The Problem with Modern Politics

A lot of Americans freak out about sports. They take one of the major sports and follow the moves of every player and every team. The find the team that they love the most, and they will live or die by how well that team performs. If their team actually wins the championship, they will walk around for the next year proudly displaying the gear that they have bought to commemorate the moment. If they have a losing season, they hide in their homes licking their wounds and praying that the next year will have a better showing. They become so devoted to their teams that sometimes they turn a blind eye to some of the team’s faults. If there is a player that is a thug and continues to have problems with the law, they turn a blind eye knowing that the player will continue to win games for them. If the team raises ticket prices, or plays games with the city so they can get them to build a new stadium, the fan will quickly forgive the owners as soon as the season starts up again. Even though there are some problems with this model, it is easily forgivable because after all it is only a sports team, and in the long run, they do not really matter the much. The problem comes with the way many people take this same approach with politics today.

The country is divided. I think that is one thing that all people can agree on. It is even evident when you look at Facebook and media outlets. They both cater to one side or the other, and as they promote their side, they look upon the other side as villians. This type of promotion is the same thing that happens with teams during the local sports casts on the nightly news. If I am sitting at my home in Denver, I do not expect the local sportscaster to talk about how great the Oakland Raiders are at this time. I want to know the details behind the Broncos’ next game and why they should destroy those black wearing bastards from California. There is a divide there, and the promotion of the rivalry adds to the fun of the event. I should not feel this same way about the politicians that are running the country. I should not feel an instant love for one of them because they play for a certain team and instantly hate the other because they do not play for the same team. I should instead maybe disagree with a policy of theirs and voice my opinion on it in order to influence the person to see some middle ground that might benefit more people. It should not be one side or the other.

But we have picked our teams, and we want those teams to win at any cost. It shouldn’t matter if what they are doing is right or wrong; it should only matter if our team is beating the other one. The teams have even gotten to the point where they have mascots, colors, and emblems that people can wear around to show which side they are on. This way if we see a person on the other side, we can talk in a low voice with our friends on the same side and make snooty statements how those people are so disgusting. We even come up with names to bring down the other side, whether it is an uneducated redneck or bleeding heart liberal. They are used just to boost up our feelings that we are cheering for the right side.
I witness this all of the time. A great example is the WalkAway Campaign that was taking place over the recent Fourth of July holiday weekend. The premise of this campaign was to have certain people tell their story about how they were no longer a bleeding heart liberal in order to become a card carrying Republican because they had finally found the error of their ways and had finally chosen the right choice. I had a friend on Facebook that kept on promoting this idea in hopes to sign up more people just to prove that he could reach a certain goal by the end of the Fourth of July. I don’t know if he was able to make it, but he spent all day writing post after post in hopes that somehow this would convince people. The sad thing is that this really had nothing to do with changing people’s minds. It was more about collecting people who had already made up their minds about how they felt about politics so they could feel like they belonged to some kind of group. Never once in his campaign to I see anything that had to do with hard policy, or explaining why the choice was a better one. It had more to do with saying that because the person chose do this, it would mean that they were not a Socialist, and the government would no longer waste money on silly policies, none of which were actually mentioned. There was a lot of name calling that was going on, and bandwagoning, but the posts were never long enough to establish anything intelligent. It felt like sitting in the home crowd stands at a sporting event and less about an intellectual discussion about what could be done about the current state of affairs.

I also saw this at a party that I went to. It was an afternoon bar-b-q and the festivities were winding down. Parents were gathering their children and sitting on the front porch getting ready to head on home. A person who had just moved into the neighborhood looked to be having what was a house warming party. He had a smoker set up at the edge of his garage billowing smoke into the banner of cheap plastic flapping American flags. Comments were made about how he was going to burn down the house until he walked out on the driveway wearing a cowboy hat, a wife beater, faded bermuda shorts, and boots. Someone one the patio shook their head and said, “Oh that explains everything. It is sad that this neighborhood is being taken over by the rednecks.” It was an automatic assumption that had nothing to do with the person and who he might have been. It was just based upon the clothes he was wearing and the stereotypes that we associate with somebody that dresses that way. It was easier for the people to sit among the people who were like minded on their porch and talk about the person instead of walking across the street in a neighborly way, introduce themselves to this new member of the community, and get to know them a little bit. It would just be like me walking down the street and seeing somebody wearing an Oakland Raiders hat and instantly feeling hatred run through my veins because they made the Broncos look so silly during their last game. I would never sit down with this person and have a beer with them because they obviously picked the wrong team to cheer for. It would be easier to find those who are wearing orange and talk about how much we hate the silver and black.

I know that there are people from both sides of the aisle that look at both of these stories, and when they look at the one about the other side they feel disgust that a group of people could act this way, and that justifies them and the team that they root for. They will say that they know exactly what this says about the other side, and that they are in the right. But in reality, they should look at both sides in disgust because this behavior is awful. This is the type of behavior that takes place at football games and causes fans to throw D-sized batteries at people who are cheering for the opposing team, or for fights to erupt over the silliest things like what color shirt a person wears at a certain time. The way this country is run should not be about whether the person waves a flag with a snake on it, or whether they have a degree from a certain university hanging from their office wall. It should be about a careful considerations of the issues that the country is facing and having civil and intellectual discussion about what we can do to solve that problem instead of standing by some silly ideology that slowly tears the country apart.

This ideology has spread beyond the two parties involved, and has seeped into the issues that they should be trying to solve at this time. It is no longer about what we can do to solve the problem and trying out various things until we are able to come to a solution that actually makes the country a better place to live. Instead, we stand by the platform of our parties and yell and scream that what we want done is the right thing to do. When the screaming and shouting has finally quieted down nothing has been done to solve the problem and it continues to get worse.

A great example of this is what is going on with gun violence right now. It is obvious that there is a problem with an increase in gun violence in America right now. It is not only happening in our schools, but it seems to be happening everywhere. The death rate by the use of guns is higher in this country than any other place in the world. I do not think that anybody can deny that it is problem.
But the real issue is the solution to the problem. Both sides have come up with solutions that are so extreme that they really not a solution to the problem. One side has stirred up a whirlwind of fear while they other has tried to maintain that same level of fear. Everybody that has investment in the issue is so afraid that something terrible will happen that they have moved to an area that no longer makes sense. Study after study shows that adding more guns into a community only increases gun violence. Giving teacher guns is an absurd idea. Most teachers do not want to own a gun or have one in the classroom. It should not be a part of their job to protect their students in this kind of fashion, and in an industry that it already strapped for cash, this is not the best way to spend that money. Also, everybody can think back to their high school days and think about that one kid that if they found out that there was a gun in the classroom, they would try to find a way for getting it for themselves. And I don’t want to even think about the teacher that will eventually lose it and come to the realization that they could use the gun to maintain the discipline of their classroom. This is not a good solution, but many people have jumped on this proposal because this is the one that is promoted by their party as being reasonable.

The other idea of taking away all of the guns is also absurd. This is a hobby for many people, and they should have the right to responsibly participate in it. If they want to go hunting with a rifle they should be allowed to. If they want to take on target practice at the shooting range, then that place should open to them. Also if we took away everybody’s gun, would everybody be willing to give up their guns, and how would that change the power dynamic in this country? Would the people who want to be responsible with this power be turned into a victim that they unfairly asked to be?

There needs to be a solution to the problem though, both sides would agree with this. But they are both so adamant that their solution that the extreme that their side tells them to believe is the only way that they can think about the issue. Neither side is willing to budge because if they do then it will mean that they are not buying into the ideology of their side, and because of this neither side is willing to compromise to come up with a better solution to the problem. This way the problem persists and in some cases event gets worse because we are not willing to put the ideology aside and look for something that makes sense and makes all sides happy.

This also means that both sides need to give a little bit to make sure that the solution happens. But both sides of lived so long with their fallacies in logic that they believe that if they give in a little bit, the lies they have been telling people come true. The greatest fallacy that is told is the slippery slope fallacy. There are many of our politicians that believe that they can predict the future. They believe that if they give in just a little bit then it means that they are going to eventually have to give in all of the way. But this goes against the logic of compromise. Both sides need to make concessions in order for a compromise to work, but in order for the concessions to made in the first place there has to be some logic behind them that allow the solution to the problem to be able to present itself. Once the solution has been put into action, then they can sit back and see if it works.
This is what is going on with the current gun laws. They are obviously not working even though there has not been many school shootings in awhile, but that might be because the stress of school has not gotten to the students yet and has caused them to want to do harm to other kids that they see on a daily basis, but nothing has changed about the way we do things, and the violence is going to return before the end of the school year. Statistics show that it is going to continue to rise until something is done, and just turning a blind eye to the problem and hoping that it will solve itself is not a reasonable solution to the problem. New laws need to be made that make the majority from both parties happy, and not just one over the other. Then while those same lawmakers sit back and see if gun violence has gone down because of the changes then we can be happy that we are moving in the right direction. If on the other hand, the violence stays the same or even gets worse, then those lawmakers need to get back together and work towards a new compromise to see if they can bring about the change that needs to happen.

Right now, that compromise is not happening. The lawmakers sit at their desks at work next to their ideologies and refuse to do anything. They know that if they can pull out that ideology around every election then it no longer matters if they did anything or not because the ideology is what keeps them in office. And the ideology is getting even easier and easier to wave around because it is no longer about presenting an idea that is for the greater good of society, but is instead just a direct opposition of the other side. It is easier to say no to something than it is to come up to a real solution to something, and for some reason the voters are enamored by the No so much that they no longer look for the solution. The No comes in many different shapes and sizes. The No is a negative ad campaign that everybody complains about but still listens to. The No is the quick witty one liner that the politician comes up with during a debate that everybody is so excited to repeat. The No is a nickname that the opposition gives to their opponent so that everybody can think that is who that person actually is. Every time there is an election in this country there is so much hatred being thrown around that by the time the election is over we have a hard time thinking that our society can be run in any other fashion.

If you don’t believe that Americans are not negative people just turn on the news from either side and don’t look for the stories that are being presented but see if you can find how they are trying to put somebody down. If you have chosen the news that caters to the opposition of what you normally lean to in order for you to feel as if this justifies your opinion that they are nothing more than propaganda, then turn on the propaganda you normally watch to see that they really are no different. If you watched your favorite form of media first, then look at the other side to see that they are no different.

This is the key to understanding the current problem with the United States. The side you have chosen is not the good side. I can say this with absolute clarity because it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican. This constant bickering between both of these sides is what is tearing this country apart. Both sides claim that they are completely different, but there is not much difference between either of them. They both hold on to their ideology while claiming that the other side is devil incarnate. Because of this their fighting is the thing that become the most important to all the people who glue themselves to their televisions and newspapers so they can see the latest development in this real life drama. It no longer becomes about making sure that the United States solves the problems that it is going through. It is now about which side can shout the loudest and stand by their absurdity the longest. It needs to end. The ones we vote into office need to get back to governing and we need to hold those people accountable without worrying too much about which side they are coming from. So in this upcoming election, if you see that there are ones who are begging for your vote that hold on to these principles that are slowly destroying America, you can not let them have your vote. It should not be about which party they represent because if we wish to have party politics go the way of the dodo then we have to stop following it ourselves. If that means voting for the side that you don’t normally vote for because that candidate is the better man who will actually accomplish something, then you should vote for them. You could take it even further by voting for a candidate from a third party that does not prescribe to a certain ideology, but instead will look towards fixing the problems facing the United States today. Nothing would scare the current lawmakers right now than to show them that the rest of America no longer buys into their silly ideology by electing a bunch of third party candidates that have nothing to do with their dumacity.

The only way that we can stop the thing that is tearing apart the United States is to stand above it, and do the thing that makes us, as a society, different than any other place in the world, think for ourselves. We need to think more when it comes to politics because it is reason and logic that will help solve the problems of the country, not passion that is spurred by ideological rhetoric. Passion is a great thing if it is associated with sports and wanting your favorite team to win the biggest prize, but that is not how we should make decisions that affect millions of people. It shouldn’t be about fighting for the right team. It should be about fighting for the right thing to do, no matter which team the person carrying that idea comes from. We need to stop fighting for a political side, and start hiring the people that will go in there and get the job done that needs to be done. Only then can the United States reach the greatest it claims to have.

These issue are further illustrated in Tag A Cautionary Tale, now available at Amazon.com.

Advertisements

Accountability Part 3 – Accountability

I have added all of Part 3 to Accountability below, but if you have not had the opportunity to read the first two parts, there are the links to them. I hope you enjoy the satirical view on the direction on American education.

https://johncollings.com/2017/11/03/accountability-part-1-assessment/

https://johncollings.com/2018/01/27/accountability-part-2-re-education/

PART 3

ACCOUNTABILITY

1

The little girl tugged at her dad’s fingers trying to pry him away from the mom he was staring at in the window of the booth across the shopping center from mine. She was an adorable little girl but seeing her disappointed me because she was already dressed like a mother in training with an apron tied around her waist. It also worried me that no matter how hard she tried, she would never pull her dad away from the demonstration the prospective mom was putting on. The man’s unblinking eyes soaked in the presentation as the woman demonstrated her vacuuming skills. She was attempting to get a rather pesky piece of fluff hiding underneath the couch against the back wall of her booth. She had gotten on her hands and knees to stare the piece of dirt down. She had the vacuum cleaner so the back was parallel to the floor and she was trying to slide it underneath the couch so it would grab that piece of dirt. Apparently that piece of dirt was the peskiest piece of dirt that ever lived because she was forced to slowly rock the vacuum cleaner back and forth underneath it. Yet that little piece of dirt still eluded her. The vacuum cleaner also seemed to cause her a bit of trouble because she needed to get her whole body into the rocking motion required to get that complicated piece of equipment all of the way underneath the couch. The man seemed enthralled with the presentation because drool started to collect on the precipice of his lip and his limp body continued to ignore the gentle pulling of his daughter faced the opposite direction. The prospective mom must have felt the drool collecting because she looked behind her with pouty lips. The concern etched itself across her eyes informed the man she would attend to the drool on his lip after she sucked up that pesky piece of dirt.

I sat at the other end of the showroom on my couch leafing through a magazine while watching this presentation. It wasn’t the first timed I had seen something like it and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. Watching the woman’s presentation pained me the most when I thought about the harm being done to the children. The husbands didn’t care about the kids, and that woman showing off her butt like it was some kind of mothering tool could care even less. My heart went out to that little girl and all the others before her.

I had spent two and a half months on the bottom floor of the Mother Mall and not one prospective husband had been interested in purchasing me. At first, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t been snatched up quickly, but it soon became apparent what I needed to do in order to move off the shelf. It was something I was not comfortable with. Husbands didn’t want mothers who would keep the house clean and had dinner made for them at a certain time. They weren’t interested in women who could raise their children correctly and prepare those kids for a future in this wonderful country. They were more interested in carnal needs as put on by the demonstration of the woman and her vacuum cleaner. If a prospective mother could meet these needs then all of the other concerns the husband needed to be addressed would be accomplished in the best manner possible. It wasn’t as important as the need in the bedroom.

I had seen women being shipped in from the Capital Limited Re-education Center on a weekly basis and there never seemed to be an end to the need. Husbands would continue to file into the Mother Mall, find the mother fitting their need, talk to one of the sales people and then have the mother released into their care. If the woman could make a demonstration much like the one with the vacuum cleaner then they would move a lot quicker than if they tried their hardest to demonstrate their ability to achieve the standards in a timely manner. I was always amazed at the way women could show off their sexual prowess in such a small enclosure. Some of the more creative ways would be washing dishes with a sink near to overflowing, and full of suds, so everything would overflow from the sink and onto the mother. Some would do their laundry and then spend long periods of time folding the same pieces of underwear over and over again. It seemed all of the women who moved quickly from the store would all live by the same code: bend at the hips. No matter what they did they would perform this maneuver making sure that their backside was to the glass wall while demonstrating their agility in picking something up that just accidently fell onto the floor. It disgusted me the lengths these women would go to in order to impress a potential husband. Yes, I will admit living in a small enclosure exposed to the whole world at any time was a little uncomfortable, and I would have loved to get out of that environment, but as I watched these demonstrations on a daily basis, I swore I would never lower my standards or expectations of myself to the level these women did in order to be freed from the Mother Mall.
I would wait until the perfect husband came and chose me. This way I wouldn’t have to subject myself to the humiliation I believed would happen to one of these floozies as soon as they arrived at their new home. If they presented themselves as sex slaves at the store then they would become sex slaves when they went off with their new husbands. All of the training they learned at the Capital Limited Re-education Center would be wasted in the bedroom and these women would eventually find themselves getting re-educated once again. These husbands would just trade them off for a newer, younger model when this happened and it would keep perpetuating the idea sex was more important than raising a child correctly. I knew in order to return this great country back to the place it needed to be I would have to maintain my integrity and never subject myself to such base ideas.

Everyday, I would go through the process of going through the routine I knew made me a wonderful mother. I would show off my abilities in the kitchen. I only wish there was some way I could let the smell of the food I was making everyday waft its way through the showroom because I knew the smell would bring many of the husbands over to my booth. They would be intrigued by what I was making, and I knew I would be able to snag one of these men with this great bait.
I also kept my little area completely spotless. The wood furniture would shine. No dust would swirl anywhere in my booth or even find refuge on any of the surfaces. The dishes were always cleaned as well as the bathroom. All of the countertops would sparkle. I knew the man I wanted to attract had nothing to do with my abilities in the bedroom, but instead with my abilities as a mother. I knew it would take me longer until I found the right husband, but it was worth the wait to make sure the husband who bought me was a good one.

Because I didn’t waste my time strutting around my booth trying to appeal to man’s simplest instinct, I had a lot of spare time on my hands. There wasn’t much to do in a room as small as mine. There was only so much I could clean, so I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. At first, I read through the collection of magazines they gave me, but after I read through them three or four times, I needed something more to keep myself entertained. They were nice enough to give us a new issue whenever one arrived, but they only gave us subscriptions to three different magazines and they would only come once a month. I remember the day my first new issue arrived. I hoarded it in the corner like it was some great prize I was afraid they would take away from me at any moment. I savored every new picture, and enjoyed every new word of every new article. It was the greatest entertainment I ever had, but that issue would soon get as old as all of the other issues arranged in a nice, neat pile on my coffee table.

I ended up spending most of my time staring out of the window and paying attention to what the people were doing outside. This was when I really started to notice the depravity of every man walking through the showroom. After awhile, I started to think there wasn’t a single man out there who didn’t think with his crotch. Husbands only seemed to care about propagating the world more with useless, unintelligent children. It didn’t matter to them because they didn’t have to worry about the children anymore after they conceived them. Taking care of children wasn’t their job. Their job was just to create them and then to provide for them. It was up to the mothers to take care of them and if the husbands didn’t find the mother they purchased attractive anymore they could just exchange their wives for another one they found more attractive.

Sometimes the husbands would bring their children with them. This is when things started to get interesting in the showroom. I knew the children would be the ones to pick me as the perfect mother. This is when I would start to put on a little show. I would start to make food I knew they would love and look appealing at the same time. I would make smiley-faced pancakes, or cookies that displayed their favorite Buddy Bear character. I would also make their favorite food like macaroni and cheese and hamburgers. This had the same effect on the children all the sexual poses had on the husbands.

When the children finally found their way to my booth, I really started to shine. I would create quick toys out of anything I had lying around. Sometimes I turned socks into puppets, or I would create paper airplanes out of scraps of paper lying around. I had also become very proficient at making origami animals out of those same scraps. Whatever way I could employ my creativity to create entertainment for the children was a bonus for me. They would be enthralled by what I was doing behind the glass shield separating me from them. There would be times I would have a group of children gathered around my booth while the husband would wander off for what it was they were really looking for. I still can’t believe there was not one single husband interested in what was best for their child instead of just another sexual partner they could play with. I know my strategy for finding a new husband was a long shot, but I knew it would find me a wonderful husband in the long run, or so I thought. It always ended up with the husband watching the woman with the vacuum cleaner. He would talk to a salesperson. The woman would get sold and the child would get ignored. I would be left alone in my booth for another evening.

At nine o’clock every evening the lights would turn down, the sales people would gather their coats and the doors would be locked behind them. The mothers who had not been sold would shake off the rejection, and they would find some way to unwind in their booths. We would never communicate much with each other even though we could hear what another person was saying in another booth. We were basically in competition with each other, so we never wanted to consort with each other. Even though all of the mothers found themselves together in a huge warehouse-sized room, there was still a feeling of loneliness permeating our little community. We eventually learned to ignore each other and find our own ways to relax in the evenings. I was always able to tell when there was a new shipment of mothers who arrived because they would be trying to communicate with the mothers near them to avoid the solitude. But it always ended the same way, the new mothers being ignored and having to accept the inevitable.

During the nights, I would try to go to sleep as soon as I could. I would pull out the bed hidden in my sofa, turn out the lights in my booth and try to let the quiet take me in so I could escape all of the problems I was experiencing. The day time was the time the more interesting stuff happened anyway. This would be when I would have a chance to see and interact with children again. During the night, I could only see other mothers waiting to be purchased, getting ready for bed or trying to find other ways to console themselves through their pain. This was too much to watch, so I would try to live with my pain in the darkness and privacy of my own booth. It didn’t help much that I would try to go to sleep so early every evening. I would lie awake staring up at the darkness of my ceiling praying slumber would come and take me away from this reality. This is when I would really start to think about Zach and Lindsey and how much I missed them. I wondered what their lives would look like now. How many teeth Lindsey had lost since I was taken away from her? Did she still hang on to her blankee or had she had given it up? Did she try to emulate her new mother or had she given this up in order to try to emulate her half-sister instead? Was she getting the love and care she needed in order to grow into a wonderful young lady?

And what about Zach? Was he growing into a fine young man or was he being ignored as well? Was he adjusting to life without his mother? Was he going through a growth spurt by this time? Was he becoming more coordinated as he grew into his body? Was he doing well in school and were the conversations he had with others becoming more intelligent? Was he looking out for his sister or was he ignoring her as well?

These were the questions racing through my mind as I lay in bed and wiped away the tears that would eventually come. I couldn’t understand how I ended up in this place. It didn’t make sense to me that a mother who loved and cared so much for her children could be viewed by society as such a social deviant she needed to be re-educated and then sold on the black market like some common commodity. It didn’t seem fair to me. There was something in our culture distorting the values of the people and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it actually was. My thoughts convinced me that what I was going through had something to do with it, but I couldn’t articulate what it was.

As the lights slowly turned off in each of the booths, I continued to look up at the ceiling and begged for sleep to come and take me. Most nights it wouldn’t be until two or three in the morning when I would be able to finally push myself into a fitful sleep and there were many nights I laid on my bed and never got to experience the joy sleep would bring to me. It was during one of these nights I was given some information allowing me to start formulating the plan that eventually led me to the position I’m in now. The lights had been turned off completely in the big showroom. It was completely quiet. I had flopped around in my bed trying to find a place where I could be comfortable and ended up curled in a ball with my face looking towards the glass wall separating me from the rest of humanity. That was when I heard the sound so familiar to me I had to open my eyes just a crack to see if I was dreaming or if the maker of the noise was really in the showroom at that exact moment.

“Clack… Clack… Clack…”

From the far corner of the showroom, I saw her coming closer. I couldn’t quite make out the color of her pant suit as she made her way over to my booth, but the familiar clipboard tucked into her side told me it was my old idol. I looked over to her right hand to make sure and I saw a gleam sparkle off of her favorite companion, that red pen who had caused me so much stress and agony over the past year. She was walking over with another person, someone I don’t ever remember seeing before in the building. At first thought, I remember thinking it must be the night janitor showing Dr. Blur around the establishment, but as they approached closer, I could see he was wearing a business suit. There was no way he could be the one in charge of cleaning the place up after the customers went home. He had to be someone much more important to be here so late at night with Dr. Blur.

They kept moving towards my booth, and as they got closer I could hear bits and pieces of the muffled conversation they were having. They had a total disregard for the women in their booths because they were talking without a care about who heard them and what they said. It seemed to me I was a part of their conversation because the man kept gesturing to my booth when he talked to Dr. Blur. I kept hearing phrases such as bargain basement, not what they want, and change the standards, as they moved closer, but it wasn’t until they were right at my booth before I was able to catch the whole conversation.

When they made it to my booth, I was also able to see the man for the first time as they made it to my window and peered inside. He looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place where I had seen him before. He was a little overweight and he would use his girth to emphasize his point by swinging it furiously at the person he was talking to. Even though he was wide in circumference around the belly, he was still a short man. He stood a whole head below Dr. Blur, but a casual observer could tell his importance was larger than that of the good doctor. There were many lines on his face showing a place where a scowl was usually etched upon his countenance. The lines were so deep that even when he smiled, he couldn’t wipe away that angry look. What little light shining into the building reflected off his bald head. Even though my eyes were barely open, it was his bald head that lit his path to my booth. Despite all his ugly features, he still dressed very fashionably. He wasn’t wearing clothes male models and movie stars would wear, but he was able to buy the finest suits and had them tailored to meet his unusual body size. Everything about him screamed out wealth, and it was the way he carried himself that made me think I had seen him before. When they made it to my booth, he waved a big meaty palm in my direction and said, “Here is a great example of what I have been talking about, Nancy.”

“Who? Miss Ervaring?”

“Is that her name?” He leaned down at a plaque at the corner of my booth to read it. “I guess it is. I could give a rat’s ass less what her name is. I just want the money that she’s worth.”

Dr. Blur seemed a little put off by his statement and straightened herself up before responding. “Well then, why don’t you move her more quickly?”

“Because I can’t move merchandise like this. If she doesn’t move quickly, I’m going to have to try and recoup some of my losses by sending her off to the bargain basement.”

Dr. Blur looked over to where I pretended to sleep. “I don’t understand why you can’t move merchandise like this, Sam.” The man’s name triggered something in my mind. Even though I couldn’t remember where I had seen him before, I would’ve said his name was Sam. “I worked very hard to make sure you were given some quality products. We hand-selected the mothers we knew would be most fit to raise children.”

“That’s exactly the problem.” Sam pushed his belly and waggled a thick index finger at her to emphasize his point.

“I’m not following you, Sam.”

“Husbands don’t give a shit about the rug rats making their nannies’ lives miserable. This is not the reason they come here shopping.”

Dr. Blur closed her eyes and shook her head in disbelief. “Why are they coming here to shop, Sam? What are they looking for in a mother?”

“One who is submissive.”

“You know damn well our program teaches them how to be submissive. You helped to design it, remember?”

“One who is flexible.”

Dr. Blur once again looked in my direction. “This one is a great example of a woman who is flexible. She has adapted to numerous situations and has persevered every time.”

Dr. Blur’s vote of confidence filled me up with some much needed pride.
“One who is able to attend to a man’s needs.”

Dr. Blur gave out a snort of disbelief. “Once again, Miss Ervaring is a wonderful choice for this. When she was married, she cleaned the house, did the laundry, and is known for her wonderful cooking ability. What man would not be interested in this?”

Sam crossed his arms in front of his chest and scowled even further. “I don’t think we are talking about the same thing, Nancy.”

“I thought we were talking about mothers.”

“Yes, but I’m talking about the reason they became mothers in the first place.”
Dr. Blur looked down at the man trying to decipher exactly what he was saying,

“Because of the joy of raising a child and the love they have in return?”

“No because of the sex, Nancy. They can’t have children unless they have sex.

That’s what these men are looking for. A submissive, flexible woman who is willing to attend to his needs.”

Dr. Blur looked around in shock and dismay. “Oh!”

Sam moved in closer for the kill. “That’s the reason men come in here looking for a new mother. They could care less if the brats they have grow up properly. They’re looking for sex. Your re-education program keeps on bringing me these women who are trying to raise the next perfect kid, but what I need is a woman who can show our customers a good time in the bedroom when they get back home. That’s what’s going to make us money.”

“But what about the children?”

“Who gives a fuck about the children? Nancy, don’t tell me you forgot why we got into this in the first place? We did this for the money. There’s no way two back-country hicks from Wyoming could ever make enough noise on a national level to change the world, but you knew if we played the game right we could set up a way for us to make lots of money while we had a chance.”

“You’re right. We’re going to have to tweak the program a little bit more in order to move the merchandise a little quicker.”

“Isn’t that what the new legislation is all about?”

“Oh, that bill will just ensure we have a continual flow of product. It almost guarantees every mother will have to go through the re-education process every five years because it will be impossible for them to continually pass the assessments. It is quite brilliant actually. Mothers are no longer just graded on how great they are, but also how much they have improved over the year.”

“But how do you improve if you are already exemplary?”

“That’s not for me to worry about.”

Sam chuckled at this and his belly shook with the joy he was feeling in his heart. “I can’t believe you are getting them to push that through.”

“There are still a couple of roadblocks in the way, but I am working to take care of those in the next couple of weeks. The Dash to the Summit will be another law benefiting us and all we are doing at this establishment.”

“That’s wonderful to hear. Keep up the good work, Dr. Blur.”

“You as well, Mr. Hogston. You as well.”

They both laughed and moved off to another part of the showroom and once again their voices became muffles I couldn’t quite understand, but it didn’t matter anyway. The last name helped to jar my memory of where I had seen this person before. His picture was in the middle of the memoir by Dr. Blur. He was standing at a podium on a stage and Dr. Blur was at another podium at the other end of the stage. He was clearly yelling at her in the picture as he tried to emphasize the point he wanted to make. In the picture, Dr. Blur stood there with the same expression always on her face. In between them hung a red, white and blue banner with the words “Mayoral Debate” emblazoned upon it. Sam Hogston was Dr. Blur’s opponent when she ran for mayor of Jeffery City, Wyoming. He was the one she had exposed as misusing the funds of the town’s treasury. I had always thought because of the scandal he was now in prison never to lay waste to another unsuspecting group of Americans again, but nothing ever more was said about what happened to him after the election. How did he become such an important part of the Capital Limited Corporation? Why was Dr. Blur taking orders from him like he was in charge? What did this all have to do with mothers, and the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act? What was this new bill they were talking about, Dash to the Summit? Why would they expose all of their sinister plans by being so blatant in front of the women who had been directly affected by their decisions in the past?

