Coral asked me if I knew what had been going on in Mississippi in regard to abortion. I said well, I had recently been reading about the concept of Personhood and the fact that voters would be given the opportunity to restrict abortion rights completely with the recognition of the fetus as a person from conception. She said she was disappointed to learn that the measure failed to pass. I told her I thought the measure had been too extreme, with perhaps too many threatening ideas for voters, including abortion denied for rape or any other reason. Voters just weren't ready to pass so many restrictions contained in this far reaching piece of legislation. I said I thought maybe it would be better to try for less.
Coral said well the child would pass to the other side, it just would not be visible in the world for people to see in person. I said I know it, but it looks like a complete shut out of abortion for any reason is going to be very tough to pass. I asked her if she remembered that when she was a girl some of the states allowed abortion for rape and incest. Severe birth defects of course could not be detected then as they were later on.
"There were comparatively few abortions then," said Coral. "Far less than there are now. It looks as though people in the hereafter are going to be involved in major child raising for years to come."
"A better educating job has to be done," I said, "on the existence of a hereafter and the fact that that these children are all surviving."
Coral rolled her eyes. "And how do you propose we do that?"
"I don't know," I said, "but I am shocked to find myself in such a real place although very different than I expected somehow. I mean I was just staggered to see all those children. I am sure if people on earth could be taken on a tour of these facilities they would be ashamed of themselves for passing so many of their children on for others to take care of in spirit form. It is just not natural!"
"Of course it isn't!" said Coral, "but I don't know how we can educate people. You tell me. I came through to you as clearly as I could. I kept telling you you had to keep protesting, keep talking about your spirit contacts and trying to convince people that they do survive death and so will these children however young they are. People here will help them to grow up, but it is just not natural to spend your childhood in heaven when it should be spent on earth where you were conceived. Life is designed to last up to eighty years, ideally. To disrupt life at such a young age as a few weeks after conception is criminal somehow. It has taxed all the helpers to the max. But life must go on. It is designed to be eternal, so the angels are committed to this job. They have to be angels in order to do it."
"I am sure they taught you to be an angel, too."
"First of all, angels had to take care of me. I was only nine years old, Shadra, for God's sakes, when I passed. Mother did not even know I was dying until I was a few minutes short of death, and then it was too late to take me to the doctor!"
"I know. I have heard about your swift shocking death many times. It was a family tragedy. Marsha, Romina, Deborah, and Deanna are still alive. I have only recently come here to join you after you were over here sixty nine years alone!"
"I wasn't exactly alone. I had Grandma. Grandma was very kind to me after she passed, just as she was to you and Marsha and the rest of the girls before."
I looked up just as an older man sat down and joined us. He looked oddly familiar, and then I did a double take. It was Daddy! I wanted to jump up and run. But I made myself sit calmly. I tried not to panic. Coral was turned just a little bit, so I poked her. She turned and saw him.
"Oh, hello, Daddy," she said, calmly. "How are you? Did you notice Shadra is here?"
"Yes, I noticed her," said Daddy calmly. "Hello, Shadra, what is this I hear about you being afraid to see me? Don't you know that I love my seven daughters equally and my sons."
"What," I said, "What do you mean, Daddy? I have brothers and another sister?"
"Yes," said Coral, "Didn't you know Mother also aborted one of her children, another girl, and miscarried twin boys. Their names are Eli and Shadrach. They are in the hereafter."
"Miscarried children you have saved?" I sounded like I was reproaching the hereafter medical teams for saving miscarried children, too. "I am sorry, I didn't mean to sound disapproving, Coral, but it absolutely boggles the mind to think even miscarried children as well as aborted children are saved here!"
"They were alive before they died!" said Coral.
"I finally got my sons!" said Daddy proudly. "They are great boys. They can ride like the wind. Then there is Rose, one of the most beautiful daughters I could ever ask for. She is the one your mother aborted in complete secrecy I might add. She did not tell anyone but me, but I told her never again, since she could have lost her life doing such a foolish thing."
I had another sister I did not even know about! Rose. I just did not know what to say.
I was so unsettled over the direction the conversation had taken that I was speechless. Daddy gave me a pat on my arm. "I hear you have been to the Children's Paradise where Coral spends most of her time."
