Cain & Abortion (A Short Story)

Painting by Nassib Asar
Painting by Nassib Asar. (I do not own this, but it’s brilliant.)

By: Derek Hobson

Helena was a charming woman from a religious upbringing. Her father and mother were Lutheran and they had her undergo all the formalities of baptism, confirmation, and communion. They were religious and that was that. They did not have Jesus in the halls, but didn’t discriminate if they found jewelery that did. Money was not an issue but that’s because they led very simple lives and put no value on fame, fortune, or success. “I love you and I want you to be happy,” is what they taught their daughter. Everything else she would pick up from her environment. They were simple and content and that’s why this story is not about them.

Helena’s personal understanding of God was that He was the protagonist of The Holy Bible. Over the course of the Old and New Testaments was His journey as a character–the first bildungsroman.

This is what led her to believe in God, because believing in God was believing in herself. She felt that her early years, through whatever childhood logic there was, was riddled with anger, frustration, and a general wanting; wanting things to go her way and never getting them. She found this to be true with God in the Old Testament and that’s what led to the rules and many, many deaths. She felt that God was a child trying to communicate in a world full of adults.

Originally, she felt that the New Testament was anecdotal and only intended to repeat the tales of The Boy who Cried Wolf and other nursery rhymes. It seemed childish and she even asked her parents if they could convert to Judaism to stay true to the text she appreciated.

The parents, being simple and content, tickled the idea and decided to take her to synagogues and to meet with a rabbi.

Rabbi Eliezer was the one she picked. She considered him authentically Jewish. Much of his face was hidden by his beard, but what little skin was visible appeared as an additional face. His eyeglasses were so thick, that his pupils seemed massive–like a baby’s–and since his facial hair rounded his cheek bones, he had no clear definition of a jaw line or chin. As such, Rabbi Eliezer was a man with a large head, bulbous eyes, and a tiny pair of pink lips. This gave him a youthful look, as though the facial hair and robes and height were all part of a disguise and this is why Helena chose him. He seemed–to her–to be a child, hidden away in a man’s body and that was akin to her God.

Of course, Rabbi Eliezer told Helena that if she wanted to become a Jew, she would need to observe their rituals and traditions for one year, so as to be well-educated in their practice. Of course, Helena replied in the affirmative.

For about 3 months the family took her to synagogue and she adored it. She loved celebrating Rosh Chodesh, partially because it excused her from her daily chores. She enjoyed fasting even though it was not required of such a young pupil, she felt it necessary to feel the full effect. Her parents of course enjoyed the fasts as well as it made it more reasonable for them to spend money on the Sabbath for larger feasts.

Most of all, she enjoyed the language and its archaic tongue. When she repeated passages in Hebrew, she felt like it needed to be coughed out painfully. She felt like a cat trying to learn how to speak in English. She would contort her mouth and twist her tongue. It was a language altogether escapable and she was only able to catch the crust of syllables. Moreover, she savored the Jewish depiction of “G-d,” that God was too large and overwhelming to be condensed into one English word. The removal of the vowel “O” was all the more symbolic, because when she spoke Hebrew, she felt as though they avoided vowels entirely. The “O” reminded her of halos, of rings, of wholeness. G-d was true devotion and “God” made things too easy.

In fact, Rabbi Eliezer was certain that he’d never seen a better candidate to convert wholeheartedly to Judaism. Helena was even excited for the day that she might become a mother and therefore her child would be born Jewish.

And then, on September 1, 1998 a phenomenon started that would forever alter her perception of G-d: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Every friend, cousin and classmate picked up a copy. She was forced to read the book in the 4th grade. It was everywhere and to make matters worse, she enjoyed it. The story was simple, effective, and wholly damaging. Suddenly, the concept of G-d, or YHWH, or “the name,” became synonymous with a villain of “he who must not be named.” She grew fearful of G-d and suddenly viewed him as less of a character, but a powerful, spiteful being. She thought of Harry’s world of magic and how it was far beyond the reaches of heathenism. How could they believe in magic and not in G-d as the great and powerful engine?

