“How long have you had your periods for?” Dr. Emerson said, his holographic clipboard in hand.
“For six months,” I said quickly. The sooner this conversation was over the better.
The woman in a white lab coat next to him whispered in his ear. He nodded and started checking things off on his clipboard. I pulled the dressing gown tighter around myself, looking at the tools on the table that I had never seen before. The walls were a pristine white, like someone came in every day and bleached them.
“You are fifteen years old, correct?” Dr. Emerson said without looking up at me.
“We will start you on some prenatal vitamins. Take two pills everyday until you finish the bottle,” He said. The nurse handed me a bottle with a small printed picture of a happy baby on it. I cringed.
“I just need you to lie back on the table and put your feet in these stirrups,” He instructed. I felt the sweat begin to form while I scooted myself down until I could feel the very edge of the table, my legs clamped tightly together. The nurse smiled fondly at me.
“We need you to let your legs fall and be as relaxed as possible,” she said sweetly.
Easier said than done.
“Do we really have to do this? I’ll take the vitamins,” I pleaded. She said nothing to me, prying my knees apart gently. Dr. Emerson brought a light closer and looked at me down there, and I could feel the panic arise in me.
“You are not sexually active, correct?” Dr. Emerson asked me. I heard a few metal things clank together and lifted my head to peer at him.
“I kissed a boy named Joey in my class a few weeks ago. It was a dare,” I admitted.
I saw the amusement on the nurses face and blushed.
“Anything other than kissing?” Dr. Emerson asked with a serious tone.
“No,” I said sharply.
“I am going to give you a pelvic exam. This is called a speculum. It may hurt a bit but i need you to stay as relaxed as possible.” He lifted up a plastic thing, long and curved.
When the torture was finally over they handed me a towel to wipe up with and I tried to feel anything other than violated. I should have let my mother in the room, but I told her I did not need her for this, so she was sitting in the waiting room for me. She was always worried about this part. Always stressing to me what it meant that I was a female and told me that she hoped I was not fertile.
It is not as malicious as it sounds. My mother is one of the few people in the world who was able to give birth, and only had success after the fifth pregnancy. Giving birth to your own children without surrogates is unheard of now, and most teenagers coming into puberty get these exams to check fertility.
And we do not have a choice.
Dr. Emerson handed me a contract to sign, and I read through it carefully. The words jumped out at it me from the screen, glowing and bright. I held the tablet tightly in my hands, trying to steady my breathing.
Agreement for artificial insemination.
They want to make you think you have the free will to choose whether or not to have a child. We are a bunch of breeders, and these doctors were the farmers collecting calves. If you were a rich Breeder, then you could keep your kids.
But when you are poor like us, the farmers sell off your calves to the rich non Breeders. It wasn’t like this when I was born. People were just joyful that there were children being made. Now the human race is scrambling to reinsert itself on Earth and anyone left who is fertile has no right to their own bodies. The rich could afford to feed any number of children.
I would kill to know what an apple tastes like.
My hand shook as I swiped my finger along the screen, my signature almost unrecognizable. There it was. I signed away any children I would have, and my small family would get rations we did not have before- like bread.
I would kill for some bread right now. To eat real food instead of packaged slop.
Dr. Emerson took the tablet from me and nodded his head. “You will come back in six months for the one year evaluation and then we will go from there. We have selected a group of male specimens that we feel would produce healthy children,” he said, handing me a list of numbers.
“There are not any names on here,” I said with confusion.
“That is for the donor’s protection, as well as yours.”
“I pick the donor in the end?”
Dr. Emerson sighed. “We give you options to pick from. These are the men with genetic markups that would produce great offspring. We encourage all males and females to get a genetic marker test done to insure the least amount of chromosomal abnormalities and increase live births. With the initiation from Genesis X, mankind managed to make those that took it sterile, and in the end we still want to achieve the goal of keeping any cancers and terminal diseases from resurfacing. So we go through these extensive tests and family trees to make sure there is no cause for concern.”
