It’s the future and technology is being used to force women to have babies they don’t want. But technology works both ways in this flash fiction piece about the future of birth control.
|It’s a perfectly normal day when I decide that it’s time to go to the coffee shop down the street and end it. The skies are blue, blue with a slight tinge of purple, blue so clear that it feel like living inside a marble. The cloud overhead is white and as soft as a puff of cotton stuffing. I walk through the iron front gate, which is pulled back during business hours, into the courtyard. I walk past the juice shop to the right—bee pollen, vegan cheese, poblano avocado dressing—to get to the coffee shop. The courtyard is paved with bricks in a basketweave pattern. The umbrellas are open, the mismatched patio tables and chairs set out, but there aren’t many people here yet. It’s four o’clock on a Friday and some goth is humming over the stereo, a mournful tune backed by a drum machine. The rainbow flags are out—we still celebrate Pride month here. Palm leaves rustle and birds chirp and squeak.|
Cozi, the owner, is the one at the counter today, only she’s not at the counter. As soon as she saw me come past the gates, she picked up a broom and started sweeping dirt out of the big garage-style doors at the front of the coffee shop and out onto bricks.
“Hey, Danielle. Be right with you.”
She doesn’t ask me anything, and I don’t tell. We both know why I’m there. I won’t be able to order coffee today; it’s bad for the baby.
The baby. It’s not that; it’s barely an embryo.
Cozi sweeps the last of the dirt outside—knowing it’ll blow back in—then puts down the broom. Still ignoring me, she heaves the lid off a trash container, then hefts the biodegradable bag out. It’s almost closing time. The bag makes a sucking sound and she has to shake it to work it loose. The container drops to the floor and she grunts, swinging the bag over the edge of the container. It would be easier if she were taller.
I stand next to the counter, waiting, and look over the pastries that are left: chocolate croissant, leek croissant, gluten-free blueberry muffin. Over the counter is a brittle paper sign that should have long since been recycled.
NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
It’s still relevant. I reach over the counter, steal the key to the bathroom off the hook, and edge past the tables blocking off the back room. I let myself into the bathroom, then sit down to pee. The room smells slightly of bleach. I wipe, then wash my hands using the automatic sink and soap dispenser. The toilet flushes itself.
I pause to take a paper towel, then, squatting a little, correctly position my upper left arm under the old manual soap dispenser. I count to ten.
There’s no sign of whether it works or doesn’t. No noise, no blinking light, no warmth under my skin where the cartridge was implanted.
I come out of the bathroom and reach across the counter to put the key back on its hook. Cozi is nowhere to be seen, but the garage doors are down now, tinted glass darkening the perfect blue skies outside.
Bottles rattle, glass on glass. Cozi comes out from the kitchen, glass syrup bottles interleaved between her fingers. She puts them on the battered wood counter.
“Sorry about the wait! What dd you need today? Maté? Chai?”
Cozi brews her own chai, adds a few things to it from the juice bar next door. They’ve tested all the drinks at both places but have found nothing. They don’t realize that we carry our protection under the skin now. I wonder how long this trick will work. It’s so hard staying one step ahead, these days.
The steamer screams as it heats the nut mylk to near boiling and the air fills with the scent of spices and honey. I pay for the drink with a swipe of my right wrist over the sensor. The sensor beeps and flashes so you know you’ve paid. Earlier last week I received a text message saying that my birth control had been turned off last month; my lottery number had come up and I was already pregnant. The lottery age changed just last week. Birth rates are down again. I’m forty-five.
The sensor registers my stats: blood pressure, hormones, calorie, caffeine, and drug intake, exercises performs, heart rate, the works. The cartridge won’t release its drugs for a couple of weeks to a month, at random. Then I’ll start to bleed.
It doesn’t make me happy, what I’m doing. But I’ve made up my mind and I have no regrets.
The rhetoric goes, “What if the baby you aborted could have cured cancer?”
But what I know for certain is, she won’t be born a slave.
There are basically two types of people who have abortions:
- People who consented to get pregnant.
- People who did not consent to get pregnant.
You can sue someone who knowingly gives you an STD, which means you can consent to having sex without consenting to an STD. So why can’t you sue someone who knowingly gets you pregnant?