Josh walked over to help her.
" No wonder that thing is so heavy. You've got half of your worldly belongings stuffed in this thing." Josh joked. Maya crawled towards the fridge where one of her chapsticks was threatening to disappear under the lip of the appliance.
"Maya?" Josh's voice came from behind her. It was a mixture of confusion and concern. Maya twisted around from her spot on the floor to see Josh clutching a box in his hand. It took a second for Maya to realize what he was holding. It was the pregnancy test.