I know being a schoolgirl mother almost seems like the fashionable thing to do these days but when I had my first child, a son, at the age of fourteen it was almost unheard of and I was put through the mill by neighbours and society. But I had the support of my parents and a very helpful social worker. Clive, the father of my child, stuck around and gave me moral support and seemed genuinely interested in our son, Tom.
As soon as we were legally of age, we were married. We had a lovely big house in a leafy suburb and were raising Tom and his sister Melanie, three years younger. We had a happy, loving marriage; life was rosy and seemed destined to become rosier. Then, at one of the many parties we attended, Clive started down the road on heavy drugs.
Head Office pulled him in and gave him a written warning and he tried to straighten himself out but within a couple of months he was back to his old ways. Our cards were cancelled, we were broke and were forced into bankruptcy.
We managed to get a council house in one of those post-war estates riddled with concrete cancer. The slaps soon turned to punches. Tom, then 13, tried to defend me but his father just shoved him out of the way and my son ended up trying to comfort Mel, just shy of 10, who was always frightened to see Daddy hitting Mummy.
Over the next couple of years his violence got worse. I noticed that the kids were picking up bruises too, and becoming more and more morose but the crunch came one day when I had slipped out to draw my social and get some food for the kids before he stole it to buy more drugs with. I came in the back door into the kitchen to see Mel sobbing, her face battered and bruised.
I could hear Tom screaming and kicking at the door to the tools closet under the stairs. I grabbed my heavy iron frying pan in both hands and smashed him full in the face with the edge. Leaving Clive on the floor unconscious with blood pouring from his nose and forehead, I grabbed Mel, released Tom and we all just ran to the police station three streets away. I calmed down and told her what had happened.
She excused herself and popped out the door for a few minutes then returned to me. A couple of minutes later I heard two sets of sirens on the road outside. That was three years ago. Clive was arrested as soon as he came round from the surgery anaesthetics. He was eventually sent down for ten years, heavily scarred.
I heard later that he had been disfigured even more when one of his fellow inmates threw a pan of boiling water into his face. But I was left with heavy outstanding bills. About two years after his father was arrested, Tom also began to worry me as he became involved in the fringes of the local gangs but there was little I could do to persuade him to take up a decent hobby or sport, anything to keep him off the streets.
Then one day I woke up in hospital with drips going into my arm. A passing nurse smiled when she saw I was awake, she turned to my bed and explained how I came to be there.
My next visitor, soon after, was the doctor. He gave me a severe lecture about starving myself to death. A young slip of a girl walked up. Tom and Melanie now 17 and 14 were with some lovely foster parents, she told me, and they would be coming to see me this afternoon. She had been in touch with Brian, my brother and named next-of-kin, and he would be here tomorrow.
Pat seemed really nice and she assured me the children had not fretted too much. Pat and her husband had a big house in a village a few miles outside the city. She left me and the kids together for a while. They both agreed that Pat was OK and her house had a lovely big garden and they had a dog called Lady who licked them all over and a pony called Cherry that lived in the field and some rabbits and they were OK there but when was I coming home?
Brian arrived as promised and was shocked to see my emaciated appearance. I was close to tears as he got me to tell him my problems. He sat on the bed and held me close as I sobbed my tale of woes into his shoulder. Later, after I had got over the sobs, Louise joined us and told Brian about the temporary arrangements her department had made, making sure she and Brian swapped contact details. He kissed me goodbye and promised to come back that afternoon when the kids were visiting.
Tom and Mel were delighted to see Uncle Brian and hugged him. Brian arranged with Pat to visit the children that evening so she invited him to have his evening meal with them. He told me he had seen the pile of bills and final demands covering the coffee table at home. He had talked on the phone to Trish about my problems. She had agreed that he should settle all my outstanding bills so he had spent the morning writing cheques, and they both wanted us all to come and live with them. Indian Family, Son marries mother and sister Let me tell you about my brother.
Brian was five years my senior. He and his wife met at university and had built up a very successful IT systems design company.
At first they did everything themselves, designing, installing and testing every system. Over the years they took on more staff as their business became national then international.
Trish or Brian trained every member of the team personally and were ruthless with any signs of short-cutting or lack of total commitment to company standards. At one stage they had bought a large rambling old house in the ribbon development between a city and small market town, turned part of the ground floor of the building into their business offices and lived in the rest.
Eventually they had to open an office suite in the city so, apart from their studies, the ground floor once more became part of the home.
The early years had them spending weeks away from home either as a team or separately, barely touching base before setting off for the next contract. At home they lived fairly frugally and had not developed much social life so they were now wealthy. Brian took my hands in his and pleaded with me to bring the family and live with them. To leave it all far behind and get paid for it! It seemed like a fairy godmother had waved her wand.
He stayed on for another hour or so, fixing me up with one of those ridiculously expensive phone and TV cards for my stay in hospital. Trish phoned me later that evening and seemed very concerned about me. The doctors decided I was well enough to leave after four days. Brian picked me up from hospital and drove me to my old home.
Tom and Mel were already there sorting through their own things and packing what they wanted to keep into the van. Brian helped me look through my meagre possessions. When all was done Brian, I and the kids piled into his car for the long journey south, leaving the van driver to follow in his own time.
We made good time, stopping once for a snack on the way and Trish greeted us all with big hugs when we arrived at their place. She showed us to our rooms: My children loved their new home and soon we had Tom enrolled in a 6th form college which had an outstanding reputation and Mel was taken on at a nearby school. Both of them settled down to their respective studies quickly and we all explored the surrounding countryside in our spare time.
My housekeeping duties were not onerous and I had a dream kitchen in which to work. Brian bought me a small car for my own use so life was so very much better for us all. Brian and Trish also seemed very happy with the arrangements: One afternoon, maybe two months after we had moved in, I was making myself a pot of tea, my chores all finished, when Trish arrived home. She asked me to pour her a cup and we sat at the kitchen table sipping at the tea and thinking our own thoughts. Trish seemed to get a little preoccupied at one stage and I asked her if anything was wrong.
I want his baby and he wants a child from my womb. She seemed so nervous and there were tears trickling down her cheeks. If you would do it, we would be able to ensure that conditions for your pregnancy would be the best we could get, and we would both feel much more involved if we saw all the changes in you as they happened.
None of your family has had any of the major health problems, at least as far back as your grandparents. But how would we do it? A baby is made with love. I had come to no decision when we were interrupted by the sound of Mel slinging her school bag into the hall. As I dished up our evening meal, I looked at Brian with a different eye, as a man who could impregnate me, not as the brother I had known and loved all my life. Truth be told, he was a big, handsome man.
Laugh lines contoured his mouth and eyes. He had a lean, fit body which smelled nice and spicy. Yes, if he were not my brother, I could certainly make love to him. But he was my brother and the incest taboo kept shading my thoughts.
Tom left the house, saying he was going out with a couple of friends so I asked him not to be too late home. The rest of us settled back to an evening in front of the TV. At about half past nine Mel retired saying she had exams tomorrow which left us three adults in front of the flickering screen, each lost in our own thoughts.
First, I want to see your research. To summarise, the odds of us having a damaged child together is surprisingly small. But there is that small risk which we must accept if we do it. But the other side is the emotional consequences. Would you make love with me?