Featured Story
Recent Stories
Stories by Topic
Make the universe a better place! Join Daily Science Fiction for only $15 / year.
Take me to a...
Random story
top-rated stories only
Enter any portion of the author name or story title:
Sign up for free daily sci-fi!
your email will be kept private
Breaking News
Get a copy of Not Just Rockets and Robots: Daily Science Fiction Year One. 260 adventures into new worlds, fantastical and science fictional. Rocket Dragons Ignite: the anthology for year two, is also available!
Kindle Edition
Kindle Edition
DSF stories are available in monthly digests for Kindle!
DSF for Kindle
Publish your stories or art on Daily Science Fiction:
Submit your story
Check story status
Not just rockets & robots...
What is Science Fiction?
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

art by Steven R. Stewart

Off the Shelf

Gaea is a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Vanuatu. Her days consist of cooking with coconut milk, reading about malaria and discussing health topics with the people in her village. Her evenings are full of writing stories longhand under a solar light.
He was an impulse buy.

Jean had examined the bundle on the shelf. It was wrapped in a light blue blanket printed with yellow beach balls. The expiry date said yesterday but it hadn't turned odd colors or rotted.
At the counter, they'd given her half off with no return option. She accepted that and brought him home.
The styrofoam packaging had cradled his head and kept it from bruising. His hair hadn't grown in yet, but the paperwork said it would be light to medium brown. His eyes would stay blue, though his skin could change by two-to-three shades. The paperwork went on to say that the small mark on his left butt cheek would mature into the maker's mark in a few years and fade by adulthood. It could still be found under autopsy, if questions arose about the quality of the product.
She'd had worries in the first years that maybe the expiry date on the package really was important, but the boy started walking on his first birthday and started making sentences a few months later.
Jean thought about the date when he did things she didn't like. His second-grade teacher assured her he wasn't the first boy to wet his pants in class. His third broken finger made her wonder if this would have happened to a full-price boy. She looked up the contact information of the company when he got an F in seventh-grade English.
The company had gone under shortly after his fourth buyday. All claims were to be filed with the bankruptcy lawyer. She never pursued.
They both aged, he into his prime and she into her twilight. She didn't think about the expiry date when his fiance left him. She pulled out the baby pictures with the mark on his butt cheek when he joined the military. They needed proof of his suitability.
When his casket came to her doorstep, she thought about the overdue expiration. Replacing faulty parts had bankrupted the company nineteen years before. The lawyer explained that the heart was tricky to get right and always broke first.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The incentive for this story came from my daydreams about all the technology not available on my tropical island and where that technology might one day lead.

- Gaea Dill-D'Ascoli
We hope you're enjoying Off the Shelf by Gaea Dill-D'Ascoli.

Please support Daily Science Fiction by becoming a member.

Daily Science Fiction does not have a paywall, but we do have expenses—more than 95% of which are direct payments to authors for their stories. With your $15 membership, less than 6 cents per story, we can continue to provide genre fiction every weekday by email and on the website to thousands of readers for many years to come. Tell me more!

Support Daily Science Fiction

Please click to rate this story from 1 (ho-hum) to 7 (excellent!):

Please don't read too much into these ratings. For many reasons, a superior story may not get a superior score.

5.2 Rocket Dragons Average


Please join our mailing list and receive free daily sci-fi (your email address will be kept 100% private):
Copyright Info
Tell a Friend
Send Feedback
About Us