26 parts of a Speculative Fiction story by J Lenni Dorner
Jenesis repeats the question. “Would you have preferred your wife to all others on your world if she couldn’t bear children?”
I move away. The silence churns the air in the room, making it hot and difficult to breathe.
“Is there a fan? Something to bring the temperature down?”
She fetches another glowing cloth from a closet drawer.
“You’re welcome. The room is not warmer. You have a rise in blood pressure, perhaps from the question you have not answered.”
“Well, what kind of question was that!” I chuck my empty goblet across the room. It bounces off the soft wall and rolls on the floor. No satisfactory breaking, no sweet sound of glass separating into shards.
“It’s a two-way street, you know. There’s a good chance it wouldn’t have mattered.” I flop down on the mat.
“Explain,” she says as she joins me, her feather-like movements causing her garment’s lights to illuminate.
“She did not prefer me to all others in the world. I found that out not long before she passed. It came out during the argument, when I asked her if it was just one time, if the guy had been a one night stand. I asked dumb questions like how long she had thought about cheating on me. Questions I didn’t want answered. Or… maybe I did. Maybe I needed to hear that she had been considering it for years. That she was planning to break up with me just before she found out she was pregnant the first time. But she didn’t think someone else would want her. And there I was, a total sucker, willing to alter my whole life to be with her and raise a family. So why don’t you hail the dead and ask her these questions instead of me?”
We’re silent for a long time. Jenesis strokes my hair and hums softly.
“If not for the pregnancy, if she had left me, no, I wouldn’t have preferred her to all the people in the world. I probably would have tried to win her back. But if I saw her happy with someone else, I’d have let her go and moved on. If I honestly knew, back then, before the children, that I wasn’t who she wanted, who she needed, I’d have let her go.”
“You are here now, in this place. She is not. You already have children. Do you know your sexual preference?”
“Are you assuming I do not want more children?”
She rolls against me and whispers in my ear. “You would not raise them. Children of fighters become trophies. A trophy sometimes gets a hand in raising their child. A fighter never does, unless they are a champion. Most never even meet the child. Is my life one you’d want for a child? If so, make me pregnant right now.”
“I am not going to impregnate you. But I am going to find a way for us both to get off this planet.”
Would you want to make babies if you knew they would become slaves?
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