“Ohhhhhhh….” Maddie shook her head slowly from side to side as she awoke, her temples throbbing with every motion. “What happened?” She didn’t know if she asked the question out loud or in her head – either way, she didn’t receive an answer.
Her mind was fuzzy, but she remembered…blood. So much blood, and it had been everywhere. Why the fuck hadn’t anyone told her how much blood there would be? She hated the sight of blood, especially her own, and yet, she had been desperate enough to make her blood stream everywhere. She tried to move and groaned as the soreness between her legs reminded her why she was so fuzzed out in the first place.
She remembered when she found out she was pregnant – she was as regular as the sun, so when she had been a week late, she knew. Oh, sure, some of her friends said it was because of the stress – only face to face and in whispered tones. You had to be so careful of what you said these days, and you definitely didn’t want to put anything risky in writing – but Maddie had known. She couldn’t take a test because they had been banned, of course, but she could feel the alien being taking seed in her body as surely as if the little line had turned pink.
Maddie frowned. Was the line pink? Was it purple? She didn’t know for sure because hadn’t actually ever seen a pregnancy test – they had been outlawed when she was not seven or eight – but she had heard older women, friends of her mother, talk about sex when they didn’t know she was around. Even as a little girl, Maddie had been able to make herself invisible to the adults around her – a useful talent to have when she wanted to find out how life was in the old days. She couldn’t remember how many times she’d sat right outside the living entrance when Mrs. Wong had her friends over, and they would talk about how wonderful life had been before the Abortion Abolition Act of 2020.
“I used to buy a six pack of condoms before hitting the bars Friday night – I would have to buy more the next morning.” Karen Billings, a feisty redhead, would say with a giggle tinged with melancholy. Her green eyes hooded as she went deep into herself, but they would brighten again as she added, “Then, I would have to buy another six-pack Sunday morning!” All the women would laugh, but there was always a wistfulness to the laughter that was evident, even to a child like Maddie.
After Maddie had her fill of adult women talk, she would creep away and hurry to her computer so she could look up words she didn’t understand, like condom. “A condom is a barrier device used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy.” Maddie frowned as she read the definition three times in succession. A precocious child, she knew the meaning of every word, but she couldn’t imagine what they meant in this particular context. She had been taught in school that sex was solely for procreation, so why would there be a device to prevent this from occurring? Maddie looked at the accompanying pictures and still didn’t quite understand how it worked. She knew what a penis was because she had looked it up after a prior gabfest of Mrs. Wong and her girlfriends, though, so she could almost picture in her mind how a condom would fit on it.
“You’re up, Magdalene, dear. Would you like a glass of water?” A kindly, elderly female face appeared before Maddie’s face, and Maddie’s throat constricted in fear.
“No, I would not. And, it’s Maddie.” The last was said in a half-whisper, as if Maddie hoped to slide it into the conversation unnoticed. The older woman’s lips tightened, and she didn’t seem quite so kindly any more.
“Your conversion name is Magdalene– therefore, that I what you are to be called. You’re not a little girl, Magdalene; you should know that by now.” Mrs. Frazier’s voice was reproachful as she reached for a well-worn pamphlet and rifled through it. She pushed her glasses firmly up her nose as she began to read. “Any girl born before April 7, 2020 shall be renamed in the name of our Lord. If any girl is not so renamed, she will be renamed by the state.” Mrs. Frazier stopped reading and looked sternly at Maddie. “Your mother was remiss in changing your name, and you somehow managed to escape detection for many years. Therefore, it is up to the state to rechristen you, and it chose Magdalene. It’s similar enough to your given name that you should have adapted to it by now.”
Maddie closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see Mrs. Frazier staring down at her in disapproval. She felt the being in her stomach kick, and she winced – though not from pain. She hated the idea of an alien taking up residence in her body and not having any say in the matter. She had never wanted to have kids – ever. She had supposed she would have them because every woman did, but she couldn’t for the life of her imagine why a woman would want to spawn. She had a hard enough time with bleeding once a month and the accompanying cramps and mood swings – the idea of having a baby made her physically ill. She had wanted to have her tubes tied as soon as she started menstruating – and, yes, she had looked up that procedure on her computer as well once she learned the facts of life from her mother – but no doctor would perform the operation on a woman in her breeding years for a non-medical emergency reason. Maddie had scraped together enough money to visit a quack who only did business after the sun had set, but he had demanded more than just her money – and Maddie hadn’t been willing to let him fuck her.
