Friday, November 7, 2014

TWO
BECOME
ONE

Regina lay in bed on her back with her feet pressed against the wall. Every so often she would put enough pressure against the wall that her back would arch upward. With her body strained she would press on her stomach to see if she could feel anything. She knew this wasn’t a scientific process, but she simply couldn’t stand the waiting.

Two weeks before, after a terrible day at work where her boss reprimanded her twice for making the coffee too strong (which it wasn’t even), she whispered something into her lover’s ear. He said nothing, but she slowly slipped off his condom and pulled him closer. In that moment, she knew she was becoming a better, stronger woman. She smiled when she felt him relieve himself inside of her.

Regina was quite nervous about the whole process. She had always been a bit of a prude. She had only slept with three men and had enjoyed it (as much as she could) with only one, her current lover, Jesse. She rarely drank, and she’d only been drunk twice. She absolutely hated both experiences and found herself uncontrollably irritated whenever someone would get a bit too loud, a bit too fun at a bar.

She always felt as if she had no control of her body when she was experiencing anything that was especially enjoyable. Even sex with Jesse often made her uncomfortable. She’d do everything she could to act as if she were enjoying it, and even if she did actually enjoy it, it was, as she put it, “just physical.” It felt more like a bodily function than it did a spiritual experience. She'd always heard sex described as something like two bodies becoming one. But that's not what she felt at all. Instead, she’d just feel a little bit guilty and a little bit unhappy.

It was from this apprehension that she felt out of place in the world. But she knew it was her own weakness and inability to enjoy herself that was the problem. After all, she had no right to judge that loud man in the bar. He was just having a good time. And she had no right to not enjoy the pleasures of her life. Her prudishness was an implicit judgment of other people’s enjoyment. She knew this. She’d say to herself, “There are children in Africa who don’t get to experience very many pleasures, and here I am feeling guilty about them!” She knew she could no longer live like this. After that terrible day at work, she was resolved to truly begin enjoying life.

And so she would do it the best way she knew how. She knew that real women could enjoy their bodies and appreciate their lives. She wanted to be a real woman, and she knew that the first step to becoming a woman was doing that which made women so special. The test came back positive, and she was overjoyed. She rolled off the bed, called Jesse, and demanded that he come home to celebrate.

“I’m really excited about this,” she said.

“I know; you’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now," Jesse said.

“Like two weeks.”

“No, I mean, I know you’re excited.”

“Aren’t you?” she asked.

“I’ve heard it’s a wonderful experience.”

“But are you?”

“Yes, I’m excited, I’m excited,” picking up a glass to drink. He shouldn't have come home so early from work. He was distracted wondering if his boss had noticed that he'd snuck out early.

“I’m actually a little bit nervous. You know how I feel about losing control of myself,” she said.

“I know, but it should be good for you.”

“Will you be there with me?” she asked, cautiously.

“What?”

“In the room with me. I want you to share this with me.”

“You know how I feel about doctor stuff,” he said.

“I know; it’s just…”

“What?”

“Please, Jesse?”

He felt terrible. Her sad face, and her sad little mouth. He knew how much this meant to her, and he was acting like he barely even cared.

“Of course I’ll be there with you,” he said. “I was there at the beginning, and I’ll be there at the end.”

She smiled. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They fell into each other’s arms and whispered into each other’s ears. That night, their lovemaking was just a little bit more special to her. She was finally starting to feel like a real woman.
  _____________________________ 

“It’s a simple process,” the doctor said. “All you need to do is take this pill once a week for however long you wish to be pregnant.”

“There aren’t any side-effects?”

“You don’t plan on carrying the fetus to term, right?” the doctor asked.

“No, of course not.”

“Well, there are some complications with children who are born to mothers who are taking the medication. The complications are minor and quite rare, but just to be safe, we encourage pregnant women to terminate if they begin this process.”

“I understand,” Regina whispered.

“Remember, the longer you carry the fetus to term, the greater the physical response. The longer you take the drug, and the longer the fetus has time to develop, the more significant the experience. Most women like to wait until six months, but that’s your choice of course.”

“Okay…”

“But don’t worry; this will be a wonderful experience for you,” smiling at her. “I’ve helped hundreds of women through this same exact process. It’s completely safe. You’re lucky to be a woman; I envy you,” the doctor said, smiling.

“Thank you,” nervously raising her eyes to him.

“Just take this prescription and have at it,” smiling. “Is this your boyfriend?” he said, turning to Jesse.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I must’ve forgotten to introduce him. This is Jesse.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jesse said, extending his hand.

“You should be proud; you’ve got a beautiful girl here,” the doctor said, smiling, leaving the tiny room.

The examination went well enough, but Regina felt uneasy. She sat on the cold, metal table staring at a poster of a female figure entitled “YOUR BODY.” There were diagrams of most parts of the female body. Regina found the poster fascinating but depressing. She didn’t know very much about how the human body worked, and she suddenly became very worried that something awful happened to her body whenever she felt pleasure. She wasn’t quite sure what it was, but she felt that certain physical responses somehow ruined her. She started thinking of the brain and synapses and stimuli and other things she knew nothing about.