“What about the people who do manage to get pregnant on their own?” I asked with genuine curiosity. They both ignored me.
“Have you thought about what you will do when you have a baby next year?” The nurse asked cheerfully. Dr. Emerson shook his head at her and her lips tightened into a line.
“I am from Sector D,” I answered. My answer should be enough for her.
The nurse smiled at me sheepishly. I’m in the very last sector, the poorest of all four. What I was told as a child was that it was divided this way since population had depleted greatly. Sectors A and B held the high class citizens, and they were the least likely to produce any offspring. They most likely inherited money from their predecessors, and the rich were the first to receive the Genesis X vaccines. There were more people in sector D than in any other sectors, thus we are the poorest and we hold the most crime. A majority of children birthed by Sector D people never made it passed the first few months, but there were high hopes for me.
“Well I am sure your baby will fetch you at least 1000 Units,” the nurse said happily. I cringed. 1000 Units is six months worth of rations, and this nurse must have thought that was a lot to me. My previous neighbor, Sandra Calvin, had been on her menstrual cycle for four years and produced two children, both females. She was awarded 9000 units for each child. We do not see her anymore. She took the Units to buy herself a place in sector C. I thought about the gated community in sector C that I would pass by on the D train to get to my run down town. I would have to pass by there again today, and I would wonder which house belongs to Sandra.
“Do you have any questions for me?” Dr. Emerson sighed. He had not made eye contact with me in a while, and for that I was grateful.
When I got back to the lobby my mother was standing by the exit door, as if ready to bolt for it at any moment. She hated this place. When she saw me her face lit up and she became misty eyed, as if she had been prepared to never see me again. She hugged me and I wiggled out of her grasp. “Mom,” I hissed. It was embarrassing. I could see the other girls in the lobby staring at me, wondering if I would give them any clue as to what would go down in the white room.
“How did it go?” My mom asked me. She pushed the exit door more forceful than necessary when she realized the lounge full of young girls leaning in to listen.
“Fine. They gave me more prenatals and want me to uptake on my iron. Which is impossible because we would have to have actual real food instead of this hot garbage they force feed us in those pouches.”
“I heard that’s what the astronauts used to eat,” She replied.
“No one has been to space in ages.”
“Well, what do you want for dinner? I could work a bit extra tonight. Maybe Franky would be willing to throw me something extra if I do that thing he wants-”
“Mom, stop it,” I snapped.
“What? You will be growing a baby in that belly soon and we are going to have to adjust somehow. I found an old bassinet, like really old but we can salvage it and-”
“Mom, you know we are not keeping it. We can’t.” I refuse to look at her at this point. I know I will see the shock in her face. Even though we never talked about our plans before, I had not expected her to just assume I would keep the child.
“What? You can’t just give up your own baby. If I had done that then you wouldn’t be with me,” she scoffed.
“And you wouldn’t have had to make money lying on your back. That is not the life I want. There are people who can afford to splurge Units for a baby in Sectors A and B. I cannot just pass up the opportunity.”
“This is not just an opportunity, Salice. This is a baby. This will be your baby. You will feel it growing inside of you. You say you will be able to give up the baby for Units, but you have not experienced anything like this before. I did what I had to for you.”
My mother sold her body. She still does. Mainly to a guy named Frank that lives above us. I’ve had to hear them going at it for years, always being told that no matter what I hear, to never disrupt them. My mother is a frail woman, and I look nothing like her. I probably look more like the sperm donor. My mom has European features, whereas I do not. I have darker skin, darker eyes, darker hair.
Kind of like Franky. I remember asking my mother once if he was my donor. She laughed at me and told me Franky was completely sterile, and to ‘thank God for that.’
“I can’t do what you did. I want to get out of here. And if you were in my shoes now, I would have wanted you to give me up to an A or B. We both would have lived better lives.” I realized the gravity of my words too late. I find myself running to catch the earlier D Train, just so I do not have to see that look on her face.
I knew I crushed her.