Shooter Flash: “Virginia Correctional, 2024” by Crystal Fraser

They said it was murder, even though I swear it was just an accident. I ran during my first two pregnancies right up til the third trimester, and even though I’d hit 34 by the time of my third, I saw no reason to do things any different. I went down over that tree root and started cramping right away. When I got home and saw the blood I called 911, didn’t think twice about it. And then the cops showed up at the hospital. 

“Intentionally causing the death of an individual,” they said, “by self-induced abortion.” How can a fetus be an individual when it’s physically linked to its momma, connected by the cord. There’s no individuality there – it’s a part of someone else. A potential person, sure. But not yet a person, housed inside the womb. Just one step further along than sperm and egg. Maybe they should criminalise men for all the potential life they waste watching internet porn. But that would never happen, would it. Every man would be in jail.

The thing is, I was always a Republican. I love my country, and my kids, and even though Burt up and left pretty quick last year, right after I got that positive test, I’ve got good family values. But what people say don’t always match up to what they do. All those politicians acting righteous, telling other people how they oughta live, talking about God and family and the right to life – then they get busted for rape or assault or sex with a minor. Even if they don’t get busted, everybody knows it. Trump never went down but there’s plenty of pictures out there of him partying with that Epstein guy, and I bet he wasn’t hanging out just to play golf. 

So now I’m in here, because of what they called “negligence”, causing the death of someone I never even met or named, while my girls are living without their momma and their daddy God knows where. What kind of family values is that, to take away the momma of two girls just because a child that might have been didn’t even make it to its first breath. They’re doing okay, but my mom is pushing 60 and the girls run a little wild. My dad passed two years ago right after they overturned Roe. He was all for it, then, but I bet he didn’t count on things going this far.

You have to wonder why some people care so much about the existence of babies in this world and not the lives of women. Or maybe you don’t, not that hard. Seems to me like men have all the freedom of choice, but they sure don’t want women to have it the same way. If pregnancy was something that happened in the male body you can be sure they’d do what the hell they liked about it. Especially if they already had two kids to take care of on a single income, and didn’t much feel like going through the sickness and the labor pain and the blocked ducts and the crying and the broken sleep and the cost of childcare making it damn well impossible just to survive.

So really, when you think about it, you could say the outcome was worth it, even if I did end up in here. Even if it was an accident.

Which it was.

I swear.

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Crystal Fraser’s stories and essays have been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, MacGuffin, The Iconoclast, Potato Soup Journal, Flash Fiction Magazine, and elsewhere. She teaches high school history in Indianapolis, where she lives with her husband and two kids.