She began wondering if the world of magic was synonymous with spirituality and performing miracles. Some believed in Harry and others didn’t. He wasn’t the best wizard, but he had a legacy and he fought against what HaShem stood for. So, was it possible that “he who must not be named” was “G-d” and the students at Hogwarts need only to fight back to reclaim their independence? If this was the case then she would be unable to convert into the covenant, as she could not accept their G-d as her G-d.

So she stopped attending synagogue and performing the rituals.

The Bible became the monster in her drawer. She would open it at night to make sure that it stayed face down and didn’t move from within it’s confinement. She begged her father for a lock to that drawer and told her mother never to speak of “he who must not be named” in her presence.

But as the years progressed and the adventures of Harry continued, she realized that she too was growing up. The books continued and with each one she learned a little bit more, watched a little more growth. Her drawer, which had remained locked for several years, finally opened back up and she noted that it was still resting face-down, almost as if it was foretold that she should start at the New Testament.

Suddenly, taking her ideas of God from the old testament into a new perspective, she realized that Jesus–although the son–was an adult. In the great paradoxes of religion, she considered this the most divine, because Jesus was the adult that God wasn’t.

When he preached in Matthew 18, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” She understood this to mean that God was still a child in heaven, but that Jesus was the adult they needed.

Suddenly, Fitzgerald’s Benjamin Button appeared to be the right and correct path. That we should start as aged adults and grow into childhood and that the reverse was contrary. The story of Adam & Eve made a wealth of sense to her as they were not born children, but adults and therefore childhood was the end goal. Likely, the fruit from the tree did not cause people to die, but to age in reverse, growing older instead of younger. The fear of death replaced the luxury of being born.

This is what made her appreciate birth above all.

Her life progressed and she graduated college, began a career in political science, and helped qualified candidates reach their seat in congress.

When she was 29, she’d all but forgotten about her religious youth and married a Muslim man named Qasim.

Qasim was 4 years her junior, but his knowledge had amounted far beyond that. Qasim had become financially independent at 23, meaning that he had paid off all his tuition debts and become credible enough to open his own business. His primary income was from strategic risk consulting, primarily advising fortune 500 companies on where to make budget restrictions and how to optimize efficiency. On the side however, he taught smaller companies soft skills, employee management and corporate strategy. His degree was in mechanical engineering.

His zeal was what drew Helena to Qasim, but his dark features combined with a very feminine face didn’t hurt the attraction. He was very logical and declarative. When he asked his clients questions about their company, it was as though he already knew the answer and was simply affirming his theory with their credible knowledge.

One day, Qasim invited Helena to a business meeting with a client and his wife to have a more personal conversation. The client’s partner, co-founder, and unfortunately friend had embezzled money and he sought advice on how to proceed.

Qasim agreed to the meeting and after a lengthy legal chat, the conversation organically progressed into personal values and beliefs, to which Qasim talked about his religion. This sparked Helena’s dormant spirit with Islam.

Although in no way evangelical, Qasim mentioned that his goal was never worship in a traditional sense. While Islam typically requires people to obey the five pillars, he did not pray in a conventional way to Mecca. Instead, he said, “Islam teaches us to never give too much or too little; it’s to act as a middle path. While some Muslims consider it heresy, I do not pray 5 times a day or at all. For my religious practices, I pray in everything that I do. Islam teaches that your life is lived in worship to Allah, so everything I do, from how I speak, to how I wash my hands is in worship to Allah. That is a role I am happy to accept.”

While the client nodded, it ultimately had no effect, but Helena was a different story. The liberation and freedom of Qasim’s religion made her feel whole once again. Given that her current priority was career. She suddenly felt alive again as an individual, being able to live her life for a higher purpose but without rituals. Because she would grow into old age instead of the reverse, her life would get in the way; whereas a child could obey every ritual set forth, an adult could not.

Helena probed Qasim more and more about Islam and gradually his surprise from her curiosity vanished and it became a topic of discussion regularly at the dinner table.

Eventually, Qasim broached the subject of making the trip to Mecca and Helena was inspired, but as they already had had their honeymoon, Helena wondered when best to do it.