Sitting in that room, she didn't know if she was ready for this. She started to think back on the times she’d been drunk, and she suddenly became very uncomfortable about the whole process. That terrible, cold room had sucked away everything that just a few days earlier had made her feel so special.

“Regina, what’s wrong?” Jesse asked, looking at the back of her head.

“I don’t know; I’m just scared,” she said, keeping her eyes on the poster.

“About what?”

“About what it’s going to feel like.”

“Well, everyone says it’s good,” he said, picking up a plastic mold of the female reproductive system.

“I know, I know. Just, what if it’s too much for me? What if I can’t handle it?”

“If you want, we can go abort it now if you’re worried. You always have that option.”

“It’d just seem like such a waste. And he’s already written the prescription!”

“Regina, that’s just a piece of paper …”

“I have this crazy idea that I’m doing something wrong.”

“When? With this?”

“No, just with anything. I just feel so guilty about everything, and I have no idea why. I’m not doing anything wrong to anyone. You know I’m always so nice to everyone.”

“I know you are,” he said.

“So why do I feel bad when I try to enjoy myself with something so special?”

“Regina, that’s everyone sometimes. It’s hard. We don’t completely understand how the human brain works yet. There are chemicals in our brains that make us feel bad when we enjoy ourselves too much. It was probably some sort of unfortunate side-effect of the evolutionary process. It was probably somehow helpful before.”

“Oh…” This explanation made her feel even worse. She felt both sad and confused. She didn’t really understand what he was saying. He knew this. He knew her so well.

“Look, there’s no solution to the problem, but everyone works through it. I used to feel terrible thinking about girls I knew personally whenever I’d…you know. I used to be convinced that I was a terrible person. But then I remembered that I wasn’t really hurting these girls whenever I did that. In a lot of ways, I was flattering them. The guilt eventually went away, and now I’m able to enjoy sex with my beautiful, beautiful girlfriend,” he said, smiling at her.

She turned around, “You did that?”

“Of course.”

“Is that what most guys are like?”

“Of course, yeah.”

“And you got over it?”

Smiling, “Doesn’t it seem like I enjoy what we do together?” he said.

“Yeah, I guess it does.”

“I used to think about you a lot before I started dating you,” he admitted.

“When you did that?”

“Yeah.”

“And now it’s more special with me?”

Laughing, “Of course, Regina.”

“Well, don’t laugh at me,” she said.

“Sorry, sorry.”

“And you don’t feel guilty about that anymore?”

“No, not really. I mean, why would I?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I guess I’m just too serious and wrapped up in myself.”

“No, I don’t think the guilt makes you a bad person or anything. You just have to work through it. And you will. I promise,” he said, smiling.

She was touched. “Thank you, Jesse.”

“Any time.”

“I’m going to take the medicine,” she said, hopping off the table.

“Good for you.”

“Are you ready to go?”

“Yes, yes, let’s go!” he said, holding the door for her, like the perfect gentleman he was.
 _____________________________ 

The next six months were difficult. While taking the pills was simple enough, carrying the fetus had become a burden for Regina as she started to gain a significant amount of weight. She started regretting not aborting the fetus a bit earlier. She was determined to get the most amount of pleasure out of this abortion, though. She’d say to herself, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to go all the way with it.” She’d even jokingly say “No pain, no gain” to Jesse whenever she felt too sick to have sex with him. He didn’t find it particularly funny.

She became better educated during the process. She’d read a number of books on the subject to make sure she was prepared for that important moment.  Jesse came into the room as she was just finishing a book on the history of the pill. There was an art show at the university that Jesse wanted her to see. He knew she was still a little unsure about the whole process, and he wanted to steady her nerves a bit more since the operation was approaching so quickly.

“Let’s go, fatty.”

Hey!” she said, raising her head from the book.

“I know; I know; it’s not your fault. It’s just nature,” pausing, “fatty.”

“Where are we going?” ignoring him.

“Downtown.”

“Oh, for that show?”

“How’d you hear about that?”

“I’m not as oblivious as you think!”

“Is that right?” smiling.

“Yes, I try to stay informed,” taking off her glasses.

“Did you wait to say that to take off your glasses?”

Smiling, “Of course not!”

“No, but seriously, get up; we’re going to be late.”

Getting up, slowly, but quite surely, “You know, it’s not that easy moving around like this.”

“It’s also not easy looking at someone move around like that.”

Slapping him on the arm, “Hey!”

Regina suddenly lost her balance and fell forward. Like the good man he was, he caught her.

Looking up at him and smiling, “...hello there.” This was a special moment.

“Hello. Are you okay?” he whispered.

“I’m sorry I’m like this. I know I’m all clumsy and in the way.”

“It’s okay. You’re beautiful.”

“And I’m sorry I can’t, you know. It just makes me feel strange,” she said.

“I know; it’s okay,” he said.

“Are you sure?”

“I can manage. How does it feel?” he asked.

“How does what feel?”

“The pregnancy.”

Getting up from his arms and moving back to the bed, “I don’t know; weird.”

“Like how?”

