Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Michael Gryboski who will be sharing a bit about his Speculative Fiction/Political Thriller Memories of Lasting Shadows and the word that inspired the story. Welcome, Michael.
Writing About the A-word.
Few words in the English language generate so much emotion, opinion, debate, arguments, rage, passion, and awkwardness when uttered at family gatherings. It has so much shock value whenever used in the entertainment industry over the decades. This includes The Godfather: Part II’s revelation that Michael Corleone’s wife had had an abortion rather than a miscarriage or a recent Saturday Night Live sketch in which the ghost of Susan B. Anthony surprises a group of young women by telling them to remember that “abortion is murder.” Efforts to desensitize the public to the word, such as a provocative T-shirt campaign from some years ago, have always failed.
The word is so touchy, so polarizing, and so divisive, that even those who find no moral objection to the procedure have launched a vast armada of euphemisms. As a part-time political junkie, I have pretty much heard them all. “Choice,” “pro-choice,” “supports choice,” “reproductive justice,” “reproductive rights,” “women’s healthcare choices,” “women’s reproductive choices,” “women’s health,” and so on. I once saw a campaign website in which the candidate supported “the right of women to make their own healthcare decisions.” I wonder how many people looked at that statement and just said “what in the blue heck does that even mean?” Sometimes, the political messaging borders on a Monty Python-styled declaration of “wink, wink, nodge, nodge.”
In my novel Memories of Lasting Shadows, released last October by Ambassador International, the United States of America has finally moved past the perpetual argument. No longer do people consider one of the two sides a valid opinion. No longer are there candidates who promise to go a specific way on the issue, no longer are political debates centered on questions about the legality of the procedure. Friendships are no longer ended and family dinners are no longer disrupted if someone uses the a-word.
However, let us not forget the words of William Faulkner, who famously wrote that “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” There are still moments when the former controversy consumes space, usually under the banner of historical justice. Debates over school names, public figures weathering allegations of former wrongs, and memorials dedicated to victims abound. Many still obsess over the antiquated things, recognizing that even though the conflict is long over, vestiges still manifest to pick at, like wild dogs scrapping over the last slim helpings of meat found on the bones of an animal carcass.
In my book, journalist Roberta Sheridan and Senator Benjamin Pettus live in a world where abortion has lost its present power to divide, to evoke emotion, to ignite hostility, to advance uncivil discourse. However, that does not mean that the word and its history do not cast a lengthy shadow.
Memories of Lasting Shadows
It has been forty years since the United States of America abolished abortion. The long debate, which brought so much division and discord, was finally brought to an end, and two generations of citizens have reached maturity in this new normal.
United States Senator Benjamin Pettus was alive when choice was the law of the land. A doctor by profession, over the past several years, he has struggled to preserve a sweeping federal healthcare law he helped create.
Roberta Sheridan was born and raised in a world where terminating an unborn child is both illegal and unthinkable. A devout Christian and principled journalist, Roberta is about to discover that the past is never truly gone.
Roberta humored her friend and followed him into one of the chambers. The section had several items pertaining to Dr. Hood, one of the villains of the tour video. The walls featured photos of the man, one of which he gave what looked like a sadistic smile. Another showed him standing proud in front of his clinic. Glass boxes secured historic items from his handiwork. Some of the clamps and blades, a lab coat that still had splotches of dried blood, several small containers where he once held experimented samples of fetal tissue and tiny limbs, and even a broken wristwatch. Michael led Sheridan to a prominent image of Hood, standing with a group of others at a demonstration protesting the then-novel Supreme Court decision striking down the right to an abortion.
“You see him? You see what it says about what happened to him?”
“Same thing as the tour, Mike. He disappeared.”
“All right, all right,” said Michael, giving a dramatic pause. “Now, what if I told you that I have found Dr. Hood?”
Roberta smirked. “So, where was he this whole time? The Bermuda Triangle? Area 51? Maybe he was touring with Charolash.”
“No, no, Berta,” Michael said, tapping his phone screen a few times before turning the image so Roberta was able to see it. “He has been in plain sight for years.” Roberta saw the photo that Michael presented and was visibly disturbed by her disbelief.
“You have got to be kidding me,” she stated. “Mike, are you serious?”
About the Author:
Michael Gryboski was born and raised in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. He graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor of arts and then a master’s, both in history. In addition to writing fiction, Michael also writes news articles for a living. Michael would rather be correct than widely accepted.