Her memories of when she was attempting Judaism resurfaced however and how she celebrated the first of each month and sought to have a baby of her own born into the Jewish religion. Suddenly, with her new religious inspiration, she decided that the best way to make this venture would be to travel to Mecca after the birth of their first baby, so the child would be born into the world with an unsurpassed holy phenomenon.

This is what made her and Qasim want to have a baby.

After four happy years of marriage and 2 years of attempting to have a baby, an unknown, inherited trait led to Qasim’s death.

Qasim’s mother suffered from a condition known as varicose veins. This caused the vein walls–more elastic than arteries–to lose much of their tightness which results in dysfunctional valves. The result is an unsightly, bulging vein caused by blood pooling around the valves.

Qasim did not suffer surface varicose veins however, but internal blood pooling, known as deep-vein thrombosis. And on a flight back from one of his business trips overseas, a blood clot had formed in his legs and became so large that the veins pushed it through to his lungs and he suffered a pulmonic embolism on the plane. There was no way to save him.

Of course, Helena’s world was shattered and was scarcely able to function. She sank into a deep depression, of which, her colleagues asked her to take a sabbatical. Her depression seemed to cause bulimia so she turned to a doctor for help. Upon routine questions and inspection, the doctor deduced that Helena was pregnant.

Sudden jubilation erupted within her. After two years of trying with her husband, she was pregnant.

“And not just pregnant…” the doctor said upon seeing her depression vanish, “twins.”

Just as Qasim had done, she would put worship into everything she did. Now that worship would be in her role as mother and for her own children.

Her children meant the world to her, so she attended every class and read every book she could find. Soon, a former senator approached her about seeking office, but to Helena’s surprise, it was for herself. The senator thought she was one of the last of her kind; someone with a heart and a desire to change. Helena took the vote of confidence and decided to run for congress.

Of course, she had the backing of several years worth of senators, so the election was already guaranteed. Most people wondered what she would do with her time in office. For starters, abortion.

Her rival candidate pushed for pro-choice, but this contested Helena’s belief. Helena had lost a husband and valued life too much to allow children to be killed before given the opportunity to live. She understood the predicament for youths and rape victims, but she wasn’t ignorant of her beliefs. To personal confidants, she admitted that Jesus, in all likelihood, was the bastard child of a roman guard and Mary, but she didn’t believe this hindered the text, but built upon it. Good things can come of the most heinous circumstances.

So she fought against abortion, moreover, she wanted abortion to be considered on par with murder…

In the womb, the twins stirred: one at the back of the womb, and one at the front. The one at the back was known as Abel, and every time he kicked, Helena felt it in her stomach, so she would coo and pet the bump. But the bump was Cain in the front and he was aware that her cooing was misplaced, for every time he kicked, it hit his mother’s spine. It was not his fault, it was simply how he was positioned in the womb and the kicks were the only way to let her know he was there. But she never cooed at Cain’s kicking, she would groan in pain.

Helena’s campaign was fierce and she won, especially being he poster child for pro-life, given her pregnancy. The law was passed, and abortion was made illegal; on par with murder.

Cain grew jealous of Abel and after Abel kicked Helena’s belly, Cain grabbed Abel and absorbed him into himself. This ended Abel’s life and made Cain left-handed.

When Cain was born, doctor’s were shocked by Abel’s absence, and Helena was at a loss for words, being conflicted between joy of motherhood and the loss of one of her children. But the law was what it was. Cain had murdered Abel, in many ways, he had aborted his brother in the womb, and as a result he must go on trial.

Cain was only an infant; he couldn’t understand. So when Helena had gathered her thoughts, in an attempt to extinguish the guilt of her actions, she told him to hide, to seek out her rival and his followers for assistance for they would not harm him.

When she informed her rival candidate of the plan, the politician asked her, “How will I know he is your son?”

And she replied, “He will use our non-dominant hand for all activities. He will favor it with writing and drawing, and anything of the sort. That is how you will recognize him, by his mark; his left-hand.”

And so was the legacy of Cain.

For more short stories, check out Derek Hobson’s Article Archive

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