First and Fiftieth
Ten Million Years
The Last Saturday in May
First and Fiftieth
Ben and Joe's
A View from the Edge
God would be an atheist
A 16 year old boy in middle England
I didn’t use to think so. I used to think she was stuck-up, the way she sat at the back and didn’t talk to anyone. Now I know she’s just shy. No, reserved. She keeps herself to herself. She wants to respect you before she’ll spend time with you and she needs to know who you are before she can respect you. So she doesn’t talk to many people. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t got any friends; she has, good ones. They’re mostly older, in the sixth form. I get on okay with them.
Three months ago, I’d never spoken to Marie. It was Michael who said if I wanted a girlfriend I could do worse than someone like her or Jessica. That was after our big row. The one I caused by saying if I didn’t find a girl to go out with soon, people might start thinking I was gay. Michael blew his top. I should have shut up, but I made it worse. I said there were enough gays in the family and it was a good thing we only had English together or everyone would be gossiping about the two of us. He didn’t speak to me for three days afterwards. It was stupid. He’s my best friend and the only person I really trust.
Anyway, I wanted a girlfriend, not some tart who just wanted sex. That’s all some boys want, but not me. I mean, of course I’d like sex with any girl if I knew they couldn’t get pregnant. But you can never be sure. You can’t trust them if they say they’re on the pill and you never know if the condom’s going to break. You can’t take the chance. So casual sex is out, no matter how tempting it is.
Michael used to think I felt like that because he and Mum go on sometimes about respect for women, but it’s nothing to do with that. It’s the kid that makes me feel that way. Because I’m never going to risk making a baby. Never, if I can’t be sure I’ll be there to look after him. The minute your sperm fertilises the egg, you’re responsible. It would be all right if she had an abortion, but you can’t force her to. And what if she moved and you never saw her again? You’d go through life wondering if you’ve got a kid growing up somewhere who’ll never know his father. You can’t let that happen. No matter what happens, you’ve got to be there for him; because if you’re not, you’re not fit to call yourself a human being.
Next story: Night Traffic
"Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain. Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got."
First and Fiftieth
(Note: spoiler. Read only after you have finished the story.)
The inspiration for this story is definitely personal, although my situaton is very different from that of the narrator. My father died when I was very young, my mother is not lesbian and my first sexual experience was also different.
However, I share the narrator's anger at men and women who conceive children without thought for the child's need to know and have some contact with both birth parents. I am aware that not every child cares about their biological father or mother - the character of Michael is there to put that point of view - but at the moment of conception, neither parent can know what their future child will want. An individual who intentionally becomes a single parent in the belief that they can provide all their child's emotional needs is, in my point of view, as selfish and irresponsible as the individual who allows conception to incur and shows no interest in their future offspring.
This is a separate issue from single parenthood when one parent dies or there is divorce or abuse. In those circumstances single parenthood cannot be avoided. The key point I am trying to make is: encouraging or allowing conception to incur, by intent or by default, in circumstances where the future child will be unable to bond with - or reject - both biological parents, is a denial of that child's basic human rights.
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by Martin Foreman