Another day, another foetus saved! Well, sort of. I mean, it did die in the end. The poor wee thing was always going to. Its heart was developing partially outside its body and there were other complications that meant it couldn’t possibly survive outside the womb. But, that’s not really the point is it? The great nation state of Ireland has enshrined in its constitution the right to life of the unborn child. It’s the obligation of us on the front lines, us legal-folk, to ensure that that right is protected, at all costs.
Of course, the costs were pretty high today. The mother didn’t fare too well either. She’d come into the hospital a few days before, complaining of abdominal pains. After an ultra-sound it was determined that the baby wasn’t likely to make it but that it had a heartbeat. Bingo! I received a call once the carrier and her husband requested an abortion. Imagine, thinking you could decide to have an abortion just like that! Not on my watch! By the time I’d arrived on the ward with my documents to explain why there was no way there would be an abortion while the child had a heartbeat, it turned out that there were some further complications. The carrier had a severe case of pre-eclampsia. She was at risk of organ damage and even a stroke. The medical staff were beside themselves. They wanted to help the carrier but knew they’d be breaking the law if they did. Still, the foetus was fighting on, and so would I.
Her husband just didn’t seem to get it. I mean, it was his baby we were protecting after-all. He kept pleading and saying things like ‘My wife is here now. She already has a life, an effect on the world. She’s part of a family!’. He was clearly hysterical or something. But, it did give me a moment for pause. What if he had a point? In our noble efforts to protect the unborn child, what if we were putting the foetus’ carrier in harms way? Maybe the carrier could be seen as more, like maybe a person? A person who lives a life. Who has an effect on the lives of others. Who is a part of this
world, a community, and maybe should have more rights than a hypothetical life, that admittedly wasn’t so hypothetical since the foetus was on borrowed time. Maybe the husband had a point when he screamed until he was red in the face that his wife should be able to do as she pleases with her body, especially to protect herself from harm.
All those thoughts flittered through my head in a matter of seconds. But then I remembered the infallible truth of the constitution. We are, I am, the soldier on the front line protecting the unborn from the deeds of the living. I had a job and I would do it. Mind you, the carrier’s children didn’t seem to understand that position either. All they seemed to do was cry. I had to leave the ward for a while and take a long coffee break in my office.
I ended up having three cups of coffee. I found myself imagining what it would be like if it was my wife in that hospital bed. Would I enforce the constitution without hesitation? I tried to imagine her getting sicker and sicker and waiting for the foetus’ heart to stop before allowing her proper treatment. I had to shake myself out of it. It wasn’t my wife, and I had a job to do. Still though…
Anyway, a long story short, it turned out the carrier had a stroke and her liver and kidneys were severely damaged. She’s in a coma at the moment. The doctors think she’ll probably have life changing brain damage, if she makes it. The foetus died shortly after her stroke, and labour was induced. It’s a sad outcome, but I did the right thing. Didn’t I? I followed the letter of the law. I protected and respected the life of the unborn. Sure, it says that we have to have equal regard for the right of the mother to life, but we both know that it’s virtually impossible to juggle both. I hope it’s a long while before I have to fight the good fight again. It doesn’t really make you feel great about yourself. Who’d want to be working with constitutional law like us legal-folk in this country, am I right!?
The London Mayor had funny hair,
And pretended to be the fool.
He helped his friends build corporate dens,
At the expense of objective rule.
With rising rent he didn’t repent,
Over growing numbers on the streets.
Instead he schemed against the PM esteemed,
“Exit the EU!”, is what he bleats.
Chris Brosnahan (over here: http://chrisbrosnahan.blogspot.co.uk/ ) is running a daily challenge for the month of October called #Octobophobia where he presents a new phobia each day and challenges himself, and anyone else who fancies a pop, to write a short story about the relevant phobia. Do follow him to see what he creates (@ChrisBrosnahan). Some of the early entries are disturbing and I’m sure the trend will continue.
Below is my contribution for Cynophobia (a fear of dogs). I can be found here @ on Twitter.
I often wonder, do people know the aetiology of their fears? The things that can keep them awake at night, or those niggles that are never quite at the back of their mind? Chances are most have no idea. I know where and when mine was birthed into my world, snarling and convulsing. I was eight and visiting family. Outside I played with the older children and watched them pet their dog, which was tethered with fraying, blue plastic, rope. It was a collie and passive at their touch. When they stopped petting the dog it turned its attention to me. It lowered its head and bared its teeth. Growls found their way from deep in its throat as a prelude to the explosive bark that followed each one. Saliva was pulping at one corner of its mouth and shook with each threat of violence it sent my way. I was safe though. The rope, although fraying was holding true. I was advancing towards the dog. I had a hand on my back.
`No, I don’t want to.’ I said.
`It’s friendly really’ they insisted as I was pushed forward.
One of them reached out and petted the dog immediately subduing its savagery. It kept its eyes on me.
`Pet it.’ I was told.
