So, it’s been a month, and progressives and Democrats have been hearing a constant refrain–that we need to reach out to Trump supporters, to try to understand the forgotten working-class base in the heartland of America which voted for him.

That is a very good point.  We do need to do that if we want to win the next election.  There is only one problem for me:  I don’t really want to know or understand the Trump voters.

This is not the wisest attitude to have, and I guess it marks me as an elitist of some sort. But I don’t care.  I don’t want to know why people continue to support Trump and overlook all the things he’s already said and done when it comes to women, immigrants and Muslims. When I recently visited a website where the deplorables gather to chat, I saw plenty of caricatures of yarmulkas and hooked noses, and references to Reichsfuhrer Trump. Blaming the Jews for your own economic woes is an age-old tradition.  The Trumpsters clearly feel the need to scapegoat someone for their own miserable situation.  What can I possibly say to them about that?  How would I change their mind?  I could suggest changes to the political and economic system which would make their life better, but these are the same people who thought Obama was a Marxist and the ACA was a government assault on their liberty–and frequently voted against their own health insurance coverage.  What does one do when faced with such ignorance?

Not to mention that in order to reach out to the Trump voters, I would have to find them where they live.  Thing is, I love my urban bubble.  I have little interest in going too far beyond its protective shield.  I’ve lived in the rural world before and I’m grateful to have escaped it.  I have no desire to move to a place where my neighbors give me the side-eye just because I don’t attend the same church they do and behave in ways they don’t consider “normal.”

Again, this does not bode well as a political strategy.  Democrats did get the popular vote in 2016, but the Democratic electorate is clustered in a few major metropolitan areas, mainly on the two coasts, and that’s not the way the American electoral system works. Hence the idea that progressives should transplant themselves to swing states.  If only I could convince myself to be enthusiastic about a midwestern or southern swing state….

The progressive movement certainly needs ambassadors right now to take its message across the country.  Unfortunately, I’m not that person.  And I wonder how many of my fellow liberal bubble-dwellers are willing to do the difficult work of outreach.  And if that work doesn’t get done, what will 2020 look like?

I hear a lot about the real America. I’m told it’s a very particular kind of place. It’s the heartland with its God-fearing and armed Christians which is the real America. Not the perverted coasts. Not elitist New York or liberal Hollywood.

Problem is, I love the fake America. I’m an immigrant–I know, we’re not quite as fashionable as we used to be–and I definitely didn’t come here for the real America. If I wanted to be surrounded by farms and church-goers, I could’ve stayed in rural Eastern Europe. Those of us around the world who dream of America dream of a glamorous and exciting place. I dreamed of the land of skyscrapers and city skylines, of jazz and rap. I didn’t think of Americans as people who followed conservative tradition, I thought of them as people who outraged their elders by doing inappropriate dances, and doing them with inappropriate dance partners. My parents imitated Americans with jeans and hippie hair and rock’n’roll. When we lived behind the Iron Curtain and we fantasized about the States, we didn’t fantasize about being a televangelist (except maybe for their wealth).

Our patriotic pundits like to remind us that America is exceptional. I agree that it is. But if it looked like they wish it did, it wouldn’t be exceptional at all. There are already plenty of narrow-minded and theocratic places on this planet–there’s no need for more. There’s not nearly enough of the mixed-up and the crazy and the sinful. Those are the parts of America I love the most. And I hope that God or Goddess will continue to bless them for many years to come.

And possibly born into the wrong generation.  (I’m supposed to be either X or Y, don’t remember which letter of the alphabet).  The more I hear about the millennials, the more I see that I agree with their values–which are often portrayed in a negative light.

Millennials don’t think of owning a car as a necessity.  For those raised in our car-centric culture, this seems downright un-American.  I happen to love being a non-driver.  It all depends on what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for.  Living in an urban area where you can take the train–or better yet, walk!–everywhere is a beautiful thing.

Millennials also don’t consider homeownership to be as important as their parents and grandparents did.  Again, this is viewed as a failure of this generation, or as a sign that they are giving up on the American dream.  But maybe the dream is simply changing.  I am a homeowner at the moment, but as time goes on, downsizing to a condo or apartment is looking more and more attractive.  Taking care of a home with a yard is a hassle, and living in the suburbs is a screaming bore.

