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AN OPEN LETTER FROM YOUR UNBORN CHILD by Leland Thoburn

Dear Mom and Dad:

I want so very much to live.

Not just endure. Live. Not just eat and breathe. Live.

I want you, mother, to nurture me, and you, father, to teach me to play. I want you to love me just because I’m yours, for a little while at least.

I want siblings who are as different as life can be and yet we still, somehow, seem the same. I want to choose my friends, and my enemies. I want to strike back, to be dangerous when I must, and compassionate when I can.

I want to get along or not, as I choose. I want the right to be eccentric: to wear robes and wander in the desert; to ride a bicycle in the rain; to seek my own doom or fate. I want to talk back, to argue, to disagree. I want others to disagree with me.

I want my share of tragedy and the opportunity to make it right. I want to make my own mistakes.

I want to seduce and be seduced; to fall in love, laugh, break my heart, and suffer the heartbreak of others. I want to cry out, hurt, and grieve.

I don’t want to submit, to be a lesser part of something bigger than myself. There is nothing bigger than myself—the myself I want to become. I want to be important, not because others deem it so, but because I am.

I want to dance on the face of the universe and make the gods beg, even if, like Icarus, I fall, flaming, to the earth. It is my right to fail. It is also my right to succeed. If I am to be the cause of one soul’s happiness or the salvation of the race, let it be because I made myself so.

And when my life is complete, I want the world to celebrate with me in the knowledge that my life was full, and that my voice added harmony to the human choir.

I cannot do these things in a world that values homogeny over genius.

I cannot do these things if I am medicated, “educated,” and made to conform.

I want to be me.

I want to be free.

And I want a puppy.

—Love,

—Your Unborn Child

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AUTHOR BIO:

I have been writing creatively since late 2007. Since then, I have been published by or accepted for publication forty-three times, including Writers’ Journal (both fiction and non-fiction); Rose & Thorn Journal; Vocabula Review (twice); Foliate Oak Review; Opium Magazine (twice); Timber Creek Review, and Skyline Review. Additionally, I was the runner-up in Writers’ Journal’s 2008 Fiction Contest, and I won the 2009 Arkansas College Media Conference award for fiction. I teach creative writing at the Delphian School here in central Oregon.

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WHY WE CHOSE TO PUBLISH “An Open Letter from Your Unborn Child”

The title alone demands that one read the piece. My wife and I read it within hours of its submission, and we both gave it an immediate thumbs-up. First-person pieces with such a strong and compelling voice are rare. It contains some not-so-subtle messages, yet it doesn’t preach. And when you do it in under 400 words, it’s flash fiction at its very best.