THE WRITER’S LIFE | FICTION
It’s that time of year again, when I have to detach myself from the pains of real life and memories. My dislike of Christmas has nothing to do with my atheism, although I despise the commercialism built around a religious occasion. That’s for another time. For now, I’m a fiction writer.
Another nativity was originally published in Schlock! webzine, where it was billed as “[an] idiosyncratic take on the nativity.” An updated version of it will be in my forthcoming anthology. This is an edited version.
Those of a sensitive, religious or sentimental nature; and those even quite difficult to offend, should stop reading now.
It’s got three wise people and three shepherds. It has an immaculate conception and a virgin birth…
The following is a true story; a Christmas message, adapted from the bible…
It was the old-school cheap props method of a cushion up her jumper which made Marilyn feel so secure on stage. She was pregnant. She couldn’t make out her father in the audience. This was a nativity; nothing else.
The stomach cramps were stage fright: only that. The audience out there really cared. She could get over this and speak her lines, after so many weeks of rehearsal. It was just a nativity. A man spoke:
“Marilyn, we’re here to tell a story and we need your help. You are welcome here. Tell us first, how you came to be here.”
“Joe and me have been walking for three days. We’re homeless because my dad chucked us out. As you can see, I’m pregnant. We came here for the health care and to register the birth.”
“How did you come to be with child?”
“I was raped.”
“By whom, Marilyn?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see him.”
“The child is not your partner’s?”
“No. Thank You Marilyn. To spare you further questions for now, I will refer to the statement which you made previously under oath. You suspected that you were pregnant because you’d missed a period, so you took a test. The test was positive. You thought little of it, hoping that the test was incorrect or that the problem would go away. You met Joe around two weeks after this and a month into the relationship, you had unprotected sexual intercourse for the first time. Your hymen was ruptured and you bled. Confused, you thought that this might be your existing pregnancy miscarrying, so you took another pregnancy test immediately after that first sexual encounter: it too was positive. It was too soon after you’d had intercourse with Joe for his sperm to have penetrated any eggs in your womb, yet he had clearly taken your virginity. Therefore, it would seem that you’d been pregnant and a virgin at the same time. I should like to call on Doctor Bateman. Doctor: you have examined the patient and can confirm the stage of her pregnancy?”
“Indeed I have. Based on the current size and development of the foetus, the patient is 20 weeks pregnant. This would place the date of conception several weeks prior to her first sexual encounter with her current partner. Of course, the hymen can become ruptured in many ways besides intercourse. It is possible to be a virgin whilst not having an intact hymen but it is impossible to become pregnant with the hymen attached. I wish to hand you over to Inspector Aldred.”
“Thank you doctor. Your honour: the doctor is of course correct in his statement. Our priority was to identify the father of the child. The claimant’s partner had volunteered for a DNA swab. Clearly we also needed the DNA of the mother and baby. This was gained with consent. I can confirm that the claimant’s partner is not the father of the unborn child. Furthermore, the unborn child’s DNA is identical to that of the mother.”
“Which suggests a number of things Inspector.”
“Yes your honour. We can discount accidental insemination through heavy petting, simply by virtue of the DNA tests. This leaves two scientific explanations for a baby which carries only the DNA of its mother. I shall return the stage to Doctor Bateman.”
“Thank you Inspector. The first possibility is that the claimant produced a clone of herself. This has been observed in the natural world. However, any parthenogenetic progeny of a mammal would have two X chromosomes and would therefore be female: this child is male. The remaining possibility is that the claimant is carrying a chimera. It is extremely unlikely but nonetheless possible, in theory at least, that an egg could be cloned by the mother, develop through the embryonic stage and only then be fertilised by male sperm to make the embryo viable. There is much academic research on the subject but it is not a phenomenon which has been observed under scientific conditions.”
“It is therefore highly unlikely Doctor?”
“Yes your honour.”
“In summing up so far, it would appear that there are two possibilities: the first is improbable and the second, more so. Either young Marilyn here has self-produced an embryo which her partner has then fertilised, or the alternative is quite fantastical. The only remaining explanation is an immaculate conception. This would be a miracle and therefore, grounded in something other than science. But it goes further than religion and faith as well, because the most important thing of all is how Marilyn feels about all of this.”