The last question to run through my mind had an answer that was obvious. They were having a conversation right in front of me with no regard for privacy because they no longer thought of me as a human being. They only thought of me as a commodity they could ship and sell to whomever they pleased. I was an object to them, and they no longer cared about the things making me unique. They only cared about the things about me making me marketable. They could exploit this as much as they wanted to and it sounded like they even had plans to make sure this type of selling and buying of humanity would perpetuate as long as they had control of the government and the psyche of the American people. Somebody was going to have to put a stop to them, but what could I do? I was stuck within their bureaucracy and even if I found a way to get out of it, would anybody believe my crazy tale? There was no reason for them to believe a woman who had failed as a mother and was barely making things better for herself by being sold as a commodity at a discounted price.

But there I laid on my bed with these thoughts running through my brain in the dark of the Mother Mall, and a resolution started to build up inside of me. I started to believe I was destined to be the one to bring these people to justice. It would be my destiny to take down greed and corruption. It was these qualities that inspired me to idolize Dr. Nancy Ann Blur in the first place, and even though my image of her was destroyed, I still believed it was important for people to act like the fictionalized persona Dr. Blur had taken on. She may have no longer been my hero, but there were many other women out there still needing a person to look up to. They needed someone to start looking after their needs and beliefs. They needed somebody with integrity and determination in order to take on this corruption destroying the heart of America. I know I wouldn’t have chosen to be this person under normal circumstances, but for some reason fate had tapped me as the messiah. I knew I needed to figure out a way to make sure the people of America understood what I did. I formulated a quick plan of what it was I needed to do and then for the first time in a long time, I fell into a deep sleep.

When the lights turned on in the morning, I was more refreshed than I had been for a very long time. I quickly got out of bed, and made my room up. I wanted it to look its best for the day. I didn’t even concern myself as the manager opened the doors to the Mother Mall and the first group of potential husbands made their way into the showroom. My booth being presentable was my number one priority. In fact, I was still wearing my cotton nightgown and my hair was still a mess while I was attending to the bed being stored into the couch properly, the kitchen being cleaned and the living room carpet getting vacuumed. I did it all except for the kitchen floor. I knew I needed to save that for last. It was essential to my plan.

By the time I had made it to the shower to make myself up, there was already a good crowd of husbands who were starting to mill around the showroom looking for the next perfect mother they wanted to attend to their needs. Some of the mothers were already executing their demonstration showing the husbands how submissive and flexible they could be. A couple of them would probably get sold, but it wasn’t important. I needed to look my best if I was going to make sure it was my turn to be bought by a potential husband. My make up was perfect. I took extra time to fix my hair, so the curls would bounce lightly on the side of my face begging for some man’s hand to get entangled into. I spent a little more time making sure my dress was pressed and presentable. I remember men walking past my booth while I was preparing all of this. They would look in and see me still dressed in my nightgown buttoned up tightly around my neck and me slaving away on top of an ironing board. I’m sure I was quite the sight. It was probably the reason all of them didn’t linger longer than a moment. I’m sure in their minds there must have been a better prospect than one reminding them of their mother. But I knew when the husbands saw the demonstration I was going to put on it wouldn’t matter. They would be enthralled, and today would be my last at the Mother Mall.

After I made sure my dress looked presentable, I went in the bathroom and got ready. I put the dress on like I did every day. I cinched the apron on a little tighter to make my waist a little skinnier. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw I looked like a beautiful mother, but something still wasn’t quite right. I still looked a little too conservative. I still needed something to give me that little extra boost to give my demonstration exactly what it needed, and then I saw it. I took my sleeves down from my shoulder and slid them over my biceps. It showed off my milky white shoulders and forced the top of my dress to become taut. My breasts started to peek out over the edge. A valley appeared guaranteeing to make any man want to venture down the front of my dress. It was perfect; the look would get me what I needed.

I walked out into my booth. The morning crowd was starting to get large. It was time for me to start my demonstration.

I went over to the kitchen sink and plugged it up with the stopper. I took the soap out from under the sink and unscrewed the cap. Using both hands to bring it to the top of my chest, I slowly squeezed the liquid into the sink. Most of it collected on the bottom of the sink, but a healthy portion of it found its way down my dress. I didn’t care because I could see out of the corner of my eye it was already working. I had snagged one man as he stood at the window of my booth and watched the demonstration.

I turned on the tap and let the hot water turn the soap into a foamy mass. Suds began to form and quickly filled up the sink. I took the rest of the soap and spread it liberally across the floor. It wasn’t a big floor, but I could see that if I wasn’t careful in the next few minutes, I could easily slip and fall. It would’ve broken the illusion I was trying to create with my exhibition.

I went back over to the sink and bent down from the hips to put the bottle of soap back. It really didn’t matter because it was empty at this time, but the illusion was important. The small crowd of men gathering at my booth seemed to agree with me as well. I knew I needed to put on a little bit more of a show because things were already starting to head in the right direction. I wiggled my butt around as I pretended to look for the brush and sponge, even though I had them in my hands within seconds of opening the door. The sink helped me by pushing some of the over flowing suds onto my back. Things were falling into place beautifully and this was going to be a demonstration the Mother Mall would never forget.

I took myself out from underneath the sink to see I had obtained a few more admirers. I pretended I didn’t notice them as I continued on. I took both hands around the brush and plunged it into the water building up in the sink. Suds flew up into the air and onto the side of my face. Water splashed out of the sink and down my dress to mix with the soap I accidently left there. I wiped away the soap away from my face and let more water cascade down the front of my dress. I could start to see men pushing their way to my booth, trying to get a better angle on what was happening.

I got down on the floor on my hands and knees and faced the crowd. I knew they were able to look down the front of my dress, and all of the soap and water made for a more exciting spectacle. I started to scrub. Slowly at first but I sped up as I went along. I put my whole body into it. I closed my eyes and made sure to breathe through my mouth to give my audience the impression that the work I was doing was not only hard but pleasurable at the same time. The little moans I made seemed to help as I continued. By this time the floor was extremely sudsy. The top of my dress clung to me as I made sure more water splashed up there and more suds cascaded down from the sink where I left the water running. It was such a mess I needed to mop it all up. The front row of men must have agreed with me because they were so worried about the kitchen floor they had placed their hands and faces on the window to see if I would be able to clean it up in time. Condensation was building up where their faces were pressed up on the glass.

I grabbed the mop and put it on the floor in front of me. I spread my legs and pushed the head of the mop in between them. I was now riding the mop like a hobby horse. I continued to push the mop behind me as I rode higher up on the handle. I brushed back my hair, making sure it looked wet as it clung to the side of my head. I once again closed my eyes and started to moan with the motion. The men must have loved my demonstration because I started to hear shouts and whistles from the crowd. The moaning became louder the faster I mopped up the floor. I also hugged the mop handle more as I made sure the top of it found a place nestled in between my breasts. I was becoming very popular. I opened my eyes just enough to see how big of a crowd I was getting. I could see the crowd stretched out to the center of the floor. Other women in other booths were even looking over in my direction with scowls on their faces. Apparently my demonstration was more popular than anything they could think of. It would only be a matter of seconds before I was on my way out of the Mother Mall.
That’s when the door to my booth opened. I turned around to see Steven standing in the entrance. I had seen frowns upon his face before but nothing like the one he was showing me that day. I stopped my demonstration and tried to figure out why he was so mad. He was either a eunuch or I had gone too far. Either way, the demonstration would need to end.

“Miss Ervaring, I need to see you. Come with me.”

There were shouts of disappointment from the crowd. Things were just getting good and they didn’t want it to stop. I dropped the mop onto the floor and turned off the water. In the effort to please I had made quite a huge mess of the kitchen. I walked over to where Steven stood. The shouts of protest got louder as I made my way to the exit. I knew I couldn’t leave my fans this way and I needed to exit on a high note, so right before I walked out the door, I gathered some suds in my hands, turned around and blew the suds in my hand at my adoring public. I then winked at all of them. They went crazy with the gesture.

That’s when I saw her. Standing at the front of the crowd, ignored by all of the men around, was a little girl no older than Lindsey would have been at the time. She was staring up at me with her head slightly tilted to the right. Her big brown eyes were looking into my eyes and her eyebrows collected at the bridge of her nose. The moment I was living in was lost within those eyes. She must have misinterpreted my countenance because all of a sudden she seemed to have gained understanding from my actions. She brought her hand up to her lips and kissed her fingertips. The little girl then brought her hand up in front of her face and blew at the spot where she had just kissed, then winked at me. I still wonder to this day if my demonstration didn’t do more harm than good, but only time will tell.

Steven had enough of the disruption. He grabbed me by the shoulder and yanked me out of the room. The door slammed on the crowd left behind.

2

Even though I was still regretting the image of the child, I knew that if I wanted to accomplish what I started out to do I needed to play up to Steven with the façade I had created in my booth. He was obviously offended and his mouth was shouting at me with his usual drill sergeant zeal. Spit was flying off of his lips at a rate I had never witnessed before.

“I have never been so disgusted by a display of debauchery in my life. You should be ashamed of the way you have acted. You will be severely punished for this act, Miss Ervaring. Get your ass moving down the hallway right now. The owner wants to see you in his office right away.” He pointed towards the end of the long hallway I had first wandered down when I arrived at the Mother Mall. There were elevator doors at the end of the hallway. I had never noticed them before, and my curiosity made me wonder what was behind them, but I wanted to have a little fun with Steven before I did what he asked of me.

I pouted my lips and found a strand of dry hair I could twirl in a display of innocent flirtation. “I’m sorry, Steven, didn’t you like my little demonstration?”
He stood there breathing hard through a pursed frown while still pointing down the hallway. “I most certainly did not.”

I moved closer to him so the hem of my skirt started to brush against his knees. “I don’t understand, Steven. What wouldn’t you, a big strong man, not like about my demonstration?” I started to trace my index finger ever so lightly across his chest.

He started to stammer and his hand began to lower from where it was pointing. “That… that… that is not a way a mother should act.”

I moved closer to him so he could feel my breasts brush up against him. I tried to keep an innocent puppy dog look on my face. “I’m trying ever so hard to follow what you are saying, Steven, but my simple mind can’t comprehend why what I did was inappropriate.”

“If my mother ever acted that way…” he began to say.

I leaned in even closer so my face was close to his. I nodded up and down as if I was trying really hard to understand what it was he was trying to get across.
“…I would be horrified,” he breathed out as he tried to keep control of his emotions.

I brought my lips within a breath of his and said, “Well, I’m not your mother.”

He started to lose control as he closed his eyes and whispered, “I know you’re not.”

I put my hand on his crotch and felt the battle of the bulge he was trying so hard to win, but was losing more and more with every move I was making. I turned my head ever so slightly as he tried to withhold the moan escaping from his throat. I told him in my best imitation of Marilyn Monroe, “And I think all signs indicate you rather enjoyed my demonstration.”

I moved my hand up ever so slightly and he just lost it. A wet spot started to form on his trousers as he let out a quivering moan. I moved away from him and made my way down the hallway towards the door he had indicated earlier. I left behind a slumping, shuddering mass in the hallway next to the door of the room I used to live in. As my heels clacked down the hallway, I felt more power build up within me with each step. I knew for the first time in my life, I was gaining control, and there wasn’t a person out there who could take it away from me.
I pushed the open button for the elevator and the doors slid open. I walked in and turned around to see Steven crumpled down on the floor in the fetal position. When the door shut behind me, the light to the elevator turned on. According to the panel, I was on the G level. Below that button on the panel there was the B and above it there was a 1, a 2, and a P. I figured that the P stood for Penthouse and this is where I needed to be so I pushed that button. The elevator slowly rose up and I was a little worried about what I would find at the top. Even though I was starting to believe I could handle anything I came across, I knew whatever I found on the other side of the door needed to be handled it with confidence. I needed to abandon the timid way I handled situations in the past.
When the elevator stopped, the doors opened and I strode into the room. It was an extremely large room taking up the whole floor. The ceilings were very high making the room look immense. There were hard wood floors covered with a Persian rug. They must have made the carpet in the room because there was only a foot or two of hardwood floor showing around the edge of the carpet. On the walls to the left and right of me, there were bookcases reaching up to the ceiling covered with richly bound books. In between each bookcase was a piece of art highlighted with its own spotlight. There were paintings from famous artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and El Greco. I don’t think they were replicas either. There were also statues that could have been carved by Michelangelo himself, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out they were. A window reached from the ceiling to the floor on the entire far wall. It looked out over the city of Denver and gave a perfect view of the downtown area. I would have chosen to have it look out over the mountains of Colorado, but I wasn’t the one who designed the building so it wasn’t made to my tastes.

In the middle of the room, closer to the window, were two desks. There was a smaller one turned catty-corner to the door I had just exited. At this desk there was a woman dressed like a graduating secretary from the Capital Limited Re-education Center. She was typing away at a computer at her desk and working her way through a stack of papers resting on the left hand corner. The other desk was extremely large and took up half the width of the room. There were various knick knacks on it placed in strategic locations to create the feeling they belonged in the places where they found themselves. There was also a telephone placed close to the large mahogany chair behind it. On the center of the desk, there was a book opened up as if somebody was reading it. There was nobody sitting at the desk. Instead the owner of the desk was standing at the window and looking out of it. Even though I saw his back, I could tell it was Sam Hogston. I had finally made it to the top of the domain, and I started to wonder how many women had made it this far and what they needed to do in order to get here.

I didn’t have much time to think about it because if I let the old Rachael return I wouldn’t be able to let this new person I had found within me take me to the places I needed to go. I walked across the room towards the large desk at the other end. Mr. Hogston continued to ignore me as I made my way across the room. The woman at the desk stopped her work and looked in my direction. As I moved closer, I recognized her. It was difficult at first with her hair tied back in a bun and the business suit attire, but behind the cat-rimmed glasses, her eyes gave her away. I would remember those eyes anywhere. I grew to love their kindness and it warmed my heart to realize they had found a place where they could reside in comfort. It was my old mentor from the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I wanted to rush over to Karen and give her a big hug, but a wink from behind those glasses prevented me from doing so. Looking back, if this is what I had done I would not have found myself in the place I am now. I continued my walk over to Sam Hogston’s desk and the two chairs sitting in front of it. I sat down on the edge of the right one. I crossed my legs so one could tick away the time casually like I didn’t have a care in the world. I didn’t lean back in the chair to make myself comfortable, but instead leaned forward to give my audience the attention they believed they deserved.

I only had to wait a moment before Sam Hogston turned away from the window to give me his attention. His look of astonishment told me that sitting there by myself was not what he was expecting. I felt I had stolen the opening move away from my opponent in a game of chess.

“Where is Steven?” He asked as he looked over at Karen Moore.

She looked up from her work and said, “I don’t know. He didn’t come in with Miss Ervaring.”

I interrupted at this moment, “He’s a little indisposed at the time.”

Sam Hogston turned his attention to me and looked down on me over his glasses which hung precariously on the edge of his nose. “Is that so?”

“Yes, something came up.”

Sam huffed once, and then made his way over to a large, leather office chair behind the desk. He sat down. Karen got up from her spot and made her way behind the large desk where she deposited a file on the blotter in front of Mr. Hogston. I could see on the side the name of the file, Rachael Young, written in nicely typed letters. The name Young had been crossed out and the name Ervaring had been scratched down underneath it. Karen returned to her desk after she made sure her boss had what he needed.

Sam Hogston opened the file and started to read what was inside of it while I looked around the room. My dangling foot counted the seconds he wasted by reading my file. When he was finished, he closed the file and placed it gently on the blotter in front of him. He took off his glasses and placed them on top of the file. He folded his hands with his two index fingers pointing directly at his bloated chin. He looked me up and down trying to figure me out. I turned to meet his gaze.

“That was quite the show you put on down there, Miss Ervaring,” he said as he regarded me further.

I smiled at him pleasantly, “Well, I was only doing what I thought was necessary in order to bring the company the money it needed to continue to operate.”
He leaned forward placing his hands still folded together on the table. “Is that what you believed you did this morning, Miss Ervaring?”

“Well, Mr. Hogston,” I could see he was taken back by the fact I knew his name, but he quickly composed himself in a hope that I wouldn’t notice I had broken through his façade. “I believe I did what was necessary in order to make my way into motherhood again. It has been a long time since I have been able to be involved in the nurturing of children and it’s my strong desire to once again make the move back into that field. The way I was going about it in the past was not getting me results and I noticed the women who were allowed to return to this noble profession were doing it through the manner I displayed today.”

“I think there might be a little difference between your demonstration and the ones put on by the other women.”

I deliberately tilted my head to the side before saying, “How so? Do tell.”

Sam Hogston contemplated my request for a second before saying, “The best way to describe it would be in terms of movies. What the other ladies were doing would be considered PG-13. The demonstration you put on today on the other hand… Well, if Steven hadn’t interceded, I believe it would have progressed to the demonstrations displayed on the screens of seedy movie theaters catering to lonely men.”

“Are you trying to say my demonstration was X-rated?”

“To put it mildly, Miss Ervaring, yes.”

“Well, I was only doing what I thought the company would like me to do, Mr. Hogston.”

He got a little chuckle out of that. “Where would you get an idea like that, Miss Ervaring?”

“From a conversation I heard the previous night. The theme of that conversation seemed to be ‘Sex sells.’”

“Funny. I thought you were asleep last night, but it appears you were eavesdropping on my conversation with Dr. Blur. You are correct, Miss Ervaring, when you say sex sells, but there is a distinct difference between the sex you were selling and the sex I was talking about last night.”

I mocked him with a look of shock. “How so, Mr. Hogston?”

“You see, Miss Ervaring, the sex I was talking about last night needs to be subtle. It needs to be the Disneyfied version of sex. You know the mermaid wearing seashells as a bikini top, or a buxom Indian princess in a short revealing skirt. It is just enough to tantalize the more carnal instincts within a man, yet stay wrapped up within this wholesome story speaking of family values and Christian morals. It gives the viewer that sexual satisfaction they crave but they are able to walk away from the experience feeling they have had a lesson in ethics making what they have seen worth their time and effort.

“On the other hand, what you showed them was on a different level. Yes, you might be able to argue your display is more honest, but when all is said and done, it will only make the viewer feel dirty as if what they saw was against the moral fiber of America. What your demonstration was about should be relegated to the moral degenerates of our society or kept within the bedrooms of loving couples. It should never be displayed on the showroom of a respectable business. It is something like what you did that could bring down a company and place them in the dark corners of the city intended for those individuals only there to obtain a quick burst of pleasure until the time when their hormones once again call out for it. If we hadn’t stopped your demonstration, we could have ended up on the five o’clock news talking about our lack of morals before prime time television came on to give the masses the moment when they would be able to lose themselves in our version of those lack of morals. The version that is not X-rated, but in some instances could pass for PG or do I dare even say it, G. Do you understand what I’m talking about Miss Ervaring?”

“So you’re saying we as a society all know sex sells, and we buy our products according to this principle, but you want us to conduct ourselves as if we believe this principle doesn’t exist.”

Sam Hogston leaned back in his chair and smiled, “Exactly, Miss Ervaring.”

“Wouldn’t that make us hypocritical?”

“Only if we allow ourselves to believe we are. Now, Miss Ervaring, I’m willing to overlook this display you put on today as long as you promise never to do something like that ever again.”

I knew I needed to go on the offensive or I might not make it out of this conversation without moving into a lower section of the Mother Mall. I needed Hogston to place me back on the ground level so I could find a husband and work on the next part of my plan. “How am I supposed to find a husband if I’m not allowed to sell myself to the needs that attract them?”

Sam Hogston leaned forward, “Oh, I’m not saying you need to take sex out of your demonstrations. In fact, I’m proud of you for taking the initiative today, but I need you to tone it down a bit. I need you to use your sexual prowess in more subtle ways, so the demonstration we saw today is not repeated by other women who are also looking for a husband. Do you understand what I’m saying, Miss Ervaring?”

“I believe so.”

“Good. Now I would’ve asked Steven to return you back to your booth, but he seems to have gone missing. I can’t have you walking around the Mother Mall by yourself, so I’m going to need to find another escort for you. Maybe…”

Before Sam Hogston could finish his thought, the door to his office was opened and a salesman who I had seen on the floor numerous times ran across the large expanse of room. He went up to Mr. Hogston’s desk and ran around to the other side. Mr. Hogston looked at the intruder annoyed, “Can you explain to me, Mr. Moe, why you have interrupted my conversation in such a disruptive manner?”
Mr. Moe quickly apologized then bent down to get closer to Mr. Hogston. He shielded his hand in front of his mouth and brought it close to Mr. Hogston’s ear. He started to whisper something to him while looking at me out of the corner of his eye.

Sam looked up at the man in disbelief and the salesman shook his head to indicate that what he just told his boss was the truth. Sam looked past me to the smaller desk where Karen typed away at the work she was doing. “Miss Moore, may I see you for a moment.”

Karen looked up from her work and pushed the glasses she was wearing to the back of her nose. She grabbed a pen and small notebook from her desk and pushed her chair back so she could stand up. She straightened her clothes then proceeded to walk behind the desk and stand next to her boss. “Yes, Mr. Hogston?”

Mr. Hogston motioned for her to move in a little closer. When she was bent down by his face he looked at me. After a few seconds, he looked over at the salesman and said, “Well, tell her.”

The salesman once again hid his mouth with his hand and whispered whatever he had told Mr. Hogston to Karen. When he was done with whatever he had to say, he removed his hand and Karen and he both turned their heads in my direction. Mr. Hogston picked up my folder and handed it to Karen. “I think you know what to do with that.”

“I most certainly do,” she said as she grabbed the folder and returned to her desk.

The salesman stood up straight and faced me. He had a big grin on his face. Mr. Hogston leaned in closer to where he could talk to me in a more straight-forward manner. “Well, Miss Ervaring, it looks like you’ve been sold.”

Even though I was surprised, I presented myself with confidence. “Of course I have.”

Mr. Hogston huffed at my response, “Normally, I wouldn’t let a display such as yours lead to a sale because others would be encouraged to imitate such behavior, but the amount of money…” He stopped again as if he couldn’t believe what he was saying and looked up at the salesman. “Really?”

The salesman nodded his head again. “I saw him count it!”

“Cash?”

“Yep.”

Mr. Hogston shook his head in disbelief. “Wow! Anyway, as I was saying, Miss Ervaring, the amount of money being offered for your services is way too much to be ignored. It is with a slight bit of regret that I will have to allow this transaction to take place.”

Karen returned to the desk, this time by my side holding out my file folder. Sam pointed to it as I took it. “That file has all of the necessary paperwork. Mr. Moe will show you to your new husband and your new life.”

I opened up the file to look through the paperwork. I saw release papers, a sales receipt, my scores at the Capital Limited Re-education Center, some information about my stay at the Mother Mall, and then the next page was something I wasn’t expecting. There were pictures and papers which obviously didn’t belong in my file. They confused me a little bit at first, but the salesman started making his way around the desk towards me. If it hadn’t been for Karen who closed the file before he could see what I saw, there would have been a couple of people in trouble that day. But Karen remained composed and looked at me, “Don’t worry about the paperwork, honey. It’s all there. You now have everything you need to make a new life and change the world.”

I looked up at Karen and she winked at me.

I stood up and hugged her. The salesman made his way over to me and motioned towards the door leading to the elevator. “This way, Miss Ervaring.”

I turned away from Karen and Mr. Hogston to make my way to the exit. The salesman pressed the button for the elevator to return. When the doors opened, he, like a gentleman, let me enter first. I stood in the back of the elevator as he pushed the button to the ground floor. He stood in the front of the elevator at the doors as it took us down.

He broke the silence by saying, “I’ve been working in sales for the last twenty years and that is the first time I have ever seen anything like what you did today. It was quite the demonstration.”

I smiled because I knew he couldn’t see my face. “Thank you,” I told him politely.
He shook his head and added a little chuckle as we made our way down to the bottom floor. “I could see that demonstration changing the way women present themselves in the future. I won’t have to do hardly anything to make a sale in the future. Instead, I’ll just have to wait at the cash register and just take the money.”

“Well, I’m glad I could make things a little easier for you.”

The elevator stopped and he turned to look at me. “You don’t even know how much you’ve helped me. I’ve been struggling for the last couple of months on the floor. My boss was starting to wonder if I had what it took to be a salesman. Not only that, but my commissions really stunk. I was barely making enough to squeeze by. But I’ve made more money today then I’ve made all year, thanks to your commission.”

His comment peaked my curiosity. “How much money did somebody buy me for?”

The young man continued in his innocence, not wishing to ruin the good luck graced upon him. “Oh, we’re not allowed to tell you that, but your demonstration really opened up my eyes as to what I need to do in order to sell a mother. I used to think I needed to point out her features, such as what a great cook she is, or how great she gets along with children, but now I understand there is a much easier way of getting that commission check. I only have to sell her abilities in the bedroom.”

My heart frowned at hearing this. In my need to get out of this building to set things straight, I may have opened a Pandora’s Box I wasn’t so sure could be closed again. Would people be willing to listen to the information I had obtained the night before if they knew about my behavior the last day at the Mother Mall? What Karen Moore had slipped into my file was a whole other thing I would have to figure out. I was still trying to puzzle out the meaning of those papers and pictures. They made what I had to say to people a lot more believable. Any way I looked at it, it was too late to turn back now. I had set my plan into motion and I knew I needed to see it all the way through for it to have a chance to work the way I hoped it would. The salesman could evidently read all of the thoughts running through my head on my face because he quickly lost his excitement from the day and changed the subject to something simpler.

“Well, I guess we need to get you out to your new husband. I’m sure you are really excited to meet him.”

I shook myself away from my thoughts and looked back at the young man. “Yes, I guess it is time for that.” I took in a deep breath and prepared myself for what I was about to endure.

“Follow me,” the salesman said as he led me out of the elevator. We walked down the long hallway in silence until we reached the door I knew opened up to the sunshine, blue skies and freedom I had so yearned for since that fateful day when I was taken away from my house. The salesman opened the door and at first I was blinded by the bright natural light I was not accustomed to. I stepped out into the light and let the warmth of the sun soak into my soul. It felt so good I didn’t want to be interrupted by the reality of my situation, but the salesman ruined that feeling for me. “There he is. Right across the parking lot, standing there waving at us.”

I opened my eyes to see a man standing at a pick-up truck waving in our direction. He was wearing a battered baseball cap with a fishing hook sticking out of the brim. It hid his bright red hair, and shaded his eyes so I wasn’t able to see if they were filled with anger or kindness. He wore a flannel shirt and spit tobacco out of his mouth as he continued to wave in our direction. He was wearing tattered blue jeans with a big belt buckle holding up his pants. I knew the well-worn boots he was wearing probably smelled of some of the fields he walked around in before finding some time to go and pick himself up a new wife.
The salesman grabbed my hand and shook it, “Well, Miss Ervaring, it was really a pleasure working with you, and once again I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me today.”

I looked over the young man shaking my hand and said, “You’re welcome, Mr. uhhh… What was your name again?”

“Mr. Moe, but really it’s not important. Go off and enjoy your new life.” He waved me away like we were good friends for many years and would see one another again very shortly, but I knew better than to think I would ever see this man again.

My high heels clacked on the pavement of the parking lot as I made my way to the truck and my new life. For as much time as I thought about the outside world, it now seemed as foreign to me as some distant dream. In my imaginings of this day, I always pictured a handsome man waiting at some luxury car and his children rushing over to greet their new mom, but instead I was making my way to a truck driven by a redneck whose morning errands probably included picking up a new can of chew. I also imagined a summer’s day when I first obtained my freedom, but after my first initial enjoyment of the sun, I could start to feel an autumn chill start to pervade the air around me. My reality wasn’t as perfect as my dream, but I knew I had many important things to accomplish and I needed to continue down this path towards my inevitable destination.
My new husband hopped in the truck as I made my way over to it. I could hear the rumble of the car as he started it up. Diesel smoke belched out the back end and I once again wondered if I was doing the right thing. There must always be sacrifices made if something important truly needs to be accomplished.

The window to the pick-up truck rolled down and I saw the face of the man who bought me staring down at me from the front seat. It made me wonder if I was going off to a better place or if I would be better off staying at the Mother Mall where I knew I would be safe. As much as I hated the place, I didn’t know if the condescending grin coming from the man in the seat would be any better.
One of the advantages would be I would no longer find myself on some perverse stage every morning trying to play out some farce for the enjoyment of a group of strangers I would never see again. There were also quite a few disadvantages and I didn’t know which way the scale of fate tipped at that time. Of course, I would now have children whose wants and needs I would have to attend to and I had no idea what wants and needs the grin meeting me in the truck would be, but after the demonstration I had put on, I could only guess.
I would be able to sleep on a comfortable bed again. It had to be better than the lumpy sofa bed giving my back problems every morning. Of course I would have to be sharing it with this complete stranger and I was sure there would be nights I would once again beg for the solitude of my old booth rather than the impending trespasser presenting himself in my new situation.

The thing I knew I would enjoy the most about my new location would be the landscape. Anything had to be better than the desolate desert of the Capital Limited Re-education Center or the impersonal touch of the Mother Mall showroom which had been my only comfort over the last six months. I would love to see trees and green grass again and I was sure my new place would have that. It was this resolve that allowed me to find the courage to open that truck door and enter its cab with this new stranger and this new chapter of my life.

3

The alarm screeched on the other side of Brandon. He didn’t bother to turn it off, but instead snorted out of his stale beer sleep and rolled away from where the alarm continued to yell for him to wake up. His arm flopped over smacking my face. It made it even harder for me to attempt to get back to sleep. I figured it was just better for me to get up and make breakfast for my new family. I picked up his hand by the thumb and threw it over to the other side of the bed. This just caused him to snort even more and let out a deafening belch smelling of Old Milwaukee and Jim Beam. The alarm continued to blare. I couldn’t understand why Brandon would set the alarm every night if he knew he was just going to sleep through it in the morning. It must have been a habit from the days when he had to get up and go to work. Shuffling to the other side of the bed and making sure it was turned off was becoming the first part of my morning routine. It was a little annoying, but I still needed to make sure the kids, Ben and Katie, were ready for school, so I had to get up anyway.

