The Way Home
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pstairs is a bright room overlooking the front of the house. Oriel windows with seats all around, a high ceiling, sandwiches on a tray. Coffee, tea, a kettle. Magazines and pamphlets on the low coffee table, posters on the walls. 'Have You Considered Sterilisation?'... 'The Morning After Pill -- Ask your GP about it'.

Nadia chews a cheese sandwich, makes tea, leafs through the pamphlets. So what are you going to use now Tracy, progesterone injections, the low-dose mini-pill, the IUD? She reads them out as if she is choosing lunch from a menu.

Shut up Nadia. I'm not in the mood. Tracy lights her second cigarette, and for an instant the flame gives her features a delicate glow as if she is painted, not real. She snaps the match in her hand into two before she throws it in the ashtray.

They sucked it out. The vacuum roared and sucked and gobbled. It's a very loud noise, I told the nurse. Not really, she said, you must be imagining it. All the painkillers that you took. She held my hand and chatted to me to distract me. I lay down and it was like an initiation rite in those weird ceremonies they have in horror films. The contents of your womb, she called it. This is what they call it here. So many words for such a tiny thing.

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