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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 6

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Friday 21 April 1989, 23:00

Alicia arrived home with her spirit broken. Álvez’s caresses still burned her skin, she was suffering her poverty as never before, to the point of degradation. Her neighbourhood had never seemed so miserable, its streets so dark. Although full of anguish, she could still perceive a ray of hope, she thought she might be able to rescue Mabel from her thankless destiny. She had to do it, to prevent everything coming out into the light, to stop the nightmare continuing. Her parents were already asleep.

“That’s lucky,” she thought, “I won’t have to talk to them, I won’t have to pretend everything’s all right.”

They were a couple that only survived in the formal sense, husband and wife who shared a bed without having the intimacy of a couple. Between them there was no more dialogue than was strictly necessary. Both had learned to live independently, only their children held them together.

When she was outside Mabel’s room, Alicia knocked softly. A broken voice told her to come in, so she did, finding a disheartening scene. Her sister’s distress was reflected in her face, her irritated, red eyes: undoubtedly she had been doing a lot of crying. Mabel got out of bed, embracing Alicia with desperation, sobbing on her shoulder like a child looking for refuge. She had spent the whole evening alone with her bitter affliction.

Mabel has just turned thirteen, she hadn’t yet learned how to lie. She is beautiful, without the stunning and charismatic beauty of Alicia. She is slim, flexible and healthy, imaginative and romantic. Her long black hair sets off her green eyes. When she became pregnant her life took a radical turn. She stopped being a fresh and innocent young girl without any worries to become a hurt teenager forced to become familiar with Hell. Hardly two years ago she was playing with dolls, now she was suddenly assaulted by anxiety, desperation, problems that she’d never even dreamed of having. She experienced her first sexual contact knowing nothing. She didn’t believe she could be a mother... That thought never even entered her head when she had relations with her schoolmate, they had just been playing at being lovers. That’s how it had been, just a child’s’ fantasy. They treated each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, playing a role they didn’t feel, they didn’t even feel any pleasure. Mabel felt only pain and shame. An uncontrollable erotic impulse had taken power of her, a strange anxiety which exacerbated her senses. Television, radio, magazines had bombarded her with images of sex, lust, passionate love and infidelity. She was confused by a feverish message, by a deceitful education.

“I’m pregnant,” she thought, “My God, I can’t believe it! Why didn’t anybody warn me? Why didn’t my parents or my teachers tell me about it? How could I be unaware of the consequences? I knew a bit about the subject, I should have imagined it, it’s unforgivable. How stupid I’ve been! It seemed so nice, I liked the caresses, the lovely emotion I imagined I’d feel afterwards, the enthusiasm that made me forget everything.”

That was how Mabel found out about love. She discovered her mistake too late, that the consequences could be permanent and definitive, that the plan she’d laid out of her life had been left in tatters.

“How can I go to school with a pregnant belly?” she wondered, “the very thought of it seems unbearable to me. The boys at school will laugh at me; I can imagine how they’ll make fun, although in front of me they’ll pretend nothing’s happened. They’ll treat me with scorn, they’ll think I’m a sinner, they’ll only want me to sleep with. Boys are sexists, limited, none of them will look kindly on me. My God! I won’t be able to go dancing with my friends like before, so carefree, or give the impression of innocence. It’ll be impossible to hide what happened from other people, I won’t be able to deny my child. Mum and dad won’t be able to forgive me, they’ll torture me every day. Even though they’ll try to make excuses for me, I know it’ll be impossible for them. I can imagine their reproaches, I’ve no hope. I’m going to have an abortion even if it costs me my life!”

Mabel knew that Alicia’s attempts to find an accessible doctor had been fruitless. She was disheartened. No professional had agreed to lend them a hand; none wanted to get involved with a minor, with coagulation difficulties on top of everything else. She knew that they all wanted astronomical, out of her reach sums; when she recalled this, the girl cried disconsolately.