Life had been interesting ever since I had left the Mother Mall behind. Brandon had actually been a sweet man with only one flaw and that was his desire to drink on a nightly basis. At first, he thought we would have hot and heavy sex every night, but I was able to put him in his place quickly. I told him all about the need for respect in a relationship and if we went to sex right away, we would never be able to achieve a stronger level of love. He fell for it. My last moments at the Mother Mall had taught me about the power of my sexual prowess and how I was able to use it to control what I wanted from men. Brandon would do almost anything I asked him to as long as I flirted a little first and made him feel like he was making progress towards his ultimate goal in the bedroom. I was also able to quell his thirst for passion by being the greatest mother I knew I could be. I cooked him and his two children wonderful meals three times a day. I kept the house clean and comfortable. And most importantly I took care of his two children, a ten-year old boy named Ben and an eight-year old girl named Katie. So far, I was able to stop all of his advances, but things were getting more and more difficult because he was under the impression we had reached that level of respect I always talked about.

The family had gone through some hard times over the last year before I joined them. Brandon’s first wife was his high school sweetheart. They had met their freshmen year of high school in Mrs. Schapiro’s language arts classroom. Abby, his first wife, was really strong in this subject, and Brandon struggled his way through it, but it was this dynamic that brought them together. Mrs. Shapiro suggested that Abby tutor Brandon to help him through this difficult subject and it was during these sessions that Abby discovered the kind heart Brandon had. They started dating and a month after they graduated they got married. Ben and Katie soon followed. Abby was forced to drop out of college to take care of them and Brandon worked for a construction company to provide for his family. He didn’t make a lot of money but they were able to live a comfortable life in a trailer park in Thornton, Colorado. Abby was a good mother at the same time. She never scored exceptionally on her assessments, but she was proficient. It allowed her to fly underneath the radar so she was never sent away for re-education. But the whole time they knew each other, Abby held a secret from Brandon, she came from money.

Abby’s grandparents were wealthy individuals who made their money by purchasing a large number of properties in the seventies and the eighties and then reselling them in the nineties for over-inflated prices. They created a lot of corporations to spread out their wealth and Abby’s aunts and uncles took CEO jobs running these companies. Most of these corporations dealt with real estate loans, and capitalized on a business that they already knew a lot about. Abby’s father was the black sheep of the family. He chose a different path and did not wish to be a part of the family empire. He instead followed his passion and found a humble job as a social worker. This is where he met Abby’s mother. They fell madly in love and got married. They made a wonderful life together and Abby completed their love. Both of Abby’s parents taught her humility and to be happy with the good things in life: friends, nature, and family. Abby’s grandparents were appalled by this development, but willed fifty percent of their fortune to Abby upon their death. Abby never knew anything about this as she was growing up, but her aunts and uncles found out. Their jealousy pushed them to tell Abby about her grandparents’ intentions hoping she would have nothing to do with it as soon as she found out. They were right.

Without the knowledge of Brandon, she took a trip to Omaha, Nebraska where her grandparents lived. She wanted to confront them on the issue. Not a lot is known about what was said at their meeting, but the police report states they were in the kitchen when the real tragic incident occurred. George Sanders, an accountant who used to work for Abby’s grandparents was reported to have broken into their house and to have shot all of the people in the kitchen dead before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. He had been the double victim of the grandparents’ greed. They had let him go from the company where he worked fifty years. Because of his longevity in the company, his salary had reached a point where the owners believed he was becoming a burden to the company’s bottom line. They believed they could be making more money instead with a younger and less-skilled work force. They explained this economic decision to George, gave him a Timex watch and an empty cardboard box for all his years of service. They then told him to collect all his personal belongings in the cardboard box. He did not take kindly to these changes.

This wasn’t the beginning of George Sanders’s woes. His salary, while working, wasn’t a lot to begin with and with his large house payments, the rise in gas prices, and the desire to eat, he wasn’t able to make ends meet. He was forced to do without some of the luxuries in life. First, the car was repossessed late at night one evening, and then his house was foreclosed on by the same corporation he used to work for. He was still able to find enough money to eat with his new profession, begging. He did not take kindly to these changes either.
As far as the police could understand, George Sanders was able to scrape together enough money to buy a gun on the black market. He knew where Abby’s grandparents lived because he had attended Christmas parties at their house in previous years. It was nestled out in the country in a place called Fort Calhoun, and he slowly worked his way there from downtown Omaha. Police, looking back at street cameras, figured it took him three days to make it the house. Unfortunately, this was the same day Abby decided to visit her grandparents to talk about her inclusion in their will. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Brandon was devastated. His love for his wife was intense and he couldn’t understand why anybody would want to kill somebody who was so kind and so loving. Some people say he had some consolation to the tragedy. Because Abby’s grandparents were unable to change their will before they were killed, fifty percent of their holdings still went to Abby or more specifically Abby’s heirs, Brandon and his children. They were rich beyond their wildest dreams, but all of that money did not console Brandon because he was missing the one person he held dearer than anything else in life. The money just made life a little easier for him and his children. Brandon no longer needed to work. He was able to move into a nicer house with beautiful furniture in a wonderful neighborhood. He didn’t belong there and didn’t know what to do with all of the extra time he now had. Some people thought he should concentrate all of his energy in raising his two children, but because of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, he never had any experience in this area. His area of expertise was providing for his family and he was now able to do that with all of the money he inherited. So he took up another hobby, one he had lots of experience with, drinking.

The children did not fare much better. They were left to their own devices to figure out how to deal with the death of their mother. Brandon was not much help because of his own psychological journey. The kids’ confusion also grew with the changes in environment. They were given more than they knew what to do with and were moved to a new school where they didn’t know any of the other children. They began to act up and at least once a week Brandon was called to the principal’s office to talk about one or both of the children. It was during the last visit the principal suggested to Brandon that Ben and Katie might do better if they had a mother in their lives. The new mother would be able to take care of them and he suggested that Brandon go to the Mother Mall.

Fate once again played a hand in Brandon’s life. He showed up to the Mother Mall on the same day I put on my demonstration. Even though he went there to find the best mother he could, he couldn’t resist the animal instincts lying dormant in him for so long. While I was in the hallway crippling Steven, a bidding war had started for the purchase of me. Brandon was not going to be outdone by anybody on the ground floor and eventually purchased me for one million dollars. I was able to leave the Mother Mall and a short time later, had married Brandon. This is how I found myself in this house, and this is how my name changed for the third time in one year. I was now Mrs. Rachael Britva.
When I first came to the house, I tried to make everybody as comfortable as I could. I took all of the learning obtained from the Capital Limited Re-education Center and used it to help this family out; however I soon realized that with everything they had been through, it would take a lot more than a good mother for them to work through their problems. I could help guide them through their struggles, but I couldn’t turn them around by the time of my first assessment. I would once again find myself not being proficient and it would be only a matter of time before they found a way to send me back to the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I could see the dollar signs flash in the eyes of Mr. Hogston and Dr. Blur.

Since my release, new legislation had been proposed to enact even harsher rules on the profession of motherhood. Dr. Nancy Ann Blur was able to push through a bill entitled Dash to the Summit. The premise of this new legislation would put states in direct competition with each other. Each state would see who had the strongest batch of mothers. The top ten states would be awarded large sums of money they could use to better the local environment for the children. The way they measured this was to tighten and enforce the regulations which held mothers accountable under the lax rules previously required by the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. In order for a state to qualify for the money, each mother had to put together a portfolio detailing all of things they did to ensure that their children were making steady progression within the stanadrds. Each portfolio would have artifacts from day to day life demonstrating this, whether it was recipes, receipts showing the use of new appliances because old ones wore out, or little love notes left behind by their husbands and children. Each artifact collected needed to have a two-page type-written paper explaining what the significance of the artifact was and how it applied to the standards the mother was required to abide by. I looked at the requirements to qualify for the award and threw it in the trash. It would have required me to work an extra twenty hours a week to get material together to present to somebody and even if I had done everything correctly, it still did not mean the state would qualify for the recognition. Even if enough mothers had assembled enough documentation to fight for this honor, the divided up reward would allow only enough money for each mother to take their children to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. The rest of the money would have been spent to improve roads, build prisons, and give raises to the police. I didn’t see the benefit of putting this much effort into something with such little reward, and apparently many of the other mothers in the state believed the same way I did. Colorado was not one of the states considered. In fact, there was only one state west of the Mississippi River considered. The winners ended up being Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. Ironically enough, all of these states were also key states in the presidential election that followed, except for Hawaii. I don’t know if this had something to do with them winning that honor, but I was sure of the fact that the President of the United States being from Hawaii had something to do with that state being given this award.

I had given up trying to live up to the standards. The rules of the Dash for the Summit pretty much sealed the deal. I was starting to wonder if it really mattered anyway. I would just live my life to the best of my ability and I was sure along the way I would make some poor decisions with Ben and Katie. I knew we would work our way through them and they would grow up to be great individuals regardless of these mistakes. With all they had been through, I didn’t think I could screw them up anymore.

Just like my life with Robert, I found a way to get into a morning routine. It was nothing as extravagant as what I did every morning to please Robert and my kids, but it helped me get everybody together and out the door so I could find some time to enjoy some peace and quiet before Brandon roused himself from bed around noon.

After I turned off Brandon’s alarm, I walked over to the bedroom door where I left my pair of pink bunny slippers. I slid these on, and then shuffled down to the kids’ rooms. I banged on each of the doors to let them know that it was time to get up and get ready for school. Katie was usually pretty good about getting up and making her way to the bathroom where she would take a shower, but there were times I would have to bang on Ben’s door three or four times before he would drag himself out of bed. There were a couple of occasions I would have to drag him out of bed. One time I needed to take a squirt bottle and spray him in the face until he decided it would be less work to get out of bed then to fight me. The day my life changed again was one of the easier days with Ben. I only needed to bang on the door twice before I went downstairs to prepare breakfast. He had opened the door and made his way over to his bathroom without any fuss. I felt relieved I wouldn’t have to have a battle of wills that morning with him because there were many times these battles just wore me out.

After I made sure the kids were up I shuffled downstairs and made my way over to the coffee maker. I pulled out the old, dirty, used filter from the day before and discarded it in the trash. I got a new one from the stack we kept next to the coffee maker. I was getting pretty good at picking one off of the pile. I pulled it from the bottom of the filter and bent it ever so slightly so it would separate itself from the other filters. I threw it into the coffee machine, and grabbed the container of Folgers coffee from the counter top. I popped open the seal fresh lid and poured in what I thought would be a good amount of coffee for the day ahead. Because of the way Brandon was snoring the night before and the sleep I was still trying to wipe away from my eyes, I poured in a healthy amount the day I got the news. Some brushed onto the counter, but I didn’t care too much because I wiped it easily into the sink. I filled up the pot, poured the water into the machine, and turned it on. Water started to percolate through the machine and shortly afterwards coffee, the sweetest of all liquids, started to collect in the pot.
While my morning coffee was brewing, I started to prepare breakfast for the kids. I went to refrigerator and pulled out a gallon of milk. I plopped it onto the table and went over to the pantry. I picked out the kids’ favorite cereals, Honey Nut Cheerios for Ben and Fruit Loops for Katie. I shook the boxes and was happy to find that each box had enough cereal to satisfy them for breakfast. I put them on the table next to the gallon of milk.

I went over to the dishwasher next and opened it up. Condensation still hung to the dishes from the cycle that ran the previous evening. I grabbed two bowls, two spoons, two coffee mugs, and two juice glasses. I placed these on the table right about the time Katie came downstairs and found her spot at the table.

“Good morning, Rachael,” she said to me. I thought it was weird for the kids to be calling me mom since I was obviously not their mother. I also thought of it as a little disrespectful to their mother who had died in such a tragic way. I was comfortable with whatever they wanted to call me.

“Good morning, Katie. How did you sleep last night?” I asked her as I sat at my place at the table.

“I slept pretty well, but I can’t wait for summer break so I can go back to sleeping in on a regular basis,” she said as she filled up her bowl with Fruit Loops.

“It will be here before you know it honey. How is your brother doing this morning?” I asked as I looked up the stairs where I knew he should be getting ready but dreading the response I would get from Katie.

“I think he’s moving this morning. I heard the shower running in his bathroom, and that is always a nice sign you won’t have to fight him to get ready.” She poured milk into her cereal bowl and a few of the Fruit Loops cascaded over the side. She dug around the edge of her bowl to recapture the lost loops and popped them in her mouth.

“I hope you’re right.” I looked over at the progress the coffee was making as it filtered through the system. It wasn’t ready to be consumed yet. I got up and grabbed the gallon of orange juice out of the refrigerator and placed it next to the gallon of milk on the table. “Make sure you have a glass of orange juice. You need your vitamin C. I don’t want to be getting any cold you bring home with you from school.”

“Sure thing, Rachael,” Katie said as she continued to shovel Fruit Loops into her mouth.

I went down the hall and stopped at the base of stairs to see if I could hear the shower running from the bathroom upstairs. When I heard the soothing sound of running water, I satisfied myself that Ben was up and getting ready. I continued on my way to the front door to get the paper.

I opened the front door and shuffled down the driveway to where the newspaper precariously hung on the edge of the sidewalk’s precipice. I picked it up before it could plunge into the trickle of water rolling lazily down the gutter to the drain. I shook the paper to make sure none of the moisture ruined it by getting into the plastic bag and looked around the neighborhood. It struck me how bizarre the world had become.

Every front door of every house opened in unison. Out of each door walked a man dressed in a business suit followed by his perfect wife wearing her June Cleaver gold dress and matching high heels. They all followed dutifully after their husbands as the men went to the cars. I was amazed about how well the women were made up at this time of the morning. Their blonde hair bobbed nicely for them and their make-up was already plastered on their faces. It was quite the contrast from what I was wearing. I was still dressed in my pajamas that hardly matched. The bottoms were red with black Scottish dogs all over them. It blended poorly with the yellow t-shirt I wore as a top. The pink bunny slippers complemented the whole ensemble nicely. My hair wasn’t even the same color as every other woman’s on the block. I never kept up with the dying of my hair and the natural auburn color had crept back. It shocked Brandon at first, but after awhile he said he preferred my natural hair color to the blonde all the other women were wearing. It allowed me to stand out, and made me unique in his eyes. It was little comments like that which made me regret the way I was playing with his emotions, but I just wasn’t ready to commit myself to another relationship such as the one I had with Robert.

All of the husbands of the neighborhood continued with this bizarre show. They brushed the lips of their wives with their own so they wouldn’t mess up the bright red lipstick the women had spent so long putting on that morning. It disturbed me even more as the women lifted up their left leg, leaned into the kiss, and balanced themselves delicately with their hands out behind their back. When all of their husbands were in their cars and starting their engines, the women turned around to head back into their homes. Before they did this, they looked over in my direction and gave me a crusty. I was obviously the black mark upon their community, but I couldn’t care less. I was comfortable with that role. I would never be comfortable playing the little game they were playing. I shrugged it off and went over to the mailbox.

The mail usually got delivered in the afternoon, but by that time I was so comfortable in my chair downstairs watching some movie or enjoying the day that I never bothered to pick up the mail until the next morning. It didn’t really matter much anyway. It was all junk mail with the occasional bill. I didn’t even know why companies sent the bills anymore because I had arranged for everything to be taken care of on-line. Sometimes I even wondered why I picked up the mail, but it was habit from when I was a young individual and sometimes those are the habits that are the hardest to break.

With the paper in one hand and yesterday’s mail in the other, I made my way inside. I went into the kitchen and plopped them both down on the table. The two children had switched spots. Katie had gone upstairs to prepare herself for the day and Ben had come down to the breakfast table. He was working on filling his stomach with Cheerios. “Good morning, Ben,” I said to him as I took up my coffee mug and went to the pot of coffee.

Ben gave me a grunt back. That much of a response from him was a good sign because too often I would get nothing. Ben was a harder egg to crack. He would never accept me as his mother, but at least we were making headway allowing me to remain in the house without much drama. It was better than the first days when I had arrived in the house. There were many occasions during the earlier days where he would throw punches at me because he didn’t like the way he thought I was trying to replace the mother he had lost. Eventually he had grown past that, but he still wasn’t much of a morning person. It was better to just leave him alone with his breakfast and try to make further strides in our relationship later in the day.

When I moved back to the kitchen table with my coffee, Ben had pulled out the Living section of The Denver Post and was busy reading the comics while eating a second bowl of Cheerios. I took a sip of coffee and felt the caffeine start to brush away the sleepiness that still remained. To this day, I don’t know why that first sip of coffee makes me feel like I am now ready to take on the rest of the day, but it is one of the few pleasures left to me in this crazy, mixed-up world. Just like any other day that first sip gave me the courage to look through yesterday’s mail. There were a few bills on top which I quickly threw into the discard pile. On the bottom of the stack was the letter I knew was coming and I was excited to get it. It was from the Department of Motherhood. Before I opened it up, I looked around like a sinner who was about to do something that would send her to hell for all eternity. I could hear the first sounds of Brandon’s stirrings from upstairs. I knew Katie was up in her room getting her school books together. Ben was sitting across the table from me engrossed in his daily comics. Because I knew I was alone, I focused on the letter in my hand.

I picked up a butter knife from the table and sliced open the top of the letter. I slid out the single piece of paper and closed my eyes before I read it. When I found the courage to open them up, I read the following words:

Dear Mrs. Rachael Britva,

It is my pleasure to inform you that the assessment period is once again upon us. We have diligently gone through our records and they show that you have recently been through the re-education program at one of our Capital Limited Re-education Centers. Because of this, we will be scheduling you later in the process with one of our elite assessors. Please, be ready at the time indicated, as we know your re-education has trained you to do. The assessment will be taking place on April 27th at 10:00 AM and your assessor will be Dr. Nancy Ann Blur.

Thank you and have a nice day,

Department of Motherhood

I stared at the name written down on the letter and I couldn’t believe my luck. I was expecting for Dr. Blur to be my assessor this year, but there was always a part of me that wondered if she wouldn’t bother assessing the women she had personally trained herself. There was a possibility she would spread her pain around to other mothers. For my plan to work, I needed the Secretary of Motherhood to be my assessor. Each day I waited for the letter to arrive, my worry grew because I needed to show her what I was capable of doing as a mother now. I needed her ego to feel so threatened that she would have to come to my house and observe what I had gleaned from her program. I prayed there was no way she would ignore the woman who had given her so much trouble at the Capital Limited Re-education Center and who had set the all-time record for sales at any Mother Mall across the nation. She had to show up at my door for my assessment. My luck and my intuition had proven me right and I was going to be blessed with her presence once again. I laughed out loud at the thought of the assessment coming.

Ben looked up from his comics. “What’s so funny?”

I continued to chuckle as I took another sip of coffee. I looked up at him and said, “None of your business. Go get ready for school.”

4

Just like every other year, the Department of Motherhood gave me two weeks’ notice before the date of my assessment. They would expect me to make sure the children were presentable, the house was presentable, and the standards of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act were being adhered to. The assessor, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur, would come into my home, walk around for an hour, make a couple of check marks on her clipboard, and then leave believing she had gotten the perfect view of what I did to raise my children every year. Many people today still think this makes sense. It is like that one snapshot taken during a family vacation and used as the Christmas card every year. They expect that one snapshot to show everybody exactly what happened with the family that year. Instead it shows only what they want people to see, the happy perfect moments. It hides all of the pain, the struggles and the heartaches every family must endure at some moment every year. That is part of life. Nothing can be perfect all of the time.

The arrival of the letter from the Department of Motherhood to the Britva family sent me in motion again. I had a lot of work still to do to make sure I received the marks I wanted. There was a relationship I was building with the children, and even though it wasn’t where I knew a great relationship should be, I knew by no longer treating Ben and Katie with respect and instead, allowing them to do whatever they wanted for the next two weeks would completely destroy all of the work I had put into those two children. It would be devastating to them. They would act out in ways that would be ridiculous and maybe even dangerous. Even though I did care about these two children, I knew this was the best way to destroy the relationship I had created with them.

I let Ben sleep in each morning and no longer worried about whether he made it to school or not. Katie got jealous quickly and stopped acknowledging my presence until I gave her the credit card and dropped her off at the mall instead of taking her to school. She went on a new shopping spree every day, and she no longer complained about the unfairness between the way she was treated as opposed to her brother.

When the kids were at home together, I started engaging them in new and exciting games. We set up forts with the cushions of the couches in the living room and created catapults out of large rubber bands. We took sides of the room and started to attack each other with various food products we found in the fridge. It made quite a mess in the room and Brandon, during one of his sober moments, wondered why we were destroying the nice furniture and the room itself. I really didn’t have an explanation he would accept, but I did have a way of making sure he didn’t interfere with my plans.

I started giving him the one thing he always wanted from me. We started having sex at least once a day. It sometimes happened early in the morning and sometimes it happened late at night. A couple of times, Ben and Katie caught us in the act, but usually Brandon was too drunk to care and I would shoo them away telling them daddy and I were busy at the moment. They tried to avoid us after the first time they caught us, but it became more and more difficult for them because we had sex wherever we thought it would be convenient. Sometimes that was the bedroom, sometimes the bathroom, sometimes the living room, and a couple of times the kitchen. It did make me feel guilty to use Brandon that way, but I knew what I was doing was for the greater good. I swallowed my pride during each of these sessions because I knew it was part of the greater plan I had set out to accomplish.

The rest of the time was spent partying with the children. I picked up smoking just so I could teach Ben and Katie how to do the same. I allowed them to experiment with alcohol for the first time. I knew it might be a little early, but Ben was approaching the fifth grade, so it was about time he learned about the joys of drinking. We also had cuss sessions. Ben, Katie and I would do nothing but sit around the table and see how many different cuss words we could shout out at one time. Because of these sessions, the words became a part of the kids’ everyday vocabulary.

I took a page out of Palin’s game book, and started to feed Ben and Katie coffee in the morning. They were so excited to have this adult drink that they guzzled it right down. Of course, I had to doctor the coffee up a little bit with a lot of cream and tons of sugar, but afterwards the desired effect was what I had anticipated. They went crazy for an hour or two and then have a sugar crash leaving them helpless until I gave them another cup of coffee.

The cleanliness of the house needed to be perfect for Dr. Blur’s visit. It was more difficult to just give up on the cleaning altogether than I thought it would be. I have always been a clean person and when I started to see the collection of dirty dishes, used beer bottles and old newspapers collect in the kitchen, I wanted to pick them up and tidy up the house. It was the same for all of the other rooms. Toys and dirty dishes found themselves scattered all over the place. Clothes collected in the bathrooms and the floors of the children’s bedrooms. Unmade beds screamed at me to be put right. Various object begged to be put in their proper places. The mess and the smell drove me crazy, but I kept a store room down in the basement clean. Whenever I felt the urge to clean I would hide myself down there and organize the cans of food and Christmas decorations kept down there. If that wasn’t enough, I chose to keep the entry way clean to give a good first impression. Both of these places allowed me to keep my sanity and the house started to look perfect for my anticipated guest. I was more ready for this assessment than I had ever been in all of my years of mothering and I had to do a lot less to prepare for this event than I ever had to before.

When the day of the assessment arrived, Brandon’s alarm went off the same time as always. He had drunk a lot the night before, so he didn’t even flop over to acknowledge the blaring noise coming out of his clock; he just continued to snore away one hell of a hangover. I got up and quickly turned it off so it would not disturb him. I went off to take a shower and get ready.

I had pulled out my dress the night before. It had hidden itself in the closet ever since I had moved in with Brandon and the kids, but I knew I had to wear it that day. The ugly blue denim stared back at me as I hung it in the bathroom. I turned on the water in the shower to let the water warm up before I stepped underneath it. Still to this day, I can’t imagine who thought it would be a good idea to make a dress out of the same material they used to make jeans. It made such an ugly display, but today I would wear it like a badge of honor. I knew it would be the last time I would have to wear it, but I needed it to make the picture complete.
I stepped into the shower. It felt good to let the hot water run over my body so early in the morning. It warmed my bones and my soul, preparing me for the battle I would have to engage in later. It was better than any cup of coffee because it was a natural rejuvenation of the spirit and not one requiring a drug like caffeine.

When I was finished with the shower, I got out, and while wearing a towel, I fixed my hair and put on the hideous mask of make-up just as I was taught during my time at the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I looked in the mirror after I was finished, and I saw the face that used to stare back at me every day at the Mother Mall. It was a little different because I had let my hair grow back and the natural color did return. My natural hair gave me the strength to wear the make-up one last time because I knew the real part of me was still there to go through this assessment.

Then I put on the dress. I looked at myself in the mirror. The memories of the last year came flooding back to me: the girl who showed up on my doorstep and ruined my life, the assessment tearing me away from my children, the bus ride to that awful place out in the desert, the battle with this dress the first time around, the days as a commodity waiting to be sold, and my new life with this family going through their own personal struggles. It all culminated in this moment today, and even though I had to harm many people to get where I was, I knew what I was about to do was for the greater good. I patted down the dress to look my best and get ready for the main event.

I left the bedroom with Brandon still snoring away. I went down the stairs and knocked on the doors of the children. Through the closed doors, I told them to get up to get ready for the assessment. I had talked to them the day before about what was going to happen today. We even went through their closets to find the perfect clothes for them to wear for the assessment. Katie had a dress lay nicely over the chair at her desk in her bedroom. Ben had a nice pair of slacks, a collared shirt, and a tie so he could look presentable. They knew their appearance was important for the show being given that day. They also knew their best and proper behavior was expected. I had no hesitation in my mind they would live up to my expectations. I told them coffee would be ready for them when they came downstairs.

I went downstairs myself, and into the kitchen. I grabbed the pile of papers collecting on the kitchen table and dumped them in the corner of the room on the pile of discarded newspapers. Flies were beginning to get comfortable in this corner. I didn’t really care because it was far enough from the kitchen table, and I was starting to get used to the mess for the first time in my life. I started a pot of coffee and made sure cereal and milk were ready for the children when they came downstairs. I knew they were in the process of getting ready because I could hear the showers starting upstairs. Things were moving in the right direction, and I knew I had some time to read the newspaper while the coffee brewed and I waited for Dr. Blur to arrive.

I went outside to get the paper. The morning routine of all the other houses was at the point where all of the mothers followed their husbands out to their cars. They were all dressed in the shiny, gold dresses and I knew they would be shocked to see me wearing a dress for the first time. I had never put it on since I moved in with Brandon and his kids. Most of the time, in the morning, the mothers saw me wearing my pajamas. If I went out to the front yard during the day, I would usually be wearing something casual like a t-shirt and a pair of jeans or on the warmer days, God forbid, shorts. I didn’t know if it was a bigger shock for them to see me wearing a dress or the fact it was the denim blue one never associated with this neighborhood before. I continued to ignore them. They were not the ones for whom my crusade was designed. The battle needing to be fought was for the women like Sandy Slaver and Karen Moore, the women whose lives had been taken away from them by the absurd rules laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. I picked up the paper and went inside to enjoy it with my cup of coffee.

Once again, Katie was at the table, eating breakfast. Her hair was wet, and she was wearing her bathrobe. She hadn’t put on her dress yet. “Good morning, Rachael.”

“Good morning, Katie. Why haven’t you dressed yet?”

In between spoonfuls of Fruit Loops, she said, “I thought I would let my hair dry first. I’ll put it on after breakfast.”

I looked up at the clock and saw that it read 9:00. From what I knew about Dr. Blur and her punctuality, she would be here promptly at 10:00, and I knew everything needed to be just perfect for her arrival. I looked back down at her and said, “That’s fine. Just remember, I need you ready in an hour.”

“Don’t worry, Rachael. I’ll be. Can I have my coffee now?”

It was still a little early for her to be enjoying this treat, so I looked back at her, “You can have it after you’re completely ready. How’s your brother doing?”

“He got a little bit of a late start but he’s in the shower now. He should be ready on time.”

I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down with my paper, “Good, now finish your breakfast.”

She finished her breakfast, and I started to browse through the paper. There was not a lot of news to excite or inspire me except for this day in history. Two major items stood out. It was on April 28th that sailors had it with Captain William Bligh’s tyrannical rule on the HMS Bounty and left him to die adrift on a lifeboat in the middle of the sea with eighteen other sailors who were sympathetic to his cause. Also France invaded the Austrian Netherlands thereby starting the French Revolution. Both events took an act of rebellion and went down in history for the efforts put forth by those groups. I wondered if the act of rebellion I was going to perform would go down in history as another one of those moments that changed the world, or if I would quickly be forgotten as soon as my headline was thrown in the recycling bin.

It didn’t matter either way. I knew I needed to continue with my plan because in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. I could no longer live with myself if I continued to let this injustice prevail for innocent mothers on a daily basis. I might not be the new Rosa Parks, the new Gandhi, or the new Martin Luther King, Jr. but I knew in my heart I would be at peace for stepping up to do the right thing.

Ben finished taking his shower, put on his clothes and came downstairs to grab a bite to eat. Katie put on her dress and looked like a younger version of June Cleaver waiting for the day she could be a model mother like the United States wanted her to be. It pained my heart to see any young woman being mistreated in this way, but I knew it would be for the best when all the dust had settled.
I gave the children their coffee, and made sure to add a little extra sugar to give them an extra boost for the day’s events. They started to drink it fifteen minutes before 10 o’clock. Right before the good doctor had arrived, the cups were empty and the jitters were beginning to rush through Ben’s and Katie’s bloodstreams. I looked at the clock in the kitchen and noticed I had a little bit of time to look around the house and admire my handiwork. Everything was perfect. Piles of dishes were stacked up in the kitchen sink. Week old newspapers littered the floor. An odd smell permeated the rooms from old food products thrown across the wall. The living room had dirty clothes and stacks of used DVDs all over the place. Empty beer bottles, empty wine bottles, and half filled but open whiskey bottles could be found all over the place. The kids were starting to become restless and were taking it out on each other. If they didn’t have some other place to direct their energy soon it would be wasted on the moment, but I knew the punctuality of Dr. Blur wouldn’t let me down and at exactly 10:00, the doorbell rang.

I walked over to the door and opened it to see Dr. Nancy Ann Blur standing on the porch with her clipboard tucked in its position in the crook of her arm, and her other hand holding Mr. Clicky-Pen while adjusting her glasses on the bridge of her nose.

“Dr. Blur, so nice to see you again,” I said while planting a genuine smile on my face.

