• A breeze stirs her hair,dusts her lips with the taste of the ocean's salt. She stands, listening to the sound of the rushing water, the sand shifting beneath her feet, her heartbeat's steady pace.
    A fantasy;another heart, small and fragile, throbbing in time with hers.
    She knows that's not real.
    The heart wouldn't have developed yet,would it? At this point all that it would be was a parasite, growing within her. It was not yet a person.
    But who decides that? The time when it stops being an "it" and becomes a "her" or "him"? How developed must you be before you are human? How long must you exist before you're considered alive?
    Definitely not her. . . .

    Her slender hands find her stomach, feeling the contrast of warm body and cold winter winds. She sighs, her head bowing.
    She shouldn't have to think about this sort of thing. Leave it to the scientists and the activists, the doctors and the believers. Let them argue around in circles and have them tell her what to choose. It would be so much easier that way. But,of course, life wasn't that easy;not for her. She was forced into decisions that were hers to make, no matter how dearly she and others wish it was otherwise.
    A cold breeze brushes up against her, running a shiver up her spine.
    Grabbing her purple coat, she wraps it around her, containing her body heat and meaning she had curled her arms against her person.
    She stays like that, hugging herself, grasping at whatever comfort she could find in her own company.
    An intrusion in her brooding solitude jogs into her perception. A young man (he must be about HIS age...) runs at a measured, steady pace, ears plugged into a MP3 player.
    He notices her,slows, stops. Taking off his headphones, he asks, "Are you okay?"
    She flickers a glance up at him, then returns it to the ground.
    "...Yes." It's barely a murmur. Go away she wills silently.
    He gives her a doubtful look. "You don't look okay."
    "...I'm fine." Leave me alone!
    He considers her for a moment longer, then, shrugging, replaces the headphones.
    "Well, I'm sure that whatever you choose, it'll be the right decision."
    Her head snaps up at that. A look of incomprehension floods her features.
    He smiles at her. "You seemed like you were making a big choice. It's going to be okay."
    "What am I going to do?" she almost wails.
    He gives another shrug. "I don't know. But I do know...
    It'll be the right thing."
    With a wave, he continues his run without a backwards glance.
    Still staring after him, she drops her hands to her sides. A slight from creases her brow.
    He can't be much older than her, but he sounded so...wise, like an ancient monk on a mountain peak. She feels so old herself--yet so terribly young.
    Her gaze swings back to the ocean as soon as he fades from sight.
    Why did you have to die...? Tears well up in her green eyes.
    We could have done this together! And I wouldn't be so alone.
    She dabs away the tears. It wasn't supposed to be this way...
    Her legs tremble beneath her, and she sinks down into the sand before they buckle and fail.
    It is then, staring over the turbulent waves and feeling wetness seep into her jeans' legs, that she is struck by it:
    A moment of perfect clarity.
    Everything pieces together, and if some parts of the jigsaw were missing, or unidentifiable, well, that was alright. She would survive.
    Her choice was important in determining her future--and that of her unborn child--but wasn't every choice?
    If she let nature take its course, she might be dooming them both to a horrible and degrading life, but her baby just might be an essential figure in Earth's future history.
    If she stopped its life, none of it would matter, because it never happened.
    She doesn't know what she will choose, but if she knows one thing, it's this: it'll be the right way.
    The fifteen year old smiles.
    It's all going to be okay ...