Maddie discovered sex while a first year student at St. Reagan’s University, and she had loved it from the first time a cock entered her pussy. There was a law against premarital sex, but it was one of the few laws that wasn’t strictly enforced. She had been taught in state-mandated church that sex was sinful and dirty and something a good girl didn’t do – until she was married, and then it was holy and beautiful and pure – but only if it were for procreation. She had also been taught that premarital sex was a mortal sin. Maddie had known from listening to Mrs. Wong and her girlfriends talk that sex could be fun, playful, and hot outside of marriage, but it wasn’t until she had an actual cock in her that she realized how full of shit religion was. This? This was what was going to send her to hell? Something that felt this good and didn’t hurt anyone was what was going to cause the eternal damnation of her soul? It was the best feeling in the world, and Maddie was furious that she had been lied to for most of her life.
Maddie had never really believed in the Christian doctrine, but having sex for the first time put the nail in her religious coffin. Of all the things to send her to hell for eternity, Maddie was sure that sex shouldn’t be on the list, let alone at the top. She continued to go to church because she would have drawn attention to herself had she not, but she didn’t even bother mouthing the catechisms or singing any of the hymns. Mrs. Wong had noticed the change in Maddie but hadn’t said anything about it. Mrs. Wong had been raised Buddhist, so she didn’t really set much stock in Christianity, anyway.
“Have you been doing your daily Bible reading, Magdalene?” Mrs. Frazier’s voice cut through Maddie’s hazy recollections like a razor through Maddie’s skin. Maddie didn’t reply because she didn’t want to give Mrs. Frazier the satisfaction at hearing her say no. She also knew it would be useless to say that she practically had the damn book memorized from reading it so many times. “That’s what I thought.” Mrs. Frazier glared at Maddie before reaching for her King James Bible. “Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 2.” She cleared her throat portentously as she prepared to read.
Maddie groaned inwardly because she knew this passage very well – her pastor used to read it to her whenever she questioned his edicts on marriage, motherhood, pregnancy, or anything that had anything to do with women, actually. She tried to block out Mrs. Frazier’s nasally drone and wondered where Darryl was. She hadn’t seen her husband in days, and she knew that he had to fight like hell with Mrs. Frazier to get even fifteen minutes with her. There was a law that every husband and wife must be given at least an hour of alone time a day, but it was one of those laws that was used as a threat against any wife – and, yes, it was always the wife – who was deemed as stepping out of line. Maddie and Darryl had been forced to spend a week apart once because Maddie had been caught researching the history of Planned Parenthood, no matter how much she had protested it was for her doctoral thesis – which was rejected by her advisor, anyway.
“Numbers 5: 16 – 28,” Maddie said suddenly, then immediately wished she hadn’t.
“What was that?” Mrs. Frazier stopped her dull recitation and stared at Maddie over her glasses.
“Nothing,” Maddie mumbled, shrinking into herself. Her hair itched, but she couldn’t lift her hand to scratch it. When was the last time she washed it? She couldn’t remember, nor did she particularly care.
“You quoted a verse,” Mrs. Frazier said coldly. “Repeat it.”
“Numbers 5: 16 – 28.” Maddie stopped and watched Mrs. Frazier closely. Maddie didn’t miss the quick look of confusion on Mrs. Frazier’s face. Pausing for a millisecond, Maddie began to speak. “The passage is talking about a priest performing a special ceremony on a woman suspected of cheating on her husband. Verse 27: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.” Mrs. Frazier’s face suffused with apoplexy as she shoved it in Maddie’s face.
“Even the Devil can quote Scripture for his own purposes.” Spittle flecks sprayed Maddie’s face as Mrs. Frazier hissed at her. Maddie turned her face, but she couldn’t escape the spray. She bit her tongue, knowing she should stop while she was only slightly behind, but it was as if, indeed, a demon had gotten a hold of her and wouldn’t let go.
“That’s Shakespeare, not the Bible.” Maddie tensed, and she wasn’t disappointed. Her face stung as Mrs. Frazier quickly backhanded her.
