Well what about the price of life? How much is life?” Mr. Welp asked his history class during a current event discussion.
“You can’t put a price on life,” Shelly Macky piped. Blonde, blue eyed, one would think she was a partier, but Shelly was extremely conservative. She went to church every Sunday, despised pro-choice activists, believed the government would never lie to its people, was a vegetarian, and thought that everyone should be the same.
“Well, what do you call war?” retorted Richie Love, a boy clothed in black and considered satanic by the high school populace. Richie was the opposite of Shelly. He didn’t attend church because he had concluded that one could talk to God whenever one wanted to. He believed the church was a fraudulent institution. As for the government? Well, the government lied to its people, used its people, and repressed its people with censorships and security laws. He believed the constitution had been written for a reason. He believed that women, each woman, should have the choice to have a child or not. And, he ate meat and loved it.
“What do you mean?” Shelly asked.
“War costs money and you’re going to war to kill people. So, that’s putting a price on life isn’t it?”
“But that’s different from abortion.”
“How?” Richie asked sitting back in his chair.
“Hello,” Shelly exclaimed, “you’re killing a baby!”
“No, a baby is when the fetus pops out. And babies die during war.”
“Yes but that’s not the intention. We don’t go to war to kill babies. We get abortions to kill babies. And a baby is the same thing when it’s in the womb verses when it’s out. You’re killing a living being,” she huffed, sitting up straighter. He really irritated her. He just didn’t see.
“So, we kill animals to eat.” Richie twirled a pencil between his fingers.
“I don’t. I’m a vegetarian, and I can’t believe people go through the barbaric act of killing to eat.”
Richie laughed and set the pencil down; it rolled off the table onto the floor. “You are such a hypocrite. You kill to eat. You kill plants.”
Richie held up his hand cutting her off. The class, along with Mr. Welp, watched them with amusement. Shelly always had something to say, and Richie was quiet unless a topic intrigued him then he would never shut-up. Put them together and history class wasn’t so boring.
“If I remember correctly,” he said, “you argued earlier that abortion was wrong because it kills a living being, right? However, plants are living beings.”
“Yeah, but they don’t feel,” Shelly countered. Her face was flushed; she hated Richie. She thought he was arrogant, violent and argued for the sake of arguing. He picked on her and she often hoped that God would spite him and show him the error of his ways.
“Neither does a fetus before its nervous system develops. And, how do you know plants don’t feel? Did you ask them?”
“Ok,” Mr. Welp interjected before they could continue. “Back to the topic at hand. How do you put a price on life?”
“I still think you can’t.” Shelly replied.
“The government and the church do.” Richie said calmly. He wasn’t done arguing with her. For three months he had listened to Shelly preach and criticize everyone’s life but her own and those that were similar to her.
“How does the church put a price on life?” Shelly asked half hysterical.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he mused, folding his arms in front of him, “ten percent of your income is supposed to go to the church in order for you to be a good person.”
“You don’t have to donate and that’s if you’re Catholic.”
“Mr. Love,” Mr. Welp said sitting on his desk, “let’s drop this and get back to the subject at hand.”
“I thought we were on the subject at hand, but obviously there are a plethora of subjects that are too ‘uncomfortable’ to discuss,” Richie replied getting frustrated.
“Well,” Shelly drawled, “I would never put a price of life.”
Two weeks later, Friday night, Shelly and Martha were on their way to a sleep over at their church. They had stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank, grab some chips and drinks, and were about to pay when Martha decided to add two Cashword puzzles to the bill.
“How do you play these?” Shelly asked once they were back in the car.
“Just scratch the question marks, and then scratch the letter on the crossword part.” Martha said pulling out onto the road. “I heard you and Richie Love were going at it in history again.”
“Yeah, he really makes me mad. He’s so arrogant.”
“Really, I thought he was quiet and sincere.”
“Oh please Martha, you think every guy is a total sweetheart.”
“Well, it’s the truth,” Shelly said scratching away the last question mark.
“Gosh it’s hot in here,” Martha said rolling the windows down.
“Yeah, it’s definitely going to be summer soon,” Shelly paused, “I won!”
“Really,” Martha glanced at her, “how much?”
“One hundred dollars!” Shelly exclaimed. As they went around a turn, a gust of wind shot into the car blowing the Cashword out of Shelly’s hand.
“Crap! Martha pull over. I’m gonna get it.”
Martha slowed down, pulled onto the shoulder and flicked on her hazard lights.
“Be careful,” she said as Shelly jumped out of the car, “that’s a blind corner and it’s not exactly thirty-five through here.”
Shelly nodded absentmindedly as she walked back to the turn. The sun had gone down substantially since they had left the gas station, but the fading light reflected off the card turning it into a glowing beacon against the asphalt.
Shelly glanced down the road, no cars. She walked to the middle and bent down to pick up the Cashword.
Martha screamed as a conversion van came around the corner and Shelly was no more.
The next day Pennville Post read:
Girl Killed Retrieving $100 Cashword Card