Part I: Reinventing Bone Structure - Chapters 13 - 18

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Chapter Thirteen

It's a boy. Or a rabbit. Or a hydroelectric self-filtering mechanism designed to cut down on that extra five minutes you just can't afford to waste of your morning routine.

Cries of strenuous pain echoed throughout the acoustically-superior walls of Generik University hospital. I sat in a stainless steel chair and whistled while I waited, watching short people fat people beautiful people plain people walk back and forth, back and forth, all of them anxious for a few ambiguous words from anyone dressed in red scrubs. I'd wanted to be in the delivery room with Mari, but was told that my presence would be distracting and not at all useful.

Once it was over, they allowed me in to see her and my new son, D.E.F., for half an hour, then he would be taken for his first post-natal training. When not in training he would live with Mari due to overcrowding in G.P.B. instructional facilities. I figured I'd probably go see them about once a week, and bring him a new toy bi-monthly.

Mari lay back against the sterilized pillows, sweat sticking her spun sugar hair to her forehead in spiderweb patterns. Her eyes smiled when she saw me and she nodded at the baby, displaying his little head, arms, hands, and feet to me as if he were a newly discovered artifact. I would feel more sentimental about this moment if I had spent more hours watching movies-of-the-week on the redscreen. She asked me if I wanted to hold him. My instincts said no, but I reached out anyway.

Mari sat up a little higher in her hospital bunk. What do you think they'll make of him? Blue words on a convex surface.

"Hard to say. He looks like a Chief Technicians Officer. Or maybe a medal-winning G.P.B. Games athlete." He didn't look like much really, scrunched up features inside a squirming mass of pink. But I had high hopes; Mari and I were both from decent greenhouse sectors, and I'd heard that G.P.B.'s educational facilities had improved as of late. Not that they'd been too shabby when I attended—I knew how to spout just enough about art, history, and science that most of the girls and a fair share of the guys I met thought I knew what I was talking about.

Mari gazed at us fondly, although I was pretty sure I was holding him wrong. It felt a little like juggling, I couldn't figure out which end of him was supposed to weigh more.

I think he'll be a trumpet player. Look at those full little lips, the tablet on the hill said, glowing a soft blue. She reached up for him and I passed the ball.

#

Weeks later I was at Mari's greenhouse with my first gift for D.E.F.—a pair of designer kicks, motorbreath black with cobalt blue stripes, size 8 cm. I fastened them onto his tiny feet and he squirmed and blew a spit bubble. I took that to mean he liked them.

Mari sat against the wool-and-wire basinet, spun sugar auburn crushed against the pattern of fast automotos and dainty stripes, busily sketching against the tablet on her fast-shrinking belly, her index finger hovering in the air a short distance above it as thick and thin lines appeared on the surface, manifesting themselves in a familiar shape.

"Is that me?" I asked, pointing at her new creation.

After a few finishing touches, she turned to show me the sketch she'd made. She switched the screen to a text panel and wrote, For you. The picture was all sharp angles, vacant eyes and forgotten tension that had unnaturally woven its way into my spine and seeded itself there.

D.E.F. slept soundly in his basinet, soft music automatically streaming from it during nap intervals—music box rainbows and candy—its sugary taste pure and sweet before the inevitable tainting of it with some hallucinogen.

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