NURSE ZOE OF the antenatal clinic smiled as she squirted turquoise jelly into the palm of her hand, sensing the nervousness of Deborah, whose protruding bump lay exposed, struggling to contain the life within. Rubbing the jelly over a patch of the stomach as Deborah flinched slightly, Zoe deftly grabbed the scanner and pressed it to the belly. Deborah watched the monitor, intently focused. And there he was, the reminder of why the seat next to her was absent. Her fiancé was too busy. Then he’d been divorced. At least she knew her son wouldn’t have his eyes.
Zoe looked at Deborah reassuringly, as she moved the ultrasound around slowly.
Time to break the silence. “He’s going to be beautiful!” said Zoe.
Teary eyed Deborah looked at her, nodding, “I know…” her hand over her mouth.
“And healthy. Everything looks great.” Zoe beamed.
Deborah thought back eight months ago. To her first time at the clinic, unsure if she was doing the right thing. She remembered the form she had filled out. That few mothers in the history of mankind ever had.
She’d chosen green eyes, perfect vision, and dark hair. She wanted him to be over six feet tall, yes. He was to be athletic and muscular. The doctor had warned her that he’d be unusually strong. She understood. And best of all, he’d have no chance of inheriting her predisposition to cancer. In fact, he would be perfect thanks to genetic editing. No mental defects, no diseases or maladies waiting to appear over time.
Zoe dabbed with wet tissues, cleaning up the jelly then peeled her latex gloves off, expertly rolling them into a ball and throwing them into a waste bin.
“That’s it! You can pull your top down and Dr. Eugene will be through shortly.”
Deborah was still in a fog, absent mindedly pulling at the folded up material, holding back tears.
“Ahhh! Ms. Miller!” Dr. Eugene announced his arrival, then whispered something to Zoe – who left them alone – as he sat down on the warm chair she’d vacated.
The doctor looked pensive. Avoiding eye contact he fidgeted, looking at forms on his clip board, his shaven face taught, below the closely cut grey hairs above.
“I’m not sure how to put this,” he started, sensing immediate apprehension. “Well…someone has offered to buy your baby. For a lot, of money.” He looked at Deborah gauging her reaction.
She sat up immediately as if a pulse of electricity had passed through her. Her eyes screwed up.“Whaatt?”
“Really. $1,500,000.” He said it matter of fact. It probably didn’t even amount to his yearly bonus.
“I don’t understand,” she said, utterly perplexed.
“A top sports team, I can’t say who. They want him.” Dr. Eugene nodded at her bump.
Deborah squinted trying to figure out if he was leading up to a punchline. She did have some bills to pay…But no! This was ridiculous!
“It’s a pre-pre-transfer fee. If you hold out you’ll be able to get more. Trust me.” I’m a doctor, except he didn’t say it.
Deborah nearly fainted. Struggling to process what she was hearing, her imagination went into overdrive, making purchases on a home, a new car, fancy clothing and holidays. She felt a kick. Then another, instinctively putting a hand over her bump.
Gene editing had cost her $100,000 already. That was $1,400,000 in profit. Could she do it? No way! But then again…?!
Dr. Eugene sat patiently, smiling gently, knowing what team he would try to persuade her sell to.