As has become tradition, the tail end of Advent is the time for my alternative nativity. With the state of the UK and the world beyond, this could be the last Christmas humanity sees. Or it could be that biblical prophesies about The Beast and the Antichrist are played out in the present.
Soon we might see a new star in the sky, the second coming of extraterrestrial visitors. Or it could be just another Christmas in the UK, where a fascist dictatorship is intent on social cleansing, through economic starvation and murder.
The original Another Nativity was written when I lost any religion while I was living on the streets, and it’s in my first anthology. It was re-written as a play for Schlock webzine, which proclaimed, “Steve Laker gets into the Yuletide spirit with a ruthless, uncompromising deconstruction of immaculate conception”.
It’s more anti-Christmas, crass commercialism and consumerism (and waste) than Antichrist (my atheism is grounded in science, as the prosecution in this story); and it’s a social comment, on how – like at weddings – everyone feels obliged to have the best one ever, while the host is slowly pressured by perceived expectations. It’s human shame, drawing attention by schlock pulp fiction, to other issues all too conveniently overlooked at this time of year.
It’s Christmas, where the human stage is thin ice, and one of my hats is that of the horror writer with a dark heart. Please take your seats, as the curtains open…
(Contains material guaranteed to offend)
Another year, another end of term, and another Christmas. A different group of children, at another school, and another nativity…
“Why are they doing the nativity at a secondary school? It’s a primary school thing, surely.”
“It’s art, apparently.”
“Well, it says here, A modern artistic twist is given to the well-loved story of Mary and Joseph finding shelter at Christmas, so that they may have their boy child, born of the Lord.”
“Like I said then, bollocks.”
“Actually, I’ve heard of the writer they drafted in. I’ve got a feeling this might be a bit different. And besides, it’s our fucking daughter.”
“Oh, does she still live here?”
“Yes, I know.”
“She’s fucking twelve. Where is Maz anyway?”
“She’s at the school. There’s food.”
“Oh, that’s a clincher then…”
Parents, guardians, family and friends, welcome to our production of Another Nativity for the stage.
The following is a true story, a Christmas message, adapted from the bible…
It was the old-school cheap props method of a cushion up her jumper which made Marilyn feel so secure on stage. She was pregnant. She couldn’t make out her father in the audience. This was a nativity, nothing else.
The stomach cramps were stage fright, only that. The audience out there really cared. She could get over this and speak her lines, after so many weeks of rehearsal. It was just a nativity. A man speaks:
“Marilyn, we’re here to tell a story and we need your help. You are welcome here. Tell us first, how you came to be here.”
“Joe and me have been walking for three days. We’re homeless because my dad chucked us out. As you can see, I’m pregnant. We came here for the health care and to register the birth.”
“How did you come to be with child?”
“I was raped.”
“By whom, Marilyn?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see him.”
“The child is not your partner’s?”
“No. Thank You Marilyn. To spare you further questions for now, I will refer to the statement which you made previously under oath.
“You suspected that you were pregnant because you’d missed a period, so you took a test. The test was positive. You thought little of it, hoping that the test was incorrect or that the problem would go away. Is that correct?”
“You met Joe around two weeks after this, and a month into the relationship, you had unprotected sexual intercourse for the first time. Your hymen was ruptured and you bled. Is this right? Is this what you said?”
“Confused, you thought that this might be your existing pregnancy miscarrying, so you took another pregnancy test immediately after that first sexual encounter: it too was positive. Correct?”
“It was too soon after you’d had intercourse with Joe for his sperm to have penetrated any eggs in your womb, yet he had clearly taken your virginity. Therefore, it would seem that you’d been pregnant and a virgin at the same time.
“I should like to call on Doctor Bateman. Doctor: you have examined the patient. Can you confirm the stage of her pregnancy?”
“Yes, your honour. Based on the current size and development of the foetus, the patient is 20 weeks pregnant. This would place the date of conception several weeks prior to her first sexual encounter with her current partner.
“Of course, the hymen can become ruptured in many ways besides intercourse. It is possible to be a virgin whilst not having an intact hymen but it is impossible to become pregnant with the hymen intact. I wish to hand you over to Inspector Aldred.”
“Thank you doctor. Your honour: the doctor is of course correct in her statement. Our priority was to identify the father of the child. The claimant’s partner had volunteered for a DNA swab. Clearly we also needed the DNA of the mother and baby. This was gained with consent. I can confirm that the claimant’s partner is not the father of the unborn child. Furthermore, the unborn child’s DNA is identical to that of the mother.”
