Turning a page in the magazine, Martha looked up to glance around at the others waiting in the lobby. The sound of dizzying muzak resonated around the off-white walls. She was nervous, but she had no reason to be. She was going to help a lot of people.
Across the room there was a small child in his motherâ€™s lap, toying with some plastic contraption. Martha’s smile made him shy and the mother looked up from her morning paper.
“Hello,” she said. It was something Martha hadnâ€™t expected, not in such a paranoid society.
“Hi. Sorry, I was just admiring your beautiful child.” Martha’s smile remained; it hid her awkward feelings.
“Oh it’s all right,â€ the woman replied. She stroked the childâ€™s stark blonde hair. â€œThank you for the compliment. The doctors worked really hard for him,”
“I can tell! Did you use Y-coding or the new Double-Helix method?”
The mother smiled brilliantly. “So you know your science, huh? You must be in here for the same thing.”
Martha nervously twisted her fingers around the armrests and looked down. “Actually, no… I’m here to donate. Wha-what about you?”
The woman pushed her brows together and started to bounce the child in her lap to keep it busy. “Us? Well, I know it’s stupid but… blood donation. You know, just in case.”
“Well, even though they clone the stuff doesn’t mean it’s perfect, right? Heh.” Marthaâ€™s nervousness was starting to shine through. But her words seemed to put the woman at ease.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. So, you as well? Blood donation?”
Martha could feel the room getting smaller. She straightened and cleared her throat, trying to buy precious seconds for the nervousness to fade and the pressure to go away. But the knot in her stomach only grew. She looked up, like a broken doll. “I, uhm…”
Blinking, the blonde mother murmured, “I suppose it’s none of my businessâ€””
“Oh, no! Iâ€”it’s just I’m doing the new thing. You know…” Martha let out a long sigh. She hoping that would be enough to hint her to the truth.
The child-toting woman eyes widened. She gave Martha a slow nod as if the weight of the situation had been made clear. “That’s… very noble of you. Do you have the insurance for the… uhm medication afterwards?” Martha could tell the woman was off-set by her decision to come here. She had to remember that somewhere, someone would benefit.
“Yeah, they promised that as long as I took the medication everything would be normal. Hah, I doubt I could really ever lose my humor anyways. Heh.” But the woman wasn’t laughing, just looking mournfully at Martha.
“Martha Finnegan?” The nurse called out from the opened door. Thank God for that, Martha thought. She stood up and waved to the woman and her boy, following the nurse into the hallway and eventually into the second room to the left. Her palms were sweating now. She was starting to have second thoughts.
“How are we this morning?” The nurse pulled the cloth off of the device as Martha sat on the paper-covered bedding in the examination room.
Martha swallowed a lump in her throat. “Fine.”
“Good. Now I need you to just relax, the Doctor will be in shortly to do the extraction.” The nurse smiled and put a hand on Marthaâ€™s before she left the room. Martha was a wreck. She put her head into her hands and breathed deeply. Trying to relieve the pressure, she opened her eyes and lifted her head. Right in front of her was an informational poster: Soul Drive – Help others less fortunate than you. Please donate today.
Martha relaxed deeply for the first time sheâ€™d gotten there. She knew her donation would really make a difference.