by EN Heim
Barrett read the morning newspaper at the kitchen table. He glanced out the kitchen window and saw two birds courting. They flipped and danced on the windowsill before they took flight. It sparked his imagination.
In the middle of the table was a just-picked vase of golden poppies. He mumbled, “How nice spring is.”
“What say, Barrett?” asked Gwynne.
“Spring is nice.”
“Yes it is. It’s my favorite time of the year. Everything seems to kindle one’s inner juices and gets the thaw out of one’s limbs.”
Barrett’s left eyebrow flicked. He smiled and went back reading the newspaper. His brow flipped at an article. He took a mouthful of his breakfast: muesli, blueberries, and yogurt. After he swallowed his mouthful, he glanced over the poppies to Gwynne. “Hon,” he said, “are we eating bio?”
“The package says so.” She glanced at the muesli package and pointed her finger at the word. “It says right here, one hundred percent ‘Bio’.” She showed him the word. “See it’s the biggest thing on the package. Why do you ask?”
“Reading an article on Bio.”
“What about it?”
“What does the word ‘bio’ mean?”
“It means biology, something that grows and is alive.”
Gwynne’s eyes circled the ceiling. “That’s all about robots, nothing you eat.”
“Not something artificial, like plastic or metal, but more like petrol products…vitamins?” He snarled at the thought of vitamins and supplements.
“No!” She glanced at Barrett and frowned. “Why, are you reading an article about biology or bionics?”
“What does it say?”
“It says here, you can now have any color of eyes or hair when having a baby today. It also says you can have a super athlete, an exceptional musician, or a super genius, and select gender.”
“How about a Michelangelo?”
“That’s biotechnology, Barrett, not biology.”
“What’s the diff? It still grows, don’t it?”
“One is natural. The other is man controlled.”
Barrett smirked. “When you had Grunge, that wasn’t controlled, Gwynne. In fact, you blamed me for not having the controls on.”
Her eyes circled the ceiling. “That’s not the same thing, Barrett. Beside, bios weren’t around then.”
Surprised, his eyebrows tweaked, and he whispered, “I know, we had safeties then.” He snarled.
“I know,” she said and threw a queasy stare at him. “You used to call them the ’breaks’.”
“Right, that’s the breaks, and the results were Grunge.” He smiled and shoved another mouthful of muesli in his mouth. While chewing, he said, “We should have waited with Grunge.”
“We could have had the perfect son.”
“He’s perfected enough, Barrett. Besides, he’s all natural, not something manipulated by science and doctors.” Gwynne’s mouth churned. “Why…do you want another baby?”
“It’d be a bio-baby if we’d have one. One that’s perfect, a baby without faults and shortcomings, and one with lotsa talent.”
“Can’t have babies at our age, Barrett.” She scowled. “Baby making is long past, water under the bridge.”
“Why not? I read the other day a ninety-year-old woman had a baby.”
“She was a surrogate for her daughter.”
“You read the article.”
“Three weeks ago.”
“What did it say, Gwynne?” Barrett glanced over the newspaper to catch Gwynne’s expression.
“I thought you read the article.”
“I glanced through it. I didn’t read it.”
“It said she gave birth to a six-pound boy with blue eyes, blond hair, and the I-Q of two-oh-five. They expect he’ll be another Einstein, Michelangelo, and a Babe Ruth, not to say another Beethoven.”
He popped his head over the newspaper. “All in one!”
“That’s what the article said.” Her eyes twinkled.
“Gwynne, you too can have that bio-baby, all in one, tailor-made to fit your requirements. Just like the lady who was a surrogate.”
“Not at my age, Barrett. Those days are over and done with. Like I said, ovaries over and out…click!”
“Shucks woman!” He snapped his fingers. “We could have a genius in the family.”
Gwynne peers at Barrett. “Knowing your side of the family, there’s a lot to wish for.”
He smiled. “Lots!”
Barrett continued reading the article. After five minutes, he peered over the newspaper at Gwynne. “It also says here, they can clown any part of your body to replace it.”
“I know, Barrett. And it’s not called clown.”
“What is it then, if it ain’t a clown?”
“Clone, not a clown, Barrett. A clown is a joker, something that works in a circus. You know, someone who performs, and makes people laugh.” Gwynne smiled. “A clone is different. It’s something that is science manipulated and bio-replicated.”
Barrett mused. Gwynne visualized Barrett’s cranial gears going at a full crunch. Her eyes circled the ceiling.
He put down the newspaper and turned his attention to her. “Gwynne, it says here, if you want a new hand, it can be grown in a Petri dish…BINGO, a new hand. If you have a bad heart…BINGO, a new heart.”
“Don’t go any further, Barrett, I know what you’d replace, since yours doesn’t work any more.”
“Shucks woman, you’re no fun.”
EN Heim is retired and living in Germany. He came there out of Los Angeles, California’s diverse congestion. He finds Germany more uniform and congenial. He says there is diversity here, but you have to look for it—lots of chickens, cows, pigs and trees.