Trading Lives

Another child, another wife gone. This was my fourth one, yet I was still here. It was hard to believe she was gone. It was only last week that I was holding her tightly in the hospital ward, waiting for her turn to deliver the baby. After the baby was born, she was selected to be killed. Random, they said. It sure didn’t feel like it.

We knew it was a risk before we had the child, but she wanted the experience of being a mother – even if it was only for a brief period. It was one of her goals in life. I felt somewhat happy that I helped her to accomplish her dreams, but I was miserable that I had to lose another woman in my life.

I paced the living room floor, bottle of whiskey in hand, taking a swig of it every time I felt like crying my eyes out. While I was the envy of some of my friends, I didn’t really feel like I deserved it. I mean, who would want their partners dead? I guess some of them did, but their partners didn’t want any kids so they had no way out without ending the relationship (they were cowards, but that’s another story).

I sat down and continued going through my late wife’s personal belongings. Putting away things to be kept in one box, and those to be disposed in a trash bag. It struck me as odd that she had a lot of letters and writings to God, despite her not being very religious. I don’t even remember the last time she went to church. I finished the bottle in my hand and walked to the kitchen to get myself another one.

I decided to call up my best friend on the phone. He would know what to say. I hadn’t seen him in years ever since he moved away but we kept in touch. He wanted to get away from here, to start a new life in a new country on the other side of the world. It was late at night where he was but he answered my call after two rings.

I could hear his sleepy voice on the other side of the phone.

“Hello?” he croaked.

I told him my dilemma.

“Okay,” came the reply.

“That’s it? I’ve survived four children and all you have to say is okay? Why isn’t this more surprising to you?” I said, slightly bothered by his nonchalant response.

I could hear the sigh over the phone as I pictured him swinging his feet off the side of his bed, sitting up, putting his fingers on the bridge of his nose and massaging it. It was exactly what he did when he replied, “oh dear, oh dear. You’ve been drinking again haven’t you, Yahweh?”

Writing Prompt from Reddit: In order to control population growth, every time a baby is born the government randomly selects one of the parents to be euthanized. After four children, you start to wonder why you’ve never been chosen.

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