This is my submission for the second round of the Yeah Write Super Challenge #4. I didn’t make it to the next round, but I’m decently satisfied with my work, and I hope you enjoy it too!
A pebble dug deep into the curve of her bare foot, shooting threads of pain up her right leg. As she dragged her left leg ahead of her right, it gave way and she collapsed onto the dilapidated railway tracks.
In the complacency of the silence around her, she almost gave into the exhaustion from the past few days. Maybe she would be found, not by a foe but by a friend. Maybe they would take her in and heal her wounds, along with much of her sanity.
Feebly, she rolled over onto her back and squinted up at the turquoise blue sky. In a different time, she would’ve been able to appreciate the beauty of the rugged wilderness around her, maybe even sport the idea of voluntarily lying down on the abandoned tracks—
‘Ms. Fayes? Mr. Rine? They’re ready for you.’ Nova tore her eyes away from another beautiful blue sky outside the window and looked at her husband.
Vox put a hand over hers, squeezing gently.
‘That’s us, honey,’ he whispered.
They rose together and followed the receptionist as she guided them past pastel coloured doors. The last door on their right sat open, with sunlight spilling out into the hallway. She ushered them into the tiny room, promising to be back with glasses of water and their social worker.
Nova stood still by the large wall-to-wall window that overlooked what resembled a playroom. A strange sense of calm settled within her. Somewhere, within these four walls, there was a child waiting to be theirs. In her previous life, she couldn’t have ever dreamed of such a possibility.
Subconsciously, her palm came to rest on her barren womb. At fourteen, Nova had been told that she wouldn’t be allowed to have children because a third of her eggs were ‘defective’, and she was sterilised.
She took a deep breath and watched Vox as he paced back and forth nervously behind her. Nova herself was the result of two centuries of human genetic engineering. She wondered, not for the first time, what he as a naturally-birthed child saw in all her porcelain skin, ridiculously violet eyes and bright pink cheeks. Vox had been one of the few people who’d found her rapidly deteriorating body on those railway tracks years ago, when on her fifteenth birthday she’d run away from home. She’d followed the advice of people who’d similarly escaped oppressive governments and travelled to Adrar, the promised land, the first and only nation to abolish genetic modifications and offer refuge to anyone who sought it.
She walked over to Vox and planted a kiss on his cheek.
‘What was that for?’
‘You’re my home,’ she murmured, running a hand through his hair. His face split into a radiant smile, before turning back into a frown.
‘So am I. But there’s no one I’d rather do this with.’
He pulled her into a tight hug, burying his face in her silvery mane.
Ariss, their social worker, walked in through the door. She smiled benevolently, and sat them down at the wooden table in the centre of the room.
‘How are we doing today?’ she asked, setting aside the paperwork.
They looked at each other. ‘Nervous,’ Vox answered, reaching out for Nova again. She grasped his hand with both of hers.
Ariss nodded. ‘In a few moments, we’ll have someone walk the child in through that door,’ she pointed into the other room, ‘Usually, we take a couple of minutes to observe them from in here before you decide whether you want to go ahead and meet them in person.’
They nodded in unison, and Ariss picked up the phone beside her to convey the agreement.
This was it. This was what the Adrarians had fought so determinedly for, against the oppressors for over fifty years.
In the adjacent room, the door swung open. A woman appeared, leading someone significantly smaller than herself.
Nova and Vox walked toward the window in anticipation.
The woman led the child toward the centre of the room. Almost immediately upon being propped up at the table, a blank sheet of paper and a box of crayons were set claim upon, and scribbling ensued. The woman chuckled, as she pulled up a chair for herself.
‘That’s her,’ Arris smiled, joining them at the window.
Vox put his arms around Nova, overwhelmed. Nova leaned forward, laying a trembling palm on the glass. They watched her silently.
Tiny, chubby fingers drew large arcs on the blank space. She had giant brown eyes, and mouse-brown hair that fell in soft locks over her shoulders. She’d been born to parents who’d struggled to adjust with the ruling against modifications. In their eyes, she was imperfect, with her below average IQ and a 3% possibility of developing lung cancer during adulthood. On her first birthday, she’d been found outside the adoption agency.
A few hundred years hadn’t altered the age-old practice of abandoning infants on doorsteps.
But a few hundred years hadn’t cheapened the beauty of a mother seeing her baby for the first time either.
‘Would you like to meet her?’ Ariss asked, approaching the door.
Nova took another deep breath. They may have won the war, but battles yet persisted. Although the filthy underbelly of the cosmo-medical industry was rapidly dissolving, on occasion another tragic incident would draw attention to the festering scraps of society that still needed healing. The general populous was still getting acclimatised to the possibility of birthing ‘defective’ children into the world, and governments were only just beginning to rewrite laws against mandated abortions.
Nova turned to Ariss and nodded resolutely, knowing she’d be her daughter’s fiercest warrior.