“It is good to see you again too, Rachael,” she said as she walked into the entryway. “I always do enjoy testing the mothers who have been under my tutelage. It gives me an opportunity to revel in how wonderful my teaching methods truly are.”

My smile grew even larger as I shut the door behind her. I turned around to face her and said, “And I am really excited to show you how much I have learned from you. I know this will be one experience you will never forget.”

“Click,” said Mr. Clicky-Pen as her hand poised it over her clipboard. She breathed in the air and I could see her wrinkle up her nose at the odd scent she detected. She hadn’t seen the rest of the house yet, so she couldn’t quite place it with the pristine condition of the entryway, so she shrugged it off as something not really a part of what needed to be assessed.

“Well then let’s begin. Where are those lovely children you are now in charge of?” Dr. Blur said as she looked around the entryway expecting them to pop out of the ferns hanging from the ledge connected to the staircase.

“Oh, I’ll call them so we can get started,” I said, and turned around so Ben and Katie would be able to hear me from the kitchen. “Children, it is time to get started.”

I could hear the children start to stir in the kitchen as they made their way to the entryway. I looked over at Dr. Blur and asked her, “Would you like me to make you a cup of coffee while you talk to Ben and Katie?”

“That would be nice,” she said as I moved down the hallway to the kitchen. Ben and Katie came racing past me the other way to greet our guest. I let them have their fun while I made a cup of coffee and put it on the kitchen table to wait for the time when Dr. Blur would get to this part of the house. I noticed the cup was very clean, so I took a sip out of the cup so a stain of lipstick would find itself on the end Dr. Blur would drink from. I put the cup back down on the table and paused to listen to how things were going in the other room. Screams of joy were coming from the kids, and stern commands of heightened excitement were coming from Dr. Blur. A smile grew on my face.

I sat back in the chair. I rested my legs on the table. My left foot kicked off my right high heel and it splooged upon a pool of ignored maple syrup on the linoleum. My right foot kicked off my left high heel and it rested on the table like an attentive soldier ready to spring into action. I untied my apron and threw it across the room until it landed in a crumpled heap next to the entrance to the kitchen. My body felt at ease for the first time in years. It was so comfortable that I regretted not grabbing my purse and bringing it over with me so I could enjoy one of the cigarettes hidden within the side pocket.

Katie came running into the kitchen holding Mr. Clicky-Pen high and clicking him madly as she ran towards the door on the other side of the room. I could hear Dr. Blur shouting something about her clipboard in the other room, but I thought it best to let her deal with that situation. I really wanted my cigarettes and the opportunity to have them in my hands without having to remove myself from my comfortable position had presented itself.

“Katie, come here,” I beckoned to the girl who had run into the room.

She stopped running and looked at me with a questioning look as if she had done something wrong.

“Don’t worry honey, they’ve made it impossible for you to do anything wrong anymore,” I said to reassure her. It was kind of sad really. She was still young enough to be unaware of how much power she really possessed. It would change in the next couple of years, but for my present situation I could still use what little bit of innocence she had to my advantage. “Do you see my purse over there on the counter?”

She turned around and looked at my purse. She turned around to face me again with a blank stare and said, “Yeah, Rachael, what about it?”

“Can you bring that over to me?”

She looked at me as if a negotiation might be in order, “What do I get out of it?”

“Well, I was going to have a cigarette. Do you want to have one of those?”

She smiled and said, “YEAH!” She turned around, grabbed the purse, and ran it over to me.

As I dug through the purse to get my cigarettes and lighter I explained to Katie, “If Dr. Blur asks you why you are smoking a cigarette, you just explain to her that it is in compliance with Standard Number Two: A child should get whatever he or she wants at all times in order to experience all that life has to offer.”

I tapped out two of the Marlboro Reds. I put one in my mouth and the other one in Katie’s mouth. I lit mine up and while I sucked in the sweet taste of the tobacco I motioned for Katie to lean in closer. I lit the lighter and shielded it with my other hand as if some unanticipated wind was going to blow it out at any moment. Katie sucked in deeply and expertly. The week I had been training her and Ben on the joys of nicotine had paid off.

She blew out a cloud of smoke and said, “Thanks, Rachael.”

“You’re welcome; go have fun with your brother.”

As Katie ran out of the room, I said to myself, “I think I just covered Standard Number Five: A mother should trust their child’s judgment to do the right thing in any situation and should never violate this trust.” I threw the lighter on the table and blew out a puff of smoke. I looked around for a place to ash my cigarette, but didn’t see any receptacle, so I just ashed it on the floor.
Ben ran into the room. He was carrying Dr. Blur’s clipboard. I stopped him as he ran by. “What do you have there, Ben?”

“It’s a clipboard. I wanted to see how destructible it might be.”

I popped my legs off the table and looked at him closer, “Well, that’s an interesting query, Ben. What do you suppose might cause the destruction of that clipboard?”

“I don’t know. Maybe fire.”

I looked over to where my lighter rested on the table and said out loud, “Standard Three: A mother should not impede in the natural learning and exploration process of their children.” I picked up the lighter and tossed it over to Ben. He caught it with one hand. “There you go. Just make sure you conduct your experiment in the fireplace. I don’t want you burning down the house.”

“Sure thing, Rachael,” he said as he ran out of the kitchen towards the living room and the fireplace.

I put my feet back up on the table and continued to enjoy my cigarette while stating, “That should cover Standard Six: A mother should regard the safety of their children as a top priority.”

A lot of screaming was coming from outside of the kitchen. I was hoping Dr. Blur would come into the kitchen and enjoy her coffee before it got cold. I took another sip from the other end to test if this was the case while leaving another lipstick mark. It was still hot, so she should have been happy with it when she came into the kitchen. I could hear the screaming from one end of the living room being redirected to the other end of the living room where the fireplace was. Dr. Blur must have noticed Ben’s little experiment.

Katie came back into the kitchen. She ran up to where I sat. She still had Mr. Clicky-Pen in one hand and a cell phone in the other hand. “Hey, Rachael, look at what I found.”

I looked at the treasures and asked, “Where did you get those?”

“Oh, I found them on the ground.”

“But honey, I believe these are Dr. Blur’s.”

“Well, she dropped them and then just left them there like she didn’t care about them anymore. She just left them in the middle of the room and went chasing after Ben. I think she wanted to play with him. Can I keep them? My friends at school will love to see them.”

I was about to tell her no because no matter how far I had pushed the envelope I just couldn’t condone stealing, but then it hit me. “You know, Katie, Standard Number One states, ‘A mother should ensure the popularity of their children to make sure they have a healthy amount of self-esteem.’”

Katie looked at me with a quizzical look.

“It means you can keep them, honey.”

She smiled instantly. “Thanks, Rachael.” She turned around and ran out of the room.

The noise continued from the other room, and I wondered how long it would be before it woke up Brandon. I was surprised he hadn’t stirred because of the ruckus being made downstairs, but then I remembered how much he had drunk the night before. I knew it would take a lot more than the noise going on out in the living room to disturb him. It was while I was pondering this that there came a noise from the living room that should have been enough to wake my slumbering husband. It was a squeal unlike anything I had ever heard before. If I could ever imagine the death wail of an Irish banshee, I would guess this is what it would sound like. I knew I needed to see what was happening before things got out of hand.

I threw my cigarette in Dr. Blur’s full cup of coffee and went out to the living room to investigate. Even before I could look upon what ever tragedy had occurred, I announced my presence by saying, “What in the world is going on out here?”

I walked around the corner as the wail continued to get louder. Ben and Katie instantly ran over to me and smothered me in a hug. It was as if they were escaping from the devastating noise issuing from the room. I looked down at the floor to see the source of this noise. Dr. Nancy Ann Blur was kneeling in the middle of the floor. Her nice neat hair was thrown out of place as if she had grabbed huge clumps of it and tried to tear it out of her head. She might have actually tried to do it, or it could have been one of the kids that tried. I’m not really sure how she became so disheveled in such a short period of time. A couple of buttons had been ripped from her blouse and one corner of her shirt had edged off her shoulder exposing her whole shoulder to the room. Her glasses laid in a broken heap at the edge of her knees. A pot once holding a fern had found its way firmly around her left foot. Tears were streaming down her face. Her howl continued to reverberate from her gaping mouth. In her hands were the last remains of Mr. Clicky-Pen. He was broken into five or six pieces that looked beyond repair.

Dr. Blur looked up at me, “Look at what your brats did to Mr. Clicky-Pen.”

I patted the kids’ backs to indicate I needed to go talk to Dr. Blur. I walked up to where she wept over her dearly departed friend. I knelt beside her and gently cradled the pieces of Mr. Clicky-Pen in my hands. I looked down at the remains and then I looked up at Dr. Blur. She looked back at me with the pain in her eyes inviting consolation. I said the words that best fit the moment, “It’s a pen.”
Dr. Blur blubbered away in shock. “What?”

“It’s a fucking pen, Nancy. It’s not even a good pen. You’ve created an emotional attachment to something that outweighs its real importance. This is something that usually finds itself hidden in the back of some junk drawer, and you’ve given it a name and all your love for the past twelve years. It is kind of sad you’ve done this with an inanimate object. It might be time you just admit the true worth of Mr. Clicky-Pen and just let him go. There’s no point holding on to something that just doesn’t work.”

Dr. Blur started to reach out for the remains of Mr. Clicky-Pen, but I moved my hands away before she was able to grab them.

“I’m going to do something for you, Dr. Blur,” I stood up with Mr. Clicky-Pen in my hands as Dr. Blur remained on the ground blubbering. “I’m going to set you free.” I started to walk over to the fire burning brightly in the fireplace with what I could only assume were the remains of Dr. Blur’s clipboard. “You might hate me for what I’m going to do today, but someday you’ll realize it is for the best.” I looked down into the fire before I looked back at Dr. Blur. Her lower lip stammered away in disbelief. “We just need to get rid of the things that just don’t work very well.” And I threw Mr. Clicky-Pen into the fire.

The howl that emerged afterwards could have shaken the foundations of the vaults at Fort Knox. It was the equivalent of dropping an atomic bomb in the middle of suburbia. I could feel the shock waves almost knock me off my feet. I’m sure all the other mothers in the neighborhood heard the sound of the pain emitting from the middle of my living room. Dr. Blur couldn’t take it anymore. She got up from her spot on the floor and headed towards the front door. Ben, Katie and I followed closely behind.

Dr. Blur banged her head into the door as she opened it because she was more worried about getting out of the house then she was about the proper door-opening procedure. She might have maintained her balance if it wasn’t for the potted planted firmly gripping her left foot. Instead, she flopped down on the hard linoleum and the reverberation of her fall shook the whole house. Another fern edged itself off a nail that kept it hanging from the ceiling and came crashing down on top of Dr. Blur’s head.

She shook her head to get the dirt and ceramics out of her hair. Dr. Blur turned around to see the crew of people staring down at her, mocking her pain. She regained control of her senses and quickly got up from the floor using the edge of the door to help. She pushed herself out of the screen door. She ran down the front walk while screaming out the pain she was experiencing.

I stood at the entrance of the house watching the bewildered way she ran down the street. Ben and Katie cowered behind me to watch this odd display of humanity. Brandon appeared at the landing on the second floor of the house. He was wearing a pair of tattered boxers, scratching his belly and wiping away the sleep from his eyes.

“What in the world is going on down there?”

I turned around to look at him. “Oh, just demonstrating the last of the standards of motherhood to my assessor, honey.”

“What?”

“Standard Number Four: Proper, loving shelter shall be supplied to everyone under the legal care of the mother.”

5

Of course, the police were at my house a couple of hours later. I was expecting them. I wasn’t expecting the multitude of reporters that accompanied them. A large circus-like caravan arrived at my house. The flashing lights of the police cars led them to my front door. News vans and police cars alike tried to find parking spaces on the narrow street where I lived. The police pretended to create some order by putting up the yellow police line tape and using a couple of the new hires to make sure everybody kept their distance so the detectives could do their job properly. It didn’t really stop anything; it just gave the media the best angle possible to record my arrest. It also allowed the mothers of the neighborhood to gather on the driveway of the house across the street and whisper about how they knew they were right about me. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but their furtive glances, and pointing fingers told it all. I knew I was going to be the subject of many conversations over the next couple of weeks in this neighborhood and many like it across America.

I spent that hour preparing for the finest moment in my life. I took off that hideous dress and threw it in the fire with Mr. Clicky-Pen and Dr. Blur’s clipboard. I wiped off all of the make-up to feel more human before I took center stage. I let my hair down to show the world I wouldn’t need to be blonde in order to be respected by people in this world. I put on a business suit I had sewn during my free time as I waited for this day to come. I told Brandon and the kids not to worry about me because there was nothing to worry about. I took my file and placed it in front of me on the kitchen table. I was ready for this.

All of the time I was preparing, police were setting up their three rings believing that they would be the ringmaster, but they didn’t know this role still had not been assigned. I knew the show had started when there was a knock on the door and a rough man’s voice said from the other side, “Open up, Police!”

Brandon had dressed in the meantime and was working off his hangover with a cup of coffee when this call came. He looked over at me with a worried expression on his face. I could just imagine what was going through his mind. He was probably worried he would lose another wife and mother to his children. He was probably thinking the children would have a difficult time recovering once again from this loss. He was also probably wondering if he would be able to find another woman to take the place of Abby and me. It hurt me a little to recognize these thoughts in him, but I knew what I was doing was the right thing, and he, Ben, Katie, and many other families like them would be better off for my actions.
I looked up at him. “Do you have that file I told you to keep?”

He nodded his head trying to hold back the tears about to come. I didn’t know how much I had become a part of his life until that moment. Even though I had been following my own interpretation of the standards laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, I must have still been making an impact. It made me think about the damage I might be doing to this family again. Was I really helping them by taking down this absurd law or was I just another person playing the system for the benefit of my own agenda, not caring about who I stepped on through the process? It was too late to worry about that anymore because certain cards had already been laid on the table and there was no taking them back. I had to continue down this path and hope Brandon, Ben, and Katie wouldn’t think of me as just another individual who had let them down. I hoped maybe after the battle had been waged and all of the dust had settled they would see my actions for what I believed they really were.

I had a path to go down and now was not the time to second guess my actions. I continued along the path by ignoring the tears in Brandon’s eyes and saying,

“Remember, I am the only one who can tell you when to bring that file out. It is very important you keep it safe until then. You will have to trust me. Also keep your head up because it is your courage that gives me mine.” I got up from the table and gave him a kiss. It might have been one of the most honest kisses I ever gave because at that moment I truly felt a love in my heart for Brandon. In fact, it might have been the most honest kiss I have ever given.

Another knock on the door came. “This is your final warning. Open this door now or we will break it down.” I couldn’t believe how much weight they put on my arrest. I was just a mother, not some criminal out to destroy the moral fabric of this country. Even though motherhood was still the buzzword of this time, I can’t still understand why they made such a big deal about this arrest.

I picked up the file from the kitchen table and walked to the front door. Before I walked outside, I looked back at Brandon. The kids had huddled around him, and I gave him a smile to bring him and the children courage in the dark days ahead. Then I shouted out the door, “I’m coming out. I have no weapons in my hands expect for my file. I’m coming out peacefully and am willing to work with the police in this matter, but I want you do the same.”

A voice came from the other side of the door. “We cannot guarantee that Mrs. Britva.”

“Keep in mind there is an army of reporters parked on my front lawn recording every move you and I make.”

The voice from the other side of the door returned. “We can guarantee a peaceful arrest, Mrs. Britva.”

“Good.” I opened the door and walked out onto the porch. There were six police officers dressed in riot gear standing on my front porch. The one in the lead held a pair of handcuffs in his gloved hand, and motioned he was going to have to put them on me.

He looked at me said, “Mrs. Britva, you are under arrest for violation of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act.” He grabbed my hand and was bringing down the handcuff to place it on my wrist.

He stopped when I said, “Officer, you can’t arrest me yet.”

“Why can’t I arrest you yet?”

I had done a little homework before this day came, and I knew the arrest was inevitable; at the same time, I needed it to happen in the right place, at the right time and this wasn’t it. I had another card in my hand I needed to show before all of this played out. “Officer, what is your name?”

“Provata.”

“Officer Provata, have you read the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act?”

“Well, yea…umm…well…no, I haven’t.”

“Well, if you had read it, you would know there is a provision saying arrests of non-proficient mothers can only be made after the reasons for non-proficiency have been discussed in a private conference with the assessor making the claim of non-proficiency.”

Officer Provata stood there with his mouth open, the handcuffs in one hand and my wrist in the other. “Huh?”

“In order to formally charge me with being in violation of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, my assessor needs to explain to me in a private meeting the reasons why she thinks I have broken these rules.”

“Huh?”

I couldn’t believe this was the type of person in charge of enforcing the laws of our land. “Legally, I need to have a private meeting with Dr. Blur before you can arrest me.”

Something clicked within the deep recesses of this man’s mind. “Ohhh, Can you hold on for a second?”

He let go of my wrist and put the handcuffs back in his back pocket. I smiled at him to reassure him I understood what was happening. “Of course, Officer Provata.”

He turned around from me and started talking in a mumbled voice into his walkie talkie. Another voice, clearly female, returned from the other end, “What?”

Officer Provata once again mumbled something incoherent into his communication device and was rewarded with static. He waited patiently and turned to me to give me a smile. He tapped his feet as the rest of the officers looked around aimlessly. One of them waved to the reporters on my front lawn. Officer Provata grabbed the other officer’s hand and pulled it down to his side. He turned back to me and smiled again. The walkie talkie beeped and Officer Provata answered it, “Yes?”

“Bring her to me,” came the voice from the other end of the walkie talkie.

“Okay,” Officer Provata replied. He then turned to face the reporters who had assembled on my front lawn. The mothers who were waiting to see me dragged away from their neighborhood also leaned in to hear what he was going to say. “Ladies and members of the press,” Officer Provata started, “it has come to my attention that Mrs. Britva is entitled to an assessment review to be delivered by her assessor. Because of this, we are unable to arrest her at this time.”

There were groans emanating from the crowd. One of the mothers stomped her foot in frustration and one of the reporters holding a microphone tossed it on the ground. Cameras were turned off and people started to shuffle away from the scene. I could even hear a producer from one of the production vans saying, “Great, I guess we’re going to have to go with that panda video on YouTube as our opening story.”

Officer Provata brought them all back before they left the scene for good, “Ladies and members of the press!” They all turned back around to hear what he had to say. “Just because we can’t arrest her now doesn’t mean we can’t arrest her after the assessment meeting.”

One of the reporters looked up and said, “You mean we might still be able to get footage of an arrest today?”

One of the mothers in the neighborhood said, “You mean we might still be able to get rid of the white trash living in that house?”

Officer Provata raised his hands to quickly pacify the crowd, “Yes, ladies and members of the press, your wildest dreams may still be granted today. You just need to follow me to the next stop.”

A loud cheer went up from the crowd and they all rushed to their cars. Officer Provata looked back at me, “Well, Mrs. Britva, are you ready to go to your assessment review?”

I looked down at the file folder in my hand and then up at the policeman, “Yes, Officer Provata, I am.”

He motioned towards his car sitting in my driveway, “Then Mrs. Britva if you would be so kind as to accompany me, I’ll drive you down to your meeting.”
I walked down to the passenger side of the car. Officer Provata followed closely behind me and opened the door for me. I entered the seat and got myself cozy for the voyage ahead. He quickly ran around to the other side. He entered, started the car and backed out of the driveway. He slowly drove out of the neighborhood. I turned around in my seat to see the caravan following closely behind. There was a group of television vans following behind and numerous mini-vans and SUVs behind them. It was a bizarre procession traveling down the usually sleepy streets of my neighborhood. It was like watching a group heading towards a cemetery to bury a loved one. There was a police car in the front leading all of the mourners through the streets of town allowing them the right of way. The only difference was the way most of the people in the cars felt. The only ones who were grieving about this parade were back at my home, wondering why they took another mother away from them. The rest of the group was happy at the eminent demise of the person leading the motorcade.

I turned around to enjoy the free ride I was getting.

Officer Provata broke the silence in the car. “Mrs. Britva, I know it’s my job to bring you in, but I have to say I admire you for whatever it is you did today.”
I looked over at him, “Excuse me?”

“I mean I have been arresting mothers for the past six years for Nancy, and I have never seen her this mad before. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen her get mad. She is just one cool customer. I’ve never seen her get upset about anything, but you did something today that just sent her over the edge. What exactly did you do?”

I chuckled a little at this. “I’d love to tell you, Officer Provata, but I don’t think it is wise of me to disclose that information to anyone at this time.”

“Oh yeah, because of the Miranda Rights and all that kind of stuff. You’re probably right. But hey, you can tell me. I promise I won’t use what you say against you.” He looked over at me to see if I would tell him.

I just shook my head.

“Oh well, it was worth it anyway. The other guys at the precinct have been wondering if she would ever crack. We were talking about how she was like a bottle of soda that would eventually explode all over the place. There is no way anyone could ever hold that much in and not find some way to release it all. I’m glad to see somebody was able to break through her veneer.”

I gave the police officer my most endearing smile. “I’m glad I was able to give somebody some pleasure out of this experience today.”

Officer Provata let out a belly laugh as he pulled into one of the busier streets of the city. “Oh I’m going to laugh about this for years to come. She comes running into the police station with her hair sticking out all over the place, mumbling something about the death of a Mr. Penn. Anyway, it set the whole police staff on edge the moment she showed up. We didn’t recognize her at first because her hair was all a mess, her clothes were ripped and stained and she wasn’t even wearing any shoes. In fact, she had a potted plant on one of her feet.”

“That would be one of my ferns.”

“I’d love to hear how that got on her foot.” He looked over at me as if I would tell him, but I sat in silence and stared out the front window, “Anyway, my first initial reaction was that this woman was one of the homeless, crazy women wandering the streets of Denver. Granted, she might’ve witnessed something truly horrendous like a murder, but we would have to calm her down in order to get any good information out of her.

“I went over to calm her down. We kept on asking her who this Mr. Penn was, where his body was, and if she knew who had committed the act. We couldn’t get anything coherent out of her and she continued to wave around this package of ink cartridges as if that explained everything. That’s when I recognized her. When she heard me say her name, she ran over to the corner of the room and started shaking while huddling down; her arms wrapped around her knees.
“We left her in the room while we talked about what we were going to do with her. We obviously couldn’t report this to the press because it could possibly destroy the integrity of the Department of Motherhood. We couldn’t really go out and arrest anybody because nobody had heard about this Mr. Penn she was babbling on about and our databases only showed one person living anywhere in the state with that name. We called the individual and when he told us he was alive and well, we couldn’t quite figure out what to do about the situation. We needed her to collect herself so she could tell us exactly what was wrong. Until then we wouldn’t be able to do anything.

“I let her have my office so she could collect herself. I had another officer give her some coffee and talk her down from her hysteria. When she had calmed down enough, I was able to get one name out of her and how we needed to arrest that one person. That person was you, Mrs. Britva. I asked her what I was to charge you with because murder was definitely not anything I could connect to you. She told me I could arrest you for being an improper mother and that is what brought me to your door this afternoon.

“I still really want to know what you did to make her go crazy. I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me.”

I smiled at Officer Provata, “I think that is between Dr. Blur and me, but if it ever comes out in the press, I’ll make sure you are one of the first to know.”

He conceded my point by saying, “You’re probably right, but I have never met a person I’d like more to get what’s coming to her than Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. She has been a pain in the ass for the police department ever since that stupid act became a law. We’ve had to make more arrests than I know what to do with. Most of these arrests are not even worth it. I’ve been arresting mothers for the stupidest reasons while gangbangers, drug dealers, pimps, and corrupt corporate officers wander around free. One of my officers even had to go and arrest his own wife because she wasn’t able to pass her stupid assessment. I wish we could just get back to doing the job we were hired to do and quit worrying about all of this bureaucratic bullshit. Come on, most of these mothers are just trying to be the best mother they can possibly be. It’s not an easy job. I see my wife struggle with my five children every day. Her heart is in the right place. I don’t really see what all of these standards have to do with being a good mother or not.”
Officer Provata pulled into the parking lot of a large office building. The caravan following us pulled in and quickly took up the remaining parking spots. The circus had only been delayed for a little bit, but they were getting it ready again.
I patted Officer Provata on the knee. “You have a right to be worried about your wife and the standards they are trying to make her follow. They really have nothing to do with her being a good mother. Nobody can really see it. There is more to this than just the raising of our youth. As long as you, your wife, and everybody else who sees this injustice keeps fighting for the youth of America, we’ll fix this system that has been set up against us.”

“I hope you are right,” he said as he turned off the ignition of his car. “Are you ready to have your assessment meeting?”

“More than you really know.”

“Well then, let’s go.”

He opened the car door. I came out of the passenger side and followed him as he led me to my meeting with my nemesis. The golden clad mothers from my neighborhood had already created their gossiping circle on the corner of the parking lot. Many of the television stations were setting up their cameras. A couple of the more ambitious reporters had a cameraman follow them. These reporters had microphones in their hands and made their way to the building entrance in which Officer Provata and I were headed. They shoved their microphones into Officer Provata’s face and started asking him questions.
“What is Mrs. Britva being charged with?”

“How poorly did she score on her assessment to have this immediate reaction?”

“Will they yank away her privileges as mother to ensure she never corrupts the minds of our youth again?”

Many more questions were thrown in the officer’s direction but he continued to ignore them as he made his way to the entrance of the building. Before he entered, he turned and faced the throng of reporters. “Mrs. Rachael Britva is not being charged with anything formally at this time and will not be until she has had her assessment meeting with Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. At that time, there will be more information available, but until then you are just going to have to wait until she has been given due process as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Thank you.”

He opened the door for me and ushered me inside. I could hear another collective groan from outside as the reporters were made to wait to see if they really had anything to report or not. I knew from experience, though, they would continue to postulate on the proceedings of the afternoon in order to keep their viewers interested.

Officer Provata led me down the hallway to a door that only had a brass nameplate on it. It read, “Secretary of Motherhood, Dr. N. A. Blur.” He knocked on the door, and was rewarded with a “Yes?” from the other side.

Officer Provata said in a loud but controlled voice, “Dr. Blur, I have Mrs. Britva here for her assessment meeting.”

“Send her in,” came from the other side.

Officer Provata took hold of the door knob and looked back at me standing in the hallway with my hands clutched around the file I brought with me. He smiled before opening the door and said, “Good luck.”

“Thanks,” I said and took a huge breath before continuing. Officer Provata opened the door for me and stood on the side to allow me to enter.

I walked into the room. She sat behind her desk. I was clocking her eyes like she was clocking mine. She was sitting there wondering, what is it this girl thinks she is doing; doesn’t she know who is in control.

Yes, I knew who was in control.

I was in control.

But it was time to let her know who was in control.

Before she could speak, before she could say a word, before she could bring my actions down as something absurd, I laid the file on the table, just for her to see what was really happening and the way it was going to be. A picture of her and Sam Hogston in the throes of passionate sex slid out and presented itself to her on the edge of her desk.

She let the picture lay there on the table.

By acknowledging its presence, she knew it was her turn to be the loser.
She opened her mouth. She started to speak, but I stopped her quickly before an utterance could be made.

“I think you know what that is.”

I didn’t look at the picture when I said it. I didn’t let her forget that it was there. I stared her down until she turned to look at what I was talking about.
She looked up from the picture and said, “So, it is a picture of two consenting adults making love. What’s the big deal about that?”

I walked over to the blinds behind her desk and pulled them open. The window behind the blinds was tinted so nobody would be able to see inside, but I was able to see the circus as it continued to set up.

“It is an interesting picture is all. I was wondering how the press outside would react to such a picture.”

I could hear her take in a quick breath as what I was saying started to sink in.
“I know it is no big deal, and it would probably blow over in a month or so because you and he are both not married, but that is not the real shocker; is it?” I looked away from the window to see what her reaction was. Dr. Blur gripped the picture in her hand and stared down at it. I could see her contemplate what this meant for her as a politician.

“The real shocker is who he is. I mean here is a man who is one of the leading figures in a different political party than you, and the two of you are in bed together. That’s quite a shocker. The press would have a lot of fun with that and what would the leading powers of your party think of you having sex with Sam Hogston?”

She looked up from the paper. “It’s nothing new. Do you think I’m the first person to be caught in bed with a member of the other party? It happens all of the time. Yes, we have our ideological wars taking place on the front pages of the newspapers and the headlines on the ten o’clock news, but if you really look at what the political parties do, there isn’t much difference between the two of them. Some people would even go so far as to say we are just two different arms of the same beast.”

I didn’t know if what she was telling me was a bluff or if she really believed all of the things she had just said. It didn’t really matter anyway. The picture was just the first layer of the corruption cake I was laying on her desk. It was the other layers that mattered. “It would still be a shocker to have that picture plastered all over the news. After what you just explained to me, it also just makes the rest of the package even juicier. The news will just use that picture while they explain all of the other stuff tucked away in that file.”

She reached over to the middle of the desk and grabbed the file. She opened it up and looked at the first page.

The heading on the paper caught her eye. It made her realize this visit was official. There would be no turning back from what was being learned today, and the reality was her world was quickly changing. She no longer had control of the situation and she suddenly realized who had all of the control, me.

She flipped through the file to the second piece of paper. Contempt painted itself across her face. Her hands betrayed that contempt. They showed the fear growing in her heart. Ever so slightly, ever so quietly, they began to shake.
She read on.

I read her eyes.

They let me know about the fear growing inside of her.

She tried to hide it with a practiced cold stare. She looked up from the file and icicles darted from her eyes. Her icy stare attempted to freeze my smug expression. But nothing could freeze the warmth of joy created in my heart. My smile melted those icicles. My eyes melted her eyes. My confidence melted her confidence.

I knew this was true.

She tried to pretend this wasn’t the case.

“What do you want me to do with this?”

She knew what I wanted her to do with it.

“Look at it.”

She put it on the desk.

“Understand it.”

She flipped it over.

“Don’t forget it.”

She took some files from one part of her desk and placed them on top of it in the middle of her desk.

“Because no matter how much you don’t want to face it, it is a part of who you are. You can’t deny it. You can’t bury it. And no matter how much you don’t want it to exist, it does, and it always will. I’m here today to make sure you’ll never be able to ignore it.”