Millennials believe in a work/life balance, and they’re right about this one as well.  We exist with the delusion that our lives will be better if we sacrifice them on the altar of work.  But what’s the point of making the money if you don’t ever have the time to sit back and enjoy what you’ve earned?

They are also socially liberal and accepting of diversity.  I’ve always thought this was a no-brainer, but unfortunately, recent events in the news show us that it isn’t.  Maybe this new generation will finally get it.  And they tend to be spiritual rather than religious.  Religion adds structure to spiritual practice, which can be useful, but spirituality is where the true connection with God is found. So it seems the young have their priorities straight.

There is only one area in which I will have to part ways with the millennials–they are disillusioned when it comes to politics, and mostly not engaged in political activism or even voting.  I can’t blame them for feeling this way, considering the way our political system works these days.  But I still believe that it’s crucial to be active.  No matter how cynical you may be about it–and I am–it’s best to be alert and involved with your lawmakers, otherwise the day may come when your lawmakers decide to become involved with your life in ways you didn’t expect.

So I guess if nothing else, I’m younger in spirit than I am in body.  Now where’s my latest time-bending invention?  I have to make sure to be born in the correct year this time.

He’s not a Communist.  I get so sick and tired of hearing this bullshit.  I grew up in a Communist state.  In fact, my family and I were political refugees from Eastern Europe due to our opposition to Communism.  We know what Communism is like.  If Obama is trying to be a Communist, he’s a failure at it.

For one thing, big business is flourishing under his administration.  The stock market is going up and companies are making huge profits.  In Communist society, big business didn’t exist.  All industries were supposed to be owned by the working class–which, in reality, amounted to them being owned by the government.  Yeah, business and the government have gotten uncomfortably close, and people are upset that certain companies are getting perks and breaks from the government.  I don’t like that either, but that’s not Communism.  In Communism, businessmen and profiteers were enemies of the government, not its friends.  What we’ve got can be more accurately defined as crony capitalism.  And Obama isn’t even very good at being a progressive President, otherwise more of those profits and perks enjoyed by the wealthy elites would get shared with the rest of us.  They aren’t, and he doesn’t seem to be taking any kind of radical action to make it happen.

The Communist state also doesn’t accept any free expression of views that are opposed to its ideology, and quashes all dissent.  For all the talk of Obama being a dictator, if there’s anything we’ve had plenty of since he became President, it’s been loud criticism of his administration.  And calling it “criticism” is putting it mildly–how about vitriol, fuming hatred, extreme name calling (see “Obama’s a Communist”).  I haven’t seen any of the incessant hateful speech about the President getting censored–nor should it be.  The talking heads who spend the most time on the airwaves yelling about how oppressive the Obama “regime” is would be in jail or off the radio a long time ago if they lived under a truly oppressive regime.  But they have no idea what that’s actually like, and it’s their job to yell, not to think.

A lot of people bring up Obamacare or government health care as an example of the “Communism” in question.  But there are many countries like Germany or Holland or Sweden that have government health care and are not Communist at all.  They are a mix of capitalism with a welfare state.  I realize there are some for whom any political system which is not unrestrained capitalim is automatically bad, but one should at least try to make distinctions.  I can say from personal experience that the difference between living in Communist Eastern Europe and Western Europe was like night and day.

And that’s the point.  If you dislike Obama–for any reason–fine.  But it does you no good in presenting your argument if you do so using exaggerated and incorrect terms.  If anything, Obama is a President who attempts to implement moderate Republican policies like Romneycare, and does so in a bumbling way.  I realize that doesn’t quite have the zing of “Communist!” to it, but reality seldom gives us that exciting zing.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the details of my daily life–or the details of the latest political PR stunt–that I forget I’m fortunate enough to live in very interesting times.  Well, fortunate or cursed, I’m not sure which one.  What I do know is that this is not a peaceful era in our country’s history.  As Grumpy Cat might say, “Good.”

Say what you will about the Obama administration’s achievements, his has not been a boring presidency.  He has been a Messiah to some–as we’ve found out this week–and an Antichrist to others.  I have yet to meet someone with a neutral opinion of Obama.  And that in itself is a good sign–if you’re not hated by anyone, you’re doing something wrong.

The country is not a neutral mood, either.  The Tea Party is trying to organize a constitutional convention–a meeting of the states to protest the direction of this government and to propose amendments to the Constitution.  State legislatures in two-thirds of the states would have to vote for this convention to happen, so who knows if this is something that will ever get off the ground.  Still, conflict and secession are in the air, as they have been pretty much since January 2009.

