Society of Women
Home Up The Society of Leith Fruit of my womb




The next day my supervisor introduces Claire. "I'm gonna put the two biggest blethers in the place beside each other, " she says, and smiles and leaves. I look at Claire. She's a teen, in the full bloom of mid-term pregnancy. We smile, awkwardly. We chat. It's gonna be OK.

I shut up and listen, keen as ever to learn. She talks. She tells me lots. Except her sperminator. He doesn't figure - at least for now.

So this old dear comes in. "It's my birthday," she announces to the two of us, proudly. "How old?" I ask -  automatically and forgetting the protocol. (But actually the old girls love to tell you :) "I'm eighty seven!" she declares, beaming with pride. "No!" Claire and I chorus. "About 65!" I say, and reach to stroke her arm.

"Yes - eighty seven," she goes on. "It's seventy years since I had Tom my only boy. I was in hospital most of the pregnancy - and they thought I was gonna lose him. They tried to get me to have an abortion, but I said no. And you know, I'm so glad I didn't. Because now I've got four grandchildren and ten beautiful great- grandchildren. If I'd listened to them I would have nothing."

I smile at her, genuinely transfixed. And then I wonder if I dare venture....

"Claire here's just gonna have her first one," I tell the old lady. "Oh darling," she says, then the two women each reach out their hands and touch and hold for a long moment. Red hair, silver hair. I look away, overcome and superfluous as the baton passes down. It's a matriarchal species.


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