“You filthy whore. You think that just because you went to college, you’re better than me, don’t you?” Mrs. Frazier lifted her hand again, but she stayed it with great difficulty. “No, I will not allow you to deliver me into temptation.” Maddie kept her mouth shut, but thought, “I will deliver you to evil, you bitch.” She knew, though, that she was running out of time, and if she was going to have any chance to do something about her situation, she had to suck up to this bitch.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Frazier,” Maddie said, forcing her tone to be as conciliatory as she could make it. “I know you’re just doing your job. I shouldn’t make it so hard on you.” Mrs. Frazier stared at Maddie without saying anything for a long minute. Maddie kept her face open as she spoke, willing herself not to sneer. Mrs. Frazier’s own face softened as she settled back into her chair and regained her grandmotherly image.
“That’s all right, Magdalene. I know that you are under tremendous stress. But, just think of the wonderful joy of a baby you will have at the end of the pregnancy!” Mrs. Frazier beamed down at Maddie who managed to muster a smile in return. She did not retort, “I don’t fucking want the baby which is why I’m in this mess in the first goddamn place!”
When Maddie met Darryl, she had made it clear to him that she hadn’t wanted children. She told him in no uncertain terms that if he had any desire for heirs, he would have to go elsewhere. He had told her he only wanted her and nothing else mattered. She hadn’t taken him at his word, but she had grudgingly gone out with him. She hadn’t given him an ounce, testing him every step of the way. He had passed each test easily, and within a year, they were married. When Maddie had announced her engagement to her mother, Mrs. Wong had drawn her aside to have a little talk with her.
“Maddie, I know you don’t want to have children,” Mrs. Wong began, her eyes staring into Maddie’s. Maddie winced and looked away because she had never said anything to her mother about not wanting to procreate. “I won’t talk about that further – I just want to say, there are ways to avoid having children. Even without condoms or the pill.” Mrs. Wong smiled slightly, and that was the first time Maddie had an inkling that her mother had known all along that Maddie had been listening in on those discussions Mrs. Wong had had with her girlfriends about contraception and other various aspects of sex.
Mrs. Wong broke off what she was saying and went over to the open window and closed it. Maddie distinctly remembered that moment because it was what Mrs. Wong did every time right before she and her girlfriends would begin to reminisce about the old days. Maddie had been twenty-three at the time of her engagement, and this was the first time her mother had closed the window before talking with her.
“I was still fertile after I had you and after the Abortion Abolition Act of 2020 was enacted,” Mrs. Wong said rapidly, her words fairly tumbling out of her mouth. “Do you remember John Lee?” Maddie nodded. Her mother had dated Mr. Lee for three years before they broke up. Maddie hadn’t really cared for Mr. Lee, though she had nothing specific against him – she had been glad when Mrs. Wong had informed her that the relationship was over. “We were celibate for the first two years we were together, but then he started to make noises about wanting to have babies because he didn’t have any. I didn’t want another child, but I did have needs.” Mrs. Wong paused, her eyes still boring into Maddie’s. “John was an ignorant man when it came to how a woman’s body worked. He didn’t know anything about cycles or when was the best time to get pregnant. I did. I made sure we only had sex when I wasn’t ovulating. You understand, don’t you, Maddie?” Maddie nodded, not trusting herself to say anything. Ever since the time she got caught looking up abortifacient at school when she was twelve, she took great pains to cover up her search history, but she never stopped researching taboo topics.
“I don’t know how, but he figured out what I was doing. My guess is, he complained to his friends about me not getting pregnant, and they had told him the ways a woman could circumvent pregnancy.” Up until this point, Mrs. Wong’s voice had been matter-of-fact. Now, however, it faltered. She took a moment to compose herself before continuing. “He came to see me, Maddie, and he was so mad! He tied me to the bed and raped me several times over the next twenty-four hours. By the time he was done, I was bleeding from my vagina, and I wanted to die.”
“Where was I when this happened? How come I didn’t know?” Maddie was devastated to hear her mother had gone through such a traumatic and horrific experience.
“You were at summer camp.” Mrs. Wong placed her hand on Maddie’s, squeezing it once. They stood silently for several minutes before Mrs. Wong continued with her story. “I thought he was going to kill me – I really did. I resigned myself to dying, either from him raping me or from him killing me afterward. Instead, he finally let me free, warned me not to tell anyone, and left. I never saw him again after that.”
“You didn’t go to the cops.” Maddie said it as a statement not a question because she knew what the answer would be.