It was time for Marilyn’s big speech. Her abdomen felt as though her intestines were knotted and a weight bore down on her bladder. She caressed her cushion-padded belly as the man addressed her again:
“Marilyn: what no-one can deny is that you are pregnant. One of two things has happened: the first is that you are pregnant with your partner’s child but through naivety rather than intention and it is highly unlikely in any case. Equally unlikely however, is that you may have had an immaculate conception and are carrying the child of God. Either way, you are the incubator, the transport and the means of delivery. The foetus is viable but still at a stage where it may be legally aborted. There are other ethical matters to consider however, albeit some theoretical: if you are carrying the son of God, who has the authority to deny that child’s life? If the father were to be your partner, there is no way to prove this, nor indeed is there sufficient proof that that the two of you may have engaged in underage sex. Given this and the expert statements which we have heard, there is only one remaining course which the law may pursue and that is that God had sex with you, without your consent: the conception may be immaculate but the situation which I am faced with is unprecedented. With the eyes of the law, I see before me a 12-year-old girl who is pregnant. That in itself is a difficult legal position because I may be duty-bound to order the termination of this pregnancy. But the cause – however unlikely – could be that this child has been impregnated by God and I could therefore be ordering the destruction of the prophesied saviour. I also face the legal precedent of holding trial with God himself as a defendant. I am bound by the legal system and any religious beliefs I have must not be allowed to become a distraction. The most important person here is Marilyn: it is her body and future which are being deliberated in law: surely this is situation which only the girl should be able to decide upon the outcome of, because she is the one most directly affected? And yet, her age. My legally-imposed agnosticism aside, I only wish God would prove his existence and appear among us now to answer the case. Given the severity of the charges against the accused, the trial would have to be heard in at least a crown court. At that point, the legal case is God Vs The Queen; the head of the Church of England. Only some sort of divine intervention could sort this out. Even if God did appear and my agnosticism was no longer an issue, I would have to question his motives and ask him if perhaps he might have made a mistake.
“Ladies and gentlemen: court is suspended and will resume after the interval.”
Marilyn could smell the smoke from the mid-session interval smokers outside as she sat on the toilet. She’s yet to recite her big part. ‘Fucking hell, I’m 12 years old and I’m pregnant. Does it matter whose child this is when the father of his own child isn’t even here to see his daughter? The sooner I can get this fucking cushion out from under my jumper, the better’. She leant heavily on the cushion as she looked down between her legs at a golden shower: temporary relief. ‘Oh God’: the words were as clear as she thought them but just as accidental as when she’d called Joe “baby”. The word was a solitary one in Marilyn’s mind as she wiped herself and saw blood on the toilet paper.
In the time it took Marilyn to flush the toilet and exit the cubicle, the smokers had come back indoors and now shared the bathroom mirror with her as they sprayed their mouths and adjusted their wigs. She recognised all three of the women, as she’d seen them in the wings during the first half of the performance. She looked at their reflections in the mirror alongside her own: ‘I either have to throw up, go back into that cubicle and shit, or go back with these three’.
Gently guided back onto the stage, Marilyn delivered her act:
“I didn’t ask for this child, so why should I carry it for you? If this is what God wants, then I fuck him like he did me. Behold, the son of man and your gift from God; my father. I give mankind his saviour just as my father made me. At least my real dad wears a condom when he fucks his little girl.”
Marilyn pushed the cushion beneath her jersey in on either side, as she made her dramatic fall to the floor. Her vagina agape in the spotlight, a small head emerged. The softness of a 20-week-old foetus’ bones, combined with the tightness of a 12-year-old girl’s labia, meant that the baby’s head was both conical and comical, resembling a clown’s hat. The spotlight intensified on the pre-teen open vagina, now stretched further as the baby’s shoulders emerged. Blood spewed over the stage from the girl, as baby Jesus was stillborn on stage. The MC’s voice came back over the PA:
“In his absence, the court finds the defendant guilty of rape and paedophilia. Ladies and gentlemen, court is adjourned: please leave in an orderly manner and have a very merry Christmas.”
© Steve Laker, 2016