“It’s been kicking a lot recently,” she said, putting her hand on her stomach.

“Ha, I think that’s normal.”

“Well, I know; it’s just weird.”

“I’m sure; having a little thing inside of me would make me feel pretty weird too.”

“Women are always just trying to put little things inside of themselves,” she said, looking at the floor.

“Funny,” standing up. “Now get up, Regina, really; we’re late.”

“Right, right. Let’s go. Fatty,” she said, smiling, getting up from the bed.

Hey!,” he said.

The art show was in a large auditorium that was converted into a series of make-shift hallways. Regina stared at a woman’s high-heel shoes in front of her as they waited in line to get in to the show. She felt intensely annoyed that this woman, who was so ugly, should be able to wear high-heels. “Totally messed up,” she thought.

“I can’t wait to get this thing out of me,” she said.

“Me too,” he said.

She didn’t know how to take that.

The art exhibit was called “Fetal Position.” It was quite famous and had been hailed as a “celebration of the fetus.” It featured art that used fetuses as a medium. Some art, though, especially the paintings and the media art, were simply inspired by the fetus.

Regina and Jesse were enjoying their tour through the exhibit. They were even holding hands and accidentally “clotheslined” a young child running through the exhibit. Regina felt as ease here. Many of the artists had come to speak about their work. Regina saw that these women were normal like her. Judging from their dress, many of them were even prudish like her. They all looked like nice, normal people who weren’t hedonists at all.

“This is going to be great,” she said.

“I know it will, honey,” Jesse said.

Many of the pieces featured whole fetuses that had been preserved, painted, and placed in various positions. One artist had preserved around twenty smaller fetuses and hung them from a kind of metal tree. The little fetuses spun as light shined from below. They glowed with a kind of indescribable brilliance. It was quite breathtaking, and Regina couldn’t take her eyes off of it.

“It’s like they’re dancing,” she said, trailing off.

“She must’ve put something on them to make them glow,” Jesse said.

One artist had sliced a fetus into delicate pieces, dyed the pieces, and placed them in thin glass to create a kind of stained-glass mosaic of a woman’s figure.  This piece was incredibly popular.  Regina and Jesse were lucky; the woman who had done this piece was there to speak about her experience making the piece.

“All of the fetal pieces are mine, of course. I made them all over,” pausing, “ten incredible years. I had some of the most amazing experiences over those years, I can’t even tell you.”

The audience clapped.

“What I wanted to show here is that all of these pieces make up, defined those ten years of my life. I wanted to show that a woman is defined by her experiences, and that she controls those experiences. These are simply artifacts of those experiences. They are pieces of me. And those pieces make up who I am. I am that woman. And that woman is everyone.”

The audience cheered.

“I must admit, though,” laughing, “the color was not easy to get right.”

Laughter.

“I’d like to thank…”

Jesse turned away as she went into the uninteresting technical specifics. Regina was fascinated, though, and didn’t want to leave.

“I’ll be right back, then, okay?” he said.

“Fine, fine,” she said.

Jesse wandered around the exhibit and saw a crowd gathered around a large television screen. Jesse walked up to see the start of a film showing a woman’s experience with the abortion process. It showed her, in a number of striking and dramatic angles, taking the pill over eight months. By combining animation and live-action footage, the artist created a kind of montage of life inside and outside of her body. On the outside, it showed the woman’s stomach growing and her dealing with that burden. On the inside, through a kind of wispy and cloud-like animation, the pill was shown entering her mouth, traveling through her throat, and landing in her soft, billowy stomach. Quite abruptly the animation became more sharply drawn, showing the growth of the fetus. The contrast was striking.

The final scene of the film showed the woman getting the abortion. The woman lay completely naked as doctors began removing pieces of the fetus from her womb both by hand and with a kind of straw-like suction device. The woman, incredibly beautiful, but slightly thin, began writhing in pleasure, her body shaking up and down.

The audience was clearly affected by the overtly sexual images, and some men started to become aroused. A few people in the audience left, much to the artist’s approval. She had said, some months before, that art is at its best when it can cause a physical reaction in the audience. Her art had been criticized for being “pornographic,” but she felt that the label was childish. “I do not accept archaic definitions of beauty,” she’d been quoted as saying.

Jesse was beginning to become very uncomfortable. While the other men in the audience were clearly enjoying the film, Jesse started to feel slightly embarrassed. He ignored the feeling and attempted to smile but was unsuccessful. He could not take his eyes off the woman’s lip as it began to quiver. “Why is it moving like that,” he thought.

At the end of the film, the woman, in tears, looked straight into the camera. All she could do through those joyful tears was smile. She looked just like a happy little girl. Like at a birthday party. The film restarted then. As it did, Jesse paused for a moment. A young couple walked off whispering “amazing” and “incredible” to one another.

Jesse met up with Regina at the gift shop. The gift shop was quite extensive. Since it was near Christmas, a number of Christmas-themed gifts were on display. As usual, there were the very popular fetal ornaments, where the smaller fetuses were preserved and placed in small glass orbs. “As you can see,” a salesperson said, “The ornaments are beautiful this year. We have colored ones over here as well.”

