“We can’t tell Kain,” Gwenhime said.
Janna looked at her mother, “Why?”
Natasha said, “It would interfere with his verdict. Mother is right, we have to wait until after the trial.”
“Mmm.” Janna thought.
If the chair knew that she was going to give birth in nine or ten months, he might reduce her sentence. She rubbed her face in frustration. Janna was sitting on her mother’s soft infirmary bed.
“Honestly I wasn’t expecting this when I turned myself in. I guess it’s too late now.”
Drake had been silent for a long time. Then, “So what is the procedure in cases like this?”
Janna lay back, happy that he was thinking about her constructively. She closed her eyes and listened.
“Well,” Said Natasha, “I do not know actually.”
Janna stared, “You’re the one who locks people up, how can you not know?”
“I-” Natasha caught herself, and then promptly left.
After the court had closed for the day, Chloe had gone straight to her personal library. She was very cross with herself. She had done a very poor job arguing in the law’s name and she was ashamed. The experience would now have to be her guide.
Chloe took her law text and cracked it open, thumbing to the topics she was looking for.
It wasn’t twenty minutes later when Natasha stormed in.
“Do you have a book on the law?”
Chloe had never had visitors in her library before, and she just stared at Natasha dumbfounded. Then, slowly, she pointed at the book on the tilted desk in front of her.
Natasha caught her breath then said, “Well, can you find anything on inmate pregnancy?”
Chloe tilted her head and squinted at her odd question, but flipped to the table of context and then back again.
“Ah…” She thumbed, “Okay, it seems that… before labour, you are to send them to the hospital. Women who are in late pregnancy are not very dangerous after all.”
“Can you please read the exact wording.”
Chloe looked at her, worried, “Uhh, okay, but this is an academic text, not the actual law. It says, ‘Due to issues with the misconduct and treatment of female inmates, a law has been made. Female inmates who are days within labour are to be escorted to the nearest hospital. Alternatively, a midperson may be called to deliver the child if it is necessary.’ That’s it.”
Natasha crossed her arms. “That’s not a lot. It feels like a band-aid fix.”
“Well,” Chloe said after reading a bit further, “It kind of was. We still have no regulations for what happens to the child afterwards. And no rules on treatment for the time leading up. It seems that the author of this text had worries about malnutrition and unmodified punishment of pregnant inmates. They believe that portions should be increased if you’re creating a second person within you.”
Natasha’s eyes narrowed, “I really did not want to extend the law yet again.”
Chloe looked at her sideways, “Hey Tash, why don’t you become a poet? You seem to care far more about law at this point than your guard duties. And I hear you finally started taking lunch breaks, but you still don’t eat. You just fret over the law, according to Finch.”
Natasha frowned, “I- Why do people keep asking me difficult questions today?”
She stormed out of the room.
Janna was on the bed rubbing her tummy.
“There’s a whole other person growing in there.” She said.
Gwenhime said, “Did Natasha just leave two prisoners here unrestrained?”
Drake and Janna looked at each other, then laughed.
“Hmm, I guess this is from those times we didn’t channel the Servant of Birth,” Janna said.
“Hmm. You really have an issue with taking advantage of the Servant’s services.” Drake said.
“Yeah, well…” She trailed off.
“Look, a lot of these issues you’re being accused of could have been resolved if you just sanctioned your duels.” He crossed his arms, “Really, I can’t be telling you what to do all the time. Not only because it’s not my responsibility to, but also because you don’t like being told what to do.”
Janna nodded slowly. “I don’t think I can afford to act like a child anymore. You’re right Drake, I think it’s time to start acknowledging my responsibility.”
Natasha walked back into the room.
“Alright, let us proceed. It looks like I will be writing law again.” She huffed.
After Janna got up slowly from the bed and waved to her mother, they left.
The prison was in the guard district, and it seemed more like a hotel than anything. Janna looked about, confused.
“Are you sure this is a jail?” She asked.
Natasha said, “We took a lot of inspiration from the Djeb. They had very low inmate rates and high integration, so I talked with the leader, Hannah, during a vacation and took a lot of notes.”
As Natasha led them to their room for the foreseeable future, Janna asked, “Has it worked?”
“Yes. Quite beautifully.” Natasha said.
“You seem to have a really big interest in government. Are you planning on becoming a poet or a law writer?” Drake asked.
“I,” Natasha made up her mind then, “I am unsure at the moment.”
The room was very nice. It had a short and very think bookshelf with both self-help books and religious books. There was a simple but comfortable looking bed and a desk with paper and pencils. Finally, one of the walls were not a load of bars. It really was like a hotel room.
Natasha said, “I will see you tomorrow. We unlock the room doors for a couple hours a before sunset, mid-dusk. You can roam freely in the building and make supper for yourself during that time. Then everyone is sent back at dark.”
“If, say, I get in a shouting match with Drake, will the neighbours hear us?”
“Not likely. The interior walls are built like exterior walls so that prisoners cannot purposefully disturb or agitate each other.” Natasha explained, and then left them.
Janna’s head snapped to Drake the instant the door shut. He knew that look well and replied with his own look of surprise and submission. She leapt, tackling him to the bed.
In the castle, Chloe flipped through her text furiously before shutting the book with a thud. She stood and then strode outside. She headed to the University to talk to one of her professors. She was not going to be satisfied as a third rate poet.
I’m not Michael Crichton. I don’t do hundreds of pages of research on my topics before I even start. But I also don’t do zero research. Sometimes research means coming up with facts for my own world, like how the Solune takes nearly a year to give birth instead of around nine and a half (39-40 weeks) for humans. So, yeah I do a decent amount of research.
One of the things I checked out was how pregnant women were treated in prison. Shockingly, I found out they aren’t treated in prison. A pregnant woman is eating for two. They need more food, but they often aren’t given any (Victoria Law). Worse, some newborns die in prison due to the neglect of on hand medical staff (Victoria Law). Honestly, I’m surprised that the shackling of pregnant inmates is only now being looked at as an issue (Walters, Alica M.). Apparently though, even as of 2014 “8 states have no laws or policies or any other form of regulation addressing the use of restraints on pregnant inmates.” (Feinauer et al).
Honestly, I was going to come up with some nice, utopian solution, since everything else seems to be so nice. After confronting the reality, and the fact that it’s not just a problem in the United States, but also to a lesser extent Britain (McShane, Wiseman), I changed my mind. It looks like the Solune Royal family are going to have to deal with their issues like everyone else. Next time, we phase out capitalism, I hope you’re still around when I write that one!
So, again Dawngale presents itself as a fantasy, not just because there are unique races and Servants and laser eyes, but because in many places people treat each other with basic decency and equality.
- Feinauer, Evan, Aaron Lee, Jullia Park, and Tessa Walker. “The Shackling of Incarcerated Pregnant Women: A Human Rights Violation Committed Regulari.”THE SHACKLING OF INCARCERATED PREGNANT WOMEN: A HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION COMMITTED REGULARLY IN THE UNITED STATES (n.d.): n. pag. University of Chicago Law School. International Human Rights Clinic, Aug. 2013. Web.
- Law, Victoria. “Pregnant and behind Bars: How the US Prison System Abuses Mothers-to-be.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 04 June 2017.
- Walters, Alicia M. “Victory: No More Shackles on Pregnant Prisoners.” American Civil Liberties Union. American Civil Liberties Union, 26 Apr. 2015. Web. 04 June 2017.
- Wiseman, Eva. “Born behind Bars.” The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 20 Feb. 2010. Web. 05 June 2017.