The Sharpening : Fiction Vignette

     Natasha was already tired and cold like 4 pm in late December by her 50th year. Her insides: soggy wet, with no internal fire to warm her fingers or toes. Albert was pretending again that he wasn’t bothered by the external. So self absorbed, he failed to remember those around him actually gave a fuck. Despite years of trying, her thoughtfulness dwindled but, the feeling never subsided. So, a wall was put in place. Brick and mortar, and extra layers of flesh and muscles were built up in front of the heart. Chisels and hammers were needed in the ER before the Doctor was even able to hear a beat. Tears hadn’t left her eyes in years. For all dear friends had passed, and she could no longer bring herself to follow through when matters of romantic love were concerned. 

      Albert and Natasha had learned to live together. While they were not particularly fond of each other, they wanted the same things in life. To be left alone. Neither wanted children and only the occasional act of intercourse brought them together. However, one might consider it an act of torture rather than of love. It didn’t really matter. As long as they both got off. 

     Duller than a lecture on accounting they found themselves trapped in their Brooklyn abode. He -an editor for Harper’s Magazine and she -a Physicians Assistant they lead very professional and yet, separate lives. 

      This Sunday morning at the breakfast table was no different than any other. “I want to kill myself!” he exclaimed. She looked slowly up at him with furloughed brow. In a stern sarcastic voice she managed to utter “Could you actually do it this time?” just barely loud enough for him to hear. Whether or not he had heard her was always questionable. Perhaps he had chosen to pretend not to hear her. Perhaps he in fact, had not. He was going deaf in one ear and was already deaf in the other. Time, and again he resisted the notion of a hearing aid 

     She had found out in his last will and testament he stipulated if he was found drowned or poisoned in any capacity that it was mostly like Natashas doing. With faint hopes that she would outlive him, she could be free to spend his money any way she wanted to. She would not dare do it herself as the reproach of murder was much too messy for her simple life. Besides, being famous for murder was so 5 years ago. Who wants to be on the cover of the Post with their poor reporting and sensationalized gibberish. 

     “It really is a shame you never bought a boat… Come to think of it we have never even gone to the beach together.” 

        He looked up from the pile of papers he had gone back to reading. “One day you’ll get my money Natasha but, until then, it gives me great solace to know you’re as miserable as my bought of existence.” 

The Sharpening : Fiction Vignette

Plan B

      In the Winter of 2013/14 I had a lover whom had come to me through a coffee shop job I was working at in Manhattan. He was from South Korea, an adjunct professor at Pratt, and 17 years my elder.  In August of 2013, my boyfriend and I of three years had broken up. When I did decide to get back onto the dating horse, I was never set on being serious with any of my suitors. At least not right away. Our first date was to see Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Theatre for a New Audience. While there was a bit of a language barrier, we hit it off for the most part; and I had agreed to see him again. My naivety had gotten the best of me, again. Quickly figuring out that his current goal in life was to have a family. While I could appreciate the romanticized version of life he was trying to sell me, I ultimately did not want what he was offering. I, have no intention of birthing a child, ever. As a sentient being, I would consider adopting if my partner was set on a child. 

     One night, he showed me a book, Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. Rick Warren is an evangelical pastor who hails from California. He holds conservative views on reproductive rights including contraception, same sex marriage, and embryonic stem cell research. However, interestingly enough, is no longer a climate denier. His favorite pro-life, anti-woman line “There are no accidental children, only accidental parents.” reigns heavily in his book and his TED Talk where he shows off his preaching skills. Supposedly, one of Kim’s co-workers wanted him to join her book club that was currently reading Warren’s book. I asked Kim if he was in fact religious. He promptly answered “No.” with zero hesitation. 

     Later that evening, I decided it was time to share my truth with him. The only things my previous relationship had produced was an abortion and a mental break down. I also explained to him that “I could not be with someone who wouldn’t allow me to kill my unborn baby.” While my choice of words sound blunt, I wanted to make sure the severity of the situation was addressed. If that opportunity was to arise, I wasn’t going to keep it. He told me he understood. We continued to date. My mind however, was always reeling from potential what-if’s. The part that scares me most;  I found myself day dreaming of the polite potentiality of us sharing a life together. That night, I made a promise with myself. I would never again want something again just because it was “cute”. Being a 5 foot-nothing, brown haired, light skinned woman making a baby with an Asian man… I’m certain it would be the cutest baby ever. However, I know that I would also produce a fussy, fragile, mentally unstable child. Forget about the moral implications that procreation creates in my head. Adoption has always seemed like the more responsible, humane, and dare I say, eco-friendly choice.  

      The last time we were intimate, the condom broke. Whether by sheer coincidence or sabotage, I can never be certain. Regardless of what really transpired, the conversation that ensued afterwards made my skin crawl.  

    The next day, like the responsible adult that I pretend I am, went to the nearest pharmacy and purchased myself the morning after pill. I decided to tell him in person I had done so. He wasn’t sure what I was saying to him at first. I wasn’t sure whether or not he knew what Plan B was or the language barrier was getting in the way again. Once he had finally processed the situation, he responded “So, I failed.” 

     We haven’t spoken since.

Plan B

The Tipping Point

     The trend in married couples to not have children has been on the rise. While the reasons for their choice vary, the stigma that it provokes is a curious beast. The most common accusation, is that not having children is selfish. Those who want to remain childless relegate themselves to being selfish. We make bold statements acknowledging our selfishness and wade in the luxury of a child-free lifestyle.

     Those who have children and are campaigning for everyone to offer their progeny into the world; do so in a vain of fervor. We live on a planet that has finite resources. A higher population only suggests more competition. To give your offspring the best possible chance of survival would include being pro-reproduction rights, respecting consenting adults lifestyle choices, and recognizing that child-free does not insinuate anti-child.

     There is no doubt that children add value to our lives. They offer ourselves a mirror, and the love felt between parents and children is unconditional. Why someone wouldn’t want that, isn’t the question but, rather the vehicle in which to attain that should be looked upon differently. While I, myself, have no plans on becoming a mother, ever; I am looking forward to becoming an auntie both to my brother’s as well as my friend’s children.

     There is little doubt in my mind that when that child is born that I will fall completely and irreprehensibly in love with them.The best part of that scenario is that I get to return the child back to it’s parents at the end of the day. Recognizing my lack of patience, compassion and maternal instinct isn’t selfish. In fact, what could be more compassionate than knowing thyself and becoming a resource for children instead of giving them competition for resources?

     Western society’s views on child bearing has become more liberal. It is no longer taboo to not procreate. Although, family pressures may still be felt. Instead of making stark judgements, remember that everyone is different. Whether or not a person has a child is a personal choice. If you know that had this been 1889, you would have become the trope of a woman disposing of her baby down a well, then your choice not to procreate should be well received. If you have children and know people choosing not to procreate; thank them.

The Tipping Point