I walked over to her side of the desk and sat on the edge right in front of her. I picked up the file and started to flip through it. “You see these papers tell a lot about what is going on in the Department of Motherhood. Not just why it was formed, but exactly what its mission is. You see the Department of Motherhood was designed to capitalize on one of the last refuges of human existence not able to be exploited by the corporations of this country. There was so much money to be made from the parents of this world and it wasn’t fair these fat bigwigs weren’t able to collect all of that money just going to waste. They wanted –no, let me rephrase that- they needed to corner this market, but there was no way the American people would ever accept this as a legitimate business. It needed a piece of legislation to make it legitimate, and that is where the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, the Department of Motherhood, and the Secretary of Motherhood came into being. But you know all of this already, don’t you?”
She sat in her chair and scowled up at me.

I showed her the first page, and pointed to the bottom of the page. “You were there during its conception. At least that’s what this signature says. This whole idea was cooked up in the little town of Jeffery City, Wyoming when some young, up-and-coming politician took on the corrupt corporations taking over the land. It was the perfect story to tell because here was this opportunity for this young and innocent girl to look like the hero in the eyes of the nation and to start to champion this idea so it would be accepted by all. Were you that innocent figure who this nation just yearned for, that innocent figure they wanted to lead them in to a bold and bright destination?”

Dr. Blur continued to scowl in my direction. I thought she might try to bite off the finger I waved in her direction. But I wasn’t ready to stop.

“The government was only half of your devious plan. The other half involved a person to create a corporation willing to take on the burden of training these mothers who had gone astray. Who would be that person able to reintroduce these women to a society so desperately needing these mothers in order to make the world work right again? The answer was in the other half of that two fisted monster you mentioned earlier. Sam Hogston was no longer going to be the mayor of that little town made famous as soon as all of this came to light. Nobody knew what happened to the man after he lost the election. Well, these papers right here showed he started a limited partnership corporation called Capital Limited with another entrepreneurial individual.”

She actually took her stare away from me at that moment. This was more fun than I thought it would be.

“But that’s not the end of the story, is it?” I got up from the desk and walked over to her seat. “No, because, in order to make sure the Capital Limited Corporation made the money it was entitled to, they first needed to raise some capital. I wonder how they went about raising that capital. Do you know, or should I check the file again?”

I could hear her teeth grind as she tried to control her anger.

“It seems there was a small rodeo ground built in the town of Jeffery City, Wyoming. Now why does that name ring a bell? Oh, isn’t that where you’re from? Weren’t you the mayor of that town? I seem to recall that you were. In fact, I think it was part of the deal you helped orchestrate that made sure this complex was created. I do remember there being some kind of controversy about the cost of the complex, something about the cost being a little higher than what it should have been. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was about, but what I can put my finger on was who the contractor was who built this stadium. What was the name of that corporation again?”

She turned in her chair to face me with the scowl still on her face.

I walked around to the other side of the desk, “Now I remember the name of that company, Capital Limited Corporation. And who is the head of that company?”
Through gritted teeth, she said, “Sam Hogston.”

I looked down at the file with a mock look of consternation plastered upon my face. I pointed at the file and said, “That’s the crazy thing about this piece of paper I’m looking at. You see when the corporation was created it was a limited partnership corporation. That means there were at least two people who headed the company. Who was that other person who headed up this corporation, Dr. Blur?”

She leaned across the desk. She rested her elbows on the table. She rested her chin on her folded hands.

“What do you want from me?”

I closed the file. I smiled. I looked down my victim and laughed. “I want your demise, Nancy. I want your utter destruction. I want the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act to be destroyed once and for all so mothers can go back to doing the one thing they are not allowed to do under this absurd law, to be caring and loving mothers. The best part is I have the papers right here to do just that, and I have a captive audience out there waiting to hear what I have to say. But most of all I was waiting for this moment, the moment I can watch you wallow in your own pain and agony, the moment I can watch your spirit destroyed in the same manner you destroyed so many innocent women because you cared more about your pocketbook than the thing you actually claimed to care about. Thank you, Nancy, for giving me this opportunity. I am truly treasuring it.”

With that I turned around and walked out the door.

6

I walked down the hallway of the office building to the glass door. Before going outside, I looked out to see how much of the circus had been set up. A podium had been set up in the middle of the parking lot. Each television station had strategically placed their cameras around the podium so they could obtain the best view of the proceedings. They were all present: NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, CNN and the People’s Network. A few newspaper reporters had gathered in the back of the throng still able to hear well enough to take notes down on their tiny pads. Other reporters had wandered over to the mothers from my neighborhood to ask them questions and get their perspective on the matter. Officer Provata was standing at the podium and answering questions from the press. It was obvious this wasn’t the main event but the press continued to ask questions because they needed something before the real action got started. It helped build up the anticipation for the viewers, and I could envision all of those viewers at their homes keeping one eye on the television while keeping the other one on their regular routine.

I looked back down the hallway to the closed door of Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. I wondered why she hadn’t come out and tried to stop me. It also made me wonder what was actually going on in her office. To this day I try to imagine what was going through her mind on that fateful day as she sat alone at her desk. Did she regret the decisions she had made in life? Did she realize her greed would get her nowhere in life? Or was she only worried about her mistakes now because she had finally been caught in the act? It is always intriguing to speculate on these moments in life but we will never truly understand the thought processes of others. In the case of Dr. Nancy Ann Blur, I will never be able to be sure, but I do believe her thought process went something like this:
“What will be my legacy in this world? It doesn’t matter how much good you do or how much you try to change the world for the better when you face a scandal in your lifetime. The scandal will always be your legacy. Do the American people see Nixon as a man who fought for the rights of the handicapped? No, they only see Watergate. Do they remember how Clinton balanced the budget? No, they only see Monica Lewinsky. Will I be known as the champion of children and turning the job of motherhood into a respectable occupation? Or will they only remember me as a woman who sold out the future of America in order to make a quick million dollars? What will my legacy be? Champion? Innovator? Hypocrite? Why am I the one who has to be held accountable?”

It was these thoughts that probably made her do what she did that day, but at that moment, I could care less what she was really thinking. I was just happy I had finally crushed the woman who had tortured me the last year and it was my time, my final coup de gras. I mumbled under my breath, “Good riddance,” before I opened the door and walked outside.

As I walked across the parking lot toward the podium I could hear Officer Provata explain once again why he was unable to arrest me yet and how I was still entitled to due process even though I was an American. The rest of the reporters had not noticed my presence yet, so for one bizarre moment I was able to enjoy the circus before I was to become one of its central figures.

Officer Provata continued on trying to entertain the crowd, “We were not able to arrest Mrs. Britva at her house due to one of the clauses of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. In that provision, it clearly states that every mother is entitled to an assessment meeting with their assessor before it is decided if re-education is needed. During the meeting, the assessor needs to explain what charges are being brought up and outline every instance where the mother went astray during her assessment. Of course, this provision has never come to light before this moment because it is the duty to the mother in question to request this meeting to take place, and if they do not it is automatically assumed the individual wants to give up this right. This is the first case where the mother has requested this meeting to have all of this laid out before her.”

I stood at the edge of the crowd to watch a little more of the press conference. I was amazed that nobody had noticed me yet. One of the reporters closer to the front raised her hand with a question and Officer Provata called on her. “Why would they add this provision to the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act? Who would do such a thing?”

Officer Provata replied, “Obviously, I don’t have that information in front of me, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say this part of the act was introduced as an amendment by one of our more liberal senators or congressmen. I’m sure they talked on and on about how every person in this nation is entitled to due process under the Constitution of the United States and if we didn’t allow this to happen then the law would eventually be ruled unconstitutional. There is probably some truth to it, but when all is said and done, it is a part of the law, and it is not my job to interpret the law, just enforce it. This is the reason we’re waiting for word on what steps to take next.”

The press all seemed to nod in agreement, and started mumbling to themselves. Officer Provata tried to keep the focus of the press conference by asking the reporters if there were any more questions, but the press seemed bored with him and were more interested in the main event. They started to question why it hadn’t started yet. Reporters started asking other reporters what they were going to do after work, and how each others’ family members were doing. It was obvious this portion of the press conference was over. I thought this would be the perfect time to take center stage and give all of the reporters the scoop they were anticipating. I raised my hand to get Officer Provata’s attention, but he looked over my head at something going on behind me.

Officer Provata pointed towards the front door to the office building and said, “Oh, there she comes right now.”

The press turned to see who it was he was talking about. I saw Dr. Nancy Ann Blur exiting the door and walking over to the podium. The press rushed over to her. I was lost in the shuffle and nobody seemed to notice that the person whom this press conference was really about was amongst their midst. They instead were more interested in the woman whom they had raised up to the class of goddess and they bombarded her with so many questions there was no way she would be able to distinguish one from another.

She had definitely collected herself since last I had seen her. She was no longer the broken soul who I had left in the room back in the office building. Her swagger and confidence had returned as she strode over to the podium. Her business suit was presentable as if she had just ironed it. Her hair was once again perfectly tucked and arranged in its usual bun in order to give the appearance of a woman on a mission. Even through the clatter of the press, I could hear her high heels clack against the blacktop.

It was like watching a group of six year olds play soccer as she made her way to the podium. I was the only one on the sideline staring at the spectacle. She was like the soccer ball and the reporters were like the six year-olds huddled around the ball trying to get their kick. The ball continued on its path and the huddled mass of humanity followed it.

Dr. Blur did turn her head to look at me as she made her way to the podium. We held eye contact for a few moments. No words were exchanged between us but the look said enough. It was as though she was saying, you have forced me to play my hand, and this is the only thing left for me to do. I remember wondering at the time what that final play would be, and with all of the thoughts running through my mind, the final card she played was as much a surprise for me as it was for the rest of the people fortunate enough to have witnessed the event.
Just as fast as Dr. Blur and I were able to connect from across the crowd, the spell was broken and once again she was focused on the podium. She quickened her pace and the press let her take her place at the microphone. The reporters ran back to their places in front of the podium to make sure they had a wonderful seat for the show. One of the members of the press bumped into me as he made his way to his spot. He looked down at me in disgust and said, “Watch where you’re going,” and then moved on to his spot.

I was dumbfounded by this response by the press. I thought I was supposed to be the main attraction during this press conference and they banged into me without even recognizing me. How in the world did that happen? Was this really about me, or was I duped into believing what I was doing was greater than it actually was? Since when had I become yesterday’s news?

Dr. Blur stood up at the podium and looked over the crowd to make sure everybody had taken their spots. People jostled for position and she patiently waited for them to get where they needed to be. My heart started to thump a little quicker because I didn’t know what she was going to do and whether it would involve me in a disparaging way. Would she try to take me down before I was able to take her down? Would she ignore me and go after Sam Hogston instead? Would she expose herself before I was able to do it? The last one bothered me the most. Looking back, it wasn’t really important if I was the one who exposed her or if somebody else did. The important thing was the whole truth of the National Loving and Caring Behavior Act was brought to light and no mother ever again would be held accountable for its ridiculous precepts. But there was a part of me that wanted the credit and recognition for being the one who had brought the law down. After all the trials and tribulations I had been through, after all the compromises I made for everything I believed in, after the loved ones’ lives I destroyed to reach the goal of taking down the one evil I knew I couldn’t believe in, I wanted the feeling I would obtain from bringing all of this to light. If I was the person, I would be a hero to millions and my story would be told time and time again as inspiration to others. But now all I could do was stand on the sidelines and watch as Dr. Nancy Ann Blur once again took the spotlight.
What she did though was not at all what I expected. She stood at the podium and waited until there was complete silence from the crowd. They eventually gave it to her because of the respect they still held for her. She coughed into the microphone once and I could remember how eerily quiet it was that fateful day. You couldn’t hear a breath from another person. Even nature seemed to stand on edge to see what she was going to do next. The birds quit chirping in their trees and watched with interest. The bugs landed on places where they would not be a distraction. Even the gentle breeze stopped so it wouldn’t disturb the trees with the rustling of its blooming leaves.

Looking back, it was probably the same in all the households and businesses across America. People stopped what they were doing and moved closer to their televisions. Kids stopped playing with their toys to pay attention to this historic moment. Babies even quit crying long enough to focus their eyes for the first time on their televisions.

With all of America paying attention, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur coughed again. Slight feedback echoed through the speakers.

She began speaking, “I want to thank you all for coming here today and listening to what I have to say. The few words I have to say should answer all of your questions.”

She coughed again.

America leaned even closer.

She reached behind to the small of her back. She seemed to grope for something that was there. She brought it out for everybody to see. It was a small revolver. She brought the barrel up to her chin as if it was the microphone.

“I just tried to make the world a better place, the best way I knew how.”

Those were her last words. She stuck the barrel into her mouth. Tears rolled past her eyeglasses onto her chubby cheeks. I always like to think her eyes made one last direct connection with mine before she pulled the trigger. An explosion of hair, bone, and brains burst from the top of her head. She closed her eyes and slumped to the ground.

A reporter in the front row turned to his cameraman and said, “Tell me you got that.”

7

Dr. Nancy Ann Blur’s death was written up in the press as a heroic tragedy reminiscent of Shakespearean times. Almost every paper claimed the pressures of her highly important job had finally captured her and she just snapped. After seeing another woman who was unfit to be a mother, they conjectured, she had just given up hope that the youth of this nation could be saved, so she had ended her life on that warm April afternoon. So many people had witnessed the event live on television and because of the gruesome nature of what had transpired, the news showed it again and again in case anybody had missed it. The front page of The Denver Post had actually captured a still of the event showing the gore flying up behind her as she began to slump towards the ground, one eye open and one eye already closed. It was the talk of the nation. What could have driven a woman, respected and loved by millions, to such a horrendous act to end her life? People could only speculate on what the truth behind the matter was.

The People’s Network did a little more investigation than the other networks did. For some reason, every other reporter there forgot about the main reason they traveled all around the city of Denver and not one of them interviewed me about my involvement in the story. They only stayed focused on the act Dr. Blur performed. The People’s Network remembered the name of Rachael Britva and made sure to include an interview with me in their broadcast. They believed this would give them some insight as to what actually happened. I told them my side of the story. I even went as far as to give them all of the paperwork I had about how Dr. Blur and Sam Hogston were a part of a scandal that would bring down the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act forever. They broadcasted all of this information, and they thought they had the scoop over every other sensationalized network and newspaper out there. Once again, the People’s Network was dismissed as a propagandist who tried to create something terrible out of someone else’s tragedy. Other newscasters and reporters wouldn’t even look at the evidence because they thought it was just another conspiracy theory by a second rate news organization. They believed there was no way the American people would accept this information as true.

That was the saddest part of this whole story, the way the truth was so easily dismissed. Most news organizations gave the story some credence by talking about it a little bit. It was usually sandwiched in between information about the return of the McRibb sandwich or what the president was planning to have for dinner when he invited the Green Bay Packers to the White House. A couple of people even spent as much as two minutes on the story.

The explanation they gave was rather clear. Even if the information the People’s Network presented was true, it wasn’t what was best for the nation. The media went on to explain that the precepts laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act were exactly what the nation needed. Mothers had been given too much leniency in the past and the standards held these people accountable for the first time ever. It also made it easy for the common man to understand the way the mothers were being graded for their performance. It consolidated everything a mother did into one simple number that could be understood by everyone. There was no need to complicate things with individual reports pinpointing exactly what it was each mother was doing wrong while raising their children. Who had time for all of that nonsense anyway, especially when there were more important things to worry about such as which movie broke box office records the previous weekend? The People’s Network was lambasted by all of the other media outlets as trying to tarnish the name of a true American patriot. It was so bad that the network’s already pitiful ratings dropped even further and nobody would claim to have ever watched the network at any time in their lifetime.

Things were not much better for me. Dr. Nancy Ann Blur was kind enough to finish the report on me before she went off and killed herself. It was lying nicely on her desk. Officer Provata read through it while I was waiting for a ride back to my home. I never got that ride home because I was immediately arrested after he finished reading the report. The event was not met with any fanfare because the circus had packed up and gone back home by the time he had reached this part of his duty.

Luckily, I was not sent back to the Capital Limited Re-education Center. Brandon was nice enough to fill out the paperwork to make sure I would be excluded from the assessment’s findings. Part of the deal he had to make while doing this was to divorce me and once again my name was changed back to Rachael Ervaring. I was not allowed to have contact with any children in a mothering capacity again which officially took me off the dating market for the rest of my life. I was okay with this ruling because the experiences over the last couple of years taught me that being a mother was hard work. I knew this was true beforehand but with all of the bureaucracy now accompanying it, it made it almost impossible for a woman to do what they needed to in order to make sure children were raised in a proper manner. I felt sorry for Ben and Katie because they would now become a part of the system and would eventually live their lives as mindless individuals perpetuating the situation instead of propelling us into a brighter future. My heart still ached to see Zach and Lindsey again but I knew that would never be possible. I had nothing to remember them by except my own memories. It made my heart ache every time I saw a young brother and sister and it made me wonder what my children were doing with their lives now.

The government was kind enough not to leave me completely helpless. They did find me a job. That’s why I’m talking to you in this break room right now. Being a nurse isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was even lucky enough to be placed on the maternity ward floor. I get to see new life being brought into this world every day, and even though I do have my moments of heartache, there are enough moments of joy to make the job bearable. I’m no longer responsible for a child and it pains me when I see a first time mother cradle her child in her arms. She looks down at the helpless young innocent being and wishes the best for it, but I know the truth of her situation. She will be subjected to so many laws and regulations she won’t know what it means to be a good mother by the time the child turns two. The child will take over the control of the household and the woman will just go through the motions thinking she is doing the right thing, but in the long run the Department of Motherhood will find an excuse as to why this woman is not doing her job properly. She will be removed from the one thing she loves more than anything in this world and she will be disillusioned into believing that if she plays the game, she will be able to return to her family. But this is a lie. This doesn’t benefit the people who are really in charge. The people who are in charge will manipulate the rules to work it toward their advantage. They won’t care whose spirit they crush in the process. The sad thing is they will wave the flag of Capitalism and patriotic pride in the process and in a sad, pathetic way these are the gods they truly pay homage to.

It pains my heart to see this happening in my maternity ward every day. These mothers’ true expressions of joy are going to be dismantled within the next few years. I feel sorry for those mothers, but there are the other women who come into my ward that bring me happiness because I know what they will eventually go through. These are the women who gave mothering a bad name in the first place. They never cared about their children and they never will. It doesn’t matter what laws you put in place to combat this, they will always find a way around it. There will always be people out there who will work the system towards their advantage as long as there is a system out there to work. It also doesn’t matter what job you look at; there are always individuals who do an outstanding job and then there are the ones who just try to get by. Of course, there are always the ones who just do a terrible job, but why should the ones who try to do a great job suffer for the actions of the ones who don’t care? I wish the laws this country created focused on rewarding the ones who do a good job instead of trying to punish everybody to prevent the bottom dwellers from doing a poor job. Even though I don’t agree with the current system, I do enjoy watching justice being handed out when it is deserved.

Just the other day, I was given a surprise. I couldn’t believe that of all the people coming into my maternity ward, it would be Palin. After all the pain she caused me with her attitude and sense of entitlement, Palin had arrived to have her baby delivered at the hospital where I worked. Not only that, but she brought Dustin with her to witness the event. I could hear her screaming as she was being pushed into the lobby in a wheelchair, “EPIDERMAL!”

It brought me back eight years when I was in the same situation, and even though on that date I was in a lot of pain, it wasn’t as much pain as she had caused me two years ago. She hadn’t seen me yet as I grabbed a clipboard and walked up behind her wheelchair. She grunted out air as Dustin tried to pat her back and calm her down, “It will be okay hon…”

“Oh my God, nobody told me it would hurt this fucking much,” Palin screamed as reached her hand back, and gripped her boyfriend’s bicep tightly. He collapsed onto the ground as her nails clenched firmly in the soft flesh of his arm. She dragged him to face her and screamed at him, “Make the pain fucking stop!” She continued her short hesitating grunts. The commotion finally reached the threshold of Dr. Laura Ripetizione’s office as she opened the door and stepped out into the lobby.

You know who Laura is even if you never had contact with her. She’s the one walking around this ward like she owns the place. She was given a job here by the Department of Motherhood. In fact, I understand every maternity ward in the country has a person just like her with an office somewhere nearby. Their job is quite simple. They are here to assess the new mothers as they give birth. They want to make sure the women are giving birth in a manner reflective of the standards of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. Because the law makers need to believe they are doing something for the greater good of the commonwealth, they have tightened up the rules behind the act to make them even more stringent than they were when I was a mother. The research had shown that the standards were not changing the landscape of motherhood the way they hoped these regulations would. In fact, the research showed there had been a decline in the performance of mothers. Instead of getting rid of the law, they thought it was better to make it stricter, and with only two people voting against it in the Senate and twelve doing the same in the House of Representatives, the law passed. Now mothers were assessed twice a year and it only took one grade of non-proficiency for the mother to be taken in for re-education. Husbands were also required to pay more money for the re-education process because more and more of the Capital Limited Re-education Centers were being filled to capacity and the Department of Motherhood needed more capital in order to build more re-education centers.

The Mother Mall was also becoming very popular. Some of the larger cities had up to ten Mother Malls in their city limits, with Los Angeles having fifteen. Denver was still a little behind the other markets with only five. These huge stores were also popping up in the smaller communities of the country. You can find them now in the smaller rural areas and sometimes in the middle of nowhere. It was this new restructuring of the act that brought Laura to our hospital. And of course when she heard Palin screaming bloody murder out in our lobby she had to remove herself from her office and find out what all of the ruckus was about.

Laura adjusted her glasses on the bridge of her nose with a replica of Mr. Clicky-Pen. Every assessor was given one of these pens in respect of the now legendary Dr. Blur. Laura tucked her clipboard more firmly into her breasts as she assessed the scene. She walked over to where Palin held her boyfriend in her terror grip. Dr. Ripetizione looked at me for answers, “What exactly is going on here?”

“I’m sorry about the commotion Dr. Ripetizione, but I have just arrived at the scene myself.”

Palin heard the single word she knew to be the most important word she ever heard, “You’re a doctor?” She had released Dustin from her death grip and swerved around to look Dr. Ripetizione in her eyes, “I need this brat out of me NOW!!!!!”

Mr. Replica Clicky-Pen said, “Click, scratch, scratch,” as Dr. Ripetizione shook her head.

“My, my. Standard Number Four: Proper, loving shelter shall be supplied to everyone under the legal care of the mother.”

I couldn’t tell if the moisture rolling down Palin’s face was from the sweat of her labors or from a tear because of the pain, but Palin’s eyes grew large in disbelief. “Are you kidding me? Are you a fucking doctor or not?”

Dr. Ripetizione rolled her gaze down her nose to Palin’s panting frame. “I’m not that kind of doctor. I’m a doctor of sociology and a prominent influence in your government.”

Palin looked around for Dustin, but couldn’t find him because he snuck closer to the exit of the hospital, so instead she asked anybody who would listen, “Why am I talking to a fucking politician?”

I believe Dr. Ripetizione was truly surprised by Palin’s response. “Because in a couple of hours, I will be the most important person in your life.” She whipped out a packet from her clipboard and presented it to Palin. I’ve personally actually been forced to read it at one time in my life and I’m here to tell you that you are not really missing anything if you never get to peruse its contents. Of course when I read it, it was a binder, but they have condensed it to pamphlet form now. The name is still the same, How to be a Better Mother, and it still holds the standards and Motherhood’s Ten Commandments. As far as I’m concerned, it is still garbage, but it was nice to see it presented to Palin in such a manner.
She grabbed the pamphlet and looked at it, “How to be a Better Mother. Why would I need to be a better mother? I’ve never been a mother before.”
Laura smiled, “That just means you can’t be anything more than better.”
Palin looked up at me and I tried to avoid eye contact. “Is this for fucking real?”
Instead of answering her, I handed her a clipboard of my own with some paperwork on it. “Ma’am, we just need you to fill this out so we can check you in.”

“Are you kidding me?” She looked right at me when she asked the question. I couldn’t avoid eye contact any longer, and I saw the instant recognition. Her mouth dropped and all of the blood in face quickly rushed out. All she could say was, “Oh, fuck.”

Mr. Replica Clicky-Pen continued to scratch away as Palin sat on the wheelchair with the clipboard in her lap. I gave Palin a pen for her to fill out the forms. It dropped through her limp hand and landed next to the clipboard in her lap. I continued to act normal, “When you have all of that filled out, you can turn it in at the nurse’s station right over there. That’s where I’ll be waiting to check you in. Afterward the doctor will be able to see you.”

I walked away and for the first time since I had known Palin, she was speechless. Dr. Ripetizione continued to go over the new standards with Palin as she started to fill out the paperwork. It was fun watching her go through the pain of contractions as she was getting lectured by someone from the Department of Motherhood and trying to fill out the information all at the same time. Dustin had disappeared completely. It must have been stressful to live under the thumb of Palin, and when he found an opportunity to escape he took it. Even though I was pretty sure the child about to be brought into the world was his, I doubt if he would ever have contact with it. It wasn’t his responsibility and he would never be held accountable for the child’s upbringing. That commitment would fall on Palin’s shoulders and she was starting to realize her life was going to change dramatically. It was great to see her get her comeuppance. It put a smile on my face to see her struggle and know the next few years would be difficult for her. I made it even a little more difficult for her by going on break just as she started to wheel herself over to the nurse’s station. I bet she’s still out there right now hoping somebody will come along and take care of her while Dr. Ripetizione continues lecturing her.

Even though I am enjoying my little bit of revenge, there is a part of me that feels a little regret for the situation Palin is going through. Don’t get me wrong; she deserves everything she’s getting. The National Caring and Loving Behavior Act in some bizarre way might even help her become a better mother by taking away the child when the government discovers how terrible a mother she really is. But this isn’t the part of the episode that bothers me. There are probably hundreds of mothers out there who are a hundred times better than what Palin will be. And for all of those hundreds of mothers, there is a Palin out there to give motherhood a bad name. Because of these Palins out there, all the other mothers have to now be held accountable to the same level of absurdity. The other mothers are doing their jobs of raising their children. Yes, they struggle some times, but that doesn’t mean they need some government organization looking down upon them telling them how to run every aspect of their lives. All the other mothers are now being lumped in with the Palins and are being treated like bad mothers. There has to be a better way of holding the terrible mothers accountable without having to restrict the integrity of the good mothers. If the government doesn’t figure it out soon, each proceeding generation will be worse off because this cookie cutter mentality of raising children will only produce more generations of mindless individuals who will not be able to think for themselves, but feel entitled to everything they have not worked for.
I know you are sitting there getting tired of listening to some older lady ramble on about her opinions because she was never able to live up to the simple standards laid out in the first place, but I ask you to look at all of the information out there to determine for yourself if this is really the best way to raise the youth of America. Is America really a better place ever since the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act was delivered unto the masses? Is America still competitive with other nations or have they lost a step? Are children really more interested in the world around them or are they gravitating towards cheap easy entertainment to numb their minds and their existence? Are mothers really trying to live up to these standards or are they leaving this noble profession in droves because they are fed up with the bureaucracy behind the law? Does the government constantly try to find a way to come into a family and instill their own ideals and agendas? Are more and more husbands running off to pay for a service that was at one time considered a free right? I guess the best question I have for you is: Do you feel freer now because of this law?

Of course, I can answer all of those questions for you, and you might be right in saying I might be a little jaded after my experiences, but I believe if you look at it all with an objective mind you will come to the same conclusion I have. This law needs to be repealed.

But now you are sitting there asking what you can do about it. That’s a good question. I tried to fight it once and I got my ass kicked. This experience has made me a gun-shy veteran of a war against an absurd law, and sitting here in this break room may make it look like I have given up on the cause. You might be right. Sometimes I feel I have given everything I can, and there is no more I can give. Maybe, I need to get off of my soapbox and continue the fight. Even though bad things occurred in my life because of my battle that doesn’t mean the next time won’t be different. I might even be able to make a bigger impact than I did the first time around. If I just continue to sit here in a break room and complain behind closed doors, I am not really solving the problem. In all actuality, I’m probably contributing to the problem more than I am to the solution. Maybe it is time for me to take the fight to the next level and never stop until I have achieved my goal. Even if I don’t achieve that goal, at least I can say I have given it my best shot. I can die happy knowing I tried to do some good in this world instead of sitting on my butt and hoping that someday what I want just happens to fall into place.

Maybe I need to tell my story to more people, and by telling my story to you today, I have maybe changed one person’s mind about what is wrong with this law. Maybe I can reach more people by telling my story at larger venues and writing it down so others can read it. Maybe I can come up with solutions to the problems affecting mothers rather than just complaining about the ones I don’t agree with. My revolution might not have been successful to begin with, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on the cause.

Thank you for listening to my story and making me realize the next steps I need to take in this ongoing battle. Maybe you can help in the cause. You could be a game changer. What’s your name?

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 7

I know it has been awhile, but here is the conclusion to Accountability.

7

Dr. Nancy Ann Blur’s death was written up in the press as a heroic tragedy reminiscent of Shakespearean times. Almost every paper claimed the pressures of her highly important job had finally captured her and she just snapped. After seeing another woman who was unfit to be a mother, they conjectured, she had just given up hope that the youth of this nation could be saved, so she had ended her life on that warm April afternoon. So many people had witnessed the event live on television and because of the gruesome nature of what had transpired, the news showed it again and again in case anybody had missed it. The front page of The Denver Post had actually captured a still of the event showing the gore flying up behind her as she began to slump towards the ground, one eye open and one eye already closed. It was the talk of the nation. What could have driven a woman, respected and loved by millions, to such a horrendous act to end her life? People could only speculate on what the truth behind the matter was.

The People’s Network did a little more investigation than the other networks did. For some reason, every other reporter there forgot about the main reason they traveled all around the city of Denver and not one of them interviewed me about my involvement in the story. They only stayed focused on the act Dr. Blur performed. The People’s Network remembered the name of Rachael Britva and made sure to include an interview with me in their broadcast. They believed this would give them some insight as to what actually happened. I told them my side of the story. I even went as far as to give them all of the paperwork I had about how Dr. Blur and Sam Hogston were a part of a scandal that would bring down the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act forever. They broadcasted all of this information, and they thought they had the scoop over every other sensationalized network and newspaper out there. Once again, the People’s Network was dismissed as a propagandist who tried to create something terrible out of someone else’s tragedy. Other newscasters and reporters wouldn’t even look at the evidence because they thought it was just another conspiracy theory by a second rate news organization. They believed there was no way the American people would accept this information as true.