My protests were unheeded. I reached out and tentatively petted the dog’s head at arms length and withdrew my hand in one piece. I smiled with relief at the taller children and turned to get back to a safe distance. There was no growl, no bark, just searing pain in my exposed thigh. The dog withdrew its teeth from my flesh with speed and I was dragged away from its snarling, rabid mouth. Tears spilled down my face as the blood spilled down my leg. The ensuing chaos saw me whisked off to the local GP with a long stay in the waiting area dripping blood onto the floor, before being bandaged and receiving shots. I wasn’t seriously injured, apart from being gifted six scars that could be used as a dental record for the dog. The bastard wasn’t even put down. It would have another victim, the face that time, before the owners decided that their pet was indeed a danger to children. The experience taught me a couple of things. Dogs were dangerous, and people’s stupidity equally so.
As an adult I wouldn’t say I had a phobia of dogs as such. I wasn’t transformed to a quivering wreck in their presence but I sure as hell didn’t trust them. I would sometimes cross the street to avoid them if I saw a person walking more than one at a time, but that was just good sense from my perspective. I’d risk passing a single dog and its owner if said owner had it on a short leash. The small yapping dogs didn’t really bother me at all. I barely even saw them as dogs. They were almost a distinct species. Parks though, I never went to parks. People have a habit of letting their pets gallop freely. No thank you.
Sometimes I did have dreams. Nightmares really. Never about the day I was bitten specifically. They would be about white teeth bared in shadow that concealed the size of their owner. I knew though, I knew they were wolves. Circling me. Hunting me. I’d awaken with my heart racing and chest tight. But, again, I wouldn’t say I had a phobia exactly. Those were nightmares and I could function just fine around dogs. I simply preferred not to be in their company.
I’d started a new job two weeks prior to getting my first invite to a work social. I wasn’t ever a fan of unofficial compulsory team building. Maybe that was the cynic in me speaking. It was a Friday evening and the quick pint quickly turned into pints. I was having a good time despite my best efforts. Jay-Jay, who I’d not had a chance to talk to properly prior to that was a fun guy. He had a smart answer to everything and a back-catalogue of funny stories that I wasn’t quite convinced were all of his own. But who cares? I was having fun and bullshitters are a harmless breed. I sent a text to my partner to let her know I would be running later than expected. Jay-jay had convinced me to join him for a `few more cheeky pints’ at a betting venue he knew.
`A casino?’ I asked.
`Something like that, but better.’
I was intrigued and followed his lead. We took a cab thirty minutes from the city centre. I was sobering up, tiring, and was significantly less interested in a “few more cheeky pints” than I had been. The cab fare home alone was going to render the extra couple of drinks a waste of time and money. But I didn’t complain. Jay-jay was fidgety with what I assumed was excitement and I wasn’t going to be “that guy”.
We rolled up to a warehouse in what looked like an industrial estate. Jay-Jay paid the fare and I watched the cab disappear back the way it came. I wasn’t at my most comfortable but I had just enough alcohol in my system to decide everything was alright. Jay-Jay knocked hard on the metal door and like something out of a gangster film a slot scraped open and a shadowed figure asked for a password.
`Red Baron’ Jay-Jay said.
The figure slid open the door and we stepped inside. I was led down a few steps towards a basement. Halfway down, that’s when I first heard it. It wasn’t the cheers and shouts from the amassed crowd somewhere below. It was barks.
`Jay-Jay?’ I said.
`It’s cool man. It’s cool.’
I didn’t feel I could turn around and leave. I hadn’t heard what destination Jay-Jay had told the driver. `Shit.’ I thought as Jay-Jay opened another door and led us into the arena. People surrounded a pit dug into the ground and two men stood inside it with their dogs on a leash that were squaring up to each other and straining their leashes to attack. Money was exchanging hands and the smell in the air was musty and of metal. Jay-Jay told me to wait and watch the `fight’. I only saw glimpses. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it all. The dogs ripped and tore at each others flesh adding to the blood already caked into the dirt. It didn’t last long. It was long enough for the losing dog to suffer as it whined in the jaws of the victor. The life escaped its broken body to cheers, braying, and boos from the crowd.
I felt nauseous. Not least by the savage display but also because I’d never before seen a pitbull. The victor, now back on its leash was so pumped full of adrenaline that the owner — and I say owner, not master, as this monster was its own master — could barely keep control of it. The animal, the dog I mean, was enormous and its mouth was wide, like a comic book grin from ear-to-ear.
`Just what the hell am I doing here?’ I thought as I felt sweat trickle down my left temple.
I turned away from the monsters and the bloodbath looking for Jay-Jay. I saw him talking to a large man in a leather jacket. Jay-Jay spotted me. I must have been pasty white at that point. He waved me to approach them and I did. I was unsteady on my feet but managed to navigate the boisterous, blood-thirsty punters. I stood wobbling by Jay-Jay’s side keen to ask him to take me away from this place. I was going to give him a piece of my mind. Didn’t he know how much trouble we could get into? Jay-Jay looked at me and then back to the stranger in leather.