"Yes, I went there. She also took me to the Camp of the Resisters and told me, Terrance, my last companion is there, still resisting. I was afraid that is where you were."
"Oh, no," said Daddy, "They are a bunch of crazy fellows, those resisters. I don't understand them sitting there trying to will themselves into oblivion. As soon as I found out there was a hereafter, I did not resist much I will tell you. I am sorry I was such a mean onery fellow in my last years when you were watching over me. Your mother had just divorced me. We had quarreled for nearly forty years practically non stop. I did not know how to do anything else but snarl, but after a few years my natural personality started coming back. You know how I always liked to party and have fun. Well, I found out life can be a non stop party if you just learn how to be yourself without any alcohol. I couldn't get any alcohol here, so I quit all my bad habits and I was a different fellow."
"But Jed said that you were living in the hereafter for gay men."
"Yes, those fellows have taught me how to handle what happened to me as a kid. I got into that stuff when I drank and tried to act older than my age. Those older fellows got hold of me and taught me to have sex with them. I was game. You do a lot of stuff when you are drinking you might not do in your right mind. They would ply me with alcohol and I would do almost anything if it felt good. But I always wanted to be a normal husband and father. I had that in mind and took the opportunity to marry your mother when I could."
"Yes, but from my observation you were still messing around with the fellows."
"Yes, I was," said Daddy stoutly. "I can't lie about it any more. I was tempted and I knew your mother would probably never suspect, so I gave in."
Well, this was a brand new daddy, talking in a way I never expected to hear. But I thought it was the truth, coming out at last.
"I paid for those sins when I found out one of those tempting older fellows took my innocent little five year old daughter into the corn and played around with her, too, because he got mad at me."
"I was afraid to tell you for fear you would try your best to kill him."
"Oh, you got that right. I wouldn't have rested until I had chased him down and killed him dead as he could be, and I don't think anybody would have blamed me. I might have served a year or two in the pen, but that would have been it."
"That's why I didn't tell you. As bad as he was he did not deserve to die for what he did. I could see I would have to be his judge and jury, and I decided not to tell you and save his miserable life. But when he started hanging around the Widow Brown with all those kids, I decided I had to tell. I understand somebody shot him, but did not kill him.'
"I just heard about the shooting. Nobody told me that he was shot because he was suspected of molesting you after you had told some garbled story about one of the Widow Brown's daughters being molested."
"When it came right down to it, I lied and said the beautiful daughter I thought he was after had already been molested only I said he did everything to her he did to me."
"The shooter heard that story and decided he deserved to be shot if not entirely killed."
"A shot in the leg was better than one in the heart."
"I didn't know I had a little daughter who was capable of trying to save her molester from death."
"And you from being his murderer, don't forget that, Daddy."
"That low down skunk would probably have loved to sit in jail the rest of his life, telling his stories."
"I thought you might be afraid he would tell stories about you and him and that was another reason you would shoot to kill, to shut him up!"
"You thought that!!!" said Daddy, acting very shocked.
"Daddy, people acted like they did not even know men had sex with each other. That sly old goat might have got a big kick out of telling everyone you and him got it on. He struck me as being just evil enough to do just that."
"Where in the world did a little tiny girl like you get ideas like that?"
"I grew up in a hurry when he laid his hands on my private parts."
"Yeah," said Daddy, acting like he had been struck in the heart with a bullet himself, "I guess you did. You always were too smart for your own good. You started winking at the men when you were just a year old. Men fell in love with you. Grown men. I knew that was dangerous. I knew some low life would take advantage of you if you weren't careful."
"You were supposed to be my protector, Daddy."
"I know I was," said Daddy, in a strangled voice. "Don't you think I didn't know that, me who taught you to love horses, to follow me around out in the corrals, begging me to let you ride."
"I forgave you a long time ago," I said, patting his hand.
"I didn't forgive myself for a very long time," said Daddy, looking down and shaking a little bit like he was trying to control some violent emotions.
"Got to go now, girls," he said, getting to his feet. "I hope I can talk to you another day without feeling this bad." And he left as swiftly as he had come.
Coral and I sat there stunned for a few moments. "Well," said Coral. "That was Daddy. Now you know his state of mind, Shadow. So now maybe you can feel a little bit more comfortable in the hereafter!"