I wonder how we’ll look back upon this time decades from now.  If health care reform turns out to be beneficial to Americans, will Obama be remembered as the heroic President who made it happen?  Will we erase all the controversy and name-calling, the way we’ve done with JFK, and be left only with pictures of the new Camelot, of the glamorous First Family?  Will progressives do to Obama what conservatives did to Ronald Reagan when they wiped away all the wrinkles of his presidency and turned him into their Messiah?  Or will we continue to remember this as a contentious time, perhaps as the first rumblings of a deeper split in this country, or–if the threatening noises from Russia and China are any indication–the prelude to another global war?

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have the answers to any of the above questions.  Whatever the case, I’m excited to be here to witness all this and to write about it, however inadequately.  Despite the Chinese curse, I never did want to live in bland times.

It seems I need to go over the basics again, as too many out there in Interwebz land still don’t get it–

Just because someone has a different political point of view from you, it doesn’t mean that person is:

Asleep.  This one drives me crazy–it’s the belief that someone “wakes up” only when they come to agree with you.  It’s entirely possible that people who have been very awake all their lives have simply been awake to different ideas and experiences than you have, especially if they come from a different culture.  In fact, our interaction with each other may be a way for both of us to wake up to thoughts we didn’t know about.  Speaking of which, don’t make the assumption that the person who disagrees with you is…

Ignorant/uninformed.  I ingest news and analysis from a wide variety of sources, spanning all sides of the political spectrum–everything from the BBC to conservative talk radio to my pitiful addiction to C-Span.  I have met many well-informed and intelligent individuals who just happen to draw differing conclusions from the information they learn.  The world is a complicated place–none of us see the complete picture.

Mentally ill.  I know, I know–it’s everybody else who’s insane, right?

Less than human.  There is a long list of names used to accomplish this–sheeple, zombies, robots.  The goal is always the same–to dismiss those who disagree with you as not quite human.  Are you really that afraid of people with other opinions, so afraid that you can’t acknowledge they exist?  That speaks to insecurity in your own views, not confidence.

Evil.  True evil is done in our world, and the word should be reserved for those situations, otherwise the very concept is cheapened.  You may think the person who supports government health care is misguided, but they are likely not evil.  On the other hand, when you allow yourself to think of other people in dehumanizing ways (see above), doing evil can become easier.  After all, you’re not imprisoning or killing humans–just rats, zombies, etc….

So those are a couple of pointers to keep in mind as we debate each other.  When you debate, make a logical argument about the issue, which will make your side of the debate stronger anyway.  Name calling will always detract from what you have to say. 

And remember that what you’re thinking of the person you’re debating–that caricature you’ve formed of them in your mind–it isn’t true.

Whenever I end up feeling like a jaded and discouraged old (or at least middle-aged) woman, hearing about the Millennials gives me hope.  Thank God for young people.  This new generation is more racially diverse than ever.  They don’t see gay marriage as a problem.  They’re used to women having influential positions and successful careers.  They’re more likely to be skeptical of religious institutions, and to be spiritual rather than religious.  They’re more likely to be vegan or vegetarian than people of other generations–I’m not vegetarian myself, but deeply admire the motivations which lead a person to make that choice.

They will also probably become more conservative as they get older, just as every other generation does.  But that is the essence of the life process–by the time the Millennials get too old and crusty, new kids and new ideas will enter the scene.  All I know is that the last thing I want is to get stuck in some static version of “the good old days”.  Let my faded nostalgia get washed away by the flow of life, as it deserves to be, and in with the new.

I’m starting to think I need to make alternate plans in case Obama doesn’t win in 2012.  Not that I’m assuming he will lose, but I also think it’s dangerous to get too confident.  Whatever the outcome of the election, it will be sure to be a nail-biter, with lots of slander and dirty tricks.  And we all know that if Obama does lose, there will be a mood of general despair, and much gnashing of teeth and wailing will be heard in the land.  So it would be wise to prepare a Plan B for that possibility—if nothing else, to keep me from sinking into depression during the dark, post-apocalyptic election aftermath.