`Our debt is settled?’ Jay-Jay asked.
The man simply nodded in reply. Jay-Jay turned to me with an almost apologetic look on his face and took a step back. I was confused. That was until I felt a sharp push into my back and no longer felt the ground beneath me. I slammed into the pit floor hard. The wind was knocked out of my lungs. There were cheers from the crowd that now surrounded me. Like something you’d hear from assholes in a pub after a member of staff smashed a glass. I looked up and saw the victor of the last fight. Snarling. Growling. Barking. There was saliva congealing in both corners of its mouth and it only had eyes for me.
Simon P. Clark challenges us to:
Write a story either (a) in 1225 words or less or (b) featuring ‘1225’ as its theme
Publish / share it before December 25th, 2014.
The smell of the cold drifted in through the gap in the narrow window, piercing its way through the staleness inside. It was dark, but the sun was beginning to stir and only the whistle of a gentle wind could be heard.
“A new day,” said the man quietly to himself as he surveyed the scene.
He took a deep breath, allowing the cool morning air to cleanse his being, and returned to the sunken mattress in the corner of the room, ritually lighting a clumsily rolled cigarette. A half-eaten takeaway sat on the floor beside the bed, flanked by two empty bottles of beer.
There was a pile of old newspapers and magazines stacked high against the wall opposite him, discoloured and torn. Nestled among them was a blue bible, a gift given to him after he began attending local prayer group. He had become somewhat of a hoarder and his cramped box room was slowly closing in around him.
The man picked up a picture from the bed-side table and examined it deliberately as he smoked. The frame was cheap but decorative. After staring at the image for nearly a minute, a tragic, fleeting smile flashed across his face and he replaced it, carefully. In contrast to the surrounding squalor, the bed-side table stood empty and neat; the picture frame its only tenant. The man would look searchingly at the photo each morning upon waking and sometimes in the evenings too.
There was no room for a closet in the hovel and his few clothes formed a desperate mound on top of the chair next to the front door. He had one good suit, however, which he kept for special occasions, but he rarely had cause to wear it. Not anymore. It hung hopefully in the tiny toilet adjoining the flat gathering dust.
When he was finished his cigarette, the man rummaged through the heap on the chair and got dressed. His clothes were damp and dirty and clung horribly to his swollen physique. He walked gingerly over to the counter and filled the kettle with water. Slivers of the morning light quietly crept in through the window, lighting up his face as he turned it on.
“A new day, with new possibilities,” the man thought, repeating what his guide had told him at the prayer group.
As the kettle boiled he cast his mind back to the last meeting. The group met each week at a youth club in a council estate nearby. They were a diverse group and would have refreshments before engaging in discussion, prayer and meditation. The man’s sponsor, a guy named Joe, had reassuringly told him that every day brought with it a plethora of opportunities.
“We have a shot at redemption every single day,” Joe would beam. “That’s a beautiful thing.”
Even if he didn’t fully believe Joe, such platitudes comforted him and he genuinely enjoyed the social aspect of the group, for he had grown increasingly isolated in recent years. It was by no means glamorous, but it was warm and welcoming there.
A loud click of the kettle snapped him back into the icy filth of his own home. He poured the tea and sat back down on the bed, cautiously slurping from his mug. His eyes were drawn once more to the photo on the bed-side table and a trembling fear suddenly gripped his throat. He started to sob silently but stopped himself and stood up. He gazed out the window.
“A new day,” repeated the man as tears welled up in his eyes. He picked up the photo again, clutching it tightly. It showed the man delightfully hugging a young child.
“Happy Christmas, son.”
By Ryan Kelly
The following angry poem is meant as a release of my frustrations regarding the blatant corruption and insincerity, and worse, of our elected officials, specifically in this case the UK but I think the sentiment could be transposed to most nations.
These fucking Politicians.
These fucking politicians and their fucking lies,
A photo-op eating their subjects’ pies.
These fucking politicians and their harebrained schemes,
The big society’s not what it seems.
These fucking politicians and their media friends,
Cosy lunches and texts, to what end?
These fucking politicians protecting the banks,
Take the public’s money without even a thanks.
These fucking politicians, they have no shame,
Coerce their wife to take the blame.
These fucking politicians, don’t justify their expense,
Known henceforth for their embezzlement.
These fucking politicians, whoring their reach,
Yet values they hypocritically preach.
These fucking politicians taking from the vulnerable,
Spin some bullshit that they’re the real criminals.
These fucking politicians and their strategic distractions,
To keep us apart and in warring factions.
These fucking politicians the career hungry dogs,
Climbed to the top of the heap, self proclaimed demigods.
These fucking politicians, the many headed beast,
Cut one off, it’s quickly replaced.
Lest we forget these fucking politicians and their illegal wars,
Death toll rises, lack accountability at all.
These fucking politicians.
We’re all to blame.
These fucking politicians.
We need to change.