That was the saddest part of this whole story, the way the truth was so easily dismissed. Most news organizations gave the story some credence by talking about it a little bit. It was usually sandwiched in between information about the return of the McRibb sandwich or what the president was planning to have for dinner when he invited the Green Bay Packers to the White House. A couple of people even spent as much as two minutes on the story.

The explanation they gave was rather clear. Even if the information the People’s Network presented was true, it wasn’t what was best for the nation. The media went on to explain that the precepts laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act were exactly what the nation needed. Mothers had been given too much leniency in the past and the standards held these people accountable for the first time ever. It also made it easy for the common man to understand the way the mothers were being graded for their performance. It consolidated everything a mother did into one simple number that could be understood by everyone. There was no need to complicate things with individual reports pinpointing exactly what it was each mother was doing wrong while raising their children. Who had time for all of that nonsense anyway, especially when there were more important things to worry about such as which movie broke box office records the previous weekend? The People’s Network was lambasted by all of the other media outlets as trying to tarnish the name of a true American patriot. It was so bad that the network’s already pitiful ratings dropped even further and nobody would claim to have ever watched the network at any time in their lifetime.

Things were not much better for me. Dr. Nancy Ann Blur was kind enough to finish the report on me before she went off and killed herself. It was lying nicely on her desk. Officer Provata read through it while I was waiting for a ride back to my home. I never got that ride home because I was immediately arrested after he finished reading the report. The event was not met with any fanfare because the circus had packed up and gone back home by the time he had reached this part of his duty.

Luckily, I was not sent back to the Capital Limited Re-education Center. Brandon was nice enough to fill out the paperwork to make sure I would be excluded from the assessment’s findings. Part of the deal he had to make while doing this was to divorce me and once again my name was changed back to Rachael Ervaring. I was not allowed to have contact with any children in a mothering capacity again which officially took me off the dating market for the rest of my life. I was okay with this ruling because the experiences over the last couple of years taught me that being a mother was hard work. I knew this was true beforehand but with all of the bureaucracy now accompanying it, it made it almost impossible for a woman to do what they needed to in order to make sure children were raised in a proper manner. I felt sorry for Ben and Katie because they would now become a part of the system and would eventually live their lives as mindless individuals perpetuating the situation instead of propelling us into a brighter future. My heart still ached to see Zach and Lindsey again but I knew that would never be possible. I had nothing to remember them by except my own memories. It made my heart ache every time I saw a young brother and sister and it made me wonder what my children were doing with their lives now.

The government was kind enough not to leave me completely helpless. They did find me a job. That’s why I’m talking to you in this break room right now. Being a nurse isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was even lucky enough to be placed on the maternity ward floor. I get to see new life being brought into this world every day, and even though I do have my moments of heartache, there are enough moments of joy to make the job bearable. I’m no longer responsible for a child and it pains me when I see a first time mother cradle her child in her arms. She looks down at the helpless young innocent being and wishes the best for it, but I know the truth of her situation. She will be subjected to so many laws and regulations she won’t know what it means to be a good mother by the time the child turns two. The child will take over the control of the household and the woman will just go through the motions thinking she is doing the right thing, but in the long run the Department of Motherhood will find an excuse as to why this woman is not doing her job properly. She will be removed from the one thing she loves more than anything in this world and she will be disillusioned into believing that if she plays the game, she will be able to return to her family. But this is a lie. This doesn’t benefit the people who are really in charge. The people who are in charge will manipulate the rules to work it toward their advantage. They won’t care whose spirit they crush in the process. The sad thing is they will wave the flag of Capitalism and patriotic pride in the process and in a sad, pathetic way these are the gods they truly pay homage to.

It pains my heart to see this happening in my maternity ward every day. These mothers’ true expressions of joy are going to be dismantled within the next few years. I feel sorry for those mothers, but there are the other women who come into my ward that bring me happiness because I know what they will eventually go through. These are the women who gave mothering a bad name in the first place. They never cared about their children and they never will. It doesn’t matter what laws you put in place to combat this, they will always find a way around it. There will always be people out there who will work the system towards their advantage as long as there is a system out there to work. It also doesn’t matter what job you look at; there are always individuals who do an outstanding job and then there are the ones who just try to get by. Of course, there are always the ones who just do a terrible job, but why should the ones who try to do a great job suffer for the actions of the ones who don’t care? I wish the laws this country created focused on rewarding the ones who do a good job instead of trying to punish everybody to prevent the bottom dwellers from doing a poor job. Even though I don’t agree with the current system, I do enjoy watching justice being handed out when it is deserved.

Just the other day, I was given a surprise. I couldn’t believe that of all the people coming into my maternity ward, it would be Palin. After all the pain she caused me with her attitude and sense of entitlement, Palin had arrived to have her baby delivered at the hospital where I worked. Not only that, but she brought Dustin with her to witness the event. I could hear her screaming as she was being pushed into the lobby in a wheelchair, “EPIDERMAL!”

It brought me back eight years when I was in the same situation, and even though on that date I was in a lot of pain, it wasn’t as much pain as she had caused me two years ago. She hadn’t seen me yet as I grabbed a clipboard and walked up behind her wheelchair. She grunted out air as Dustin tried to pat her back and calm her down, “It will be okay hon…”

“Oh my God, nobody told me it would hurt this fucking much,” Palin screamed as reached her hand back, and gripped her boyfriend’s bicep tightly. He collapsed onto the ground as her nails clenched firmly in the soft flesh of his arm. She dragged him to face her and screamed at him, “Make the pain fucking stop!” She continued her short hesitating grunts. The commotion finally reached the threshold of Dr. Laura Ripetizione’s office as she opened the door and stepped out into the lobby.

You know who Laura is even if you never had contact with her. She’s the one walking around this ward like she owns the place. She was given a job here by the Department of Motherhood. In fact, I understand every maternity ward in the country has a person just like her with an office somewhere nearby. Their job is quite simple. They are here to assess the new mothers as they give birth. They want to make sure the women are giving birth in a manner reflective of the standards of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. Because the law makers need to believe they are doing something for the greater good of the commonwealth, they have tightened up the rules behind the act to make them even more stringent than they were when I was a mother. The research had shown that the standards were not changing the landscape of motherhood the way they hoped these regulations would. In fact, the research showed there had been a decline in the performance of mothers. Instead of getting rid of the law, they thought it was better to make it stricter, and with only two people voting against it in the Senate and twelve doing the same in the House of Representatives, the law passed. Now mothers were assessed twice a year and it only took one grade of non-proficiency for the mother to be taken in for re-education. Husbands were also required to pay more money for the re-education process because more and more of the Capital Limited Re-education Centers were being filled to capacity and the Department of Motherhood needed more capital in order to build more re-education centers.

The Mother Mall was also becoming very popular. Some of the larger cities had up to ten Mother Malls in their city limits, with Los Angeles having fifteen. Denver was still a little behind the other markets with only five. These huge stores were also popping up in the smaller communities of the country. You can find them now in the smaller rural areas and sometimes in the middle of nowhere. It was this new restructuring of the act that brought Laura to our hospital. And of course when she heard Palin screaming bloody murder out in our lobby she had to remove herself from her office and find out what all of the ruckus was about.

Laura adjusted her glasses on the bridge of her nose with a replica of Mr. Clicky-Pen. Every assessor was given one of these pens in respect of the now legendary Dr. Blur. Laura tucked her clipboard more firmly into her breasts as she assessed the scene. She walked over to where Palin held her boyfriend in her terror grip. Dr. Ripetizione looked at me for answers, “What exactly is going on here?”

“I’m sorry about the commotion Dr. Ripetizione, but I have just arrived at the scene myself.”

Palin heard the single word she knew to be the most important word she ever heard, “You’re a doctor?” She had released Dustin from her death grip and swerved around to look Dr. Ripetizione in her eyes, “I need this brat out of me NOW!!!!!”

Mr. Replica Clicky-Pen said, “Click, scratch, scratch,” as Dr. Ripetizione shook her head.

“My, my. Standard Number Four: Proper, loving shelter shall be supplied to everyone under the legal care of the mother.”

I couldn’t tell if the moisture rolling down Palin’s face was from the sweat of her labors or from a tear because of the pain, but Palin’s eyes grew large in disbelief. “Are you kidding me? Are you a fucking doctor or not?”

Dr. Ripetizione rolled her gaze down her nose to Palin’s panting frame. “I’m not that kind of doctor. I’m a doctor of sociology and a prominent influence in your government.”

Palin looked around for Dustin, but couldn’t find him because he snuck closer to the exit of the hospital, so instead she asked anybody who would listen, “Why am I talking to a fucking politician?”

I believe Dr. Ripetizione was truly surprised by Palin’s response. “Because in a couple of hours, I will be the most important person in your life.” She whipped out a packet from her clipboard and presented it to Palin. I’ve personally actually been forced to read it at one time in my life and I’m here to tell you that you are not really missing anything if you never get to peruse its contents. Of course when I read it, it was a binder, but they have condensed it to pamphlet form now. The name is still the same, How to be a Better Mother, and it still holds the standards and Motherhood’s Ten Commandments. As far as I’m concerned, it is still garbage, but it was nice to see it presented to Palin in such a manner.
She grabbed the pamphlet and looked at it, “How to be a Better Mother. Why would I need to be a better mother? I’ve never been a mother before.”

Laura smiled, “That just means you can’t be anything more than better.”

Palin looked up at me and I tried to avoid eye contact. “Is this for fucking real?”

Instead of answering her, I handed her a clipboard of my own with some paperwork on it. “Ma’am, we just need you to fill this out so we can check you in.”

“Are you kidding me?” She looked right at me when she asked the question. I couldn’t avoid eye contact any longer, and I saw the instant recognition. Her mouth dropped and all of the blood in face quickly rushed out. All she could say was, “Oh, fuck.”

Mr. Replica Clicky-Pen continued to scratch away as Palin sat on the wheelchair with the clipboard in her lap. I gave Palin a pen for her to fill out the forms. It dropped through her limp hand and landed next to the clipboard in her lap. I continued to act normal, “When you have all of that filled out, you can turn it in at the nurse’s station right over there. That’s where I’ll be waiting to check you in. Afterward the doctor will be able to see you.”

I walked away and for the first time since I had known Palin, she was speechless. Dr. Ripetizione continued to go over the new standards with Palin as she started to fill out the paperwork. It was fun watching her go through the pain of contractions as she was getting lectured by someone from the Department of Motherhood and trying to fill out the information all at the same time. Dustin had disappeared completely. It must have been stressful to live under the thumb of Palin, and when he found an opportunity to escape he took it. Even though I was pretty sure the child about to be brought into the world was his, I doubt if he would ever have contact with it. It wasn’t his responsibility and he would never be held accountable for the child’s upbringing. That commitment would fall on Palin’s shoulders and she was starting to realize her life was going to change dramatically. It was great to see her get her comeuppance. It put a smile on my face to see her struggle and know the next few years would be difficult for her. I made it even a little more difficult for her by going on break just as she started to wheel herself over to the nurse’s station. I bet she’s still out there right now hoping somebody will come along and take care of her while Dr. Ripetizione continues lecturing her.

Even though I am enjoying my little bit of revenge, there is a part of me that feels a little regret for the situation Palin is going through. Don’t get me wrong; she deserves everything she’s getting. The National Caring and Loving Behavior Act in some bizarre way might even help her become a better mother by taking away the child when the government discovers how terrible a mother she really is. But this isn’t the part of the episode that bothers me. There are probably hundreds of mothers out there who are a hundred times better than what Palin will be. And for all of those hundreds of mothers, there is a Palin out there to give motherhood a bad name. Because of these Palins out there, all the other mothers have to now be held accountable to the same level of absurdity. The other mothers are doing their jobs of raising their children. Yes, they struggle some times, but that doesn’t mean they need some government organization looking down upon them telling them how to run every aspect of their lives. All the other mothers are now being lumped in with the Palins and are being treated like bad mothers. There has to be a better way of holding the terrible mothers accountable without having to restrict the integrity of the good mothers. If the government doesn’t figure it out soon, each proceeding generation will be worse off because this cookie cutter mentality of raising children will only produce more generations of mindless individuals who will not be able to think for themselves, but feel entitled to everything they have not worked for.

I know you are sitting there getting tired of listening to some older lady ramble on about her opinions because she was never able to live up to the simple standards laid out in the first place, but I ask you to look at all of the information out there to determine for yourself if this is really the best way to raise the youth of America. Is America really a better place ever since the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act was delivered unto the masses? Is America still competitive with other nations or have they lost a step? Are children really more interested in the world around them or are they gravitating towards cheap easy entertainment to numb their minds and their existence? Are mothers really trying to live up to these standards or are they leaving this noble profession in droves because they are fed up with the bureaucracy behind the law? Does the government constantly try to find a way to come into a family and instill their own ideals and agendas? Are more and more husbands running off to pay for a service that was at one time considered a free right? I guess the best question I have for you is: Do you feel freer now because of this law?

Of course, I can answer all of those questions for you, and you might be right in saying I might be a little jaded after my experiences, but I believe if you look at it all with an objective mind you will come to the same conclusion I have. This law needs to be repealed.

But now you are sitting there asking what you can do about it. That’s a good question. I tried to fight it once and I got my ass kicked. This experience has made me a gun-shy veteran of a war against an absurd law, and sitting here in this break room may make it look like I have given up on the cause. You might be right. Sometimes I feel I have given everything I can, and there is no more I can give. Maybe, I need to get off of my soapbox and continue the fight. Even though bad things occurred in my life because of my battle that doesn’t mean the next time won’t be different. I might even be able to make a bigger impact than I did the first time around. If I just continue to sit here in a break room and complain behind closed doors, I am not really solving the problem. In all actuality, I’m probably contributing to the problem more than I am to the solution. Maybe it is time for me to take the fight to the next level and never stop until I have achieved my goal. Even if I don’t achieve that goal, at least I can say I have given it my best shot. I can die happy knowing I tried to do some good in this world instead of sitting on my butt and hoping that someday what I want just happens to fall into place.

Maybe I need to tell my story to more people, and by telling my story to you today, I have maybe changed one person’s mind about what is wrong with this law. Maybe I can reach more people by telling my story at larger venues and writing it down so others can read it. Maybe I can come up with solutions to the problems affecting mothers rather than just complaining about the ones I don’t agree with. My revolution might not have been successful to begin with, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on the cause.

Thank you for listening to my story and making me realize the next steps I need to take in this ongoing battle. Maybe you can help in the cause. You could be a game changer. What’s your name?

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 6

The final is almost here. Unfortunately you will have to wait a couple of weeks before I am able to post it. In the meantime, I will be sharing my experiences in Laos, so enjoy that while waiting for the final chapter.

6

I walked down the hallway of the office building to the glass door. Before going outside, I looked out to see how much of the circus had been set up. A podium had been set up in the middle of the parking lot. Each television station had strategically placed their cameras around the podium so they could obtain the best view of the proceedings. They were all present: NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, CNN and the People’s Network. A few newspaper reporters had gathered in the back of the throng still able to hear well enough to take notes down on their tiny pads. Other reporters had wandered over to the mothers from my neighborhood to ask them questions and get their perspective on the matter. Officer Provata was standing at the podium and answering questions from the press. It was obvious this wasn’t the main event but the press continued to ask questions because they needed something before the real action got started. It helped build up the anticipation for the viewers, and I could envision all of those viewers at their homes keeping one eye on the television while keeping the other one on their regular routine.

I looked back down the hallway to the closed door of Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. I wondered why she hadn’t come out and tried to stop me. It also made me wonder what was actually going on in her office. To this day I try to imagine what was going through her mind on that fateful day as she sat alone at her desk. Did she regret the decisions she had made in life? Did she realize her greed would get her nowhere in life? Or was she only worried about her mistakes now because she had finally been caught in the act? It is always intriguing to speculate on these moments in life but we will never truly understand the thought processes of others. In the case of Dr. Nancy Ann Blur, I will never be able to be sure, but I do believe her thought process went something like this:
“What will be my legacy in this world? It doesn’t matter how much good you do or how much you try to change the world for the better when you face a scandal in your lifetime. The scandal will always be your legacy. Do the American people see Nixon as a man who fought for the rights of the handicapped? No, they only see Watergate. Do they remember how Clinton balanced the budget? No, they only see Monica Lewinsky. Will I be known as the champion of children and turning the job of motherhood into a respectable occupation? Or will they only remember me as a woman who sold out the future of America in order to make a quick million dollars? What will my legacy be? Champion? Innovator? Hypocrite? Why am I the one who has to be held accountable?”

It was these thoughts that probably made her do what she did that day, but at that moment, I could care less what she was really thinking. I was just happy I had finally crushed the woman who had tortured me the last year and it was my time, my final coup de gras. I mumbled under my breath, “Good riddance,” before I opened the door and walked outside.

As I walked across the parking lot toward the podium I could hear Officer Provata explain once again why he was unable to arrest me yet and how I was still entitled to due process even though I was an American. The rest of the reporters had not noticed my presence yet, so for one bizarre moment I was able to enjoy the circus before I was to become one of its central figures.

Officer Provata continued on trying to entertain the crowd, “We were not able to arrest Mrs. Britva at her house due to one of the clauses of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. In that provision, it clearly states that every mother is entitled to an assessment meeting with their assessor before it is decided if re-education is needed. During the meeting, the assessor needs to explain what charges are being brought up and outline every instance where the mother went astray during her assessment. Of course, this provision has never come to light before this moment because it is the duty to the mother in question to request this meeting to take place, and if they do not it is automatically assumed the individual wants to give up this right. This is the first case where the mother has requested this meeting to have all of this laid out before her.”

I stood at the edge of the crowd to watch a little more of the press conference. I was amazed that nobody had noticed me yet. One of the reporters closer to the front raised her hand with a question and Officer Provata called on her. “Why would they add this provision to the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act? Who would do such a thing?”

Officer Provata replied, “Obviously, I don’t have that information in front of me, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say this part of the act was introduced as an amendment by one of our more liberal senators or congressmen. I’m sure they talked on and on about how every person in this nation is entitled to due process under the Constitution of the United States and if we didn’t allow this to happen then the law would eventually be ruled unconstitutional. There is probably some truth to it, but when all is said and done, it is a part of the law, and it is not my job to interpret the law, just enforce it. This is the reason we’re waiting for word on what steps to take next.”

The press all seemed to nod in agreement, and started mumbling to themselves. Officer Provata tried to keep the focus of the press conference by asking the reporters if there were any more questions, but the press seemed bored with him and were more interested in the main event. They started to question why it hadn’t started yet. Reporters started asking other reporters what they were going to do after work, and how each others’ family members were doing. It was obvious this portion of the press conference was over. I thought this would be the perfect time to take center stage and give all of the reporters the scoop they were anticipating. I raised my hand to get Officer Provata’s attention, but he looked over my head at something going on behind me.

Officer Provata pointed towards the front door to the office building and said, “Oh, there she comes right now.”

The press turned to see who it was he was talking about. I saw Dr. Nancy Ann Blur exiting the door and walking over to the podium. The press rushed over to her. I was lost in the shuffle and nobody seemed to notice that the person whom this press conference was really about was amongst their midst. They instead were more interested in the woman whom they had raised up to the class of goddess and they bombarded her with so many questions there was no way she would be able to distinguish one from another.

She had definitely collected herself since last I had seen her. She was no longer the broken soul who I had left in the room back in the office building. Her swagger and confidence had returned as she strode over to the podium. Her business suit was presentable as if she had just ironed it. Her hair was once again perfectly tucked and arranged in its usual bun in order to give the appearance of a woman on a mission. Even through the clatter of the press, I could hear her high heels clack against the blacktop.

It was like watching a group of six year olds play soccer as she made her way to the podium. I was the only one on the sideline staring at the spectacle. She was like the soccer ball and the reporters were like the six year-olds huddled around the ball trying to get their kick. The ball continued on its path and the huddled mass of humanity followed it.

Dr. Blur did turn her head to look at me as she made her way to the podium. We held eye contact for a few moments. No words were exchanged between us but the look said enough. It was as though she was saying, you have forced me to play my hand, and this is the only thing left for me to do. I remember wondering at the time what that final play would be, and with all of the thoughts running through my mind, the final card she played was as much a surprise for me as it was for the rest of the people fortunate enough to have witnessed the event.
Just as fast as Dr. Blur and I were able to connect from across the crowd, the spell was broken and once again she was focused on the podium. She quickened her pace and the press let her take her place at the microphone. The reporters ran back to their places in front of the podium to make sure they had a wonderful seat for the show. One of the members of the press bumped into me as he made his way to his spot. He looked down at me in disgust and said, “Watch where you’re going,” and then moved on to his spot.

I was dumbfounded by this response by the press. I thought I was supposed to be the main attraction during this press conference and they banged into me without even recognizing me. How in the world did that happen? Was this really about me, or was I duped into believing what I was doing was greater than it actually was? Since when had I become yesterday’s news?

Dr. Blur stood up at the podium and looked over the crowd to make sure everybody had taken their spots. People jostled for position and she patiently waited for them to get where they needed to be. My heart started to thump a little quicker because I didn’t know what she was going to do and whether it would involve me in a disparaging way. Would she try to take me down before I was able to take her down? Would she ignore me and go after Sam Hogston instead? Would she expose herself before I was able to do it? The last one bothered me the most. Looking back, it wasn’t really important if I was the one who exposed her or if somebody else did. The important thing was the whole truth of the National Loving and Caring Behavior Act was brought to light and no mother ever again would be held accountable for its ridiculous precepts. But there was a part of me that wanted the credit and recognition for being the one who had brought the law down. After all the trials and tribulations I had been through, after all the compromises I made for everything I believed in, after the loved ones’ lives I destroyed to reach the goal of taking down the one evil I knew I couldn’t believe in, I wanted the feeling I would obtain from bringing all of this to light. If I was the person, I would be a hero to millions and my story would be told time and time again as inspiration to others. But now all I could do was stand on the sidelines and watch as Dr. Nancy Ann Blur once again took the spotlight.
What she did though was not at all what I expected. She stood at the podium and waited until there was complete silence from the crowd. They eventually gave it to her because of the respect they still held for her. She coughed into the microphone once and I could remember how eerily quiet it was that fateful day. You couldn’t hear a breath from another person. Even nature seemed to stand on edge to see what she was going to do next. The birds quit chirping in their trees and watched with interest. The bugs landed on places where they would not be a distraction. Even the gentle breeze stopped so it wouldn’t disturb the trees with the rustling of its blooming leaves.

Looking back, it was probably the same in all the households and businesses across America. People stopped what they were doing and moved closer to their televisions. Kids stopped playing with their toys to pay attention to this historic moment. Babies even quit crying long enough to focus their eyes for the first time on their televisions.

With all of America paying attention, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur coughed again. Slight feedback echoed through the speakers.

She began speaking, “I want to thank you all for coming here today and listening to what I have to say. The few words I have to say should answer all of your questions.”

She coughed again.

America leaned even closer.

She reached behind to the small of her back. She seemed to grope for something that was there. She brought it out for everybody to see. It was a small revolver.

She brought the barrel up to her chin as if it was the microphone.

“I just tried to make the world a better place, the best way I knew how.”

Those were her last words. She stuck the barrel into her mouth. Tears rolled past her eyeglasses onto her chubby cheeks. I always like to think her eyes made one last direct connection with mine before she pulled the trigger. An explosion of hair, bone, and brains burst from the top of her head. She closed her eyes and slumped to the ground.

A reporter in the front row turned to his cameraman and said, “Tell me you got that.”

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 5

5

Of course, the police were at my house a couple of hours later. I was expecting them. I wasn’t expecting the multitude of reporters that accompanied them. A large circus-like caravan arrived at my house. The flashing lights of the police cars led them to my front door. News vans and police cars alike tried to find parking spaces on the narrow street where I lived. The police pretended to create some order by putting up the yellow police line tape and using a couple of the new hires to make sure everybody kept their distance so the detectives could do their job properly. It didn’t really stop anything; it just gave the media the best angle possible to record my arrest. It also allowed the mothers of the neighborhood to gather on the driveway of the house across the street and whisper about how they knew they were right about me. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but their furtive glances, and pointing fingers told it all. I knew I was going to be the subject of many conversations over the next couple of weeks in this neighborhood and many like it across America.

I spent that hour preparing for the finest moment in my life. I took off that hideous dress and threw it in the fire with Mr. Clicky-Pen and Dr. Blur’s clipboard. I wiped off all of the make-up to feel more human before I took center stage. I let my hair down to show the world I wouldn’t need to be blonde in order to be respected by people in this world. I put on a business suit I had sewn during my free time as I waited for this day to come. I told Brandon and the kids not to worry about me because there was nothing to worry about. I took my file and placed it in front of me on the kitchen table. I was ready for this.

All of the time I was preparing, police were setting up their three rings believing that they would be the ringmaster, but they didn’t know this role still had not been assigned. I knew the show had started when there was a knock on the door and a rough man’s voice said from the other side, “Open up, Police!”

Brandon had dressed in the meantime and was working off his hangover with a cup of coffee when this call came. He looked over at me with a worried expression on his face. I could just imagine what was going through his mind. He was probably worried he would lose another wife and mother to his children. He was probably thinking the children would have a difficult time recovering once again from this loss. He was also probably wondering if he would be able to find another woman to take the place of Abby and me. It hurt me a little to recognize these thoughts in him, but I knew what I was doing was the right thing, and he, Ben, Katie, and many other families like them would be better off for my actions.

I looked up at him. “Do you have that file I told you to keep?”

He nodded his head trying to hold back the tears about to come. I didn’t know how much I had become a part of his life until that moment. Even though I had been following my own interpretation of the standards laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, I must have still been making an impact. It made me think about the damage I might be doing to this family again. Was I really helping them by taking down this absurd law or was I just another person playing the system for the benefit of my own agenda, not caring about who I stepped on through the process? It was too late to worry about that anymore because certain cards had already been laid on the table and there was no taking them back. I had to continue down this path and hope Brandon, Ben, and Katie wouldn’t think of me as just another individual who had let them down. I hoped maybe after the battle had been waged and all of the dust had settled they would see my actions for what I believed they really were.

I had a path to go down and now was not the time to second guess my actions. I continued along the path by ignoring the tears in Brandon’s eyes and saying, “Remember, I am the only one who can tell you when to bring that file out. It is very important you keep it safe until then. You will have to trust me. Also keep your head up because it is your courage that gives me mine.” I got up from the table and gave him a kiss. It might have been one of the most honest kisses I ever gave because at that moment I truly felt a love in my heart for Brandon. In fact, it might have been the most honest kiss I have ever given.

Another knock on the door came. “This is your final warning. Open this door now or we will break it down.” I couldn’t believe how much weight they put on my arrest. I was just a mother, not some criminal out to destroy the moral fabric of this country. Even though motherhood was still the buzzword of this time, I can’t still understand why they made such a big deal about this arrest.

I picked up the file from the kitchen table and walked to the front door. Before I walked outside, I looked back at Brandon. The kids had huddled around him, and I gave him a smile to bring him and the children courage in the dark days ahead. Then I shouted out the door, “I’m coming out. I have no weapons in my hands expect for my file. I’m coming out peacefully and am willing to work with the police in this matter, but I want you do the same.”

A voice came from the other side of the door. “We cannot guarantee that Mrs. Britva.”

“Keep in mind there is an army of reporters parked on my front lawn recording every move you and I make.”

The voice from the other side of the door returned. “We can guarantee a peaceful arrest, Mrs. Britva.”

“Good.” I opened the door and walked out onto the porch. There were six police officers dressed in riot gear standing on my front porch. The one in the lead held a pair of handcuffs in his gloved hand, and motioned he was going to have to put them on me.

He looked at me said, “Mrs. Britva, you are under arrest for violation of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act.” He grabbed my hand and was bringing down the handcuff to place it on my wrist.

He stopped when I said, “Officer, you can’t arrest me yet.”

“Why can’t I arrest you yet?”

I had done a little homework before this day came, and I knew the arrest was inevitable; at the same time, I needed it to happen in the right place, at the right time and this wasn’t it. I had another card in my hand I needed to show before all of this played out. “Officer, what is your name?”

“Provata.”

“Officer Provata, have you read the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act?”

“Well, yea…umm…well…no, I haven’t.”

“Well, if you had read it, you would know there is a provision saying arrests of non-proficient mothers can only be made after the reasons for non-proficiency have been discussed in a private conference with the assessor making the claim of non-proficiency.”

Officer Provata stood there with his mouth open, the handcuffs in one hand and my wrist in the other. “Huh?”

“In order to formally charge me with being in violation of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, my assessor needs to explain to me in a private meeting the reasons why she thinks I have broken these rules.”

“Huh?”

I couldn’t believe this was the type of person in charge of enforcing the laws of our land. “Legally, I need to have a private meeting with Dr. Blur before you can arrest me.”

Something clicked within the deep recesses of this man’s mind. “Ohhh, Can you hold on for a second?”

He let go of my wrist and put the handcuffs back in his back pocket. I smiled at him to reassure him I understood what was happening. “Of course, Officer Provata.”

He turned around from me and started talking in a mumbled voice into his walkie talkie. Another voice, clearly female, returned from the other end, “What?”

Officer Provata once again mumbled something incoherent into his communication device and was rewarded with static. He waited patiently and turned to me to give me a smile. He tapped his feet as the rest of the officers looked around aimlessly. One of them waved to the reporters on my front lawn. Officer Provata grabbed the other officer’s hand and pulled it down to his side. He turned back to me and smiled again. The walkie talkie beeped and Officer Provata answered it, “Yes?”

“Bring her to me,” came the voice from the other end of the walkie talkie.

“Okay,” Officer Provata replied. He then turned to face the reporters who had assembled on my front lawn. The mothers who were waiting to see me dragged away from their neighborhood also leaned in to hear what he was going to say.