There was also an excess of nativity fetuses. There were more late abortions this year, and the preserved eight-to-nine-month-old fetuses were in high demand for front-yard and church nativity scenes. As they were browsing, one woman remarked, “A larger fetus in the manger brings more attention to the Lord because it's so life-like.”

Regina wanted Jesse to buy her a locket from the gift shop. The locket came with a tiny fetus inside of it. The show had made Regina feel like she was a part of something, and she wanted a symbol of that. Jesse reluctantly paid for the locket.

“That locket was really expensive; I have no idea why I bought that,” he said.

“Because you love me so much,” smiling and giving him a kiss on the cheek.
 _____________________________ 

Waiting to fall asleep, Regina rolled over and said, “Jesse, I think I’m going to save the fetus and try to do something beautiful with it.”

He didn’t respond.

“Are you awake?”

“Yeah. Yeah, that sounds great.”

“What’s wrong?”

“What?” he asked.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m just kind of tired,” he said.

You’re tired? Try lugging this thing around!”

“What?” he asked.

“Nothing. I think I’ll do something simple. I don’t know; maybe something with paint. I saw one where this woman used pieces of the fetus in the paint itself. It was incredible. I just want to really experience this thing to the fullest.”

“That sounds great, Regina,” rolling over.

This annoyed Regina a little bit, but she didn’t let him bother her. Not tonight. Her mind was on fire with beautiful, beautiful pictures.
_____________________________ 

“So, when’s Regina due?” Todd asked. Todd was Jesse’s friend. The two had met to grab something to eat during Todd’s lunch break from work. They had been friends since middle school. They made a pact to both lose their virginities on the same night and, miraculously, accomplished just that goal. Todd was not quite as handsome as Jesse, but he still managed success with much more attractive girls than Jesse, a fact that had always annoyed Jesse. Just a little bit.

“Due?” Jesse asked.

“When is she getting it done?”

“This Wednesday.”

“Are you excited?” Todd asked.

“No. I mean, yeah I guess.”

“Are you going?” Todd asked, taking a sip from his drink with an orange straw.

“To the procedure? Yeah. What’s with the straw?”

“It’s supposed to be even hotter in person.”

“What?”

“Seeing the woman get all hot and bothered,” Todd said.

Pausing, “Have you ever seen it?”

“Only online and stuff. I’m not lucky enough to get asked into the room like you,” sipping.

“Did you think it was hot?”

“Yeah, of course. You know me, I get pretty excited when I see any vagina,” laughing.

“It didn’t seem weird?” Jesse asked.

“What?”

“The whole process. I saw a video of it at that art show.”

“Was it good?” Todd asked.

“The video?”

“No, the show.”

“They had a bunch of stuff,” Jesse said.

“Why would it seem weird?”

“It just seemed weird seeing a woman exposed like that.”

“You look at porn all the time,” Todd said, sipping out of his straw.

“Seriously, what’s with the straw? And not all the time. I have a girlfriend.”

“Yeah, but you have looked at porn. What’s the difference?”

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t think it’s that weird,” Todd argued.

“But she, the woman I saw, was really, really into it. She was crying at the end.”

“Well, they say it’s an incredible experience.”

“I know; it just felt…wrong.”

“Wrong?” Todd asked, confused.

“Just feeling that good. There must be some danger from feeling that good. I mean, that can’t be psychologically safe. I’m a little bit worried Regina won’t be able to handle it.”

“Women do it all the time, dude; it’s fine. I really don’t see what the big deal is. If you want to know the truth,” sipping, “you sound a little bit sexist. You think women shouldn’t be able to enjoy themselves the way they want.”

“That’s not it at all. It’s for anyone. Maybe no one should.”

Todd just stared at him.

“It just seems like something like that should be regulated more strictly or something,” Jesse said.

“What, are you one of those prohibition people?”

“What, no, of course not. I just mean…we outlaw and regulate certain drugs, right?”

“Yeah, but that’s because they’re dangerous.”

“Well, alcohol is dangerous.”

“Well, sometimes, but you know what happened when we tried to fix that.”

“I know, I know; it’s just sometimes I think, and don’t take this the wrong way, people shouldn’t always do what makes them feel good. Or at least they shouldn’t do it to that kind of extreme.”

“Deep,” Todd said with a blank face.

“Don’t be an asshole,” Jesse said.

“Sorry, I’m not trying to be, but come on.”

“Come on what.”

“Get over yourself. Who cares if people want to get off every now and then? It’s not like there are that many addicts to that whole thing. It’s not like they’re hurting anyone. And jesus, can you imagine the amount of work they have to put in to it. They deserve it,” Todd said.

“It’s just…”

“It’s just what.”

“It feels wrong.”

“How does it feel wrong, Jesse?” Todd insisted, sipping again.

“I don’t know; it does.”

“It’s just an adult making an adult decision. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just like you choosing to take a drink, or jerk off or something. That’s your body and your life.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Are you just mad that Regina is gonna get off without you having anything to do with it?”

“What? No, of course not,” Jesse quickly responded.

“Are you sure?”

“You think I’m jealous of a medical procedure?”