In my case, the plan is to get involved locally.  Thank God, no matter what else happens, Portland will remain a den of liberal iniquity.  So even if President Romney comes to pass—shudder—and starts repealing every good idea President Obama ever came up with, we can still work on building a progressive city right here.  I need to start looking at worthy local candidates and causes for 2012, get off my duff and get to work.

Tell me, am I completely off my rocker to be worried about the election?  Are all of you pretty much optimistic that Barack will win it in a landslide?  (Please say yes!)  And are any of you making preparations for what you will do in a case of a loss?  Such as leaving for a foreign country, or guiding your blue home state towards secession?  Let me know what you think.  I already have a prime spot underneath a local bridge picked out for my golden years in case Social Security gets privatized, so you can’t accuse me of not being ready for everything.

I snuck up the stairs to our apartment, sweating, dripping with shame.  I had committed the darkest possible sin:  I had voted Republican.

Never had I imagined it would come to this, but one fine day, it happened—I couldn’t handle yet another tax hike.  A new campaign was going on to increase the alcohol sales tax to help the schools, and as much as I loved schools, I loved beer more.  At this rate, I soon wouldn’t be able to afford my drinking habit.  So I voted against the tax measure and for the Republican candidate.

Even though our town was under liberal rule, it allowed the continuing existence of the local Republican party, mostly due to the smug knowledge that almost nobody would vote for them.

This was my one comfort.  No matter how guilty I felt about my vote, it would be a minority voice, to be swept away by the election winds.  None of my loved ones would be any the wiser.

Still, my conscience weighed me down.  I had nausea and panic attacks when I went to bed.  I felt as if I had, in some indirect way, raped somebody.

And then the tax measure failed.  The Republican candidate didn’t get elected, but fifty-five percent of our town residents quietly voted against the tax increase.

My friends gathered to mourn at our place, ashen-faced.  They were in shock.

“How could people be so short-sighted?  So selfish?  I mean, really?”  Nova wondered.

“I feel like burning something down,”  Julian stammered.

“Maybe the voters like to get drunk,”  I suggested.

“I guess so.  I’m glad they’ve got their priorities,”  Nova said angrily.

“I wish I knew some Republicans, so I could argue with them right now!”  Julian said.

I refrained from comment, at least until later that evening.

***

“Ah, so how does it feel to be me for once?”  RedGirl asked.

“Go ahead, you can gloat,”  I said.

“I can’t believe that you actually did vote Republican.  What happened?  What made you see the light?”

“Not so fast.  I still plan to vote Democratic in the general election.  It’s just that our local lefties are so inept.”

“Sure.  Well, being a political minority isn’t easy.  But remember, you’re strong.  You can survive being a social pariah.”

“You’re not very good at the comforting thing.”

“Would you like to come to a Whiskey Party rally with us?”

I had seen what the rallies against the local government looked like:  lots of waving of tri-cornered hats, guns and American flags.  “Er…no.”

“Okay, but you’re always welcome if you change your mind.”

***

It was when I made the fateful decision to check my Facebook that the temptation appeared.  My sister had Liked the I’m So Happy Measure 569 Didn’t Pass! page.  I knew it was a bad idea, but here was the chance to assert a different opinion for once, and it was so deadly easy—all I had to do was click.

I moved the mouse back and forth nervously.  The word Like glowed and danced before my eyes.  I felt as if I was about to climb the barricades.

I clicked Like, turned off the computer and rolled into a ball under my bedcovers.

An hour or so later, Julian came into the bedroom.  When I peeked out from under the sheets, he backed away in horror.

“Don’t do that, baby.”

“I don’t understand what you’ve changed into,” he said.  “I thought I knew who I was sleeping with.  Now it turns out I’ve been having sex with a…a conservative.”

“You haven’t.  This was only one issue, one election.”

“One issue ruins everything, Blue.  You’re not pure anymore.”

“Are you serious?  Where are you going?”

“I need to be alone so I can deal with this Like thing.”

“Will you be coming back?”

“I don’t know.”  I heard the living room door close behind him and then the sofa squeaking underneath him.

At work, all my stuff had been packed up into a box.

Leah was tense.  “It’s too bad.  We could have been sisters in the struggle…”

“Maybe I can Unlike the page.”

“No, it’s too late now.  You’ve crossed the line and you can’t go back again.”

Jobless and possibly single, I went to the only place I could think of where I could express my powerless rage.