“I’ll bring the abortion on myself,” she thought, “I have to try, I know you can do it with a knitting needle, I don’t care if it’s dangerous, supposing I can’t find another solution. Alicia will help me, I’m sure. If I have a serious haemorrhage of some kind she won’t let me die, she’ll take me to the hospital quickly. I swear it! I won’t let this pregnancy go on, even at the risk of losing my life.”

These thoughts assaulted Mabel. Trembling, uptight, she couldn’t stop sobbing, she felt like a wretch, harshly censuring herself.

She was the cruel protagonist of her own story, the evil exterminator of her baby; Mabel couldn’t have found a more efficient repressor than herself. That’s why when Alicia arrived, it was as if someone had opened a valve of pure oxygen for her, an exit door from her frightful inner world. She could no longer bear the torture of her own judgement. Her sister understood her. She sighed with relief when she saw her, and after hugging her with all her might, sobbed on her shoulder for a few minutes. Alicia broke away from Mabel, saying,

“My love, don’t cry, I’ve found the solution to your problem. There’s a friendly doctor who’s made a deal with me to ‘do the business’ on acceptable economic conditions. It’ll be a special rate because he knows our cousin, he owes him a lot of favours. Within five days we’ll have to go and see him to sort everything out. Suffer no more, girl, I beg you. Can’t you see that it tears me apart to see you like this? Go on, do it for me, will you?”

It was too much for the child who, letting out all the accumulated anguish, started crying so hard that she could hardly breathe.

“Thank you Alicia, thank you very much, I’ll be grateful all my life. I love you so much, if it wasn’t for you... I’ll never do it again, I swear, believe me, I’ll never cause you any more problems. Forgive me, please forgive me.”

“No, little Mabel, I don’t want you to blame yourself, you’re a child, I should have explained the dangers to you, it wouldn’t have cost me anything, what happened to you happens to lots of young girls. I confess that it happened to me when I was nineteen. My boyfriend got me pregnant, I had to have an abortion. Juan was my age, as irresponsible as me. I don’t regret what I did, although it hurts to remember it. Now I’d have a five year-old boy, it’s sad, but what’s done is done, I can’t be hypocritical about it. I took the decision thinking more about myself than the baby, even so I don’t think I made a mistake. I don’t have to justify myself to anyone, and neither do you now, it’s your body, your future and your problem. Don’t think about other people, they’re always quick to condemn.”

Alicia saw that she had done the right thing in accepting Álvez’s murky offer; everything was justified to avoid Mabel’s suffering, even giving up her own dignity.

“Don’t worry, little one,” she said softly, “you’ll see how everything sorts itself out soon. Doctor Álvez told me not to worry, there’s no risk. He’s a very responsible professional with an excellent reputation. He’ll treat you really well, you’ll be seen in a specialist practice, fitted with the latest modern equipment. In short, you’ll have the best; within a few weeks all this will be like a nightmare that you’ve almost forgotten.”

“Never, Alicia! I’ll never be able to forget it! I’ll never forget how stupid I’ve been! That I killed my own child... God will not forgive me.”

Again she was choked by sobs.

“Listen to me please, little Mabel... I’ll get down on my knees and beg if you like, don’t make me suffer any more, I’m done for, almost ready to collapse. If you want to show your gratitude, get over your anguish. Be strong, dear, do it for me, that’s all I ask of you. If you love me, you’ll be able to do it... Tell me, will you try? You’ve got to choose between two bad things, you’ve already chosen one, you made a decision. Why go on torturing yourself? It’s not that serious, your baby is not yet formed. It’s an undeveloped embryo, we don’t even know whether, come the time, it could be born normally. Don’t torment yourself thinking that you’re going to get rid of it; the same thing happened to me, but nevertheless I carried on living.”

“Alicia, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it.”

“You will, I assure you, think of yourself, you can’t do anything else in a situation like you’re suffering, everyone does it, they all become very practical. Come on Mabel! Smile please, you know there’s a way out now. Don’t you? Answer, do it for me, little sister...”

“Yes!” said Mabel, stopping her crying and giving the hint of a smile, “Yes!” she went on saying, hugging Alicia tight again.

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
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Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
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Date of publicationMay 2002
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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