“Doesn’t seem that crazy to me,” taking a sip out of his straw.

“The straw. It’s annoying.”

“Well, sorry,” pushing away his drink.

“Do you think that’s it?” Jesse asked.

“What, that you’re jealous?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah probably,” Todd said.

“I didn’t even think of that. That makes sense.”

“Was she hot?” picking up the drink and sipping from the straw again.

“Who? Just drink the drink, Todd” Jesse said.

“The girl at the art show. In the video thing.”

“What? Yeah, I guess. It was so weird.”

“What was?”

“The whole…process. I have no idea why I reacted like that,” Jesse admitted.

 “Why was it weird? Or how or whatever.”

“Well, for one thing, it was gross,” Jesse said.

Laughing, “Well, it’s flesh. Flesh is gross. Porn is gross if you’re not really in the mood.”

“It wasn’t just that.”

“Well, what was it then?”

“Well, there was blood. I don’t know; it was probably just jealousy like you said.”

“You’re probably just mad you don’t get to have sex as much with her all pregnant,” Todd said, laughing, sipping again.

“Stop with the fucking straw, dude.”

“Alright, sorry, wow, chill.”

“I have to go,” pausing. “I’ll talk to you later,” getting up.

“Alright…later.”

“Bye,” leaving.
 _____________________________ 

Dinner was spaghetti and peas. Regina tried this thing where she mixed peas with plain spaghetti. It was “easy and cheap.” That’s what she said.

“It’s not very good,” Regina said.

“What?”

“The food.”

“Oh, it’s fine.”

“I’m not nervous at all; I’m actually really excited,” she said.

“About the food?’

“About Wednesday. It’s kind of plain, right? The food.”

“Yeah, it’s good,” Jesse said, eating.

“Are you nervous?”

“Nothing is happening to me,” he said.

“I know, but are you?”

“Honestly?”

“Yes,” she said.

“After seeing that video, I’m kind of nervous you might not have a good experience,” Jesse said.

“What video?”

“The thing at the art show,” he said.

“Oh, I didn’t see that. I have seen videos online, though.”

“Oh. Well, are you sure you’ll be okay with it? It was pretty intense.”

“I think this last six months have taught me a lot. Above all things, they’ve really taught me that I don’t want to be pregnant anymore,” laughing, smiling.

“Todd said I’m jealous.”

“I have no idea why you hang out with that guy,” Regina said.

“Yeah well.”

“Jealous of what?” she asked.

“Jealous that you’re going to be experiencing that kind of thing without me,” he said.

“You’ll be right there.”

“I know, but I won’t be doing anything.”

“Are you jealous?” Regina asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe. Something is making me feel all…” he said.

Leaning over to him, smiling, “You have nothing to be jealous of, baby,” touching his inner thigh.

He didn't respond.

“Without you, none of this would’ve been possible,” she said, getting closer.

“I guess that’s true.”

“And I took three days off from work. It’ll just be me and you for like five days.”

“Four days.”

“Four days?”

“Are you going to want to have sex right after the procedure?” he asked,

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“I don’t know; I don’t know if I’ll live up to…” he said.

Grabbing him, “Trust me, you will.”

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay?”

“Okay,” he said.

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too.”
 _____________________________ 

The doctor Regina picked was great. He was incredibly professional and assured her that she need not feel uncomfortable at all. He said to her, “Many women feel uncomfortable sharing this experience with a stranger. Especially a stranger in a white coat. I understand that. I really do. I want you to know, though, that I’ve done this hundreds of times. Maybe even thousands. And I’ve never once thought an inappropriate thought about a patient. I am here for you, and I have taken an oath to take care of you.”

It really wasn’t what he said that convinced Regina that he was the right doctor. He had this wonderful half smile. He reminded her of some grandfather she’d seen before. She even said to herself, “Everyone’s grandpa should look like him.” He was warm, and she could see that he had gentle, gentle hands.

As she began to get undressed, Jesse realized that he hadn’t seen her naked in such a long time. She looked different now. Her whole body had a strange roundness to it. It was so alien to him. She saw his face and smiled. She knew he was excited to see her naked like this again. She smiled and thought to herself, “That’s just how men are.” She thought it was wonderful. She was finally beginning to realize that the way men think about sex isn’t bad. It was just who they were, and this made her so happy.

At first the procedure was slightly uncomfortable, getting all the various tools and mechanisms inside of her. She started to become a bit nervous that the pills somehow weren’t working on her. The doctor reassured her and said that it was “perfectly normal.” Suddenly there was a rush of pleasure through her body, and she moaned. There it was again. She couldn’t believe how incredible it felt.

Her body contracting and expanding, Regina could feel a force pulsing from within. She could feel the fading energy of the fetus pass into her. My god, the pleasure. It was like nothing she’d ever felt before. Every cell in her body surged with passion. She could even feel it under her fingernails. Out of a kind of automatic response, her toes curled. Jesse saw them curl. “That’s how they curl when we…” he thought.

This was everything Regina had ever wanted as a woman. This was motherhood in a second. This was first steps, first words, first girlfriend, graduation, marriage, grandchildrenall in a single moment. But without all the terrible side effects.