***

A large man in a tri-cornered hat bumped into me and my cardboard box.  “Get a job, whiner!”  he bellowed before joining the rest of the shouting throng.

The Whiskey Party rally in front of City Hall.  Small but loud, with a whiff of insanity.  It fit my mood perfectly.  I strained my eyes until I found RedGirl.  She was lifting up a sign which read “Arrest The False Messiah,” referring to the President.

She wagged her sign at me in greeting.  “Hey,”  she said.  “I Liked your Like on Facebook.”

I nodded.  “Thanks.  You’re the only one who did.”  I hesitated.  “After all this time we’ve spent fighting each other, you may have been the one who was right.”

She gave a sideways glance at the protest.  “Can we walk away from here for a few minutes?”

She let her sign slump at her side as we walked.  “You’re the only person I can talk to about this…   I think I’m going to vote Democrat in the upcoming election.  I’m scared of the cuts in retirement and Medicare and everything…”

For a moment, we faced each other in silence.  “It sounds like we’ve both secretly sinned against our ideologies,”  I said.

“Ideologies can get so difficult,”  RedGirl sighed.  “So now what?  Which side am I on again?  And what are the sides?”

I pondered it.  “As horrible as the realization is, we may be on the same side.”

She shuddered.

“I know, I know.  But when it comes down to it, we’re both getting screwed.”

“Well, I am, at least…”

“Whatever.  My point is, take a look at the Squircal guys and how their approach to life works.  No matter which political group is in charge, they’re always in power.  They have no problem with being the government or a corporation, depending on which suits them better.”

“Yeah…but that’s how the world is.”

“Really?  Why is it that they get to do all the things they get to do?  Why do you have to spend your life doing what they tell you to do?”

“Fine, fine, it’s true and it’s painful, okay?  What do you want me to say?  It’s not like I can do anything about it.”

“By yourself, you can’t do very much…but what if we joined forces?”

RedGirl was quiet for a while.  Finally she said:  “You know how you could never fly, and I could?”

“Yeah, I’m kind of a lame superhero.”

“Let’s try holding hands.”

I wasn’t at all sure this was going to work.  RedGirl took off, pulling me along with her at first, but as we went on, I felt it happening—I became lighter, and then we were flying together.

We didn’t have to say anything to each other about where we were going.  We sped as one in the direction of the tallest skyscraper in town.

***

The Squircal men were none too thrilled to see me on the top floor of their building.

“Not you and your democracy crap again.  We don’t have time for this,”  one of them said.  He saw RedGirl standing next to me.  “Oh, good.  Take her away,”  he ordered.

She refused to move.  “Boo-Boo, you’ve been lying to me about the economy.  I don’t believe you anymore.”

He groaned in annoyance.  “Look, there’s a nice fat bonus in it for you…”

“No.  We’re sisters,”  she said, and took my hand again.  Now that we were united, our energy was finally strong enough to defeat Squircal.  It grew into a giant ball of purple light and shot gleaming rays into the sky, piercing the clouds.

The executives squealed like a herd of pigs.  Exposed to our light, their skin burst and the air escaped out of them, until they crumbled and there was nothing left of them except a few shriveled lumps of charcoal.

As the dust cleared, the sound of fluttering wings was heard.  The Bat briefly perched on the remains of his followers, sniffed at them with contempt and then flew away again, no doubt to search for new and better minions.

The fight was over.  The skies were clear.  My sister and I stared at each other across the empty Squircal offices.

“Yay us!”  She pumped her fists in the air.  “So, what happens now?  What kind of political system do we have now?”

“Um…I think it’s up to us,”  I said.  “We build it.”

“Oh.”  She leaned against the wall, the first traces of fear and regret in her face.

I looked down at my hands.

THE END (FOR NOW)

“Five…four…three…two…one!”

The blindfold was slipped from my eyes.

“Surpriiiise!”

I blinked in the darkness.  In front of me, there was a crowd of people, cheering and wishing me a happy birthday.  Some of them were my friends, but some of them were strangers, and some of the strangers were waving dildos at me.

Then I recognized where I was—at the Donner Party nightclub, which held an erotic costume ball every month.

“Wasn’t it a brilliant idea to have your birthday at the ball?”  Julian asked.

When he told me to make sure to take my lingerie along for my surprise, I thought we might be staying at a swanky hotel.  But I was nothing if not a good hostess, so I shrugged and went to change into my garter belt.  Besides, the erotic balls were fun.

