“It makes me look like a cow,” Gin complains, turning in front of the cheval mirror.
The beautiful navy dress ties with a satin ribbon. It runs under her breasts and round to her back, where it ties in a large bow. She is wearing black suede peep-toe stilettos, slightly scuffed at the back, and I notice her thin, pretty feet are starting to look veiny. We are all getting old.
Gin tries to catch the tag to see how much the dress is, but it's tied to the zipper in the back of the dress and she ends up going in circles like a cat chasing its tail. Finally she gets hold of it and pulls it towards her face, craning to see the price.
“Not worth it just for six months,” she says.
“It's not just a maternity dress,” Amanda points out. “You're not showing much yet, and it still looks nice.”
The beauty of this dress is that its softly pleated front has room to expand with a burgeoning pregnancy, and the long length of the ribbon under the bust means Gin will be able to wear it as easily at nine months pregnant as she does today.
“Don't forget the baby weight. You'll have that for a while,” says Amanda.
Gin disappears into the changing room. Her voice floats back: “We are not mentioning weight gain ever again.”
As you may be able to tell, Gin currently faces an uncertain future. She has made what some people might think is a rash decision.
Do I think it's a rash decision? I don't know. If Chris had accidentally got me pregnant, what would I have done? I don't know. I picture a tiny newborn, a cuddly toddler, a five-year-old coming home from school with finger-painting to put on the fridge door. First steps, first words, home-made pine cone decorations for the Christmas tree. For a second my entire body aches with love and need but children aren't for me so I put that to one side. I can't even take care of myself properly; any child I brought up would end up in therapy for years. Or possibly a serial killer.
Anyway, it would have Chris for a father. I would have to tell him. I'd never get rid of the fucker then.
It's going to be bloody hard for Gin. I'm terrified for her. All of us find it hard enough to survive in David Cameron's Britain even without a helpless newborn in tow. Babies cost money, and lots of it, and Gin is currently refusing to discuss any of the practicalities.
I understand why. If she thinks about the practicalities for too long, she will have to admit that what she is doing is going to be near impossible and it is still not too late. Physically, I mean. Mentally it was too late on the day she found out.
Gin is trying on a short pink dress with long full sleeves and tight cuffs.
“Very Mad Men,” says Amanda, appreciatively. “You look like you belong in The Shirelles.”
Gin twirls in front of the mirror. She likes this one. I'm tempted to say that she should save the money for the baby, but she will run out of money in seconds flat anyway. There's no way she will have enough money to live on. She has debt, no savings, no home of her own, and her job doesn't pay enough to afford childcare. This is going to be rocky, to say the least.
At least this way she will have a decent wardrobe to see her through. And something to sell on eBay when the two of them can't afford to eat.
“Can you sound Jena out about the 25th?”she says. “For my baby shower. Find out whether it's good for her?”
That feels like a sharp knife to the ribcage. Jena isn't answering my texts or calls, and I know that she doesn't want to hear from me, and sooner or later Amanda and Gin will have to know. It doesn't seem fair to have to drag them into it. Well, I will have to email Jena and copy Gin in; at least then she will have to decline herself.
I hope she'll decline, anyway. Getting given the cold shoulder at my best friend's baby shower will be more than I can bear.