Choice

DeAndre Williams stands over the ball, assessing his options on a free kick just a few yards outside the box, well within his range. The Italian goalkeeper is shouting instructions to the wall of defenders, setting up a defense to make this critical shot as tough as possible. With the score tied 1-1 in the 90th minute of a World Cup Quarterfinal game, a goal here would surely be the winner.

DeAndre is America’s greatest soccer player. Born in Los Angeles to a single mother, soccer was his way to escape the mean streets and stay out of trouble. His talent was evident from an early age, as no American had ever combined such speed, strength and skill with the ball. When he was 15 he joined the youth academy for Liverpool, an English club, and by the time he was 18 he was making regular appearances as a central attacking midfielder in the English Premier League.

Now he stands with an opportunity to send his country to the semi-finals in the world’s biggest tournament.

Ed Thompson sits on the couch with his wife, Stephanie, who rests her head on his shoulder. On his other side is their daugher, McKenzie, and next to Stephanie is their son Travis. They are watching The Lion King.

Ed is a laboratory scientist working with HumaniTech, a company that is making incredible strides towards a method of cancer prevention. Educated at Harvard, where he met Stephanie, Ed has been working for HumaniTech for 15 years, and thousands of hours of hard work have brought the researchers there close to a major breakthrough. For now, Ed is taking a few moments to relax with his family.

Ashanti King is singing in the church choir. She has a big, powerful voice, and today she is singing with all her might and fervor. For most of the service at Kingdom Come Free Church of Harlem, tears have been steadily streaming down her face.

Life has been tough for Ashanti. Her mother worked so hard to raise her and her four younger brothers, but none of their fathers were ever around and the family suffered. Her brother Jermaine was killed in front of their house when he was 14 as a result of gang violence. Lattrell, now 25, was in and out of jail constantly. Judarius was in Atlanta trying to start a career producing hip-hop, and Seneca was struggling to graduate. After finishing high school, Ashanti worked whatever jobs she could find to help provide for her family. She takes night classes at a community college and works the rest of the day, trying to earn enough to stay afloat and help her mother and Seneca.

Now, as Ashanti sings “You are good/all the time/all the time/you are good” she feels an overwhelming comfort. Life has been hard. But hope remains.

Nikki Rubens is being walked down the aisle by her  father, Anthony. On either side are dozens of family members and close friends. One of her best friends is playing “Canon in D” on the cello, each beautiful note bringing tears of happiness to her mother’s face. Against all recommendations, it is an outdoor wedding, and Nikki could not have asked for a more beautiful day in a more scenic place. Today she is to be wed to Ben, her high school sweetheart, and they could hardly be happier.

The official bends down to mark the spot of the ball with his aerosol spray and DeAndre continues to scan his options. When the official stands up DeAndre glances at him and sees not the official but a man in a white coat and a surgical mask. Before DeAndre can say anything, the man draws a gun and shoots DeAndre in the heart.

Ed hears the doorbell ring. The pizza delivery guy is right on time. He gets up from the couch and walks over to the door, opening it with a smile. But the pizza guy is not there. Rather, it is a man in a white coat and surgical mask, who draws a gun and shoots Ed between the eyes.

As Ashanti and the choir come to the end of a song, she notices that the man next to her is not wearing a choral robe, but rather a white coat. He turns to her and stabs her in the side with a knife and she collapses to the ground.

As Nikki reaches Ben she suddenly notices that the pastor is not wearing a white suit, or even a suit at all. He is wearing a white coat and a surgical mask. Before she can say anything he reveals a shotgun from behind his back and shoots her dead.

DeAndre’s mother became pregnant after she was raped when she was 18.

Ed’s parents received test results that he would probably be born with a mental disability.

Ashanti’s mother and father were only 15.

Nikki’s mother and father didn’t feel like they wanted a child.

Their parents had a choice.

They did not choose life.

 

January 22 is the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

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