I scanned my group of guests.  Julian was looking quite handsome in his top hat, RedGirl had wrapped herself in a very small American flag, and Julian’s friend was dressed up as a teddy bear because, as she explained, “there are people who have a fetish for them.”

Leah wasn’t dressed up at all.  She was wearing her usual T-shirt and jeans.  “This is the outfit of the everyday working woman,” she said, “and it should be considered the sexiest of all.”

“I’m going to get back my virginity,”  RedGirl whispered to me when were sitting together.

“How?”  I was alarmed.

She flashed a piece of massive bling at me.  “This is my purity ring.  Well, a better version of it.”

“You can’t get your virginity back once it’s gone.”  I leaned forward.  “Also, you’re wearing a patriotic napkin right now.”

“That’s just to attract my intended husband.  I’m still going to be chaste from now on.  I’m afraid that if I’m not, I’ll end up like one of your friends.”  She pointed at Nova, who was rolling around on the floor in her bear costume.

I stared at Nova’s twirling, spellbound.  Julian was watching her, too.

“I think you’re restricting yourself,”  he said to me.

“Huh?”

“Well…sometimes I can sense that you need more freedom.  I think maybe you’re feeling trapped in the whole monogamy thing.”

“Oh, I see.  *I* feel trapped.”  I was feeling furious, actually.

“But the thing is, we can still be together….”

“Look, don’t give me that open relationship bullshit,”  I snarled.  “Either I’m going to be your only one or I’m not going to be with you at all.  If you want to leave, just leave.”

“Why do you have to turn it into such an all or nothing situation?  I don’t want to leave you, I…”

I didn’t listen to the rest of what he had to say.  I walked off and sat down on a pile of pillows by the wall.  Nova sat down beside me and put her bear paw around me.

Maybe RedGirl was right.  Julian had his flaws, but one thing I thought I could count on was that he wasn’t the polyamorous type.  Was there something in the air in this town that turned people slutty?

It was only then, slouching there, sunk into my anger, that I realized just how much I had grown to dislike this place, the grown up children I was surrounded by.

My first instinct was to fight something, the way I had fought so many times before.  But what was I fighting?  Julian?  Promiscuity?

Either way, I had to resolve this.  I climbed the stage in the back of the club, and took the microphone away from a surprised drag queen.

“For those who are here for my birthday…”  At this, booing could be heard around the room.  “…I wanted to make the official announcement that I’m breaking up with Julian.  Thank you for listening.”  My speech would have been longer and a lot more interesting if I’d been drunk.

After my announcement, I had a fabulous time.  I had one whiskey shot after another, and shouted “Woooo!” a lot.  Julian wisely avoided me.

“Romantic feelings are a distraction from the cause anyway,”  Leah noted.

I didn’t reveal to Leah that I no longer believed in the cause.  No, that wasn’t right.  I still believed in the cause.  I no longer believed in pretentious hipsters and people in bearsuits as part of the cause.

The hipsters had to be destroyed.

***

It wasn’t going to be that simple, though.  It turned out that in order to move out of the apartment I shared with Julian, I had to get a permit for a new apartment.  I was put on the waiting list for one.  It could be one to two years, I was told.

“I guess I’ll have to keep living with you,”  I said to Julian.  “But I’m still not sleeping with you.”

“That’s okay,”  he said.  “As long as you don’t mind the people I bring home with me.”

I made my own corner of the living room quite cozy.  I hung clotheslines with curtains around the square which contained the sofa I now slept on, a small cabinet of drawers with my clothes in it, a radio and a pile of my favorite books.  Since the sofa was in use, Julian would have to take any new girlfriends straight to the bedroom, but that was his problem.  He could do anything he wanted to do.  In the meantime, I would be getting caught up on literary classics and plotting the demise of the hipster movement.

After a few weeks, I started noticing something unexpected.  I called my sister up.

“I think you may have a point with that purity thing.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it’s like the longer I abstain from sex, the stronger I become.  It’s almost as if the energy I would normally expend on having sex is getting stored up inside me, and it’s growing.”

I paused, waiting for her to respond.  She had the powers, too…was she experiencing the same thing?

“Sis…?”

“Um…”  She sounded crestfallen.  “I kind of fell off the wagon and slept with one of my boo-boos.  So the second virginity didn’t work out.  I don’t think I wanna try a third time.”