“Ladies and members of the press,” Officer Provata started, “it has come to my attention that Mrs. Britva is entitled to an assessment review to be delivered by her assessor. Because of this, we are unable to arrest her at this time.”

There were groans emanating from the crowd. One of the mothers stomped her foot in frustration and one of the reporters holding a microphone tossed it on the ground. Cameras were turned off and people started to shuffle away from the scene. I could even hear a producer from one of the production vans saying, “Great, I guess we’re going to have to go with that panda video on YouTube as our opening story.”

Officer Provata brought them all back before they left the scene for good, “Ladies and members of the press!” They all turned back around to hear what he had to say. “Just because we can’t arrest her now doesn’t mean we can’t arrest her after the assessment meeting.”

One of the reporters looked up and said, “You mean we might still be able to get footage of an arrest today?”

One of the mothers in the neighborhood said, “You mean we might still be able to get rid of the white trash living in that house?”

Officer Provata raised his hands to quickly pacify the crowd, “Yes, ladies and members of the press, your wildest dreams may still be granted today. You just need to follow me to the next stop.”

A loud cheer went up from the crowd and they all rushed to their cars. Officer Provata looked back at me, “Well, Mrs. Britva, are you ready to go to your assessment review?”

I looked down at the file folder in my hand and then up at the policeman, “Yes, Officer Provata, I am.”

He motioned towards his car sitting in my driveway, “Then Mrs. Britva if you would be so kind as to accompany me, I’ll drive you down to your meeting.”

I walked down to the passenger side of the car. Officer Provata followed closely behind me and opened the door for me. I entered the seat and got myself cozy for the voyage ahead. He quickly ran around to the other side. He entered, started the car and backed out of the driveway. He slowly drove out of the neighborhood. I turned around in my seat to see the caravan following closely behind. There was a group of television vans following behind and numerous mini-vans and SUVs behind them. It was a bizarre procession traveling down the usually sleepy streets of my neighborhood. It was like watching a group heading towards a cemetery to bury a loved one. There was a police car in the front leading all of the mourners through the streets of town allowing them the right of way. The only difference was the way most of the people in the cars felt. The only ones who were grieving about this parade were back at my home, wondering why they took another mother away from them. The rest of the group was happy at the eminent demise of the person leading the motorcade.

I turned around to enjoy the free ride I was getting.

Officer Provata broke the silence in the car. “Mrs. Britva, I know it’s my job to bring you in, but I have to say I admire you for whatever it is you did today.”

I looked over at him, “Excuse me?”

“I mean I have been arresting mothers for the past six years for Nancy, and I have never seen her this mad before. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen her get mad. She is just one cool customer. I’ve never seen her get upset about anything, but you did something today that just sent her over the edge. What exactly did you do?”

I chuckled a little at this. “I’d love to tell you, Officer Provata, but I don’t think it is wise of me to disclose that information to anyone at this time.”

“Oh yeah, because of the Miranda Rights and all that kind of stuff. You’re probably right. But hey, you can tell me. I promise I won’t use what you say against you.” He looked over at me to see if I would tell him.

I just shook my head.

“Oh well, it was worth it anyway. The other guys at the precinct have been wondering if she would ever crack. We were talking about how she was like a bottle of soda that would eventually explode all over the place. There is no way anyone could ever hold that much in and not find some way to release it all. I’m glad to see somebody was able to break through her veneer.”

I gave the police officer my most endearing smile. “I’m glad I was able to give somebody some pleasure out of this experience today.”

Officer Provata let out a belly laugh as he pulled into one of the busier streets of the city. “Oh I’m going to laugh about this for years to come. She comes running into the police station with her hair sticking out all over the place, mumbling something about the death of a Mr. Penn. Anyway, it set the whole police staff on edge the moment she showed up. We didn’t recognize her at first because her hair was all a mess, her clothes were ripped and stained and she wasn’t even wearing any shoes. In fact, she had a potted plant on one of her feet.”

“That would be one of my ferns.”

“I’d love to hear how that got on her foot.” He looked over at me as if I would tell him, but I sat in silence and stared out the front window, “Anyway, my first initial reaction was that this woman was one of the homeless, crazy women wandering the streets of Denver. Granted, she might’ve witnessed something truly horrendous like a murder, but we would have to calm her down in order to get any good information out of her.

“I went over to calm her down. We kept on asking her who this Mr. Penn was, where his body was, and if she knew who had committed the act. We couldn’t get anything coherent out of her and she continued to wave around this package of ink cartridges as if that explained everything. That’s when I recognized her. When she heard me say her name, she ran over to the corner of the room and started shaking while huddling down; her arms wrapped around her knees.

“We left her in the room while we talked about what we were going to do with her. We obviously couldn’t report this to the press because it could possibly destroy the integrity of the Department of Motherhood. We couldn’t really go out and arrest anybody because nobody had heard about this Mr. Penn she was babbling on about and our databases only showed one person living anywhere in the state with that name. We called the individual and when he told us he was alive and well, we couldn’t quite figure out what to do about the situation. We needed her to collect herself so she could tell us exactly what was wrong. Until then we wouldn’t be able to do anything.

“I let her have my office so she could collect herself. I had another officer give her some coffee and talk her down from her hysteria. When she had calmed down enough, I was able to get one name out of her and how we needed to arrest that one person. That person was you, Mrs. Britva. I asked her what I was to charge you with because murder was definitely not anything I could connect to you. She told me I could arrest you for being an improper mother and that is what brought me to your door this afternoon.

“I still really want to know what you did to make her go crazy. I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me.”

I smiled at Officer Provata, “I think that is between Dr. Blur and me, but if it ever comes out in the press, I’ll make sure you are one of the first to know.”

He conceded my point by saying, “You’re probably right, but I have never met a person I’d like more to get what’s coming to her than Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. She has been a pain in the ass for the police department ever since that stupid act became a law. We’ve had to make more arrests than I know what to do with. Most of these arrests are not even worth it. I’ve been arresting mothers for the stupidest reasons while gangbangers, drug dealers, pimps, and corrupt corporate officers wander around free. One of my officers even had to go and arrest his own wife because she wasn’t able to pass her stupid assessment. I wish we could just get back to doing the job we were hired to do and quit worrying about all of this bureaucratic bullshit. Come on, most of these mothers are just trying to be the best mother they can possibly be. It’s not an easy job. I see my wife struggle with my five children every day. Her heart is in the right place. I don’t really see what all of these standards have to do with being a good mother or not.”

Officer Provata pulled into the parking lot of a large office building. The caravan following us pulled in and quickly took up the remaining parking spots. The circus had only been delayed for a little bit, but they were getting it ready again.

I patted Officer Provata on the knee. “You have a right to be worried about your wife and the standards they are trying to make her follow. They really have nothing to do with her being a good mother. Nobody can really see it. There is more to this than just the raising of our youth. As long as you, your wife, and everybody else who sees this injustice keeps fighting for the youth of America, we’ll fix this system that has been set up against us.”

“I hope you are right,” he said as he turned off the ignition of his car. “Are you ready to have your assessment meeting?”

“More than you really know.”

“Well then, let’s go.”

He opened the car door. I came out of the passenger side and followed him as he led me to my meeting with my nemesis. The golden clad mothers from my neighborhood had already created their gossiping circle on the corner of the parking lot. Many of the television stations were setting up their cameras. A couple of the more ambitious reporters had a cameraman follow them. These reporters had microphones in their hands and made their way to the building entrance in which Officer Provata and I were headed. They shoved their microphones into Officer Provata’s face and started asking him questions.

“What is Mrs. Britva being charged with?”

“How poorly did she score on her assessment to have this immediate reaction?”

“Will they yank away her privileges as mother to ensure she never corrupts the minds of our youth again?”

Many more questions were thrown in the officer’s direction but he continued to ignore them as he made his way to the entrance of the building. Before he entered, he turned and faced the throng of reporters. “Mrs. Rachael Britva is not being charged with anything formally at this time and will not be until she has had her assessment meeting with Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. At that time, there will be more information available, but until then you are just going to have to wait until she has been given due process as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Thank you.”

He opened the door for me and ushered me inside. I could hear another collective groan from outside as the reporters were made to wait to see if they really had anything to report or not. I knew from experience, though, they would continue to postulate on the proceedings of the afternoon in order to keep their viewers interested.

Officer Provata led me down the hallway to a door that only had a brass nameplate on it. It read, “Secretary of Motherhood, Dr. N. A. Blur.” He knocked on the door, and was rewarded with a “Yes?” from the other side.

Officer Provata said in a loud but controlled voice, “Dr. Blur, I have Mrs. Britva here for her assessment meeting.”

“Send her in,” came from the other side.

Officer Provata took hold of the door knob and looked back at me standing in the hallway with my hands clutched around the file I brought with me. He smiled before opening the door and said, “Good luck.”

“Thanks,” I said and took a huge breath before continuing. Officer Provata opened the door for me and stood on the side to allow me to enter.

I walked into the room. She sat behind her desk. I was clocking her eyes like she was clocking mine. She was sitting there wondering, what is it this girl thinks she is doing; doesn’t she know who is in control.

Yes, I knew who was in control.

I was in control.

But it was time to let her know who was in control.

Before she could speak, before she could say a word, before she could bring my actions down as something absurd, I laid the file on the table, just for her to see what was really happening and the way it was going to be. A picture of her and Sam Hogston in the throes of passionate sex slid out and presented itself to her on the edge of her desk.

She let the picture lay there on the table.

By acknowledging its presence, she knew it was her turn to be the loser.
She opened her mouth. She started to speak, but I stopped her quickly before an utterance could be made.

“I think you know what that is.”

I didn’t look at the picture when I said it. I didn’t let her forget that it was there. I stared her down until she turned to look at what I was talking about.

She looked up from the picture and said, “So, it is a picture of two consenting adults making love. What’s the big deal about that?”

I walked over to the blinds behind her desk and pulled them open. The window behind the blinds was tinted so nobody would be able to see inside, but I was able to see the circus as it continued to set up.

“It is an interesting picture is all. I was wondering how the press outside would react to such a picture.”

I could hear her take in a quick breath as what I was saying started to sink in.

“I know it is no big deal, and it would probably blow over in a month or so because you and he are both not married, but that is not the real shocker; is it?” I looked away from the window to see what her reaction was. Dr. Blur gripped the picture in her hand and stared down at it. I could see her contemplate what this meant for her as a politician.

“The real shocker is who he is. I mean here is a man who is one of the leading figures in a different political party than you, and the two of you are in bed together. That’s quite a shocker. The press would have a lot of fun with that and what would the leading powers of your party think of you having sex with Sam Hogston?”

She looked up from the paper. “It’s nothing new. Do you think I’m the first person to be caught in bed with a member of the other party? It happens all of the time. Yes, we have our ideological wars taking place on the front pages of the newspapers and the headlines on the ten o’clock news, but if you really look at what the political parties do, there isn’t much difference between the two of them. Some people would even go so far as to say we are just two different arms of the same beast.”

I didn’t know if what she was telling me was a bluff or if she really believed all of the things she had just said. It didn’t really matter anyway. The picture was just the first layer of the corruption cake I was laying on her desk. It was the other layers that mattered. “It would still be a shocker to have that picture plastered all over the news. After what you just explained to me, it also just makes the rest of the package even juicier. The news will just use that picture while they explain all of the other stuff tucked away in that file.”

She reached over to the middle of the desk and grabbed the file. She opened it up and looked at the first page.

The heading on the paper caught her eye. It made her realize this visit was official. There would be no turning back from what was being learned today, and the reality was her world was quickly changing. She no longer had control of the situation and she suddenly realized who had all of the control, me.

She flipped through the file to the second piece of paper. Contempt painted itself across her face. Her hands betrayed that contempt. They showed the fear growing in her heart. Ever so slightly, ever so quietly, they began to shake.
She read on.

I read her eyes.

They let me know about the fear growing inside of her.

She tried to hide it with a practiced cold stare. She looked up from the file and icicles darted from her eyes. Her icy stare attempted to freeze my smug expression. But nothing could freeze the warmth of joy created in my heart. My smile melted those icicles. My eyes melted her eyes. My confidence melted her confidence.

I knew this was true.

She tried to pretend this wasn’t the case.

“What do you want me to do with this?”

She knew what I wanted her to do with it.

“Look at it.”

She put it on the desk.

“Understand it.”

She flipped it over.

“Don’t forget it.”

She took some files from one part of her desk and placed them on top of it in the middle of her desk.

“Because no matter how much you don’t want to face it, it is a part of who you are. You can’t deny it. You can’t bury it. And no matter how much you don’t want it to exist, it does, and it always will. I’m here today to make sure you’ll never be able to ignore it.”

I walked over to her side of the desk and sat on the edge right in front of her. I picked up the file and started to flip through it. “You see these papers tell a lot about what is going on in the Department of Motherhood. Not just why it was formed, but exactly what its mission is. You see the Department of Motherhood was designed to capitalize on one of the last refuges of human existence not able to be exploited by the corporations of this country. There was so much money to be made from the parents of this world and it wasn’t fair these fat bigwigs weren’t able to collect all of that money just going to waste. They wanted –no, let me rephrase that- they needed to corner this market, but there was no way the American people would ever accept this as a legitimate business. It needed a piece of legislation to make it legitimate, and that is where the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, the Department of Motherhood, and the Secretary of Motherhood came into being. But you know all of this already, don’t you?”
She sat in her chair and scowled up at me.

I showed her the first page, and pointed to the bottom of the page. “You were there during its conception. At least that’s what this signature says. This whole idea was cooked up in the little town of Jeffery City, Wyoming when some young, up-and-coming politician took on the corrupt corporations taking over the land. It was the perfect story to tell because here was this opportunity for this young and innocent girl to look like the hero in the eyes of the nation and to start to champion this idea so it would be accepted by all. Were you that innocent figure who this nation just yearned for, that innocent figure they wanted to lead them in to a bold and bright destination?”

Dr. Blur continued to scowl in my direction. I thought she might try to bite off the finger I waved in her direction. But I wasn’t ready to stop.

“The government was only half of your devious plan. The other half involved a person to create a corporation willing to take on the burden of training these mothers who had gone astray. Who would be that person able to reintroduce these women to a society so desperately needing these mothers in order to make the world work right again? The answer was in the other half of that two fisted monster you mentioned earlier. Sam Hogston was no longer going to be the mayor of that little town made famous as soon as all of this came to light. Nobody knew what happened to the man after he lost the election. Well, these papers right here showed he started a limited partnership corporation called Capital Limited with another entrepreneurial individual.”

She actually took her stare away from me at that moment. This was more fun than I thought it would be.

“But that’s not the end of the story, is it?” I got up from the desk and walked over to her seat. “No, because, in order to make sure the Capital Limited Corporation made the money it was entitled to, they first needed to raise some capital. I wonder how they went about raising that capital. Do you know, or should I check the file again?”

I could hear her teeth grind as she tried to control her anger.

“It seems there was a small rodeo ground built in the town of Jeffery City, Wyoming. Now why does that name ring a bell? Oh, isn’t that where you’re from? Weren’t you the mayor of that town? I seem to recall that you were. In fact, I think it was part of the deal you helped orchestrate that made sure this complex was created. I do remember there being some kind of controversy about the cost of the complex, something about the cost being a little higher than what it should have been. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was about, but what I can put my finger on was who the contractor was who built this stadium. What was the name of that corporation again?”

She turned in her chair to face me with the scowl still on her face.

I walked around to the other side of the desk, “Now I remember the name of that company, Capital Limited Corporation. And who is the head of that company?”
Through gritted teeth, she said, “Sam Hogston.”

I looked down at the file with a mock look of consternation plastered upon my face. I pointed at the file and said, “That’s the crazy thing about this piece of paper I’m looking at. You see when the corporation was created it was a limited partnership corporation. That means there were at least two people who headed the company. Who was that other person who headed up this corporation, Dr. Blur?”

She leaned across the desk. She rested her elbows on the table. She rested her chin on her folded hands.

“What do you want from me?”

I closed the file. I smiled. I looked down my victim and laughed. “I want your demise, Nancy. I want your utter destruction. I want the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act to be destroyed once and for all so mothers can go back to doing the one thing they are not allowed to do under this absurd law, to be caring and loving mothers. The best part is I have the papers right here to do just that, and I have a captive audience out there waiting to hear what I have to say. But most of all I was waiting for this moment, the moment I can watch you wallow in your own pain and agony, the moment I can watch your spirit destroyed in the same manner you destroyed so many innocent women because you cared more about your pocketbook than the thing you actually claimed to care about. Thank you, Nancy, for giving me this opportunity. I am truly treasuring it.”

With that I turned around and walked out the door.

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 4

4

Just like every other year, the Department of Motherhood gave me two weeks’ notice before the date of my assessment. They would expect me to make sure the children were presentable, the house was presentable, and the standards of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act were being adhered to. The assessor, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur, would come into my home, walk around for an hour, make a couple of check marks on her clipboard, and then leave believing she had gotten the perfect view of what I did to raise my children every year. Many people today still think this makes sense. It is like that one snapshot taken during a family vacation and used as the Christmas card every year. They expect that one snapshot to show everybody exactly what happened with the family that year. Instead it shows only what they want people to see, the happy perfect moments. It hides all of the pain, the struggles and the heartaches every family must endure at some moment every year. That is part of life. Nothing can be perfect all of the time.

The arrival of the letter from the Department of Motherhood to the Britva family sent me in motion again. I had a lot of work still to do to make sure I received the marks I wanted. There was a relationship I was building with the children, and even though it wasn’t where I knew a great relationship should be, I knew by no longer treating Ben and Katie with respect and instead, allowing them to do whatever they wanted for the next two weeks would completely destroy all of the work I had put into those two children. It would be devastating to them. They would act out in ways that would be ridiculous and maybe even dangerous. Even though I did care about these two children, I knew this was the best way to destroy the relationship I had created with them.

I let Ben sleep in each morning and no longer worried about whether he made it to school or not. Katie got jealous quickly and stopped acknowledging my presence until I gave her the credit card and dropped her off at the mall instead of taking her to school. She went on a new shopping spree every day, and she no longer complained about the unfairness between the way she was treated as opposed to her brother.

When the kids were at home together, I started engaging them in new and exciting games. We set up forts with the cushions of the couches in the living room and created catapults out of large rubber bands. We took sides of the room and started to attack each other with various food products we found in the fridge. It made quite a mess in the room and Brandon, during one of his sober moments, wondered why we were destroying the nice furniture and the room itself. I really didn’t have an explanation he would accept, but I did have a way of making sure he didn’t interfere with my plans.

I started giving him the one thing he always wanted from me. We started having sex at least once a day. It sometimes happened early in the morning and sometimes it happened late at night. A couple of times, Ben and Katie caught us in the act, but usually Brandon was too drunk to care and I would shoo them away telling them daddy and I were busy at the moment. They tried to avoid us after the first time they caught us, but it became more and more difficult for them because we had sex wherever we thought it would be convenient. Sometimes that was the bedroom, sometimes the bathroom, sometimes the living room, and a couple of times the kitchen. It did make me feel guilty to use Brandon that way, but I knew what I was doing was for the greater good. I swallowed my pride during each of these sessions because I knew it was part of the greater plan I had set out to accomplish.

The rest of the time was spent partying with the children. I picked up smoking just so I could teach Ben and Katie how to do the same. I allowed them to experiment with alcohol for the first time. I knew it might be a little early, but Ben was approaching the fifth grade, so it was about time he learned about the joys of drinking. We also had cuss sessions. Ben, Katie and I would do nothing but sit around the table and see how many different cuss words we could shout out at one time. Because of these sessions, the words became a part of the kids’ everyday vocabulary.

I took a page out of Palin’s game book, and started to feed Ben and Katie coffee in the morning. They were so excited to have this adult drink that they guzzled it right down. Of course, I had to doctor the coffee up a little bit with a lot of cream and tons of sugar, but afterwards the desired effect was what I had anticipated. They went crazy for an hour or two and then have a sugar crash leaving them helpless until I gave them another cup of coffee.

The cleanliness of the house needed to be perfect for Dr. Blur’s visit. It was more difficult to just give up on the cleaning altogether than I thought it would be. I have always been a clean person and when I started to see the collection of dirty dishes, used beer bottles and old newspapers collect in the kitchen, I wanted to pick them up and tidy up the house. It was the same for all of the other rooms. Toys and dirty dishes found themselves scattered all over the place. Clothes collected in the bathrooms and the floors of the children’s bedrooms. Unmade beds screamed at me to be put right. Various object begged to be put in their proper places. The mess and the smell drove me crazy, but I kept a store room down in the basement clean. Whenever I felt the urge to clean I would hide myself down there and organize the cans of food and Christmas decorations kept down there. If that wasn’t enough, I chose to keep the entry way clean to give a good first impression. Both of these places allowed me to keep my sanity and the house started to look perfect for my anticipated guest. I was more ready for this assessment than I had ever been in all of my years of mothering and I had to do a lot less to prepare for this event than I ever had to before.

When the day of the assessment arrived, Brandon’s alarm went off the same time as always. He had drunk a lot the night before, so he didn’t even flop over to acknowledge the blaring noise coming out of his clock; he just continued to snore away one hell of a hangover. I got up and quickly turned it off so it would not disturb him. I went off to take a shower and get ready.

I had pulled out my dress the night before. It had hidden itself in the closet ever since I had moved in with Brandon and the kids, but I knew I had to wear it that day. The ugly blue denim stared back at me as I hung it in the bathroom. I turned on the water in the shower to let the water warm up before I stepped underneath it. Still to this day, I can’t imagine who thought it would be a good idea to make a dress out of the same material they used to make jeans. It made such an ugly display, but today I would wear it like a badge of honor. I knew it would be the last time I would have to wear it, but I needed it to make the picture complete.
I stepped into the shower. It felt good to let the hot water run over my body so early in the morning. It warmed my bones and my soul, preparing me for the battle I would have to engage in later. It was better than any cup of coffee because it was a natural rejuvenation of the spirit and not one requiring a drug like caffeine.

When I was finished with the shower, I got out, and while wearing a towel, I fixed my hair and put on the hideous mask of make-up just as I was taught during my time at the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I looked in the mirror after I was finished, and I saw the face that used to stare back at me every day at the Mother Mall. It was a little different because I had let my hair grow back and the natural color did return. My natural hair gave me the strength to wear the make-up one last time because I knew the real part of me was still there to go through this assessment.

Then I put on the dress. I looked at myself in the mirror. The memories of the last year came flooding back to me: the girl who showed up on my doorstep and ruined my life, the assessment tearing me away from my children, the bus ride to that awful place out in the desert, the battle with this dress the first time around, the days as a commodity waiting to be sold, and my new life with this family going through their own personal struggles. It all culminated in this moment today, and even though I had to harm many people to get where I was, I knew what I was about to do was for the greater good. I patted down the dress to look my best and get ready for the main event.

I left the bedroom with Brandon still snoring away. I went down the stairs and knocked on the doors of the children. Through the closed doors, I told them to get up to get ready for the assessment. I had talked to them the day before about what was going to happen today. We even went through their closets to find the perfect clothes for them to wear for the assessment. Katie had a dress lay nicely over the chair at her desk in her bedroom. Ben had a nice pair of slacks, a collared shirt, and a tie so he could look presentable. They knew their appearance was important for the show being given that day. They also knew their best and proper behavior was expected. I had no hesitation in my mind they would live up to my expectations. I told them coffee would be ready for them when they came downstairs.

I went downstairs myself, and into the kitchen. I grabbed the pile of papers collecting on the kitchen table and dumped them in the corner of the room on the pile of discarded newspapers. Flies were beginning to get comfortable in this corner. I didn’t really care because it was far enough from the kitchen table, and I was starting to get used to the mess for the first time in my life. I started a pot of coffee and made sure cereal and milk were ready for the children when they came downstairs. I knew they were in the process of getting ready because I could hear the showers starting upstairs. Things were moving in the right direction, and I knew I had some time to read the newspaper while the coffee brewed and I waited for Dr. Blur to arrive.

I went outside to get the paper. The morning routine of all the other houses was at the point where all of the mothers followed their husbands out to their cars. They were all dressed in the shiny, gold dresses and I knew they would be shocked to see me wearing a dress for the first time. I had never put it on since I moved in with Brandon and his kids. Most of the time, in the morning, the mothers saw me wearing my pajamas. If I went out to the front yard during the day, I would usually be wearing something casual like a t-shirt and a pair of jeans or on the warmer days, God forbid, shorts. I didn’t know if it was a bigger shock for them to see me wearing a dress or the fact it was the denim blue one never associated with this neighborhood before. I continued to ignore them. They were not the ones for whom my crusade was designed. The battle needing to be fought was for the women like Sandy Slaver and Karen Moore, the women whose lives had been taken away from them by the absurd rules laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. I picked up the paper and went inside to enjoy it with my cup of coffee.

Once again, Katie was at the table, eating breakfast. Her hair was wet, and she was wearing her bathrobe. She hadn’t put on her dress yet. “Good morning, Rachael.”

“Good morning, Katie. Why haven’t you dressed yet?”

In between spoonfuls of Fruit Loops, she said, “I thought I would let my hair dry first. I’ll put it on after breakfast.”

I looked up at the clock and saw that it read 9:00. From what I knew about Dr. Blur and her punctuality, she would be here promptly at 10:00, and I knew everything needed to be just perfect for her arrival. I looked back down at her and said, “That’s fine. Just remember, I need you ready in an hour.”

“Don’t worry, Rachael. I’ll be. Can I have my coffee now?”

It was still a little early for her to be enjoying this treat, so I looked back at her, “You can have it after you’re completely ready. How’s your brother doing?”

“He got a little bit of a late start but he’s in the shower now. He should be ready on time.”

I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down with my paper, “Good, now finish your breakfast.”

She finished her breakfast, and I started to browse through the paper. There was not a lot of news to excite or inspire me except for this day in history. Two major items stood out. It was on April 28th that sailors had it with Captain William Bligh’s tyrannical rule on the HMS Bounty and left him to die adrift on a lifeboat in the middle of the sea with eighteen other sailors who were sympathetic to his cause. Also France invaded the Austrian Netherlands thereby starting the French Revolution. Both events took an act of rebellion and went down in history for the efforts put forth by those groups. I wondered if the act of rebellion I was going to perform would go down in history as another one of those moments that changed the world, or if I would quickly be forgotten as soon as my headline was thrown in the recycling bin.

It didn’t matter either way. I knew I needed to continue with my plan because in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. I could no longer live with myself if I continued to let this injustice prevail for innocent mothers on a daily basis. I might not be the new Rosa Parks, the new Gandhi, or the new Martin Luther King, Jr. but I knew in my heart I would be at peace for stepping up to do the right thing.

Ben finished taking his shower, put on his clothes and came downstairs to grab a bite to eat. Katie put on her dress and looked like a younger version of June Cleaver waiting for the day she could be a model mother like the United States wanted her to be. It pained my heart to see any young woman being mistreated in this way, but I knew it would be for the best when all the dust had settled.
I gave the children their coffee, and made sure to add a little extra sugar to give them an extra boost for the day’s events. They started to drink it fifteen minutes before 10 o’clock. Right before the good doctor had arrived, the cups were empty and the jitters were beginning to rush through Ben’s and Katie’s bloodstreams. I looked at the clock in the kitchen and noticed I had a little bit of time to look around the house and admire my handiwork. Everything was perfect. Piles of dishes were stacked up in the kitchen sink. Week old newspapers littered the floor. An odd smell permeated the rooms from old food products thrown across the wall. The living room had dirty clothes and stacks of used DVDs all over the place. Empty beer bottles, empty wine bottles, and half filled but open whiskey bottles could be found all over the place. The kids were starting to become restless and were taking it out on each other. If they didn’t have some other place to direct their energy soon it would be wasted on the moment, but I knew the punctuality of Dr. Blur wouldn’t let me down and at exactly 10:00, the doorbell rang.

I walked over to the door and opened it to see Dr. Nancy Ann Blur standing on the porch with her clipboard tucked in its position in the crook of her arm, and her other hand holding Mr. Clicky-Pen while adjusting her glasses on the bridge of her nose.

“Dr. Blur, so nice to see you again,” I said while planting a genuine smile on my face.

“It is good to see you again too, Rachael,” she said as she walked into the entryway. “I always do enjoy testing the mothers who have been under my tutelage. It gives me an opportunity to revel in how wonderful my teaching methods truly are.”

My smile grew even larger as I shut the door behind her. I turned around to face her and said, “And I am really excited to show you how much I have learned from you. I know this will be one experience you will never forget.”

“Click,” said Mr. Clicky-Pen as her hand poised it over her clipboard. She breathed in the air and I could see her wrinkle up her nose at the odd scent she detected. She hadn’t seen the rest of the house yet, so she couldn’t quite place it with the pristine condition of the entryway, so she shrugged it off as something not really a part of what needed to be assessed.

“Well then let’s begin. Where are those lovely children you are now in charge of?” Dr. Blur said as she looked around the entryway expecting them to pop out of the ferns hanging from the ledge connected to the staircase.

“Oh, I’ll call them so we can get started,” I said, and turned around so Ben and Katie would be able to hear me from the kitchen. “Children, it is time to get started.”

I could hear the children start to stir in the kitchen as they made their way to the entryway. I looked over at Dr. Blur and asked her, “Would you like me to make you a cup of coffee while you talk to Ben and Katie?”

“That would be nice,” she said as I moved down the hallway to the kitchen. Ben and Katie came racing past me the other way to greet our guest. I let them have their fun while I made a cup of coffee and put it on the kitchen table to wait for the time when Dr. Blur would get to this part of the house. I noticed the cup was very clean, so I took a sip out of the cup so a stain of lipstick would find itself on the end Dr. Blur would drink from. I put the cup back down on the table and paused to listen to how things were going in the other room. Screams of joy were coming from the kids, and stern commands of heightened excitement were coming from Dr. Blur. A smile grew on my face.

I sat back in the chair. I rested my legs on the table. My left foot kicked off my right high heel and it splooged upon a pool of ignored maple syrup on the linoleum. My right foot kicked off my left high heel and it rested on the table like an attentive soldier ready to spring into action. I untied my apron and threw it across the room until it landed in a crumpled heap next to the entrance to the kitchen. My body felt at ease for the first time in years. It was so comfortable that I regretted not grabbing my purse and bringing it over with me so I could enjoy one of the cigarettes hidden within the side pocket.

