Beauty and the Baby Beast
by Sarah Pinsker
He was not a cute baby. He looked like a nineteenth-century presidential portrait: all jowls and distrustful side-eye. This was, of course, the reason I was there. Not the presidential part, but the ugly part. I knew it, and his mother did too.
She let me take pictures, which would please my editor. She posed with him, which would please my editor even more. I could see the headline now: "Twenty Secrets About Davina Masters' Baby." Or something like that. Headlines are somebody else's job.
My job is to convince people like Davina Masters to let me in the door with my camera. They usually let me, for a simple reason: I ask. I don't try to break their privacy screens, don't hang out of trees or hide near their cars or stalk them. Sadly for the human race, this sets me apart from the majority of my colleagues.
Anyway, I had called Davina Masters a week after the baby was born, then again a month later. Just the two times. She returned my calls when he was five months old to offer me an exclusive on his public debut. By then, the gossip sites had already consumed all their oxygen on the subject and burnt out on speculation: depending on who you read, the baby was impossibly beautiful or hideously deformed or a clone of the actress herself. None of them had guessed this.
She sat on her white couch, in white slacks and a tank top that said she hadn't lost all her baby weight and didn't really care. I liked that, and the fact that up close I could see drool stains on the couch and the pants. I had always liked her, really. She was a few years younger than me, but a few years older than the wave of Barbie doll lookalikes that had swept through Hollywood in the wake of the gene-mod revolution.
I searched for the most tactful question, so she wouldn't throw me out on my ear. "So, why did you decide not to gene mod him? A new trend?"