It's a Baby, It's a Life,
God Made It, Don't Do It
Ann Marie Davis
Texas Ruby Red
First Prize Award Winner
You've started smoking again, and now you can't stop. After all these years, after all those warnings, you still don't pay attention, do you?
You've just had sex. The newest member of the human race exists, almost. But not yet. There. She's one cell, now. She's drifting.
Just now, across town, a meeting has come to order. Strategies about bad publicity that they, the pro-lifers have been getting lately. They want to save that life inside you. They want her to live in this world, not too close, though, not in their neighborhood, cavorting with their own perfect, pink above average children. This is their curious, secret shame. Why do I tell you these things that you don't want to know? Because this is the world, part of your life. You need to read the papers more.
You're in the shower, and the young one is four cells now, but the people across town have high hopes for her. Her? She hasn't got a vagina. Hell, she hasn't got a face. Still, those double x chromosomes, they chant out her future, like a choir or thousands, SHE SHE SHE SHE SHE,as they duplicate.
In your bedroom your gladdened sperm donor is heavy lidded, his eye balls rolled upward like a baby's, already in that dreamscape that men go to after sex. He didn't hold you, he didn't wait for you, and your orgasm never made it, and you hated him a little bit, admit, it, just for a minute. When you said, yesit was good, when he asked, how was it, you did hate him just then, didn't you?
It's morning, but your life isn't like the coffee commercials on TV, and the dish washer says what she always says to you, "Working hard today?" You're a smart person so you fascinate her. But you don't smile back at her, do you? It's hard, working with someone so soft, so stupid. She turns you workday into a bad, slow-motion drama. You must talk to her slowly as you move very fast. How can you do your job when the clean dishes never come fast enough, when the tables aren't ready? You hate the new dish washer a lot, don't you? You know you do. It's the people who come in, the butt crack men, you call them secretly, when they wiggle their empty coffee cups at you. And lately, you notice, they leave you lousy tips because the service is slow, because the dish washer gets distracted every time she sees shiny earrings, or pretty, pretty bracelets.
You go to the table that the dish washer is hovering over. You interrupt her empty moment by clearing the table for her so quickly, that now she's confused. She stares at you, head cocked, then picks up a cup and nervously wipes it, and this wiping, it calms her, and now she can think again. "Working hard today?" She stares at you so helplessly that you want to scream, because you feel so evil, don't you?
Your bodymate, deep in your womb, doesn't sense your offensive emotions, she has no nerve cells, not yet. Just now, across town, her father is at the unemployment office, talking to a civil servant with two years until retirement, and a bottle of whiskey in a file cabinet marked "Miscellaneous." And back in your dirty apartment, your cat, Trixie, watches through a window. A dove is making a nest outside on the broken fire escape. Trixie closes her eyes softly and dreams of murder. You don't know this, of course you don't. It's just another long day. But it's time for your break. You take a long drag off of a cigarette, and your embryo slows its ravenous division, just a tad.
You see the dish washer stealing a tip. You pry the dollar out of her hand and threaten, very softly. First, she starts moaning and swaying, then she doesn't move again for quite awhile. You say, "I mean it, Wanda, I'll come to that nut farm you live at and eat your goldfish while you watch." The dish washer moves in slow motion as she stacks dishes into the washer, and cries for her fish, Harvey and Lulu.
Weeks pass, and you're lying on your back in a public clinic. You've always known about her, your body companion. You knew the condom was no good, and when you asked the druggist, he said, "Kids." "Kids," he repeated, "poke pin holes in the condoms for fun, for sheer wicked joy."
No one holds your hand, now. As the drugs pull you under, you hear the protesters outside protesting. You begin to hate one voice, high and shrill with fury, scraming over, and over. "It's a baaybeeeee! It's a liiiiiife! God maaaaade it! Don't Doo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo it!"
First published: June 1993