Chapter 1: The Baby
"When we're born," Annie Ireland told the Roach Boy once, "we're sentenced to, like, life. And some of us -- I'd be a prime example -- are made to do hard time."
She didn't blame that solely on the baby, though.
The baby, or "your baby," as Ms. Beach referred to it when she handed Annie hers, was a life-size doll. All the freshman girls at Converse High who were enrolled in the required Life Skills class were given their own babies to take care of. So Annie had to have the baby with her all day, every school day. Wherever she was, she bottle-fed it, burped it, and changed it, according to Ms. Beach's schedule. It slept through most of Annie's classes, though, a sign of its intelligence, she thought. The baby was an anatomically correct boy who had "nothing to write home about," according to Laird Sediment, a guy in Annie's class who liked to watch and snicker during diaperings.
Annie didn't think she needed Life Skills class. She didn't need to be warned about what would happen if she played unprotected hide the weenie with the Roach Boy, the only male with whom she had had so much as social intercourse. And she didn't have to learn "responsibility." Shit, she thought, if anything, she was too responsible already, too perennially conscience-stricken and turning cartwheels to do better, to live up to her parents' endless row of "We expect's."
Copyright © 2003 by Julian F. Thompson