Author : Arielle Friedman
Lisa sat on the balcony of her apartment and gazed at the city glittering below in the evening light. She’d always loved this balcony.
She heard the door open behind her. Robert.
“We need to talk.”
“No we don’t. We’ve made our decision.”
“We made one decision. There are others.”
“Robert, we can barely afford the basic plan.”
“We’re talking about our child’s life, Lisa.”
“We’re paying a lot of money to make sure that our child has health. Good genes. A good heart. A strong immune system.”
“Yes, the basic plan, but what about our child’s mind? His talents?”
“’His.’ We agreed not to pay for the gender.”
“Lisa, I’m being serious! Are we really going to leave our child’s future up to chance?”
“Yes, we are. Our child will be a combination of you and me. How could that be bad?”
“The child will always be a combination of you and me, but this way it will be the best combination. If we leave things up to chance it could be the worst.”
“I don’t care. What does it matter what our baby’s good at?”
“Our child will be in school with kids whose parents paid for the full treatment. Without enhancement he’ll fall behind.”
“We might have a girl.”
“Christ, I know Lisa!”
The sun was well below the horizon, but left behind orange streaks marking its point of disappearance.
“Our kid will have strength of character.”
“Strength of character won’t get our kid into college.”
“Non-enhanced kids still get into college.”
“But will they in twenty years?”
Lisa dug through her purse and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.
“Lisa, you’re going to be pregnant soon.”
“I won’t need them once I’m pregnant.”
“Then why do you need them now?”
“’Cuz we keep having this awful conversation.”
She lit up and took a drag.
“I don’t like enhanced kids.”
“How many have you met?”
“Two. My coworker’s kid and Matthew.”
“You don’t like my nephew?”
“There’s something off about him. Not him really, but his life.”
“What do you mean?”
“He just sits there doing his computer exercises. He doesn’t run around and explore.”
“He plays all those sports.”
“Because they paid for him to be athletic. They chose that for him.”
“So what? He’s a happy kid.”
“Hi parents picked out his life ahead of time so he doesn’t have to discover himself. They wrote up their dreams on his DNA.”
“He doesn’t have to become an athlete. He just has the option.”
“Whatever he does it’ll be connected to his enhancement. He’ll never be free.”
“He’ll be more free than most. Freedom is having options.”
“Freedom is making your own choices.”
“Our kid won’t have choices without enhancements.”
“What about the poor kids, then?”
Robert sighed. “When you start going on about the poor kids, it’s time for me to go to bed.”
He leaned forward and touched her chin. She turned her head and kissed him. He made a face at the cigarette taste but quickly hid it.
“Goodnight. I love you.”
She gazed at his face for a moment. He smirked in the way she always loved. She would miss his eyes the most, she decided.
“Goodnight Robert. I love you.”
He went inside and shut the door behind him. The sky was dark, a faint glow on the horizon marking the sun’s abandonment. Lisa lit another cigarette and touched her stomach. This would be her last cigarette. She shouldn’t be smoking – it was bad for the baby.