top of page

A Break with Reality - Karen Arbogast

A break with reality was what they said I had when I told them I encountered Jesus on the Sea of Galilee.

Earlier that day I had been lying on a gurney with second thoughts about the abortion I was supposed to have.

By the time the doctor entered the room I had already taken my feet out of the stirrups. I was planning to hop off the table and run. Only thing which held me back was that I didn’t know if the shot they injected into my cervix earlier was to kill my baby or just to numb me. No sense running with a dead baby inside of me. The doctor put my feet back into the stirrups but this time I put my knees together.

“Hold still,” he said or he wouldn’t do the procedure.

I didn’t want the abortion but I held still anyway.

I flew all the way from Ohio and if I went back home pregnant my mother would say I wasted my money flying here and coming back no better off and now my money was gone and it was 1974 and I was single so my insurance wouldn’t pay my maternity medical bills. Besides, the newspaper fired me last week.

After each abortion was completed, clinic volunteers led us individually into the “after-room” where the women cried. The older ones cried because they had given birth to other children in better times. The younger ones cried because they were only in high school. Their mothers cried because they brought their daughters here to do what they never would have done before abortion was legal.

It was in the after-room where I found myself in a fishing boat with Jesus and his disciples. We were afraid of the lightning, thunder and pelting rain. Waves rushing over the sides of the boat. I was terrified it would sink and we would all be swept away.

Jesus was wearing red. I knew it was Jesus from the bible and religion class. As soon as he stood and held up his right hand to quiet the storm and the lightening stopped and the waters became calm, clinic volunteers flipped on the after-room lights lights and escorted all of us single file out into the hall then out of the building, and we were on our own.

I don’t remember much about going outside except it was cold. I don’t remember anything about getting to the airport. Which airport? I don’t remember getting on the plane. I don’t remember the flight home or landing in Cincinnati. Who picked me up? I don’t remember getting to my parents’ house either. Only it was dark and later than I thought.

I remember how my father was relieved when I walked through the door. How my mother hugged me, thankful because she feared her baby died on the abortion table along with my baby.

Next, I sat down beside my dog to greet him. He licked my face and I began crying thinking I might never stop. I held him so tight, so close if I could have pulled him inside me, I would have and I think he knew why because he looked up at me sadly and nestled himself against my abdomen where my baby had been but was no longer.


Karen Arbogast is living her dream writing flash fiction after "earning her keep" (at her parents' insistence) as a public servant in so many clerical jobs for the city and county she lost track! She earned a B. S. in Humanities from the University of Cincinnati Evening College in 1981. She hopes to live happily ever after in this, the changing neighborhood where she was born, with her two rescue dogs Buffy, a Collie-mix and Trixie, a Shetland Sheepdog with lineage much more impressive than Karen's.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page