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Child of Mine

You will find Kyle composing fiction at the dining room table on his iPad, consuming coffee at a rate heavy enough to disrupt the local economy. He lives in Minnesota with his wife and children, thriving on good music and confident hope.

"Hey hon, can you exchange the baby at the clinic after work? The replacement should be done by now."
"So soon?" I turned around from the window. Coffee almost spilled from my cup, but I caught it in time.
"Yep," she said, struggling with an earring. "It's the slow season, I think."
I shrugged. "Well, if he's done, sure, I'll go. I just hope they got the gene right this time."
"I know, right?" she said, giving up on the earring and tossing it on the counter. "How can it take three tries just to get one dumb gene right?"
"Well, the first time was just luck. Accidents happen." I looked down at the toddler playing with his blocks near me. "Sorry bud. Nothing personal."
She snorted. "He wasn't the accident. He's just the third failure at correcting it."
The baby giggled nonsense as he toppled over a tower six-high of blocks. I smiled along with his laughter. He wasn't the original Jackson, but he was almost improved. The next one would be better. So they told us, anyway.
I looked back out the window. The villas down at the bottom of the canyon twinkled in the early morning dark.
My wife nuzzled up behind me, wrapping her arms around my belly. Together we gazed at the sunrise.
"Can we pay extra for the memory transplant this time?" she said.
I scoffed before I caught myself. "Do you know how much cash that'll cost for an 18-month-old?"
"I know, I know," she said quickly. "But do you really want to teach him to play with blocks all over again? And at 18 months old? He'll be the laughing stock at daycare until he catches up."
"But we're dipping into our savings already. And with the age-advancement? I can't believe how much they tack on for 18 months!"
She squeezed me with a drawn-out hug. "Please hon? Just think about him knowing who you are when he sees you the first time."
I grinned suddenly. "You just want him to remember how to call you 'mama.'"
She melted against me. "It was so cute! Do you remember when he said it the first time? Right when he was eating his peas? And he reached out for me to take him?"
I looked down at Jackson. He'd rebuilt his tower by now. I spoke my wife's unspoken thought. "And just think what it would look like if he finally says it with blue eyes."
She sighed. "He'd be gorgeous."
We stared out the window together for a moment. The sun slowly poked up from the canyon rim.
"Fine," I said. "I'll have them do the memory transfer before they reclaim the old body."
She squealed. "Oh thank you, thank you!" She pecked a kiss on my cheek. "You're pretty perfect, you know."
"Well," I said, "I try."
She danced back to the counter to retrieve her earring. "I've gotta go. I'll see you tonight, hon!"
She looked down at Jackson. "And I'll see you when you're finally what we ordered!"
A few minutes later I heard her car back itself out of the driveway. I sipped the last of my coffee. It was cold.
"Well, bud. I guess we'd better get going, too."
Jackson gave a hearty "Yeah!" He was full of all the enthusiasm of innocents who have no idea how life works.
"Some day she'll let me have an opinion of my own." Jackson didn't respond, aside from knocking over another block tower.
"Not convinced, huh?" He ignored me.
"Yeah. Me neither."
As I rinsed my mug I had an awful thought. I reached for my phone before I realized I was doing it. I stopped just at the dial button. But what was the harm in asking?
"Yes, I wanted to speak to a sales rep," I said. Jackson looked up at me, a block in each hand.
"Just a pricing question. How much would it cost for a modified wife?"
The rep chuckled for half a second. Then my phone blared out an alarm. Something in the kitchen repeated the alarm and the house went mad. The lights cut out. Bars slammed down the windows. Jackson screamed. I dropped the phone and covered my ears. When had we ever installed a security system?
I tried in vain to find some way to disable it. Long minutes later the front door clicked open and armed men streamed in, weapons up and pointed at me. I saw "Clinic Security" printed on their body armor. I raised my hands.
My wife followed them in.
"I'm really gonna have to chat with the clinic manager," she said. "First the baby. Now you."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Author Comments

The first line of this story popped into mind one early morning over a sip of coffee. The story percolated in my mind for several days, growing steadily more potent. By the time I put it to (digital) paper, it poured out freely.

- Kyle Davison Bair
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