She was finally beginning to realize that being a woman was never about getting something inside of her. That was a childish desire, and she’d put away childish things. Being a woman was really about getting something out.

It wasn’t about sex. It was never about sex. Sex was nothing compared to this. Sex was just a passing means to a much more important end. Sex was just the first fruits to end. She finally understood this. Through tear-filled eyes, she looked up and grinned at her strong, powerful man. He was hers, and he would bring her so much pleasure in her life. Every time they had sex, every encounter would be another opportunity for this indescribable infinity. As the last piece of fetus slowly slipped out of her, she threw her head back in pure, divine ecstasy.

And there was no guilt. She had overcome all of that. And she knew that. She was so proud of herself. She had become one.

And Jesse winced.  

19 comments:

  1. This was well-written and quite a dark commentary on the twisted perversions of the ends of pleasure in modern society. Very Flannery O'connor-ish.

    However, I suppose I have a word of caution. Much of the modern world is very verbally and visually outspoken about sexuality, private parts, etc. I don't necessarily think a good response is to be just as descriptive and shocking, even if it is to make a good point. In cases like your story, I don't think the end justifies the means.

    I wholly agree that this story makes valid points. But I don't think the explicit sexual content is warranted from a Catholic point of view to make those points. Even though I can tell from the history of your blog that you believe in the sacredness of sex and in its true end, sex and its pleasures seems dirtied when written about in this manner. The world already dirties it so much.

    I definitely think we need to fight the world's loud and vocal over sexualization of everything. I'm just not sure if being just as shocking as they are is the way.

    To regain a sense of the sacred in sex, I think there has to be a sense of delicacy.

    Purity and chastity aren't easy these days with the over sexualization of people everywhere (ie tv, internet, billboards, magazines). We need more examples of virtue, not vice. Vice is far too easy to find.

    Although I was gripped by your writing and I understood the message, I felt dragged through the mud in the process. I didn't feel better afterwards, but rather sick to my stomach for the reality of what I come across everyday: the constant over sexualization, pleasure for pleasures sake, and the lack of dignity towards human life.

    Writing about sex, especially detailed in a story, is different than say writing about a sin like murder. Such details about sex can cause a person to falter in their own mind. That's why sex scenes in movies bother me way more than violence. Sex is so connected to visuals and emotions, that the details of a sensual experience is likely to trigger some sexual response in the person. Maybe less so in our desensitized culture, but it is a very frequent occurrence (the media knows this and uses it to their advantage, because people like to feel "pleasure").

    Again, well-written but I believe it may present some moral dangers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I politely and totally disagree. This is an excellent story and the sexualization in it is completely the point. The story wouldn't work without it.

      It's irony - Joe is describing abortion in the story as erotically as a normal sexual encounter is described, but any normal person's response to this is, or should be, revulsion. The fact that it's portrayed as if it's a positive thing is what makes the whole thing so twisted and disturbing. Shock value is besides the point.

      To Joe - coming from somebody trying to hack it as a small time writer, you have serious talent, or skill, or both. Another engrossing story.

      This one is definitely sci-fi, so I suggest that you submit the story to the Sci-Phi journal. I just e-mailed and had a back and forth with the editor, and he is currently looking at two of my stories. They handle science fiction with a philosophical aspect to it. They are entirely online but are a respectable, though new, journal, having published illuminary sci-fi master John C. Wright, author of a Nebula nominated novel and, in my opinion, a masterpiece called "Awake in the Night Land".

      Basically, I'm saying the money it pays and people it publishes are legitimate and respectable.

      Anyway, I think you should consider submitting. Here are the guidelines: http://www.sciphijournal.com/submission-guidelines/

      Delete
    2. I guess that's my point. I don't think literature should describe in detail sexual encounters, period. I've seen other authors describe a sexual encounter, but it is done tastefully so that you get the idea of what happened without feeling like you invaded someone's private bedroom and watched every detail.

      What's the purpose of the story? I imagine Mr. Joe has a moral message/comment and that the story is not just for pure entertainment purposes. If he did intend to have a higher purpose for this story than pure entertainment (as I believe he did), the sexual detail muddies any noble purpose he might have had in writing this piece.

      The discussion of how to treat sexuality (especially the immoral instances of sexuality) in Catholic authors' works would be an interesting topic to discuss at some point, maybe if Mr. Joe is open to writing his thoughts on the matter.

      Maybe men approach this topic differently than women? I am a happily married, Catholic woman with a baby and one on the way. So, that's part of my background anyways.

      Delete
    3. What's the purpose of the story? I imagine Mr. Joe has a moral message/comment and that the story is not just for pure entertainment purposes. If he did intend to have a higher purpose for this story than pure entertainment (as I believe he did), the sexual detail muddies any noble purpose he might have had in writing this piece.

      That's exactly where I disagree. Look carefully - the erotic experience he describes ISN'T sexual. It's an abortion. It's grotesque, disgusting. The sexual aspect doesn't muddy the story - the whole point is one of taking something sacred and corrupting it, desecrating it, making it revolting. That's the story - the story of a society gone very, very wrong, and only one character has enough sense to grasp this in even the vaguest way. We should be repelled; I was.

