art by Melissa Mead
Susan 3342 A.D.
by Marge Simon
In an overcrowded world, a high bar on reproduction was enforced. The odds were high, but after seven years came notification that we would be allowed one hemaphrodite offspring.
Which of us would bear the child? You picked two of our fine black orchids and stripped their leaves. You grasped them so I couldn't see the stems and held them out. I drew the shortest. The honor of conception was yours. For you, the wondrous transformations of pregnancy. As for me, your chosen partner, I could merely share.
I consulted the universal database, every published book or article on parenting before the Fourth Millennium. I programmed these into my sleep-mode disc. Finally, I took a hypno course in the art of knitting. I wanted to be sure our child would have something especially from me. It took me weeks to procure the yarn and then to fashion hand-made booties. I wove silver ribbons in them, yet you were not impressed. "If you really want to help, then get our baby something more in vogue," you said. I put the booties in a private drawer and ordered your choice from the universal insta-log.
There were other frustrations. At first I thought it was your hormones, but the doctor assured me this wasn't possible. He laughed. He said it was only your excuse for rude behavior, and suggested I take up a hobby until the child was born. So I kept my newly found emotions to myself. I watched with envy as your body changed from week to week. I made progress notes and holographs.
Day or night, I attended your every whim. Occasionally I was rewarded when you allowed me to feel the child moving strongly within.