Father George Turner sat on the patio with a glass of Crystal Light, watching the women try to climb the fence. The smell of burned hair carried with the scent of spring. Five bodies convulsed at the perimeter. A few faces emerged from the forest, glanced at their fallen comrades, and hurled themselves hands-first.
Four years earlier, every male on the planet became sterile. Global testing determined this held for all sperm except George Turner’s. This should’ve been a dream, but five years earlier, George Turner was ordained. At first it was flattering, the extra smiles and winks and attendance at mass. Then a woman twice his size cornered him in the vestibule and bit off his earlobe.
Sister Caroline came out on the patio. She didn’t leave when she saw him this time. She smoothed the front of her habit in a way that was meant to be discreet, but belied the life she was incubating. When the doctor made his weekly checkup, she stood naked with her hands as far away from her belly as possible, as if repulsed by the gel the doctor glazed her stomach. Only when she wore her habit did her hands settle on her midsection, when she could pass it off as counting beads.
George proposed their interaction a month before she agreed. They only discussed it once. “Think about the good of the species,” he said, laying a hand over her intertwined fingers. She helped him ice his testicles after her outburst, acknowledging their value.
After that, he kept suggestions to undertones and Post-It notes. He put them in her cereal, like a prize.
His campaign continued three weeks. On a Tuesday afternoon, she came into his study with a pair of scissors. She cut a slit in her habit near her crotch, and put the scissors on his desk.
“Your move,” she said.
She hadn’t always treated him this way. Before the crisis, she was the one who suggested he sign up for online dating sites, and lead along women. “The greater the temptation,” she said, “the greater the virtue.”
Before before they’d gone into isolation, before the electric gates, there had been their Monday mornings together after the business of Sunday. He remembered stopping in front of a puppy store in Chelsea together, to watch the runts roll in newspaper. Side by side, their pinkies touched, and linked. She puckered her lips at a bulldog, and he looked around the street, worrying and hoping for a witness.
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