ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Nicole Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Keiko Amano
   Veronica An
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Amelie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Jessica Healy
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Tao Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Robert S King
   Ashley King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Wolf Larsen
   Kasandra Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Hyatt Mason
   Lee Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
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   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
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   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   April Salzano
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   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
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   Rati Saxena
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   Ken Scott
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   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
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   Dahn Shaulis
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   June Shiitake
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   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
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   Lee Sloca
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   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
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   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Mani Suri
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   John Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
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   Barbara A. Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Zev Torres
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   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
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   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
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   Sharieff Walters
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   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
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   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   Leigh White
   J.T. Whitehead
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   Claire Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
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   Amye Wilson
   Jessica Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
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   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
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   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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G. Murray Thomas
April 2009
   

 

Christine's Abortion

    Dad?
    Randall McDarren turned from the television to Steve, his eldest son, annoyance already twisting his face. Steve knew better than to interrupt a Browns game. Even if the Browns were losing.
    This had better be important.
    Steve met his glare. It is. You need to hear this.
    Randall took a swig of his beer and considered his son. Maybe he had reconsidered his decision about college and football. Randalls eyes drifted to the trophies on the mantel. Randall had a couple for being on championship teams, but Steve, a champion himself, had trophies for individual accomplishment. Still, he had decided to not even try for a football scholarship. He had every excuse. His grades werent good enough for a scholarship. He wasnt good enough for the pros. He needed to think about his future, be practical about it.
    However, as Randalls gaze returned to his son, he saw a hesitancy in Steves posture which told him that he was going to disappoint him again.
    Its Christine.
    Randall pictured Steves girlfriend, in that damn cheerleader uniform she always seemed to be wearing, disguising her manipulations in bouncy support. Randall was certain Christine had talked Steve out of trying for a scholarship. She claimed she only wanted to ensure they had a secure future, but Randall knew differently. She was afraid shed lose him. Which she probably would, if he became the college star Randall expected. Definitely if he went pro.
    Shes pregnant.
    Pregnant? How? Even as he spoke, Randall realized how stupid that question was. Steve didnt bother to answer it.
    Were not ready to have children, he said instead.
    I should say not! Randall couldnt see this as anything other than more of Christines manipulations. Now she had Steve trapped for sure.
    How...? He wanted to chastise his son for not being careful. Not that they had ever discussed such concepts. How could you let this happen?
    We were using... protection. I guess it didnt work.
    Randalls anger grabbed at that violation of his upbringing. You... were... he started to scream. But the words wouldnt come out. He couldnt yell at his son for trying to prevent the pregnancy and for letting it happen. That contradiction only made him madder; his anger burned within him, without release, searching for the right target.
    Steve seemed to sense the coming explosion, and waited for it. When Randall remained silent, he went on. This is not a good time for us to have kids. I mean, of course we want a family eventually, but if Im going to... go to college... to play ball...
    Wait a minute! What was he saying? I thought you decided against...
    It was never a final decision.
    It had sure sounded final when Steve announced it to him a few months back. Randall remained silent in his raging confusion.
    As if he could hear Randalls thoughts, Steve went on. I mean, this is making me think... about what I really want to do...
    Its a little late for that, isnt it?
    No. We can... we can still take care of it.
    It took Randall a few moments to comprehend that statement. His voice rose. What are you talking about?
    Steve straightened his shoulders and spoke the words. An abortion, dad. Its the only way.
    Now the explosion came. What!? You think you can come in here and... and... tell me that... Randall could barely put his thoughts together. Are you trying to... to negotiate for my permission? Do you think that if you tell me youll play college ball after all, then Ill say you can... you can... Randall couldnt even say the words. You think you can trade your childs life away like that?
    Steve said nothing. Randall turned and stalked away from him, trying to bring the room back into focus. This den was his shelter, and he struggled to see the items which usually brought him comfort -- his guns, the football trophies, the painted wildfowl on the walls. But it had all turned against him now.
    He whirled back at Steve. Havent I taught you anything? he demanded. A phrase came to him, and he grabbed it fiercely. The sanctity of human life. What does that mean to you? Anything? What did we send you to church for anyway?
    I havent been to church in years, Dad.
    Maybe thats the problem. Maybe if you had kept going you would have learned something. Like right from wrong! Maybe--
    You havent been there either.
    Anger now flooded Randall completely, blinding him, blocking his thoughts, and his words.
    Out! he finally screamed. Out of my house! Youre not my son! Not anymore! Get out!


