Friday Night Story

Bone Children

I’ll admit to being a bit of a bastard. My girlfriend was infertile from cancer treatments, but had saved six eggs at the advice of her doctor. We were getting on well; we had been living together for eighteen months, and marriage was in our near future. I loved her as madly as a man ever can; so when she asked if I would fertilize her eggs, I didn’t hesitate.

And we had a fight- actually, not just a fight, the fight. It started small, but by the end of it she had she hit me with a bottle until it shattered, and the only reason she didn’t use the pieces to tear open my throat was I punched her in the guts. I’m not proud, mind, but a man does have a right to defend himself.

Well, having found that she was in fact brutally insane, I left. Dissolved all ties with her, refused her calls, and did what I could to explain in no uncertain terms to her father when he visited that we were done. And then came an odd letter in the post. By law, the consent of both parties is necessary at every stage of the fertility process; she needed my signature to implant the fertilized eggs.

I have never been a father. I had a few scares with uncareful girls at university, and spent more than one morning after in search of a doctor with a pill, but I had dodged Darwin at every turn and avoided impregnating anyone. And while a very real part of me wanted at that moment to be a father, the very last thing I wanted to be was a donor. And perhaps I was spiteful, then, and maybe even a bit of a bastard, but if women should be able to choose when to become a parent, I should have that same right, shouldn’t I?

I refused to sign the letter. She took me to court, but the law was with me. She appealed, but the law hadn’t changed. And at every step we became more rancorous, more hateful, and each of us less fit for parenthood. And eventually, she conceded.

For three years I didn’t hear from her, and my life went well. One night, walking home after staying over at the office, I was accosted in the street. I cooperated, gave them my watch, wallet, and keys; they shot me anyway, and dragged me into an alley and sawed my leg off.

They did me the favor of tying a tourniquet around the wound, and I was discovered the next morning half-dead in the alley. The police didn’t find any valuable evidence, but took my statement, and alerted the local hospitals, in case anyone brought in the leg as a transplant, but of course no one did.

I was fitted with a transfemoral prosthetic, carbon fiber with a plastic skin shell to fill out the pant leg. My doctor put me into intensive physical therapy, because walking with one leg requires 80% more energy. I quit after four visits and bought a cane.

I became a lousy human being. My work dragged. My girlfriend left. I was to be fired soon, of that I had little doubt, and without work there would be no insurance, and without insurance, the replacement prosthetic I would need in 3 to 4 years would hobble me. So I bought a shotgun, double-barreled, because a death fitting for Hemingway was good enough for me. And I’d have killed myself that night, except her father rung me. She was having a baby. He called it a miracle.

I remembered the moment he hung up that the Germans had pioneered a way of inducing stem cells within bone marrow into becoming sperm, and I knew what she’d done. I called her father back, and he told me she’d been going to a fertility clinic. I made up a story about my troubles, and asked where it was.

I did a little research. The procedure was expensive, and illegal for reproductive purposes, which only made it more expensive- which of course, is why it was still done. The procedure was also more likely to cause defects due to the unnatural production of sperm and egg cells.

I began to follow her. And when I wasn’t following her, I followed him. A few nights a week he stayed late at the clinic, past his assistants and fellow physicians. And one night she came in when he was staying late.

He examined her, and then they moved to his office; she didn’t even bother to draw the curtains when she screwed him on his desk. And I had obviously contemplated it before then, as I had the shotgun in the passenger seat of the car, but that was the moment I decided that she was unfit to have my bone children.

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