“No, I’d imagine not.”

“Hey, I got a nice ring out of it.”

I hung up the phone.  So much for bonding over abstinence.

Then I remembered the guys RedGirl referred to as her boo-boos were the Squircal men.  She must’ve gotten back in with them, somehow.  A part of me had hoped against hope that she would join me in trying to overthrow this system, since it went against the conservative ideas that she claimed to stand for.  But she wouldn’t.  I was by myself on this one.

Julian wasn’t bringing around any girlfriends yet, but he also wasn’t at home a lot.  He would often come back late at night.  I would listen for him from behind my curtains, twisting my body to the side so that I could hear his footsteps.  I missed my pretentious little jerk.

Each day, the pressure on my pelvis and my belly increased.  I constantly had to shift positions while I slept, and I ended up sleeping on my back most of the time.

The thing I carried within me grew heavier.  I couldn’t help wondering just how ugly this baby would be when it was finally born.

***

One afternoon in the eighth week of my pregnancy of resentment, I came home and found Nova standing in front of my curtains.  A big tear was dangling from her nose.

“Is something wrong?”  I asked in a tentative voice.

“I was looking at your sofa.”  Her voice caught.  My new bed was pitiful—that was true.  She turned her tear-streaked face toward me.  “I wa…  I want for all of us to be friends.”

I frowned.  “Are you dating Julian?”

“Yes.”  She wiped at her eyes.  “I don’t know what it is.  You’ve been so different lately.  We’re still friends, right?”

What the fuck was I supposed to say?  “Of course we are.  Whatever is going on between you and Julian has nothing to do with us.”

She brightened.  “Oh, good!  Would you like to come to the strip club to celebrate our friendship?  Julian and I are going.”

“Well…”

She gave a tiny half-sob.

“Sure,”  I said.

“Yay!”  She clapped her hands.  Julian came out of the bedroom.  “Blue is going with us, Julian!”

“That is not necessary,”  he said.

“Yes, it is!”  Nova insisted.  “We have to show her we’re still her friends!”

“All right, fine,”  Julian said.  “We’ll prove our loyalty to her.”

And they did.  Nova made Julian buy me drinks.  I sipped at the alcohol, secretly wishing that it would finish off the squirming creature in my belly.

I was in the middle of a nightmare.  Everyone around me was flirting, lusting, cheating on their partners, I suspected—it was a den of filth.  I had never been this disgusted by it before.  It made me feel nauseated.  I bent over, clutching my stomach, my body gripped by contractions.  I held on to the bar and moaned in pain.

“Are you okay?”  I heard Julian ask.  “Did you have too much to drink?”

A blob of pale blue light dropped to the floor beneath me.  It crawled away and vanished between the tables.

“Oh, no,”  I said weakly.  “I think that was my baby.”

Julian moved away from me slightly.

The blob appeared again in the center of the room, stopped for a moment, and then burst into multiple shafts of light, which pierced anyone in their way.

And with that, sexy time at the club was over.  The horndogs near the stage shrugged and got up from their chairs.  A dancer halted her slide mid-pole, her heels pointed up in the air, her face confused.  Julian stepped out of an embrace with Nova and cleared his throat, as if he’d been struck by the reverse of a Cupid’s arrow.

Well, here was an achievement to be proud of.  I had managed to kill everyone’s libido.

In a couple of minutes, the strip club emptied out.

“So…are you coming over to my place tonight?”  Nova asked Julian.

“Oh…no, I don’t think so…I think I’m just gonna go home.”

As Julian followed me out of the club, Nova was wearing her lost puppy expression again.  I had no sympathy for little lost animals like her, so I didn’t look back or say anything.

Perhaps giving birth wasn’t always a bad idea.

***

Later that evening, I leaned in the bedroom doorframe, my hand on my hip.  “I assume I’ll be sleeping with you tonight, Julian,”  I said.

“What?  I don’t really feel like sleeping with anyone right now,” he said.

“I know.  I don’t mean it like that, silly,”  I said.  “Your balls aren’t gonna work right for a while.  My apologies for that, by the way.  No, I mean I’m moving back to the bed.  I’m sick and tired of the fucking sofa.”

“But no sex?”  he pleaded.

“We’ll be completely chaste,”  I assured him.  “It’ll be like you were a virgin all over again.”