Katie came running into the kitchen holding Mr. Clicky-Pen high and clicking him madly as she ran towards the door on the other side of the room. I could hear Dr. Blur shouting something about her clipboard in the other room, but I thought it best to let her deal with that situation. I really wanted my cigarettes and the opportunity to have them in my hands without having to remove myself from my comfortable position had presented itself.

“Katie, come here,” I beckoned to the girl who had run into the room.

She stopped running and looked at me with a questioning look as if she had done something wrong.

“Don’t worry honey, they’ve made it impossible for you to do anything wrong anymore,” I said to reassure her. It was kind of sad really. She was still young enough to be unaware of how much power she really possessed. It would change in the next couple of years, but for my present situation I could still use what little bit of innocence she had to my advantage. “Do you see my purse over there on the counter?”

She turned around and looked at my purse. She turned around to face me again with a blank stare and said, “Yeah, Rachael, what about it?”

“Can you bring that over to me?”

She looked at me as if a negotiation might be in order, “What do I get out of it?”

“Well, I was going to have a cigarette. Do you want to have one of those?”

She smiled and said, “YEAH!” She turned around, grabbed the purse, and ran it over to me.

As I dug through the purse to get my cigarettes and lighter I explained to Katie, “If Dr. Blur asks you why you are smoking a cigarette, you just explain to her that it is in compliance with Standard Number Two: A child should get whatever he or she wants at all times in order to experience all that life has to offer.”

I tapped out two of the Marlboro Reds. I put one in my mouth and the other one in Katie’s mouth. I lit mine up and while I sucked in the sweet taste of the tobacco I motioned for Katie to lean in closer. I lit the lighter and shielded it with my other hand as if some unanticipated wind was going to blow it out at any moment. Katie sucked in deeply and expertly. The week I had been training her and Ben on the joys of nicotine had paid off.

She blew out a cloud of smoke and said, “Thanks, Rachael.”

“You’re welcome; go have fun with your brother.”

As Katie ran out of the room, I said to myself, “I think I just covered Standard Number Five: A mother should trust their child’s judgment to do the right thing in any situation and should never violate this trust.” I threw the lighter on the table and blew out a puff of smoke. I looked around for a place to ash my cigarette, but didn’t see any receptacle, so I just ashed it on the floor.

Ben ran into the room. He was carrying Dr. Blur’s clipboard. I stopped him as he ran by. “What do you have there, Ben?”

“It’s a clipboard. I wanted to see how destructible it might be.”

I popped my legs off the table and looked at him closer, “Well, that’s an interesting query, Ben. What do you suppose might cause the destruction of that clipboard?”

“I don’t know. Maybe fire.”

I looked over to where my lighter rested on the table and said out loud, “Standard Three: A mother should not impede in the natural learning and exploration process of their children.” I picked up the lighter and tossed it over to Ben. He caught it with one hand. “There you go. Just make sure you conduct your experiment in the fireplace. I don’t want you burning down the house.”
“Sure thing, Rachael,” he said as he ran out of the kitchen towards the living room and the fireplace.

I put my feet back up on the table and continued to enjoy my cigarette while stating, “That should cover Standard Six: A mother should regard the safety of their children as a top priority.”

A lot of screaming was coming from outside of the kitchen. I was hoping Dr. Blur would come into the kitchen and enjoy her coffee before it got cold. I took another sip from the other end to test if this was the case while leaving another lipstick mark. It was still hot, so she should have been happy with it when she came into the kitchen. I could hear the screaming from one end of the living room being redirected to the other end of the living room where the fireplace was. Dr. Blur must have noticed Ben’s little experiment.

Katie came back into the kitchen. She ran up to where I sat. She still had Mr. Clicky-Pen in one hand and a cell phone in the other hand. “Hey, Rachael, look at what I found.”

I looked at the treasures and asked, “Where did you get those?”

“Oh, I found them on the ground.”

“But honey, I believe these are Dr. Blur’s.”

“Well, she dropped them and then just left them there like she didn’t care about them anymore. She just left them in the middle of the room and went chasing after Ben. I think she wanted to play with him. Can I keep them? My friends at school will love to see them.”

I was about to tell her no because no matter how far I had pushed the envelope I just couldn’t condone stealing, but then it hit me. “You know, Katie, Standard Number One states, ‘A mother should ensure the popularity of their children to make sure they have a healthy amount of self-esteem.’”

Katie looked at me with a quizzical look.

“It means you can keep them, honey.”

She smiled instantly. “Thanks, Rachael.” She turned around and ran out of the room.

The noise continued from the other room, and I wondered how long it would be before it woke up Brandon. I was surprised he hadn’t stirred because of the ruckus being made downstairs, but then I remembered how much he had drunk the night before. I knew it would take a lot more than the noise going on out in the living room to disturb him. It was while I was pondering this that there came a noise from the living room that should have been enough to wake my slumbering husband. It was a squeal unlike anything I had ever heard before. If I could ever imagine the death wail of an Irish banshee, I would guess this is what it would sound like. I knew I needed to see what was happening before things got out of hand.

I threw my cigarette in Dr. Blur’s full cup of coffee and went out to the living room to investigate. Even before I could look upon what ever tragedy had occurred, I announced my presence by saying, “What in the world is going on out here?”

I walked around the corner as the wail continued to get louder. Ben and Katie instantly ran over to me and smothered me in a hug. It was as if they were escaping from the devastating noise issuing from the room. I looked down at the floor to see the source of this noise. Dr. Nancy Ann Blur was kneeling in the middle of the floor. Her nice neat hair was thrown out of place as if she had grabbed huge clumps of it and tried to tear it out of her head. She might have actually tried to do it, or it could have been one of the kids that tried. I’m not really sure how she became so disheveled in such a short period of time. A couple of buttons had been ripped from her blouse and one corner of her shirt had edged off her shoulder exposing her whole shoulder to the room. Her glasses laid in a broken heap at the edge of her knees. A pot once holding a fern had found its way firmly around her left foot. Tears were streaming down her face. Her howl continued to reverberate from her gaping mouth. In her hands were the last remains of Mr. Clicky-Pen. He was broken into five or six pieces that looked beyond repair.

Dr. Blur looked up at me, “Look at what your brats did to Mr. Clicky-Pen.”
I patted the kids’ backs to indicate I needed to go talk to Dr. Blur. I walked up to where she wept over her dearly departed friend. I knelt beside her and gently cradled the pieces of Mr. Clicky-Pen in my hands. I looked down at the remains and then I looked up at Dr. Blur. She looked back at me with the pain in her eyes inviting consolation. I said the words that best fit the moment, “It’s a pen.”

Dr. Blur blubbered away in shock. “What?”

“It’s a fucking pen, Nancy. It’s not even a good pen. You’ve created an emotional attachment to something that outweighs its real importance. This is something that usually finds itself hidden in the back of some junk drawer, and you’ve given it a name and all your love for the past twelve years. It is kind of sad you’ve done this with an inanimate object. It might be time you just admit the true worth of Mr. Clicky-Pen and just let him go. There’s no point holding on to something that just doesn’t work.”

Dr. Blur started to reach out for the remains of Mr. Clicky-Pen, but I moved my hands away before she was able to grab them.

“I’m going to do something for you, Dr. Blur,” I stood up with Mr. Clicky-Pen in my hands as Dr. Blur remained on the ground blubbering. “I’m going to set you free.” I started to walk over to the fire burning brightly in the fireplace with what I could only assume were the remains of Dr. Blur’s clipboard. “You might hate me for what I’m going to do today, but someday you’ll realize it is for the best.” I looked down into the fire before I looked back at Dr. Blur. Her lower lip stammered away in disbelief. “We just need to get rid of the things that just don’t work very well.” And I threw Mr. Clicky-Pen into the fire.

The howl that emerged afterwards could have shaken the foundations of the vaults at Fort Knox. It was the equivalent of dropping an atomic bomb in the middle of suburbia. I could feel the shock waves almost knock me off my feet. I’m sure all the other mothers in the neighborhood heard the sound of the pain emitting from the middle of my living room. Dr. Blur couldn’t take it anymore. She got up from her spot on the floor and headed towards the front door. Ben, Katie and I followed closely behind.

Dr. Blur banged her head into the door as she opened it because she was more worried about getting out of the house then she was about the proper door-opening procedure. She might have maintained her balance if it wasn’t for the potted planted firmly gripping her left foot. Instead, she flopped down on the hard linoleum and the reverberation of her fall shook the whole house. Another fern edged itself off a nail that kept it hanging from the ceiling and came crashing down on top of Dr. Blur’s head.

She shook her head to get the dirt and ceramics out of her hair. Dr. Blur turned around to see the crew of people staring down at her, mocking her pain. She regained control of her senses and quickly got up from the floor using the edge of the door to help. She pushed herself out of the screen door. She ran down the front walk while screaming out the pain she was experiencing.

I stood at the entrance of the house watching the bewildered way she ran down the street. Ben and Katie cowered behind me to watch this odd display of humanity. Brandon appeared at the landing on the second floor of the house. He was wearing a pair of tattered boxers, scratching his belly and wiping away the sleep from his eyes.

“What in the world is going on down there?”

I turned around to look at him. “Oh, just demonstrating the last of the standards of motherhood to my assessor, honey.”

“What?”

“Standard Number Four: Proper, loving shelter shall be supplied to everyone under the legal care of the mother.”

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 2

There will be a break for a week before the next chapter appears because I will be covering the Winter Olympics next week. I hope you enjoy my coverage of the games, and look for Chapter 3 in two weeks.

2
Even though I was still regretting the image of the child, I knew that if I wanted to accomplish what I started out to do I needed to play up to Steven with the façade I had created in my booth. He was obviously offended and his mouth was shouting at me with his usual drill sergeant zeal. Spit was flying off of his lips at a rate I had never witnessed before.

“I have never been so disgusted by a display of debauchery in my life. You should be ashamed of the way you have acted. You will be severely punished for this act, Miss Ervaring. Get your ass moving down the hallway right now. The owner wants to see you in his office right away.” He pointed towards the end of the long hallway I had first wandered down when I arrived at the Mother Mall. There were elevator doors at the end of the hallway. I had never noticed them before, and my curiosity made me wonder what was behind them, but I wanted to have a little fun with Steven before I did what he asked of me.

I pouted my lips and found a strand of dry hair I could twirl in a display of innocent flirtation. “I’m sorry, Steven, didn’t you like my little demonstration?”
He stood there breathing hard through a pursed frown while still pointing down the hallway. “I most certainly did not.”

I moved closer to him so the hem of my skirt started to brush against his knees. “I don’t understand, Steven. What wouldn’t you, a big strong man, not like about my demonstration?” I started to trace my index finger ever so lightly across his chest.

He started to stammer and his hand began to lower from where it was pointing. “That… that… that is not a way a mother should act.”

I moved closer to him so he could feel my breasts brush up against him. I tried to keep an innocent puppy dog look on my face. “I’m trying ever so hard to follow what you are saying, Steven, but my simple mind can’t comprehend why what I did was inappropriate.”

“If my mother ever acted that way…” he began to say.

I leaned in even closer so my face was close to his. I nodded up and down as if I was trying really hard to understand what it was he was trying to get across.
“…I would be horrified,” he breathed out as he tried to keep control of his emotions.

I brought my lips within a breath of his and said, “Well, I’m not your mother.”

He started to lose control as he closed his eyes and whispered, “I know you’re not.”

I put my hand on his crotch and felt the battle of the bulge he was trying so hard to win, but was losing more and more with every move I was making. I turned my head ever so slightly as he tried to withhold the moan escaping from his throat. I told him in my best imitation of Marilyn Monroe, “And I think all signs indicate you rather enjoyed my demonstration.”

I moved my hand up ever so slightly and he just lost it. A wet spot started to form on his trousers as he let out a quivering moan. I moved away from him and made my way down the hallway towards the door he had indicated earlier. I left behind a slumping, shuddering mass in the hallway next to the door of the room I used to live in. As my heels clacked down the hallway, I felt more power build up within me with each step. I knew for the first time in my life, I was gaining control, and there wasn’t a person out there who could take it away from me.
I pushed the open button for the elevator and the doors slid open. I walked in and turned around to see Steven crumpled down on the floor in the fetal position. When the door shut behind me, the light to the elevator turned on. According to the panel, I was on the G level. Below that button on the panel there was the B and above it there was a 1, a 2, and a P. I figured that the P stood for Penthouse and this is where I needed to be so I pushed that button. The elevator slowly rose up and I was a little worried about what I would find at the top. Even though I was starting to believe I could handle anything I came across, I knew whatever I found on the other side of the door needed to be handled it with confidence. I needed to abandon the timid way I handled situations in the past.
When the elevator stopped, the doors opened and I strode into the room. It was an extremely large room taking up the whole floor. The ceilings were very high making the room look immense. There were hard wood floors covered with a Persian rug. They must have made the carpet in the room because there was only a foot or two of hardwood floor showing around the edge of the carpet. On the walls to the left and right of me, there were bookcases reaching up to the ceiling covered with richly bound books. In between each bookcase was a piece of art highlighted with its own spotlight. There were paintings from famous artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and El Greco. I don’t think they were replicas either. There were also statues that could have been carved by Michelangelo himself, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out they were. A window reached from the ceiling to the floor on the entire far wall. It looked out over the city of Denver and gave a perfect view of the downtown area. I would have chosen to have it look out over the mountains of Colorado, but I wasn’t the one who designed the building so it wasn’t made to my tastes.

In the middle of the room, closer to the window, were two desks. There was a smaller one turned catty-corner to the door I had just exited. At this desk there was a woman dressed like a graduating secretary from the Capital Limited Re-education Center. She was typing away at a computer at her desk and working her way through a stack of papers resting on the left hand corner. The other desk was extremely large and took up half the width of the room. There were various knick knacks on it placed in strategic locations to create the feeling they belonged in the places where they found themselves. There was also a telephone placed close to the large mahogany chair behind it. On the center of the desk, there was a book opened up as if somebody was reading it. There was nobody sitting at the desk. Instead the owner of the desk was standing at the window and looking out of it. Even though I saw his back, I could tell it was Sam Hogston. I had finally made it to the top of the domain, and I started to wonder how many women had made it this far and what they needed to do in order to get here.

I didn’t have much time to think about it because if I let the old Rachael return I wouldn’t be able to let this new person I had found within me take me to the places I needed to go. I walked across the room towards the large desk at the other end. Mr. Hogston continued to ignore me as I made my way across the room. The woman at the desk stopped her work and looked in my direction. As I moved closer, I recognized her. It was difficult at first with her hair tied back in a bun and the business suit attire, but behind the cat-rimmed glasses, her eyes gave her away. I would remember those eyes anywhere. I grew to love their kindness and it warmed my heart to realize they had found a place where they could reside in comfort. It was my old mentor from the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I wanted to rush over to Karen and give her a big hug, but a wink from behind those glasses prevented me from doing so. Looking back, if this is what I had done I would not have found myself in the place I am now. I continued my walk over to Sam Hogston’s desk and the two chairs sitting in front of it. I sat down on the edge of the right one. I crossed my legs so one could tick away the time casually like I didn’t have a care in the world. I didn’t lean back in the chair to make myself comfortable, but instead leaned forward to give my audience the attention they believed they deserved.

I only had to wait a moment before Sam Hogston turned away from the window to give me his attention. His look of astonishment told me that sitting there by myself was not what he was expecting. I felt I had stolen the opening move away from my opponent in a game of chess.

“Where is Steven?” He asked as he looked over at Karen Moore.

She looked up from her work and said, “I don’t know. He didn’t come in with Miss Ervaring.”

I interrupted at this moment, “He’s a little indisposed at the time.”

Sam Hogston turned his attention to me and looked down on me over his glasses which hung precariously on the edge of his nose. “Is that so?”

“Yes, something came up.”

Sam huffed once, and then made his way over to a large, leather office chair behind the desk. He sat down. Karen got up from her spot and made her way behind the large desk where she deposited a file on the blotter in front of Mr. Hogston. I could see on the side the name of the file, Rachael Young, written in nicely typed letters. The name Young had been crossed out and the name Ervaring had been scratched down underneath it. Karen returned to her desk after she made sure her boss had what he needed.

Sam Hogston opened the file and started to read what was inside of it while I looked around the room. My dangling foot counted the seconds he wasted by reading my file. When he was finished, he closed the file and placed it gently on the blotter in front of him. He took off his glasses and placed them on top of the file. He folded his hands with his two index fingers pointing directly at his bloated chin. He looked me up and down trying to figure me out. I turned to meet his gaze.

“That was quite the show you put on down there, Miss Ervaring,” he said as he regarded me further.

I smiled at him pleasantly, “Well, I was only doing what I thought was necessary in order to bring the company the money it needed to continue to operate.”

He leaned forward placing his hands still folded together on the table. “Is that what you believed you did this morning, Miss Ervaring?”

“Well, Mr. Hogston,” I could see he was taken back by the fact I knew his name, but he quickly composed himself in a hope that I wouldn’t notice I had broken through his façade. “I believe I did what was necessary in order to make my way into motherhood again. It has been a long time since I have been able to be involved in the nurturing of children and it’s my strong desire to once again make the move back into that field. The way I was going about it in the past was not getting me results and I noticed the women who were allowed to return to this noble profession were doing it through the manner I displayed today.”
“I think there might be a little difference between your demonstration and the ones put on by the other women.”

I deliberately tilted my head to the side before saying, “How so? Do tell.”
Sam Hogston contemplated my request for a second before saying, “The best way to describe it would be in terms of movies. What the other ladies were doing would be considered PG-13. The demonstration you put on today on the other hand… Well, if Steven hadn’t interceded, I believe it would have progressed to the demonstrations displayed on the screens of seedy movie theaters catering to lonely men.”

“Are you trying to say my demonstration was X-rated?”

“To put it mildly, Miss Ervaring, yes.”

“Well, I was only doing what I thought the company would like me to do, Mr. Hogston.”

He got a little chuckle out of that. “Where would you get an idea like that, Miss Ervaring?”

“From a conversation I heard the previous night. The theme of that conversation seemed to be ‘Sex sells.’”

“Funny. I thought you were asleep last night, but it appears you were eavesdropping on my conversation with Dr. Blur. You are correct, Miss Ervaring, when you say sex sells, but there is a distinct difference between the sex you were selling and the sex I was talking about last night.”

I mocked him with a look of shock. “How so, Mr. Hogston?”

“You see, Miss Ervaring, the sex I was talking about last night needs to be subtle. It needs to be the Disneyfied version of sex. You know the mermaid wearing seashells as a bikini top, or a buxom Indian princess in a short revealing skirt. It is just enough to tantalize the more carnal instincts within a man, yet stay wrapped up within this wholesome story speaking of family values and Christian morals. It gives the viewer that sexual satisfaction they crave but they are able to walk away from the experience feeling they have had a lesson in ethics making what they have seen worth their time and effort.

“On the other hand, what you showed them was on a different level. Yes, you might be able to argue your display is more honest, but when all is said and done, it will only make the viewer feel dirty as if what they saw was against the moral fiber of America. What your demonstration was about should be relegated to the moral degenerates of our society or kept within the bedrooms of loving couples. It should never be displayed on the showroom of a respectable business. It is something like what you did that could bring down a company and place them in the dark corners of the city intended for those individuals only there to obtain a quick burst of pleasure until the time when their hormones once again call out for it. If we hadn’t stopped your demonstration, we could have ended up on the five o’clock news talking about our lack of morals before prime time television came on to give the masses the moment when they would be able to lose themselves in our version of those lack of morals. The version that is not X-rated, but in some instances could pass for PG or do I dare even say it, G. Do you understand what I’m talking about Miss Ervaring?”

“So you’re saying we as a society all know sex sells, and we buy our products according to this principle, but you want us to conduct ourselves as if we believe this principle doesn’t exist.”

Sam Hogston leaned back in his chair and smiled, “Exactly, Miss Ervaring.”

“Wouldn’t that make us hypocritical?”

“Only if we allow ourselves to believe we are. Now, Miss Ervaring, I’m willing to overlook this display you put on today as long as you promise never to do something like that ever again.”

I knew I needed to go on the offensive or I might not make it out of this conversation without moving into a lower section of the Mother Mall. I needed Hogston to place me back on the ground level so I could find a husband and work on the next part of my plan. “How am I supposed to find a husband if I’m not allowed to sell myself to the needs that attract them?”

Sam Hogston leaned forward, “Oh, I’m not saying you need to take sex out of your demonstrations. In fact, I’m proud of you for taking the initiative today, but I need you to tone it down a bit. I need you to use your sexual prowess in more subtle ways, so the demonstration we saw today is not repeated by other women who are also looking for a husband. Do you understand what I’m saying, Miss Ervaring?”

“I believe so.”

“Good. Now I would’ve asked Steven to return you back to your booth, but he seems to have gone missing. I can’t have you walking around the Mother Mall by yourself, so I’m going to need to find another escort for you. Maybe…”

Before Sam Hogston could finish his thought, the door to his office was opened and a salesman who I had seen on the floor numerous times ran across the large expanse of room. He went up to Mr. Hogston’s desk and ran around to the other side. Mr. Hogston looked at the intruder annoyed, “Can you explain to me, Mr. Moe, why you have interrupted my conversation in such a disruptive manner?”
Mr. Moe quickly apologized then bent down to get closer to Mr. Hogston. He shielded his hand in front of his mouth and brought it close to Mr. Hogston’s ear. He started to whisper something to him while looking at me out of the corner of his eye.

Sam looked up at the man in disbelief and the salesman shook his head to indicate that what he just told his boss was the truth. Sam looked past me to the smaller desk where Karen typed away at the work she was doing. “Miss Moore, may I see you for a moment.”

Karen looked up from her work and pushed the glasses she was wearing to the back of her nose. She grabbed a pen and small notebook from her desk and pushed her chair back so she could stand up. She straightened her clothes then proceeded to walk behind the desk and stand next to her boss. “Yes, Mr. Hogston?”

Mr. Hogston motioned for her to move in a little closer. When she was bent down by his face he looked at me. After a few seconds, he looked over at the salesman and said, “Well, tell her.”

The salesman once again hid his mouth with his hand and whispered whatever he had told Mr. Hogston to Karen. When he was done with whatever he had to say, he removed his hand and Karen and he both turned their heads in my direction. Mr. Hogston picked up my folder and handed it to Karen. “I think you know what to do with that.”

“I most certainly do,” she said as she grabbed the folder and returned to her desk.
The salesman stood up straight and faced me. He had a big grin on his face. Mr. Hogston leaned in closer to where he could talk to me in a more straight-forward manner. “Well, Miss Ervaring, it looks like you’ve been sold.”

Even though I was surprised, I presented myself with confidence. “Of course I have.”

Mr. Hogston huffed at my response, “Normally, I wouldn’t let a display such as yours lead to a sale because others would be encouraged to imitate such behavior, but the amount of money…” He stopped again as if he couldn’t believe what he was saying and looked up at the salesman. “Really?”

The salesman nodded his head again. “I saw him count it!”

“Cash?”

“Yep.”

Mr. Hogston shook his head in disbelief. “Wow! Anyway, as I was saying, Miss Ervaring, the amount of money being offered for your services is way too much to be ignored. It is with a slight bit of regret that I will have to allow this transaction to take place.”

Karen returned to the desk, this time by my side holding out my file folder. Sam pointed to it as I took it. “That file has all of the necessary paperwork. Mr. Moe will show you to your new husband and your new life.”

I opened up the file to look through the paperwork. I saw release papers, a sales receipt, my scores at the Capital Limited Re-education Center, some information about my stay at the Mother Mall, and then the next page was something I wasn’t expecting. There were pictures and papers which obviously didn’t belong in my file. They confused me a little bit at first, but the salesman started making his way around the desk towards me. If it hadn’t been for Karen who closed the file before he could see what I saw, there would have been a couple of people in trouble that day. But Karen remained composed and looked at me, “Don’t worry about the paperwork, honey. It’s all there. You now have everything you need to make a new life and change the world.”

I looked up at Karen and she winked at me.

I stood up and hugged her. The salesman made his way over to me and motioned towards the door leading to the elevator. “This way, Miss Ervaring.”
I turned away from Karen and Mr. Hogston to make my way to the exit. The salesman pressed the button for the elevator to return. When the doors opened, he, like a gentleman, let me enter first. I stood in the back of the elevator as he pushed the button to the ground floor. He stood in the front of the elevator at the doors as it took us down.

He broke the silence by saying, “I’ve been working in sales for the last twenty years and that is the first time I have ever seen anything like what you did today. It was quite the demonstration.”

I smiled because I knew he couldn’t see my face. “Thank you,” I told him politely.
He shook his head and added a little chuckle as we made our way down to the bottom floor. “I could see that demonstration changing the way women present themselves in the future. I won’t have to do hardly anything to make a sale in the future. Instead, I’ll just have to wait at the cash register and just take the money.”

“Well, I’m glad I could make things a little easier for you.”

The elevator stopped and he turned to look at me. “You don’t even know how much you’ve helped me. I’ve been struggling for the last couple of months on the floor. My boss was starting to wonder if I had what it took to be a salesman. Not only that, but my commissions really stunk. I was barely making enough to squeeze by. But I’ve made more money today then I’ve made all year, thanks to your commission.”

His comment peaked my curiosity. “How much money did somebody buy me for?”

The young man continued in his innocence, not wishing to ruin the good luck graced upon him. “Oh, we’re not allowed to tell you that, but your demonstration really opened up my eyes as to what I need to do in order to sell a mother. I used to think I needed to point out her features, such as what a great cook she is, or how great she gets along with children, but now I understand there is a much easier way of getting that commission check. I only have to sell her abilities in the bedroom.”

My heart frowned at hearing this. In my need to get out of this building to set things straight, I may have opened a Pandora’s Box I wasn’t so sure could be closed again. Would people be willing to listen to the information I had obtained the night before if they knew about my behavior the last day at the Mother Mall? What Karen Moore had slipped into my file was a whole other thing I would have to figure out. I was still trying to puzzle out the meaning of those papers and pictures. They made what I had to say to people a lot more believable. Any way I looked at it, it was too late to turn back now. I had set my plan into motion and I knew I needed to see it all the way through for it to have a chance to work the way I hoped it would. The salesman could evidently read all of the thoughts running through my head on my face because he quickly lost his excitement from the day and changed the subject to something simpler.

“Well, I guess we need to get you out to your new husband. I’m sure you are really excited to meet him.”

I shook myself away from my thoughts and looked back at the young man. “Yes, I guess it is time for that.” I took in a deep breath and prepared myself for what I was about to endure.

“Follow me,” the salesman said as he led me out of the elevator. We walked down the long hallway in silence until we reached the door I knew opened up to the sunshine, blue skies and freedom I had so yearned for since that fateful day when I was taken away from my house. The salesman opened the door and at first I was blinded by the bright natural light I was not accustomed to. I stepped out into the light and let the warmth of the sun soak into my soul. It felt so good I didn’t want to be interrupted by the reality of my situation, but the salesman ruined that feeling for me. “There he is. Right across the parking lot, standing there waving at us.”

I opened my eyes to see a man standing at a pick-up truck waving in our direction. He was wearing a battered baseball cap with a fishing hook sticking out of the brim. It hid his bright red hair, and shaded his eyes so I wasn’t able to see if they were filled with anger or kindness. He wore a flannel shirt and spit tobacco out of his mouth as he continued to wave in our direction. He was wearing tattered blue jeans with a big belt buckle holding up his pants. I knew the well-worn boots he was wearing probably smelled of some of the fields he walked around in before finding some time to go and pick himself up a new wife.
The salesman grabbed my hand and shook it, “Well, Miss Ervaring, it was really a pleasure working with you, and once again I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me today.”

I looked over the young man shaking my hand and said, “You’re welcome, Mr. uhhh… What was your name again?”

“Mr. Moe, but really it’s not important. Go off and enjoy your new life.” He waved me away like we were good friends for many years and would see one another again very shortly, but I knew better than to think I would ever see this man again.

My high heels clacked on the pavement of the parking lot as I made my way to the truck and my new life. For as much time as I thought about the outside world, it now seemed as foreign to me as some distant dream. In my imaginings of this day, I always pictured a handsome man waiting at some luxury car and his children rushing over to greet their new mom, but instead I was making my way to a truck driven by a redneck whose morning errands probably included picking up a new can of chew. I also imagined a summer’s day when I first obtained my freedom, but after my first initial enjoyment of the sun, I could start to feel an autumn chill start to pervade the air around me. My reality wasn’t as perfect as my dream, but I knew I had many important things to accomplish and I needed to continue down this path towards my inevitable destination.

My new husband hopped in the truck as I made my way over to it. I could hear the rumble of the car as he started it up. Diesel smoke belched out the back end and I once again wondered if I was doing the right thing. There must always be sacrifices made if something important truly needs to be accomplished.
The window to the pick-up truck rolled down and I saw the face of the man who bought me staring down at me from the front seat. It made me wonder if I was going off to a better place or if I would be better off staying at the Mother Mall where I knew I would be safe. As much as I hated the place, I didn’t know if the condescending grin coming from the man in the seat would be any better.
One of the advantages would be I would no longer find myself on some perverse stage every morning trying to play out some farce for the enjoyment of a group of strangers I would never see again. There were also quite a few disadvantages and I didn’t know which way the scale of fate tipped at that time. Of course, I would now have children whose wants and needs I would have to attend to and I had no idea what wants and needs the grin meeting me in the truck would be, but after the demonstration I had put on, I could only guess.

I would be able to sleep on a comfortable bed again. It had to be better than the lumpy sofa bed giving my back problems every morning. Of course I would have to be sharing it with this complete stranger and I was sure there would be nights I would once again beg for the solitude of my old booth rather than the impending trespasser presenting himself in my new situation.

The thing I knew I would enjoy the most about my new location would be the landscape. Anything had to be better than the desolate desert of the Capital Limited Re-education Center or the impersonal touch of the Mother Mall showroom which had been my only comfort over the last six months. I would love to see trees and green grass again and I was sure my new place would have that. It was this resolve that allowed me to find the courage to open that truck door and enter its cab with this new stranger and this new chapter of my life.