    Randall sat uncomfortably on his living room sofa. He would have much preferred to hold this meeting in his den, his sanctuary. But his wife, Mona, had insisted on the living room, had insisted on, in her words, a formal setting.
    Not that the living room took any prizes in decor. The mismatched furniture around him was unified only by caring wear. An unused fireplace radiated a minor chill. Younger, smiling versions of the three children looked down from the walls, along with a large wooden crucifix, its body tortured but its face serene. Whatever formality it had was merely because the family rarely used it.
    And why did he have to meet Christine in a formal setting anyway? Mona insisted it was a question of respect, but Randall couldnt help wondering if she wanted him uncomfortable. Wanted him to give in to Christine. Mona had arranged this meeting, hoping to effect a reconciliation. Randall had no such illusions.
    Christine entered, dressed in a plain teal sweater and matching skirt, which reached demurely to her knees. Randall barely recognized the bouncy cheerleader he was familiar with, all leg and energy. A simple gold cross lapped over the neck of her sweater.
    Although they had met many times, they greeted each other as strangers, almost enemies. Randall was prepared to hate her; he felt the whole situation was surely her fault. She had tried to trap Steve by getting pregnant. Leaving his son no choice but to... He still couldnt pronounce, even in his mind, just what Steve had done.
    However, the softness of her appearance damped his anger. He found in her smile a sincere desire for him to like her. Still, he eyed her critically.
    She sat timidly before him. She looked at him briefly, then averted her eyes from his heavy stare. They darted around the room before settling on the bare coffee table, where they remained while she gave her speech. She had obviously rehearsed it.
    Steve and I have found a place to live. A nice little apartment on Patterson Way. The rent is cheap, were doing okay. So its not like were begging for a place to stay. Dont think that.
    But Steve misses his family. He wants to be able to visit his mother. To see Tim and Monica at home.
    To see you.
    Now she lifted her eyes to him. Her stare attempted to be resolute, but wavered, her eyes shifting and blinking. But her voice remained strong. Mr. McDarren, I dont know if you realize this, but your son loves you. He truly does, and he wants-
    If he loves me, why did he do what he did? Why did he disobey me like that? Answer me that! Randall snapped, unable to hold back any longer.
    This had nothing to do with you. Now her stare steadied on him. This was between Steve and me. I dont see how it concerns you at all.
    It concerns me because I tried to teach him right from wrong. And now, by doing... this... hes gone against everything I taught him. Everything!
    Dont you see that we had to? She looked away again, her gaze angling across the room at nothing. It wouldnt be right to have a child now. We cant afford to raise it properly. We want a family, but only when... when we can make it happy.
    Right? Right? Its never right to take another life! What about the child, dammit!
    It was my kid! Mine! She snapped her gaze back to him. Her eyes were wet with emotion, but whether pain or anger, he could not tell. If I can accept it, why cant you?
    I can never accept something thats not right!
    Youre cold, Mr. McDarren. Dont you love Steve? How can you let concern for someone who... who never existed! How can you let that overpower your love for your own son?
    It doesnt work like that. I cant love someone who doesnt do right... I cant trade...
    Lifes not that simple, Mr.McDarren. Do you think... I didnt want this child? I did. We both did. But the time wasnt right. It wasnt right for me. It wasnt right for Steve.... It wasnt right for the baby.
    Its still wrong. Wrong is wrong.
    It would have been wrong to try to raise a baby were not ready for. Steve and I both agree on that.
    Randall glared at her. She and Steve were in conspiracy together against him. They had actually discussed disobeying him, had actually agreed to do it.
    Youre telling me that you and Steve discussed this. And decided ... logically! He spat out the word. ... to go against me. And now youre here, using that same ... logic... to ask me to forgive you!
    Randall leapt out his chair, stomped around the room as he shouted his lecture. This isnt a question of logic, its a question of whats right and wrong. You cant compromise on that. You... two... have done something so wrong... Wrong! Its just wrong, and thats all there is to it!
    He no longer saw Christine, no longer even thought about her, he ranted his righteousness to the air. When he finally stopped and looked at her, she was crying. He paused, at first certain the tears were just another trick. She had probably used them on Steve, but they werent going to work here. If she had been Mona, he certainly would have told her to stop with the games.
    Do you think this was easy, Mr. McDarren? Christine finally choked out. She tried to wipe away her tears. This was the most painful thing I have ever done. It wasnt easy at all.
    Something in the room shifted for Randall. He saw that the tears were genuine, but still felt manipulated by them. His resolution wavered.
    Im so sorry, she whispered, trying to wipe away her tears. I thought I could do this... I thought I could get through it.
    Now Randall waited for Christine, waited for her to say something which would ease his growing confusion, or give him something to be angry about again.
    Oh. Mr. McDarren, I wanted that child. It was my own, and I wanted it. Christine was crying freely now. She wiped her eyes furiously, held her fists against them as if she could block the tears. They came anyway. She spoke slowly, in a halting voice, almost stuttering. I mean, I didnt want to get pregnant. That ... just happened. But, once I was... it was my little baby in there, and I wanted to love it, to mother it... to raise it. She paused uncertainly. Randall found himself hushed, his anger vanished.
    It hurt, she finally went on. It hurt so much. And all I could think was that this way my punishment. I deserved this pain. I ... I almost wanted it to hurt more. Christine paused, drawing a deep breath. The tears hovered on her lashes, waiting. Then, for days after, there was an aching pain. Here. She gingerly touched her belly. And that was my baby... saying goodbye.
    Randall sat back down, and instinctively, almost unconsciously, patted the sofa beside him. Christine stared blankly at his hand on the fabric, as if unable to comprehend it. Then she studied his face, and, apparently finding something there, moved over beside him. He put his arm around her, and held her sobbing body to him. He was surprised at the firmness and strength he felt there.
    He was also surprised by the jumble of emotions he felt inside himself. It had started as simple concern for Christine, almost a reflexive attempt to soothe her wounds. But there was also a sense of apologizing for his son, for what he had done to her. Almost as if it was his fault, as if this was atonement for his own actions, compensation for some error he had made years ago. An error he no longer remembered.
    Christines sobs ebbed. Randall gave her a final hug, then released her. She stood up wobbly, but quickly composed herself. They looked at each other warmly, though with a slight embarrassment and confusion. Finally, Christine whispered, Thank you. Then there seemed to be no more to be said, and she quietly departed.
    Randall remained sitting on the sofa, unsure of what had just happened. He felt Christine had validated his position, but that notion gave him no joy. He had still, somehow, lost the argument, had forgiven them, welcomed them back into his family.
    He headed downstairs to his den, to the comfort of his bourbon and television, and the simple certainty of his trophies.

copyright 2009 G. Murray Thomas