      If somebody is turned on by this they're really sick in the head, and I don't blame Joe for that.

      Delete
    4. Malcolm,

      Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement. I think I may look into submitting it. Further, your analysis, I think, is mostly spot on.

      Anonymous,

      I did consciously write the story with your concerns in mind. And I think I did avoid any unnecessary vice. I am actually in agreement with you. Adding sex just to appeal to some base desire is wrong. But that's not why the story has sexuality in it. The sex, especially the final scene, is vital to the entire argument the story makes. The story is about pleasure, especially what the pleasure described in the final scene means. I don't think I went into unnecessarily graphic details. I also didn't include the scene just to be shocking for its own sake or to arouse any base passions in a person. I honestly have no idea how I could have written the last scene any other, more decent way. I'd also be surprised that anyone, like Malcolm said, could somehow be "turned on" by this story. And if it somehow did, that's a person I can't really account for in a lot of ways. Further, I think this story will have more of a positive effect on this sort of person.

      I don't think anything I wrote in this story "dirties" sex in any way. I think actually quite the opposite in some ways, as I intentionally made the couple's relationship (outside of the grave immorality) seem loving and good. But this doesn't mean the reader needs to walk away "feeling good" or "feeling happy." The story is supposed to make the reader uncomfortable so as to force that reader to address two important things: pleasure (as related to sexuality) and abortion (especially in the hypothetical case where there is an actual positive incentive to get one; what does a person who praises bodily autonomy do with this hypothetical? Jump all in or step back and try to think of some other reason why this scenario is wrong?).

      I want to be clear, though; Catholicism doesn't call anyone to be afraid of the unpleasant details of life. Catholicism is not a whitewashed, be happy, let's-not-talk-about-dirty-things club. Obviously some topics and some works of art are not for children or young people, but it's important not to let this fear of offending get in the way of truth. (Though of course we should never intentionally offend.) Prudishness, though, is a vice. I think Catholicism calls us to be More aware of these terrible details so that we can find the good in them and transform them into the divine. Does that mean we should make or depict horribly grotesque and evil things for their own sake (like make pornography or something) just so people go "ew" and change their ways? No, but that's not what, I don't think, is going on here. Your point is of course well taken though.

      Delete
    5. Joe, the magazine I linked to got back to me quite quickly and the editor told me he loved my story (it hasn't been officially picked up quite yet, but that's for a different reason). Your story is clearly better than mine (I intend no modesty, and would not say this were I not totally convinced it was true - it really is, I assure you), so with luck you have a decent shot of making it in. At least, I think so.

      Delete
    6. Hi Mr. Joe,

      Anonymous numero 1 here.

      Maybe my response is one of a woman, as we tend to have a more of an emotional reaction and connection to the intimate actions you described.

      Such detailed descriptions bring to my mind what it really is in my own life and the strong contrast is painful to see the desecration.

      And honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if more people than you think would be "turned on" by your descriptions especially within the modern day world. Have you seen how many people are into the "50 Shades of Gray" junk or perverse pornography?

      The couple's relationship didn't seem loving or good to me in the least. They were using each other, from condom usage, to the woman using her lover to have this abortion experience, to his lukewarm response (even if it was a vague uneasiness) in neither stopping her or truly encouraging her in this perverse form of pleasure.

      I don't expect all stories to give me warm, fuzzy feelings. Yes, the story made me uncomfortable. But I guess I didn't feel like it brought to light anything that the world doesn't already tell us ad nauseum: that sex is for self pleasure and abortion empowers the woman. So the detailed sexuality seemed gratuitous as the modern world does this every day to every product, person, situation already.

      I definitely don't think Catholicism shirks from unpleasantries. And I think there is a time, place, and manner to discuss delicate details of the sexual experience. More than anything, to restore the sacredness of sex, I don't think the starting point is talking about sex. The modern man needs to understand first of all his origin, his value and his purpose. Once he does, the morality of sex will naturally fall into place.

      So, if this story is meant to convey truth, I guess it didn't really ring with me. I can see it as an interesting angle in presenting something to a greater degree than the world already does (the false empowering aspect of abortion), but otherwise, the sexual theme ends up feeling stronger than the final message.

      Sincerely,

      Anonymous #1

      Delete
    7. Anon, I still think you're missing a huge point here: He's not describing a sexual experience.

      This is critical to the story; in fact, it is literally the entire point. Joe proposes a thought experiment: What if abortion is not only something we do as a form of risk aversion, e.g., to avoid an unpleasant outcome, but in fact has a positive good attached, sexual arousal?

      Joe proposes that, given modern logic used to justify abortion, this would be the result, or at least is a plausible result if this logic is taken to its extreme.

      The description of abortion as an erotic experience is meant to repulse us, not titillate us. The point of the scene is to put the final exclamation point on the whole concept: The society is really THIS twisted, that they would take something as obviously evil as the death, no, murder of your own child, and turn it into an incredibly erotic experience.

