At one-and-a-half minutes, the second bright pink line appears next to the control line in the tiny plastic window, and Rachel feels her heart start to pound and her mouth become uncomfortably dry. The instructions said to wait for three minutes to read the results. Maybe, she hopes, just maybe, that line will be gone by three minutes. She sets the test back on the edge of the sink and watches the final minute ticking down. At three minutes even, the second line is still there, stubbornly pink.
“No,” Rachel whispers to the pink line, leaning down to stare at it menacingly. “No no no. Go away. Shoo.” The line stays right where it is.
Rachel picks up the stick and gives it a vigorous shake. She bangs it on the edge of the sink, then shakes it once more before holding it up to look at it. The line is still there.
“Stop being there!” Rachel hisses at the line. The line doesn’t stop being there. In fact, the line doesn’t seem to care at all that its very existence is a tremendous divergence in the carefully plotted and planned life of one Rachel Barbra Berry, current NYADA student and not-so-distant future Broadway star. No, the line continues existing with absolutely no consideration for Rachel’s future whatsoever.
Rachel’s Tuesday morning class starts in less than an hour, though, so she wraps the test up in toilet paper. She puts the paper-wrapped test into a plastic bag, then shoves the plastic bag into the bottom of her purse.
“I’ll deal with you later,” she tells the test.
Later turns out to be much later. Rachel throws the actual test away that same day, in between classes, but she successfully manages to ignore the implications of the test for the rest of the week. She buys a bottle of multivitamins—regular, not prenatal—and takes one every morning as directed, but otherwise makes no changes to her life. She certainly doesn’t think about what the test means. So a little white stick had a second pink line; that’s just abstract, not concrete at all!
When nothing seems to change physically, other than a pleasant lack of her bothersome menstrual cycle, Rachel is almost able to convince herself that she never saw a second line at all. Maybe she never even took the test, and it was all a strange dream brought on by the emotional stress of her regrettable one night stand with Finn back in Lima and the mild complications inherent with dating—non-exclusively, of course—a fellow NYADA student. She isn’t the p-word, the word she hasn’t yet thought to herself, let alone said aloud to anyone.
Rachel suppresses the thought so well that she really does forget about her situation. The occasional nausea in the morning is easy to dismiss as a sign that she’s drinking too much green tea to compensate for the exhaustion, and the exhaustion is a natural byproduct of being a diligent student in her dance, voice, and acting classes. She’s had no appreciable weight gain. Really, nothing feels that different for the first several weeks.
She’s certain neither Kurt nor Santana so much as suspects, which means Rachel still hasn’t had to talk about it, which means she can carry on as she has been for the previous months. She does carry on successfully. She attends her classes and her outside vocal coaching, she goes on dates with Brody and social outings with Kurt, and she even finds herself developing something close to friendship with Santana, who obviously has no intention of moving out in the near future. Some of her skirts and pants fit a little more snugly through the waist, but strategic layers, judicious use of black, and the fact that she still prefers having sex with the lights off stave off any suspicions from Brody or her roommates.
Things continue to go well for the next few months, through the break between spring and summer semesters, and into the summer semester as well. When Brody abruptly breaks things off with her halfway into her second semester, Rachel does finally have a moment of panic over what she’s going to do about the p-word situation. She’s alone, all alone. She gives herself a few hours to obsess over her pathetic future life as an unemployed actress single mother, then she vomits a few times, washes her face, drinks some herbal tea, and reminds herself that she was never really going to be able to count on Brody for support as it was, especially since she can’t be entirely sure who the father of the baby is. She can’t picture Brody as the fatherly type, anyway.
Moreover, Rachel realizes that she can’t picture herself as a mother at all, single or otherwise. None of this is part of her plan, and Rachel is a careful planner. She needs to look into alternative options. She’s been operating in a haze of denial, but now she needs to address the reality. She uses her phone to look up a list of clinics in the area, then she calls several of them until she finds one that can schedule an appointment for two days later. A little more research assures her that recovery from an abortion should be fairly quick, only putting her out of commission briefly, which means she’ll miss a handful of dance classes, plus a day or two of stage combat, and won’t have to miss her voice or acting classes at all.
Two days later, Rachel arrives promptly at the clinic. Her paperwork is processed, she provides both urine and blood for testing, and then she waits to speak with one of the clinic nurses. When the nurse comes in, however, she has a frown on her face.
“Miss Berry,” the nurse says. “We don’t have a date for your last menstrual cycle. Can you recall when that was?”
“I didn’t answer that question because I wasn’t precisely sure. I was doing some traveling, and I’ve never been very regular,” Rachel explains.
“Could you give it your best guess?” the nurse asks.
“February,” Rachel says. The nurse’s brow furrows ever so slightly. “It might have been late January or very early March,” Rachel adds, hoping that will make the nurse happier.
“We’ll need to do an ultrasound for dating purposes,” the nurse says, sounding apologetic. “With you being unsure about your LMP, we want to be certain about the dates, both for health and legal purposes.”
“I won’t have to watch, will I?” Rachel asks. The nurse shakes her head.
“No. New York doesn’t require ultrasound at all, but since we don’t know exactly how far along you are, the clinic would prefer we perform one,” the nurse explains.
