by Angela Kempe
Marlene felt her skin stretch and pain shoot through her stomach into her groin. She shut her eyes and forced another breath before bearing down hard. The distinct feeling of her skin tearing sent her into a panic.
“My skin is tearing! My skin is tearing!”
A sudden fog surrounded her. Was it the pain or the lack of oxygen? She wasn’t sure, but she new there was only one way to end this misery.
“Give her oxygen.”
A nurse placed a plastic mask over her face. She struggled to open her eyes. Struggled to sip one last breath before fainting.
“Don’t faint. Breathe, Marlene!”
Feeling someone squeeze her hand, she screamed a horrific cry. A strange hard thing crowned. She imagined its head at the edge of light and could not hear her own voice filling the room any longer. There was only time, paused like a dream. She could see her connection with it like a band of light as it slipped from her body. And all was over.
When Marlene came to, the doctor brought her baby close to her face. She could smell the blood on it. Smell its innocence. She reached to take off her oxygen mask and give the young flesh its first kiss.
Smiling, she touched the fat little arms and kissed her.
“Danika,” she announced.
The doctor repeated, “Danika,” to the nurse who recorded the name as Danika Lee. Then the doctor carried the baby to a large machine and nestled the child tightly in its grasp. Strapped the little arms and legs. Brought down the lid over the baby. Marlene had fought against tears, but her baby’s cries were too much.
Marlene felt her first pang of maternal instinct. She told herself this was necessary as she listened to the shrill sound of a saw blade spinning. Her baby stopped crying. Marlene closed her eyes. This pain was even more intense than the first.
“Body is severed.”
Marlene felt a numbness come over her as she realized it was too late to stop. She waited for an answer and the seconds moved like years. It was too much for her to take, so she struggled herself up from the bed, fighting against the nurses and her husband, and stumbled across the room. The staff held her back as she stood before the machine that held her baby prisoner, tears rolling down her eyes as she waited.
“It’s okay,” her husband said, placing a gentle hand over her arm.
She discovered a new hatred for him. The wait seemed like hours. It was only seconds.
“Spinal connection is successful!” the tech said.
Slowly, the lid opened and there was her baby sleeping soundly.
“Now Danika will lead a healthy life,” the doctor smiled.
Marlene reached into the incubator. The fat little arms were gone. She touched the soft new artificial limbs. It felt similar to the original but lacked of something. Realizing Marlene’s own fingers were in fact not original, she found a new bond between mother and child. Something she would now be able to enjoy for several hundred years.