Word Limit: 900 (I so busted the budget….)
Cue: Use the photo for one scene in your story; it must have at least two scenes.
Deadline: Thursday March 22nd, 9:00 AM EST
A little bit of where Sydnée Figge originally comes from, her roots, the seeds of her existance, so to speak.
Or, of that doesn’t work for you, have you ever wondered what that little blue pill might be doing (actually, what color are those things?)
The State of Viagroids
“No! Stop… Noooo!”
Well, this girl has lungs, even if she lacks any brains. Dr. Frank pushed the operating room doors open and received the full force of those strong young lungs.
One of several nurses approached the doctor apprehensively, her eyes torn between the screaming girl and the reaction on the doctor’s face.
“She won’t give up the baby, just won’t let go.”
“Well now, we will have to see about that.” The nurse stepped away, knowing the look he now had, and felt a droplet of guilt spill on to her conscience.
“What is the problem, my fine young lady?” With well-used (and well-obeyed) authority, Dr. Frank stood beside the raised rails of the bed, pretended not to her the shouts of denial, pretended not to see the determined terror of the new mother holding the baby as if it was her own heart.
“No! She stays with me! You cannot take her!”
“Now now now, you know better, young lady. You’re a good girl aren’t you, just hand her over— oomph!” The doctor doubled over after receiving a foot in his gut and back up a step. Within a heartbeat, the still-bloody young mother slid down past the rails and scooted off the bed.
But the girl had been too weak to give a proper effort to her kick. The nurses in the operating-cum-birthing room gave a proper display of attempting to stop the runaway mother, but the doctor’s well-padded belly had more than enough air left in it to permit him to simply reach over and grab the girl’s arm before she was two feet away from the foot of the bed.
“No no no! Owww… No… please please no don’t take her from me… noooo… ”
It was so early, the dead weren’t even up yet. The sun had yet to make a true appearance, but was making a solid promise to rise by sending pastel pink and yellow streams of light above the uneven horizon. Kathryn’s view of that horizon was shielded by a single row of Ash and Maple trees, shielding the side of the road that had brought her to this unremarkable spot, from the drop immediately after the trees.
Kathryn stood, unimpressed by the sun’s promise, with her hands in her pockets, lost in thought. In memory. In time.
By the time the expected car pulled up, the promised sun was a full hand above the horizon. It rolled to a stop right behind the long-haired girl with shoulders sagging from defeat. The sound of the door slamming shut echoed through the hills that dropped off after the line of trees.
Feeling the contained anger emanating from her visitor, Kathryn discreetly took a deep breath, staring intently at the base of the Maple tree straight in front of her.
Nervous breathing approached and stopped a chess move behind her, to her right, and stayed silent.
The burning resentment Kathryn had managed to contain began to bubble again, as the silence stretched on. She would not, would not be the one to break it.
The birds broke it. A flock of little yellow Finches flew in and collected themselves two trees over and the gall to let their beautiful voices float through the tense air.
“Such a wonderful voice, those birds have,” Richard cleared his throat, “Just like you, when you were little, when you would sing. Do you remember?”
Kathryn did remember. She had loved to sing.
“You will never know how… how happy, how proud we were when the State let us keep you, Kathryn. I can’t imagine life without you.” Richard let the silence be this time.
“Then how could you have done what you did, father, how could you turn me in? Tell me. Explain it.” She was surprised to find her previous resentment turning into hatred.
“Come home Kathryn. There are people who can help you—”
“Why did you do it?” Her voice brought silence to the birds. “You know this is wrong! I should have a choice!”
“There is no choice to be had! Kathryn, you know better than this, you have been raised properly, taught what must be done!” Richard’s own voice began to lose some of its kindness. “You cannot have a choice!”
“Yes I can! And where is Bryan? What have they done to him?”
“That is none of your concern. You will come back with me now, and let them help you learn from your mistakes, let them show you your proper path.” And now he did approach his daughter and took her arm with authority. Like the had done, like they all do. She jerked her arm away, even though she knew there was really nothing she could do, not on her own.
“Did they kill her? Tell me…” Kathryn faced her father now, her blue eyes pleading. “What did they do to her?”
With patronizing patience, Richard took his daughter’s arm once again, as if she were a small child. It wasn’t her fault, she just wasn’t able to understand, it was too much for her. At sixteen years old, she would soon be eligible for final “education”, and would be much more understanding after that. Like her mother.
“They did kill her?” A small voice said more than a scream ever could. Kathryn looked into her father’s eyes. She had always thought he would protect her, watch out for her. And now she realized why here mother rarely said much, rarely offered comfort, never touched anyone. And that was what she would become.
The birds began to sing again, as father and daughter looked at each other. Richard let go of his little girl’s arm.
