Conceived Alone

I sit before the medical screen, abstract life displayed before me. Jane explains what I am seeing, though I already know. “Your egg has been successfully germinated, and the resulting embryo is healthy and full of potential,” she says. I try to imagine the woman whose voice flows from the speakers. She is young, and excited about her budding nursing career. Her hair is pulled back into a tight bun, her uniform perfectly white and unwrinkled. I know she doesn’t exist, but I imagine her anyway.

“At this stage, there is a ninety-seven point three six percent likelihood of success. Your next check-up will be in thirty cycles, though of course you may come observe your embryo whenever you like.”

“Thanks, Jane,” I say. “Take good care of my baby.” She doesn’t answer. Before leaving the medical bay, I walk over to the tank where my embryo is growing alongside dozens of others. I put one hand against the glass and the other against my stomach. Mothers bore their own children, once. Children knew their fathers, once. I remember.

I feel hollow, desperate as I leave the med bay. Shuffling through the corridor alongside the others headed back to their Pods, I feel an oppressive friction between us. It is in the touches we avoid, the words we don’t say. Perhaps one of these men is the father of my child. Is that why I can’t look at them, why they don’t look at me?

Back in my Pod, I start a simulation. A man comes to me, and I imagine that he is the father of my child. I feel him hold me, his hands gentle yet firm, and I think of how those hands would feel to a child, the comfort I felt from my own father’s hands. I bury my face against the man’s chest, soft yet strong. Whether he matches my ideal or some objective, scientific one, I do not know, but he is perfect in some way that keeps me from believing.

Still. He is a gentle lover, full of passion, and when I come I believe. That I am loved, that I am safe, that when my child enters the world it will be part of a family.

I can feel the drowsiness come over me as the Letheum enters my air supply, signaling the start of my sleep cycle. I drift off in the arms of my lover, and I dream of my father.




Find the next installment in the series here: The Monsters We See