Today is the day after the blanket women’s march carried out by those opposed to many of Donald Trump’s policies and character flaws. The feature photo was taken by Cheri Wright, an American resident of Mexico who participated in the massive, peaceful protest.
Among the important issues that may change for Americans is the one of reproductive rights. I’ve included my own feelings briefly in my suspense novel Blue Rope…and you know what? This is where going Indy really shines: You may say what you like frankly, with no editor frantic about political and financial fallout gulping two aspirin and making changes.
Though the purpose of Blue Rope is inarguably to entertain and intrigue, I post this part in solidarity with every woman who feels her body belongs to her rather than to the government. That being said, there is a fine line between that and killing another human being. I think the following thoughts (and facts) are worth sharing here. It comes verbatim from a spot about forty pages into my book. The protagonist, Dee, is at the beauty shop.
“Want your regular shampoo and trim, Dee?”
“Same old, same old.”
A warm rush of water on my scalp is followed by an icy trickle of shampoo. Fingers dig in with the strength of a professional masseuse. I can’t decide if it feels like heaven or hurts like hell.
“Can’t believe it,” Mindy mutters into my ear. “Did you hear about what happened to Sharon Maye Mooring last week? Her abortion?”
Lou perks up by the windows. “What’d you say over there?”
Mindy rinses my hair with water that’s too warm, practically hot, and repeats loudly, “Sharon Maye. Abortion. Last week. You know, the high school counselor’s daughter.”
“Didn’t know about it. How horrible.”
“Sad,” I mumble. “So very sad, but maybe not horrible.”
Mindy cuts the tap, wrapping a towel around my head as I sit. I miss the scalp rub already.
“What do you mean,” she says, “not horrible? Of course it’s horrible!”
“Are you asking for my opinion, Mindy, or just–because I don’t want to upset you.”
“Yes, Dee. I’m asking you for your opinion.”
I sigh and look up. Stained acoustical tiles flank two long fluorescent bulbs. One of the bulbs is dead; the other buzzes faintly. “Okay, if you really…so the embryo’s part of the mother, right? And I mean really part of her. Not separate. At least for the first two or three months. I’m just one of those who thinks women and men have a right to do what they want with their own bodies.”
Mindy’s comb bites at my wet scalp.
“Couldn’t disagree more,” she says. Anger clips each word short. The room falls unnaturally silent. The metallic snipping of her scissors sound like they’re saying the same sharp things over and over.
“Have you ever read Watership Down?” I ask.
“Nope. What’s it about, abortion?”
I work at a crease in the cape with my thumb, trying to smooth it out. “It’s a story about some rabbits who need to find a place of their own. Only the author is actually talking about people, not rabbits.”
Doris looks up. “Read it, loved it.”
I watch the teen in the mirror, orange light from the blinds striping half her face. “You did? Remember how Adams said the does sometimes absorb their unborn litters? Especially if the warren is stressed, like with disease or overcrowding. He uses the fact in his novel now and then.”
“I’d forgotten that. Saw it in the preface or something.”
“Well, I asked my gynecologist about it. Wondered if people did the same thing.”
“Weird. Of course they don’t,” Mindy says. “What’d he say?”
“She said it’s not common, but it happens. There’s even something called the vanishing twin syndrome. Some researchers think that up to one in eight people starts life as a twin, but only one in seventy is a twin. An embryo will abort spontaneously at times. Other times, one’s absorbed by the other twin, or even by the mom herself. People are just more aware of it these days since we have ultrasounds so early. Things like that almost always happen in the first trimester anyway, before you know anything’s going on.”
“Gotta be kidding me. Straaange. Turn your head this way.”
I move my head obediently and plow on.
“Don’t you think it’s funny we don’t know this stuff about ourselves? About our own bodies? And it’s not all that weird, is it? The embryo gets everything it needs from the mom. It’s part and parcel of her at first, almost like…like a fingernail or vein. Bone.” My eyes touch Mindy’s green ones in the mirror. “The point I’m trying to make is that, during the first couple of months, the baby’s more mom than new person.”
Her fingers tug at my hair, checking lengths. “Can’t believe Mary Belle and Cliff let Sharon Maye do that. Good lord. And I can’t believe you think it’s okay, Dee. Thought I knew you better than that. It’s murder. Same freakin’ thing that nut’s doing running around Mustang with rope.”
Heat floods my core. I want to stand, shove up my sleeve, show them the tattoo of Todd’s footprint. But I’ll never use my baby as a power piece in an argument. Tears swarm my eyes.
“Stop right there, Mindy. Abortion’s a terrible thing after three months–at least, the way I see it. I’m just saying that it’s a…valid choice. Wrong choice for some, right one for others. But one every woman needs to make for herself. And I want you to know that nobody has more respect for life, for babies, than I do. There’s nothing more valuable or magical than–”
“Hey, hey, girls,” Lou interrupts. “You know what they say. Life doesn’t start at conception. Life doesn’t even begin when you’re born. Life starts when your kids leave home and your dog dies.”
We hoot her down.