Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer
“I’m thinking of breeding,” Theo declairs.
Teressa ponders Theo’s statement as she slices with butch determinism a bite-sized cube from her Viti-Gel (containing 33.3% of all her daily dietary requirements). She stabs the gelatinous orange chunk with a silver skewer before speaking. “You must be joking, darling. No one’s Bred in a hundred span!”
“I know,” Theo bubbles enthusiastically, “It’s so retro!” The two burst into hysterics. Theo’s shrill giggle duels riotously with Teressa’s atonal nasal quacking.
Finally catching her breath, Teresa barks, “Seriously?”
“Seriously. I want to have a baby!” Theo’s grin is wide and capricious. “With you.”
Teressa freezes, still as a basalisk. Half-way from plate to mouth an incredulous cube of acme-food jiggles at the end of her utensile.
“Don’t be absurd. The very idea makes me nauseous.” Her skewer clatters resentfully to the table. “There’s an excellent reason why we don’t have babies anymore, Theo. Life’s better off without the hassle. Trust me. As a woman, I know.”
“Oh, really? When’s the last time you even saw a child?”
“The Tenders manage everything marvelously and I’m perfectly content to let them. They raised you and I, right? We turned out civiilized.”
“Civilized.” Theo spits the word.
“Well, in my case, anyway,” Teressa smirks. “But I don’t think they were very thorough with your psyche profile.”
“Theo, babies only distract us from persuing what we want in life. Just look at what humanity has accomplished since the Tenders took over the whole messy ordeal of reproduction. Everyone’s free to pursue their passions, unburdened by a – well, a parasite basically.”
“You’re so melodramatic, Teressa.”
“And you’re a genetic throwback, Theo!”
“I prefer neo-bohemian.”
“Theo, I’ve got more important things to do than play with children.”
“That may be our very problem!” Theo stabs his finger righteously into the air. “We never play, let alone with children. We don’t see new citizens until they’ve graduated – at sixteen! I’ve no idea what kids are like, but they must be fun. We used to spend so much time making them.”
“Because if we didn’t, we’d’ve died out long ago. But it’s different now. We have the Tenders.”
“That’s a good thing?” Theo queries dubiously.
“Look, if you want to start wiping your ass with your hand – like we used to – go ahead, but don’t drag me into another one of you’re hair-brained experiments with antiquated human behaviours.
“But – “
“Is this about sex?” Teressa blurts.
“Is your Companion functioning?”
“Yes, dear. It’s working fine.”
“Sure you don’t want an upgrade? A new model came out last week.”
“I was thinking of getting one for myself anyway. I’m sure we can swing a deal for two.”
Theo flares, “I don’t want a new sex-bot, Teressa! I want a child! With you. Our very own child to –“
“To do what, Theo? You don’t know the first thing about raising a child.”
“That’s the whole point – to not know! We know everything now. Or think we do. Pretty much anything anybody would care to know about is simply an implant away. But kids! Kids are a whole new mystery. Each one unique. What do the Tenders know that we don’t?”
“I am not having your child, Theo. End of discussion.”
Theo, slumps into his chair defeated, deflated and dejected, hope oozing from his bleeding heart. A thoughtful silence hangs over the table long enough for the wall ambience to shift from morning to afternoon décor.
Theo takes a plaintive sip of his nutrient tetrapack – – before asking, “What if all you wanted to be was a parent?”
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