      And nobody gets it. In fact, only one character even has the barest hint of an inkling that something about this is, somehow, Very, Very Wrong. It's, once again, very Flannery O'Conner in the best possible way: The one thing that starts to open up this character's eyes that what's happening here might not be the good thing everybody says it is, is that it's an abortion.

      And THAT'S why it's described the way it is - remember, it does more than make a philosophical point. It's also a story, and character development is a big part of it as well.

      Delete
    8. Malcolm, this is second anon, who is not a woman, and I don't think Anonymous has missed the point. Of course the story is meant to repulse us, that's how the satire works. The question is where do we draw the line, and I'm sure you would agree that there is a line, not that there is no limit to how disgusting we can be if it's in a good cause. So I think it's entirely legitimate to ask whether this does in fact cross the line, and in fact we ought to ask these sorts of questions.

      Delete
    9. I never said she should stop asking these questions. But her problem is not yours, which is a bit more legitimate of a question, though I still don't think he's crossed the line yet.

      That's a different discussion. Her problem is that the description of abortion as a sexual experience might turn people on and thus be sinful. I respond that:

      1) It is designed to repel, not to turn on,

      and,

      2) If you ARE turned on the story is directed at you - to help you understand that something about your desires is not right.

      As to your point - we live in a society where these ugly realities are around us. Showing people through satire how disgusting they are is a legitimate use of the written word, one I think works in this case.

      You're welcome to disagree. I can see the argument. But I think looking at it the way Anon 1 does misses the point, because the story isn't sexual. Not really.

      Delete
    10. Malcom, Anon1 here. The idea of someone getting turned on wasn't really my main beef, it was something that crossed my mind as to possibly happening due to the graphic detail Joe included. And, yeah, the story was repulsive, I got that. I was just trying to figure out why the story unsettled me in a way that was more than say a story that unsettles you and makes you think about why. It's as if the graphic detail got in the way of me being able to appreciate the point. There's a part of me that can't seem to call this good literature, even though it's well written and I get the point, and I've been trying to figure out why. The story totally is sexual. He is taking sexual attributes and putting them on something else. People do that often in the modern world. That's why physical violence against another can be seen as sexual to some, because they have a disordered outlook. And to a lesser degree, marketing often tries to use sexual attributes to sell inanimate objects... Anyways, sorry I wasn't more clear in my thoughts.

      Delete
    11. Oh, no worries.

      I think it may be a matter of personal tolerance. I appreciate the point he is making by doing this, and I personally have seen much worse. From what I can see his use of erotic language at the end is quite effective narratively, and I don't have a problem with it personally.

      Delete
  2. I almost missed the meaning in the title! The sad thing is I wonder if we’ve already reached a point where some people wouldn’t find that so shocking.

    And Anonymous, I think you raise a good point. I don’t know exactly where the line should be drawn, but I do agree it has to be drawn somewhere or else we run the danger of implying that two wrongs make a right.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For that matter, even Regina's name is quite Flannery O'Conner, reminding us of a certain female body part; those in the know may remember O'Conner's "Manly Pointer".

    ReplyDelete
  4. Leaving aside how unbelievably ignorant this is - dude, have you ever even met a woman? - at no time does it even begin to approximate human experience. I get it. You're Roman Catholic. You're afraid of sex. You also have no clue how sex works. Or how people relate to one another. This is mere propaganda done by someone who can't write. My suggestion would be to never let anyone see this who isn't Catholic. They're going to tell you to get help. Which is what I'm doing now. Get help.

    And before you get huffy remember, you posted this intending it to be read. Your choice. I got as far as the ludicrous art exhibit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow - that was disturbing. Very well-written, but very disturbing. I assume that was the point.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey,

    Random comment here: I have been reading your blog lately and I have to say that yours is the most level headed and sound account I have ever read regarding how a Catholic views his homosexuality in light of Church teaching and reason.

    I’ve been wondering though, have you ever thought about doing a critique of some of the other views expressed out there, particularly the so-called "Spiritual Friendship" crowd? I feel like a lot needs to be said about the ideas promoted by that group, but there seems to be a dearth of any sound and charitible minds to actually engage the issues. Would you consider this a possible idea for future blog posts?

    ReplyDelete
  7. "All passions are dishonorable, for the soul is even more damaged and degraded by sin than the body is by disease. But the worst of all passions is lust between men. ... The sins against nature are more problematic and less satisfying, so much so that one cannot even say that they procure pleasure, since true pleasure is only that which is according to nature. But when God abandons a man, everything is turned on its head! Therefore, not only are such passions satanic, but their lives are diabolic ...

    "So, I say to you that they are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonor. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these destroy the soul inside the body. ....

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more absurd or damaging than this perversity."

    Have you ever read these statements from St. John Chrysostom? What are your thoughts on them? Where do you think he's correct, and where do you think he might be wrong?

    Specifically, I'm interested in your thoughts on his idea that homosexuals don't even experience any real pleasure in their activities, which seems to run contrary to how homosexuals view their own activities. He doesn't say that sodomy is pleasurable but wrong, but rather that it's not even pleasurable.

    Thank you.

    Christi pax.

    ReplyDelete