The sun was giving another promise – that of a beautiful day. It forgot to mention the clouds forming on the horizon.
“Remember, father, this is wrong.” Kathryn took the three steps back it took to take her between two of the large Maple trees, to the edge of the hill they were on. The drop, hidden from the road, was a good forty foot drop before it levelled out. Not a spectacular view, but very nice indeed.
“My daughter had every right to live. She was me.” Richard didn’t move a hair.
“Kathryn please, we can handle this. You knew what would happen, why didn’t Bryan act? You know the laws—”
“Bryan knows those damn laws are wrong! Can’t you see that? They are lying to us, there is nothing wrong with women—”
“There are too many of you, you must be controlled—” Richard’s voice betrayed his well-trained frustration.
“It has nothing to do with us, there is nothing wrong with us! It is—”
“Stop Kathryn, come with me now, think of your mother, she’ll be worried sick about you.”
Tears came to Kathryn’s eyes, tears she had tried so hard to stop just hours before.
“Have you always been such a hypocrite, father of mine? They have made my dear mother mindless. She can barely think now!”
“The law is the law, Kathryn…”
“And that’s what they’ll do to me! Is that really what you want?”
One lone bird had the courage to chirp.
“My mother had the guts to talk to me before you sent her off to your precious Women First—” Her voice breaking, Kathryn knew she didn’t have much left in her, her body protesting the consequences of birth with no respite. The thought of her mother – the way she had been before – nearly overwhelmed her, strengthened her resolve. This would work. It must.
“Women First is nothing but camouflage! Oh, why won’t you listen to me? Please, look around you, at what is happening. The women, changing. The men, Father, even the men are changing!” And, for the first time in her short life, Kathryn saw something in her father’s eyes: hesitation.
She did it. That was all that was needed.
Before Richard could react, before she could change her mind, she turned as quick as her weakened body would let her, and with thoughts of love and hope for Bryan filling her mind, she walked off the edge of the drop.
The song of the lone Finch became the song of many as Richard stood on the empty dent in the shoulder of the mountain road.
How could I have been so stupid?
I, of all people, should have known better. But what is it they say about the smartest people letting the stupidest things happen to them?
Well, I hope that’s what they say… Because I am committed to this. Both of us are. Betrayal is so common and we knew the chances from the start.
But it will be okay. Even Troye is hopeful, and no one on this planet is more “glass half empty” than he is. Gosh, what would he do without me?
Oh, I suppose I should give him more credit, he was the one who managed to convince me to have this baby. Both of us had failed our Parental Inspection – we are virtually guaranteed to have a girl, so we had no chance of every being allowed to have children at all. Troye is from a family of five boys, having a little girl was a dream for him.
For me, very honestly, a boy or girl would make no difference. In fact, in this world of mine with it’s delicately balanced regime and hypocritical social system, I was not at all sure having any child at all would be a good thing.
My grandfather did manage to create a counter-currant though, with much careful nurturing and quiet chatter. He told me about my mother Kathryn, how she and my father had wanted me so much, how they had gone underground to get help in having me. How they had been betrayed.
Women First is stronger than ever now. They extol the virtues of being a woman, how being “the weaker sex” is a good thing. How limiting our numbers is a noble sacrifice men would never be capable of doing. How only women are clever enough to care for the men in this society.
And the worst thing? So many believe it. Oh, it is revolting. Vomit-inducing.
Troye and I met at one of those meetings of free-thinkers, under the cover of creating a new Women First chapter in our area. He had questioned the world he lived in for quite some time.
And that, actually, was something it took a long time for me to understand: how do you know to question something if you don’t know it’s wrong?
One of the last things Grandfather Richard told me before he died, was the true reason for the situation our society is in now.
There are too many girls.
In the years following the Great Viagra Era, the numbers of men fell dramatically, Richard discovered through much exploration of hospital records. At first, it was an average of three girls born for every one boy. Then it was five. Nine. Within a decade, the human race in the “civilised” world was at great risk.
But Viagra had become the candy of the uninspired, the bored. It was a difficult habit to break, not to mention the companies making good money from it. Decades later, the Joy Toy is still out there under different names, of course. Now couples must go through intense Parental Inspection, ensure that they will give birth to a boy. Every few years, the nation will allow a small generation of girls to be born, but no more than a few.
But I say too much and am becoming wearisome…
I carry a daughter and we prepare for our new life Out There. Like me, Sydnée will have a choice in her life.
We think that Troye, who has never given in to the seduction of what was Viagra (and never needed to), will be the last so-called ‘unbalanced’ male in his line. Perhaps I will have more children.
Beside all the drama and intrigue, I am taken now by the life within me, the person within the person. I don’t care about the gender difference, in fact, the differences are wonderful and should be nurtured. Encouraged and celebrated.
That is what I want my little girl to know.