Herminia waited her turn. There were three women ahead of her, three women in an identical situation, here to do the same thing. Two were talking to each other, and one said to the other that it was almost three months and that she was afraid of dying. The third was quiet, crestfallen, lost in herself. It was three in the afternoon and she had been there since one. She hadn't wanted to arrive before because she didn't want to have to wait so long and suffer while she waited her turn.

She didn't want to touch her belly, and she didn't want to think that there within something minuscule was beating that formed a part of herself -- something tiny that, given time, could get to be a small person with an outgoing expression and a contagious smile. The two women were talking animatedly, "it's the fourth time I've done it," said one and the other answered that it was her second time, but that this time too much time had passed because she couldn't come up with the money. "Hepy eterei coanga," she said in Guarani. "It's pretty expensive now," she said, and turned back to counting the money she had within her purse.

"How will they kill it?" thought Herminia. She had very little knowledge about these things. She had heard her friends talking about this many times but no one had ever gone into details. They just said it was "over" and that was it.

The third woman had a sad expression, was young - around 20 years old -- and was well-dressed. "She could work in an office," she thought. She compared her cheap skirt with that of the girl, compared her worn-out red sandals with the other's white pumps. The other women were simply dressed and they didn't appear to be street women, but ordinary and normal like her.

The door opened. The woman who had entered earlier exited. She was pale, emaciated, with sunken, half-shut eyes. The doctor smiled at the four and invited one of them to come back. She touched the sad girl. The girl looked at the others and entered with the expression of an animal entering a slaughterhouse. The other two kept talking and they commented that the poor woman was terrified. It's probably the first time, or perhaps she didn't really want to kill the baby, they said.

Herminia looked at them. It was hard for her to believe that both of them had already done this many times and that they were calm. They weren't thinking at all of the little thing they were going to eliminate. One of them said she was afraid of dying, but she didn't mention that she didn't want to kill it. Herminia didn't want to kill the baby and had spent many nights thinking over the situation -- in the possibility of having it, of facing up to everyone so it would live. But, in the end, she couldn't deal with the insecurity about being alone, being afraid she would lose her job, not having any way to support it, not knowing what to say to her family -- everything.

She only talked about her problem with two friends, and both had the same thing to say -- the solution was that one, and there was no other way.

Suddenly she felt a bit more energetic. "How does the doctor kill it and take it out of there?" she asked the two women. "Simple," said one. "They take it out in pieces after killing it with the injection." She froze. "In pieces," she thought. She could barely picture a little bundle, but wounded and defenseless, without any possibility of having its heart beat when the needle punctures its vein. She imagined it as a little boy with a great deal of mischief in its small little self -- mischief that would transform as time passed.

"In pieces," thought Herminia, and a fat tear slid slowly down the space between her nose and cheek. She looked at the other two women who observed her silently. "Don't you want to do it?" asked the fat one, who had already done it several times. "You're not going to feel anything because they give you anaesthesia," she said. But Herminia no longer heard anything because she got up and left, leaving her turn open for the next one.