Sorry for the delay today! I keep posting prompts I’m unsure how to respond to and then it takes me a while to think up something I’m happy with…
Doreen wandered around the small one-bedroom apartment, idly adjusting the tchotchkes to a better arrangement. A better angle on the room, pulling them out from behind each other so someone walking in the front door could see them all. She was waiting for Mrs. Lebowitz to get home from her weekly bingo night, ready to greet her at the door.
She had always been fond of the old biddy, admired the strength the woman had for living out her life all on her own, both her husband and children having passed already. She had promised Doreen that when she finally passed on, Doreen would get her population voucher. The precious spot on the Earth, fulfilling the maximum population numbers as set down decades before Doreen was born. Her parents had been lucky enough to score two when a childless aunt and uncle passed and so she got to have a brother. But now, all she wanted was a voucher of her own.
Because she was pregnant again.
They never could quite figure out how they had gone about it wrong, Doreen and her husband. They followed all the contraceptive laws but somehow they kept getting pregnant. Super fertile or something like that. But she was never allowed to keep the baby. It didn’t matter if you kept the pregnancy secret for months, the state always figured it out and issued a Decrease Population order, which for all the fancy wording in the nation, only meant a state-mandated abortion. They’d even take the life right out of you a week before the due date, if you hid it that long.
But this time she would have her baby. A little girl, she just knew it. She would have a voucher in hand by the end of the week. Doreen never really wanted it to get this…difficult, but she didn’t see how she had any other choice now. At the last abortion, the doctor had told her she couldn’t suffer through any more or she’d never be able to have children. He’d jokingly handed her the pamphlets on “If your contraceptive isn’t working” and left her bleeding on the table for the nurses to take care of.
A key rattled in the door and Doreen took one last look around the apartment, at the disarray she had carefully instilled to make it look like a robbery. Then she stepped behind the wall dividing the entryway from the kitchen and fingered the handle of the knife she carried.
“For my baby,” she whispered.