“Which suggests a number of things Inspector.”
“Yes your honour. We can discount accidental insemination through heavy petting, simply by virtue of the DNA tests. This leaves two scientific explanations for a baby which carries only the DNA of its mother. I shall return the stage to Doctor Bateman.”
“Thank you Inspector. The first possibility is that the claimant produced a clone of herself. This has been observed in the natural world. However, any parthenogenetic progeny of a mammal would have two X chromosomes and would therefore be female: this child is male.
“The remaining possibility is that the claimant is carrying a chimera. It is extremely unlikely but nonetheless possible, in theory at least, that an egg could be cloned by the mother, develop through the embryonic stage and only then be fertilised by male sperm to make the embryo viable. There is much academic research on the subject but it is not a phenomenon which has been observed under scientific conditions.”
“It is therefore highly unlikely Doctor?”
“Yes your honour.”
“Thank you doctor. It would appear that there are two possibilities: the first is improbable and the second, more so. Either young Marilyn here has self-produced an embryo which her partner has then fertilised, or the alternative is quite fantastical.
“The only remaining explanation is an immaculate conception. This would be a miracle and therefore, grounded in something other than science. But it goes further than religion and faith as well, because the most important thing of all, is how Marilyn feels about all of this.”
“I feel sick.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we’ll take an interval. Court is in recess.”
Unseen backstage, Marilyn is being tended by three wise souls and three shepherds. In this production, those roles are respectively opportunist capitalists, looking to package up a religion and sell it, and those who might otherwise guide her: legal counsel, social services, and rehabilitation advisers.
While the jury has retired, we should like the public gallery to consider the implications of this unique case.
It cannot be denied that young Marilyn is pregnant, so we have to consider two possibilities: That she is pregnant with her partner’s child but through naivety rather than intention, and it is highly unlikely in any case. Equally unlikely however, is that she may have had an immaculate conception and is carrying the child of God. Either way, she is the incubator, the transport and the means of delivery. The foetus is viable but still at a stage where it may be legally aborted.
There are other ethical matters to consider however, albeit some theoretical: if she is carrying the son of God, who has the authority to deny that child’s life? If the father were to be her partner, there is no way to prove this, nor indeed is there sufficient proof that that the two of them may have engaged in underage sex.
Given the evidence before us, I have reached a decision.
I invite you to join us in court, for Act II.
“Marilyn, firstly, I commend your courage in taking the stand today, and sharing your story with us. It’s a story which some might otherwise use for their own immoral gain, but your testament, and the expert evidence presented here today, allow us to prove something different, and to change the way people think, that while beliefs are to be respected, they should not deny liberty.
“Even though I’m an atheist who can also reconcile some religious theory with science, I have to rule on something which others might consider superior to me. But as a judge, I must transcend beliefs, and witness false deities worshipped by the gullible. Standing before me, metaphorically – or some would believe, all around – is God. A god who refuses to be questioned, for questioning denies faith. I put it to this god, that questioning faith is a human liberty, and should he wish to be judged, let him stand before this court.
“God had sex with you, Marilyn, without your consent. The conception may be immaculate, but the situation which I am faced with is unprecedented. With the eyes of the law, I see before me a 12-year-old girl who is pregnant. I will recommend that further counselling might be appropriate, so that you may retain the liberty of choice. I will ensure that choice is informed.
“God, I find you guilty of rape, and of sex with a minor. Sentence is simply that which you desire: for stories of your deeds to be told in public. Marilyn, is there anything you’d like to add, anything you’d like to say to God?”
“Yeah. I didn’t ask for this child, so why should I carry it for you? Maybe so he can spend thirty years tricking people about his old man, a filthy old kiddy-fiddler. But this kid can make amends for that, by killing himself, or as the other story goes, God gave his own son. Why? Because he thought he’d be found out? I can write stories too.
“The son of God, who feeds the starving, by breaking bread and making wine, proclaiming that all those who consume it will be taking his body and his blood. Cannibalism by self-flagellation.
“You are one sick and twisted old man, God. Behold, meat stolen from a fucking supermarket, for my family’s Christmas dinner, born to you this day from my vestal virgin vagina. Witness, the son of God, still-born on stage.”
From all at the school, and the many others who worked on this production, we thank you for coming. We hope to see you again for our Easter production.
Thank you for your Harvest Festival donations this year. All of the basics tinned goods which no-one else wanted are very welcome. Next year, please bring something worthwhile for the homeless, especially the girls. We desperately need sanitary products.
Have a very merry Christmas.
© Steve Laker, 2017