“No.” There was no need for Mrs. Wong to elaborate any further. Had she gone to the cops, she would have had to tell them that she had been having premarital sex. Not only that, she had been actively trying to not conceive as she had said premarital sex. The cops would have thrown her in jail for a mandatory 30 day sentence, and it would have went on her permanent record as her first strike – if she didn’t already have any other marks on her record, of course. “I cleaned up best I could, spent a week at Karen’s house letting her take care of me while I healed, and then went on with my life. I never saw John after that.”
“I’ll kill him,” Maddie said softly, her eyes like obsidian disks. “I will hunt the bastard down and cut his heart out.”
“My warrior woman,” Mrs. Wong said, smiling tremulously, her eyes filling with tears. “You’ve always been so protective of me.” She paused, and her eyes iced over before she continued, “There is no need for you to do anything about it, Maddie. Rachel took care of it.”
Maddie shuddered. She hadn’t heard that name in years, but she remembered the slight, petite, brunette woman who had ties with the local Hell’s Angels. Rachel never said much, but when she did, everyone listened. During one gabfest, the girlfriends had been talking about the mistakes they’d made with men and how it had affected them. Most of it was in the vein of staying with a man too long or cheating on him or accepting that he cheated on you. Rachel had listened to the entire discussion without saying anything, then, after nearly a half hour of discussion, she opened her mouth.
“I dated a guy who hit me once. Once. He never ever made that fucking mistake again.” She stopped, her eyes devoid of any warmth. The other women glanced at each other before continuing the exchange of stories. Maddie had left her listening perch shortly after that as she was too freaked out by Rachel’s story to listen to anything else.
“I did what I had to do, Maddie,” Mrs. Wong said, her eyes flashing. “He would never have left me alone, otherwise.”
“I’m not judging you, A-bu,” Maddie said softly. “I’m glad the fucker got what he deserved.”
“So am I.” Mrs. Wong smiled, though without any warmth. “Anyway, I have a reason for telling you the story. We were talking about ways to—”
“Gua zai, A-bu,” Maddie said, neatly cutting off her mother. “I love you.” They hugged, then Mrs. Wong went over to the window to open it again. They never spoke of it again.
The wedding had taken place in the church, of course, but Maddie had managed to keep it simple. Darryl had agreed to a small wedding in part because he had a small family – parents, still married, and an older sister – but mostly because he would have agreed to anything to get Maddie to marry him. She wore a simple red dress she had bought from Macy’s for seventy bucks, a dress she would actually wear again, and Darryl wore a green tweed suit that nicely complemented his auburn hair. Maddie’s heart had thumped wildly as she had walked down the aisle with her mother by her side at the sight of her handsome groom. She hated to admit it, but his strong resemblance to a young, non-skanky Jonathan Rhys Meyers – he was so hot in the classic, Velvet Goldmine – was one reason she gave him a chance.
They had been so careful about when they had sex. For the first three years of their marriage, they abstained from intercourse whenever Maddie was ovulating. It had been difficult because they were so hot for each other, but they managed to satisfy each other in different ways when they couldn’t actually fuck. Fortunately, there was no law yet mandating children for married couples – though there was a bill making its way through Congress – so the worst was that Maddie and Darryl had to suffer the nasty gossip behind their backs in church as to why they didn’t have children yet. Maddie was almost militant about scheduling their sex, but one night, she had slipped. Darryl had just come home from his corporate job excited because he had gotten a big raise, and they went out to celebrate the added responsibilities and income. Several bottles of wine had been consumed, and they had raced home, barely able to keep their hands off each other. Maddie had been in the first hours of ovulation, so she had decided to risk it just once. Darryl had withdrawn before cumming, but damn it, the one slip-up had been enough to make Maddie pregnant.
“Do you think you could untie my hands, Mrs. Frazier?” Maddie asked In a little girl voice. “I’d like to rub my wrists to restore the circulation.” Mrs. Frazier’s hands hovered over Maddie’s restraints before she pulled them back.
“I don’t think so, dear. It’s for your best interest, you know. After what you did to yourself, well, we have to do everything we can to keep you from hurting yourself further.” Mrs. Frazier glanced between Maddie’s tethered legs before looking away. She patted Maddie’s hand several times, and it took every ounce of will Maddie possessed not to try to snatch her hand away.
End of Part One