Friday, 28 June 2013
He loved her so much. If he could, he would give her the world. And some. He knew it was a cliché, but for once he was sure. And he had never been sure of anything in his life until now. Been a train running on full speed, with no driver for so long. But now he was going to sort it out. Fix everything.
He was a child from before the OffSpring scheme. From a time when everyone, including his mother, were allowed to have children as they pleased. The thought had messed up his mind on many occasions. He hated his mother. Her unwillingness to give him a single glance, let along some comforting words. A slap on the face if he had been brought home by police, perhaps. A mothers touch. But did he wish he had never been born?
Well, here he was. Born and bread in a council flat in Gypsy Hill, south east London. Wanting to get away from the smelly flat, with his sweaty nicotine stained mother permanently camped out in the sofa watching dramas, he had roamed the city. He could not count the fights, the smashed windows, the bottles of cider. It was not a pretty childhood.
When the government publicised their plans of giving double the job seekers allowance if you did not get a job within the year, he had happily voted yes. Even though the price was high. Chemical non-permanent sterilisation until you could prove a suitable level of income to support a child. The un-loved brats roaming the cities, wrecking havoc on the streets, had become too much for the new government. "The OffSpring scheme is only for the benefit of the children, the ones who do not get the love and support they need. No one will be left un-wanted ever again!!" The suggestion had been hailed as a revolutionary idea. No longer would poor women be able to have children just to claim benefits. Children they neither wanted nor cared about. More benefits would be available for everyone. He had looked back on his childhood and agreed with the government. So had the majority of the population. At the age of 23 he had received his compulsory injection. A small injection just behind the balls. Could be reversed at any time. As long as you proved you were married and had a stable income of no less than £15000 gross per annum.
It only took three months after he had signed up for the new job seekers scheme before he had been offered a job. He liked it. Not that he had ever dreamed about being a postman as a child. But then again, he hadn't had any dreams at all. He liked to be able to walk outdoors. To wear a uniform. He knew the streets like the back of his hand and always planned his rounds to make sure he had spare time to chat with shopkeepers and pub owners when delivering their post. The salary was good. £13000 a year, with a 10 percent increase every 6 months for three years. Life was getting better.
It was a sunny day in September, a surprise late summer warmth in the air, when he met her. A cashier at the new teashop on Westow Hill. Their shop uniforms were pale blue, and he remembered how her beauty made him breathless as he entered the teashop with their first ever delivery of letters. Her dark brown eyes had smiled at him as he gave her her post, and he had suddenly found himself without a single word to say. Every day for a month he had entered the teashop with butterflies in his belly, and every day she had smiled at him and he had stayed silent. But one day it changed. He thought he saw something in her eye. A twinkle? It loosened his vocal chords and he finally blurted out his first words to her: "Would you like to go for a coffee with me on saturday?" She had laughed, said she preferred tea, but had happily accepted his offer. He didn't sleep for the rest of the week.
Their first ever meetings were strange and beautiful. They spent most of the time in silence, looking at each other, wondering if this was too good to be true. After six months they moved in as newlyweds into a small flat above Gypsy Hill train station. The trains were noisy, but so were they, riding on the waves of passion. Life was perfect.
Her illness crept up on them slowly. It pretended to be a common cold for the first couple of months, but then bloomed out in full blown pneumonia. She survived it, but her throat didn't. The scarring left her with a permanent cough and a dark raspy voice. He didn't mind. Made her laugh by telling her she sounded like a sexy jazz singer. The owner of the tea shop did mind however. Apparently no one wants to buy tea from a raspy voiced cashier who coughs on the fine blends. She was moved to the back, stacking boxes at two thirds of her pay. He tried to comfort her, but she didn't stop sobbing. Every night he cradled her in his arms, wiping her tears as the trains rumbled past beneath them. He knew why she cried. He had done the maths too. With her current income he would need to earn at least £20000 for them to be able to reverse their sterilisation and start a family. He had never heard of a postman earning that much.
But he loved her. He was going to sort it out. Fix everything.
On his way to the meeting with the head of the Post Office he passed a playground. He decided to sit down for a bit. A small girl was climbing the climbing frame, shouting at imaginary crewmen as she captained her imaginary pirate ship. He smiled. The mother of the child sat at a bench opposite him, her head bent down, emerged in the latest app on her smartphone. The girl fell and screamed. He felt like he needed to comfort her and help, but didn't want to intervene. It was only a bruise, and the girl had soon wiped her tears and was climbing again. The mother had not looked up from her phone once.
Sitting on a bench by a playground, he cried.