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18+ Language Mature Content

Too Much Blank Space, Not Enough Vomit - Ch. 5.1

by Bullet

Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

Rhys pushed the plunger down slowly, letting out a long sigh as he did so. He hadn't shot up enough to get to a pleasurable high, just enough to make him feel his usual state of normalcy and to stave off the dopesickness. He got to his feet, pulling on a hoodie that hung over his skinny frame - he was losing weight again - before leaving his room and closing the door behind him. He shuffled out of the apartment, into the elevator, and eventually out to the parking lot where Leah and the Subaru were waiting.

"Hey," she said, flashing him a smile as he got in and gesturing to the cupholder in the console between them. "Got you a coffee."

He picked it up, hesitating a bit. "Thanks."

"Figured it might make this thing between us easier," she shrugged, reversing out of the parking space. She was wearing very large, round sunglasses and her lipstick today was a velvety purple, which contrasted nicely with her skin tone. Rhys took a drink of his coffee, lighting a cigarette as he stared out of the window.

The 'clinic' was actually a Planned Parenthood, located at the corner of Coven and Hispana, nestled in a quieter area of the city where it was protected from anti-abortion protesters. Leah parked the Subaru a few spots down from the door in the mostly empty parking lot. Rhys was halfway through his cigarette, taking a drink of his coffee as he stared at the building. He hated it on principle.

"Do you want me to go in with you?" Leah asked, watching him. Rhys finished his coffee and took a long drag off his cigarette, exhaling the smoke slowly as he opened the door. He got out without response, rolling his eyes to himself when Leah followed. He dropped his cigarette butt, crushing it with the heel of his boot as he walked inside and to the front desk.

"I need an STI screening, please," he told the nurse at the desk behind the glass. She nodded, took his legal name and date of birth, then handed him the standard intake sheets to fill out. He took a seat in the waiting room, crossed one leg over the other, and began on the paperwork as Leah took a seat beside him.

Rhys frowned at some of the questions. When his last period was an expected one - one he had to think about, as it had been a while, and his periods had been irregular since he started having them - but the question about how many sexual partners he'd had in his life time made him sigh. He finished the paperwork and returned it to the front desk.

The door to the right of the desk opened a few minutes later as a nurse stepped out and called, "Rhys?"

Rhys got to his feet and followed the nurse to the exam room. It was a pretty straightforward procedure.

"We can give you the results from the blood test in about an hour and then we can call you with the results from the urine test," the nurse said, taking the specimen cup from Rhys as he left the bathroom. Rhys nodded, returning to the exam room where he would have his blood drawn.

He and Leah went to grab food and returned to the clinic roughly an hour later for Rhys to get his results. He was led back to the same exam room with the same nurse.

"Good news is your STI screenings came back negative," she said, peering at the paper through the thick lenses of her glasses. "But you tested positive for cocaine, which is concerning."

Rhys sighed, preparing himself for the talk about how using drugs was dangerous. Instead, something in the nurse's face shifted as she stared at him.

"Are you aware that you're pregnant?"

His heart skipped several beats as his brain processed what she had said. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Pregnant," the nurse repeated, not unkindly. "So I take it you didn't know?"

He just stared at her, mouth moving silently. He began to cry, tears spilling over his bottom eyelashes and streaking down his cheeks. The nurse gave him a look of pity, rubbing his back as he broke down into sobs.

"It's okay honey, it happens. There are options."

He sucked in a deep, raggedy breath and wiped his eyes, trying to pull himself together. There was indeed a way to fix this. 

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Thu Jun 20, 2019 2:10 am
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BluesClues wrote a review...

He hadn't shot up enough to get to a pleasurable high, just enough to make him feel his usual state of normalcy and to stave off the dopesickness.

This really bums me out, even though I know it's a thing. Like even with caffeine, it's a thing - you drink too much coffee, and suddenly you need caffeine just to avoid the headache you get if you don't get enough caffeine, and never mind actually using it to wake up or whatever.

He hated it on principle.

I'm curious about this, because I don't know if Rhys hates it because he has to be there/might have an STI, or if it's because he has some sort of moral/political/social justice sort of problem with PP.

So I know Rhys is the point here - especially with the bombshell at the end. That said, Leah really disappears in this section. Like she drives him to the clinic, she follows him inside, and then...she's gone. Is she sitting beside him, trying to pretend she doesn't see the questions he's answering? Does she wander off and flip through an informational pamphlet or start talking to a patient who's there alone and looks a little lost? Does she sit in with him on the actual tests, or does she remain behind in the waiting room? Is she even there when he finds out he's pregnant?

I think I just noticed this because I'm actually terrible at keeping track of multiple characters in one scene, especially when what happens to one of them is particularly important. But Leah's so supportive of Rhys/tries to take care of him, so I'm really curious about her reaction to this news/the tests/the fact that he's got cocaine in his system because he shot up right before she took him to the clinic (she didn't seem to notice when he got in the car, but somehow I just expect her to always know).

Otherwise, I think this twist really starts putting us on the path toward a clear plot - because Rhys is kind of directionless, he's been running into a lot of trouble, and I can see potential plot lines developing with Lip and his mom, but I feel like this pregnancy is the first real curveball he's been thrown that he has to really deal with. So it's not like his drug use etc doesn't have lasting consequences, but he's sort of...fallen into a rut, I guess, where he just kind of keeps doing drugs because that's what he does and it means he doesn't have to deal with other things.

Whereas, you know, he has to deal with this pregnancy one way or another, because if he doesn't deal with it he's going to have a baby in nine months (or thereabouts), like it or not. So this is something that is definitely going to force him into some kind of action, which gives it a lot of good plot potential.

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Wed May 22, 2019 12:26 am
AliZombie says...

wow. just wow. very strong story writing. I recommend this

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Wed May 22, 2019 12:05 am
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ExOmelas wrote a review...

Hey Oli, since this is quite short I figure I can do a review just now before I go to bed.


He took a seat in the waiting room, crossed one leg over the other

The way this detail is separated with the comma makes me think it should be significant, but I'm not sure why it is.

Rhys frowned at some of the questions. When his last period was an expected one - one he had to think about

Firstly I think you missed a word in this sentence. But more importantly I don't think it's that surprising a question for a sexual health clinic. Given the ending, this foreshadowing seems kind of intentional, and I think it might be worth making it smoother.


Something I liked about this chapter was how nonchalant it was up until the big moment. I was actually starting to get a bit... bored, maybe... with how it was going through the motions. If there's any way of making that faster, or making the wording catchier, that might be worth it. But it does achieve a useful effect, of making me not be prepared for the shock, just as Rhys was.

I don't think we need Rhys shooting up at the start of the chapter. At this point, it's kind of a given that that happens, and it made me worry that this chapter was going to be repetitive, not moving the plot forward. I was about to bring you up on that, actually, if something big didn't happen here, but as something pretty big did happen I'll let you off. I do think it could have taken less time to get to this point. For example, if the man from a couple of chapters ago isn't the father of the baby, I don't think it's worth having that part. I feel like I remember you saying in a pad that it might be someone else but I could be misremembering.

One more thing is that I think even in this first half of the chapter I'd have liked Leah's immediate reaction to the news. Like, just about when the nurse is rubbing his back - what does Leah do there?

Still, I am very very here for this development. Accidental male pregnancy is very unexplored territory in fiction and I am extremely excited to see where you take this.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
— Mark Twain