Rachel consents, and the nurse performs the ultrasound quickly and respectfully, with the screen turned away and the volume off. When it’s over and Rachel dresses again, the nurse asks her to wait in the room for a moment. The nurse leaves the room briefly, then returns with a packet of paperwork.
“Miss Berry, based on your ultrasound, I think your pregnancy is between 24 and 26 weeks along. We’re legally limited to performing abortions only up to 24 weeks,” the nurse says.
Rachel feels stunned. “24 weeks? I can’t possibly be that far along! I don’t look pregnant. I barely feel different at all!”
“Based on your guesses about your last menstrual cycle, you would have to be at least 22 weeks, and the ultrasound suggested you conceived closest to your initial guess of February or late January.”
“But I need to have the abortion. I have school. I— I’m just not prepared for—” Despite her best efforts, Rachel starts to cry.
“I can help you find another clinic. I know of one in Maryland, and two out west,” the nurse says gently. “If you want to move forward with the abortion, we can find you a safe, legal provider.”
“I can’t go to Maryland,” Rachel says, through tears. “I need my life to be normal again!”
The nurse takes Rachel’s hand in hers. “We will do everything we can to take care of you, Miss Berry. I’ll even travel with you to Maryland myself, if you’d like.”
Rachel shakes her head. “No. I need to think about this. I had this all planned. I had everything planned, and now nothing’s going the way it was supposed to go!”
“Take whatever time you need. If you do want me to schedule you an appointment at an out-of-state clinic, I’m going to have to encourage you to make a decision soon,” the nurse says.
Rachel nods her understanding, and with more tears and a grateful hug for the nurse, she gathers her things and makes her way back to the loft. She sits on the sofa, crying, with her head in her hands. At least 24 weeks pregnant? That means that she would be having a baby in four months, maybe less. Four months isn’t enough time to rearrange her life and make adequate plans. She has to tell her dads. She has to make some sort of arrangement.
She’s still deep in thought when the loft door slides open, then closes again. She doesn’t look up. Hopefully it’s not Santana, or if it is, she’ll leave Rachel alone this once. A moment later, Kurt’s hand starts patting her back as he sits down beside her. “Tell me what happened,” he says.
Rachel turns towards Kurt and buries her face in his shirt as she starts to cry even harder. “I’ve ruined all my plans!”
“I’m sure you can muster an apology to Ms. July for your apparent infraction,” Kurt says, still patting her back. “It’ll work out, Rachel.”
Rachel shakes her head violently. “It’s not that. It’s— I don’t know if you’ve noticed anything different about me lately.”
“I’ve been concerned about a few things over the last few months, but I assumed if there were anything serious going on or you needed any help managing, you’d let me know,” Kurt says carefully.
“I couldn’t tell anyone,” Rachel says. “If I told them, that would make it real.”
“Rachel,” Kurt says softly. “Rachel, don’t make me leap to erroneous conclusions.”
Rachel presses her face into Kurt’s shirt. “I’m pregnant. I’m too pregnant.”
Kurt’s hand stops moving, resting on her back. “Rachel. Oh, God, Rachel.”
“I know,” Rachel sobs. “I went to a clinic, but they say I’m at least 24 weeks along, and then the nurse started talking about going to Maryland, and I just—” She breaks off in a harder sob. “I don’t know what to do.”
Kurt hugs Rachel tightly, not saying anything for close to a minute. “Rachel, you have to tell him,” he finally says.
“I don’t even know who to tell,” Rachel says.
“Then you have to be sure, and then tell,” Kurt says. “You know I’m right, Rachel.”
“But I don’t want a baby, Kurt. I just want my life to go back to normal!”
“You don’t have to keep it yourself,” Kurt says softly. “But you have to proceed… carefully. Thinking about everything involved.”
“Brody won’t want a baby, either,” Rachel says.
Kurt is quiet for another minute or so. “Is it Brody you need to tell?”
“It has to be Brody. There was only… it was just one time,” Rachel tries to explain.
“You and I both know the number of times doesn’t precisely matter always. I don’t generally ask you for details, Rachel, but what about birth control with either of them?”
“I’ve always used birth control pills and condoms,” Rachel says. “The only person I didn’t use a condom with as well was…” Rachel suddenly gets very quiet, taking a few slow breaths before speaking again. “And I might have missed a day or two of my pills due to all the travel.”
Rachel can feel Kurt nodding slowly. “You have to tell him, Rachel.”
“I can’t. You don’t understand, Kurt,” Rachel says.
“I know it’ll be hard, but you do need to.”
“No, you don’t understand. I left! We slept together, and I sneaked out in the morning before he woke up. I didn’t leave him a note. I haven’t even talked to him! How am I supposed to call him and tell him I’m pregnant?” Rachel asks. “No, I’m going to find an agency. I’m sure there’s a nice couple, people like my dads, who would give this baby a good home.”
“Rachel, I love you dearly and you’re my best friend, but if you don’t tell him, I will,” Kurt says firmly.
“I can’t,” Rachel insists. “You do what you have to do, but I’m going to do what I think is in everyone’s best interests. I’m only eighteen. Finn’s not even twenty yet. Neither one of us can possibly handle this on our own.”
Kurt shakes his head. “Neither of you has to.”