Author : Damien Krsteski
Nurse Anne’s botoxed face creases into a contrived expression of worry but her tone remains bizarrely casual, “I’m sorry Mrs. Adrian, but as you can see for yourself, we’re unable to start therapy on the fetus.”
Caroline gets visibly agitated. “No,” she screeches in a panic-laden voice. “You must’ve made a mistake. I’ve looked these things up online and the margin of error turned out to be much higher than most people are aware of.” She stares right through the woman, incredulous.
“I assure you, Mrs. Adrian,” the nurse sounds bland, “no mistake has been made. I’m terribly sorry.” Her face stretches unnaturally into a sympathetic smile betraying her age.
“The common procedure after such results is…” She trails off.
Caroline nods, dumbstruck. She knows what the common procedure is.
“I’ll leave you alone now,” the nurse adds and strides out without further fuss.
Tears stream down Caroline’s cheeks. Her hands tremble, making her mindful of the results print-out that she still holds. She flings it across the room angrily just as the door slides open again, parting before Joseph.
His face appears burdened with sadness, eyes distant and unfamiliar. The two of them hug and hold each other for a few moments in silence. Little Geoffrey’s genetic results strike out of the blue, tearing a massive fault line between them. And they planned it all: the countryside baby-proofed house they saved up money for, neighborhood where the baby will grow, even the elementary school where he’ll tread into intellectual water for the first time. But now, because of the wretched Seventy-seven syndrome Geoffrey will be unable to receive the crucial cognitive enhancement therapy at the fourth month of pregnancy. A whole future wrecked, the fault line breaks them further apart.
“The nurse said we should do as most people,” Caroline manages to say through the sobs.
“But we’re not most people, we could still…”
“I’m not raising an idiot, Jo!” she interrupts through gritted teeth, apparently more angry than grieved. Her thoughts stray to their family trees, calculating despite herself a way to place blame.
Muted by pain they remain for the better part of the afternoon in the room, each in a separate corner, avoiding eye contact at all cost.
Three days later, on a day of weather as rotten as the fetus in her womb, she walks in the hospital alone. Doctors usher her unceremoniously in a wide windowless chamber, ease her onto a yellow X-marked spot. She dons a white paper gown which covers her entire body except for a cut right before her belly.
The first wave of radioactivity bursts throughout. She thinks of the poor boy. He is almost a person.
Flash. Another loud click and burst. Why did they name him? They shouldn’t have done that.
After the third flash comes and the doctor’s digitized voice says she’s free to move, a single morbid spasm of remorse rips through her brain. Her blood freezes, but she quickly shuffles the thought aside hoping it’s gone forever.
Next time, she thinks, caressing her belly. Next time I’ll make a good Geoffrey, a better Geoffrey. And I’ll be damned if I let someone spoil me again.
Caroline smiles inwardly and saunters off to the adjacent room for the flush-out.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows