Brad

By Cyndi Wish


We only speak to Brad en masse, now. I mean since he knocked all of us up. Jenny, Suzy, Clara, Pam, Natalie, Karen, Kristin, and myself. All eight of us. The entire cheerleading squad.

Brad. A good-looking quarterback with a football scholarship to Notre Dame where he plans to study theology.

Brad. With the planetary symbols tattooed up his spine. Brad. Who could kick ass at the pool-table, blindfolded, like some version of Tommy with a cooler bar game. Brad. Who loved his mother and would call on her birthday.

Brad. How could we not fall for him?

His requests for abortions were denied. Eight times. This was before we spoke as a unit. Because we'd done that last year, when we fell for Tony in the same manner. Tony. The Senior linebacker with a National Merit Scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill where he planned to study veterinary medicine. Tony. Etc—

I needn't list the numerous attractive qualities of America's high school football players.

We'd had abortions, eight in total. We'd had abortions and we'd cried, and our mother's had held us. And we wrote bad poetry about it for English, and we made bad, abstract, blood red and purple paintings about it for art. We spoke about it emotionally and effectively in debate, and one of us even performed a modern dance number about it for gym. I'm not sure if it was pity, or if it was talent, or a mixture of both, but we all did very well with our grades that semester.

So when Brad asked us to have an abortion, we thought long and hard and figured that passing with an A- instead of a C wasn't worth the emotional and physical pain of another one of those icky, sticky trips to the clinic.

You only needed a C average to stay on the cheerleading squad, and we all had a suspicion that Ms. Scelba, our cheerleading coach, had some sort of deal with the academic staff. I mean, we had all gotten this far in high school without learning much, well, anything, really. The cheerleading squad was about as dumb as a rock against a wall.

Mrs. Scelba is a lesbian, so we didn't feel that it was appropriate to seek her advice in the matter. And our teen health teacher, Mr. Coffer, is a man, and we figured that his stance on condoms was typical of the opinions expressed on the same subject of our male colleagues. So you can see why soliciting his input as to the situation would be most problematic.

So when Brad asked us to have an abortion, we said, "No way, Brad" and "Fuck off, Brad," and "I'm going to have to get my dress for the prom altered. The prom is about six months from now. Do you still want to be my date, Brad?" and "Maybe we should get married, Brad." and "I hope it's twins, Brad," and "You're a lousy fucking quarterback, Brad,"and "I'll name it 'Bradley Junior' regardless of whether it's a boy or a girl, Brad," and "No, Brad," respectively.

It occurred to us suddenly to be mad, but we weren't sure how. It came as a revelation in the locker room showers on afternoon.

"Suzy, you look angry."

"I'm pregnant, Jenny."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"Who, Suzy?"

"Brad, Jenny."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

"No way, me too."

I won't repeat the entire conversation here. Eventually we got tired of repeating ourselves seven times for every statement made, and figured that our voices would be louder and more effective if we spoke, from then on, as a unit. The basic and most crucial conclusion of the conversation was that we had no idea how to go about being angry. Much like love, I guess, in that you can't have a predefined plan as to how you are supposed to behave. We didn't read feminist literature, then, and even if we had, we wouldn't have understood it.

We decided to stick with our home medium. Familiarity and skill with the process. We decided we'd do what we did best. We would cheer our anger. We decided to cheer to match the violence of the sport. No, no, that wasn't enough. We decided to cheer to match the violence of our last abortion. We decided to cheer to match the violence we anticipated in childbirth.

Halftime, the next home game. Brad wonders why we seem so much less affectionate.

"Gimme an F!" "F!" "Gimme a U!" "U!" "Gimme a C!" "C!" And the whole way through our first attempt at anger. What we now refer to as "the 'Fuck Off, Brad' cheer." Ms. Scelba looked on with a puzzled look on her face.

We were worried at how our connection to Ms. Scelba seemed to deteriorate over the next three months, but as our bellies grew so did our relationship. Ms. Scelba, it seems, really knows how to be angry. She supported us with a dry cynicism that our mothers' didn't provide, and even helped us write a few cheers. Though hers were less pertinent to the situation, we cheered them anyway, a sign of our growing love for her.

The children were born healthy. An even split; four boys, four girls. We got Brad on eight statutory rape charges, and with our settlement from that we bought a large house, close to a mansion, just outside of Fairfax, Virginia. The location was chosen on the quality of its elementary school system. We live quite comfortably on the child-support payments that come, for now, anyway, from Brad's parents, who are covering his responsibility, or lack thereof, while he finishes college. Ms. Scelba moved into a house up the road, and fills
in as a babysitter on Wednesdays, while we're at yoga class.

~ * ~

Native Shore Fiction

Word Smitten's
Annual
TenTen Award
for Fiction
Title: Brad - 2003 Special Mention - For Satirical Young-Adult
Short Story

 

All Eight of Us - Fiction by Cyndi Wish :: Titled BRAD

 

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