True Woman – The Speakeasy

Written for the Speakeasy.

True Woman

Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold. Snow still fell in April. Heedless of the slick surface, Janice Patton still exceeded the speed limit down the winding Pennsylvania road to work as she would all year round. Idly, she wondered why she took the risk. Was it because she believed she owned the skill to handle the treacherous road? Was it related to the nightmares that still plagued her, the dreams where she was tossed into a stinking dumpster, laying like a broken, unwanted doll?

As she came to skidding stop at Research Boulevard, she almost slid into the intersection. She mused idly that perhaps she still didn’t give a damn about herself. Her doctor had told her she could never conceive a child. She had a perfectly good womb, but nothing to put in it. In moments, her sense of self worth…died.

Yet, out of her black despair, she’d arisen like a phoenix. Driven by the nightmare of her condition, she pioneered a radical technique for conceiving children from DNA alone. At first, the press incorrectly called it cloning, but it wasn’t at all. Her process randomly combined the DNA of two people. Growing in their artificial wombs, the emerging children were cleansed of genetic diseases and abnormalities more easily than they could be in natural childbirth. Suddenly, couples who couldn’t have children, could have better, more attractive, children than anyone else. Though her professional star was rising, her nightmares persisted. She was so obsessed with finding a solution, somewhere along the way she forgot herself. Though she could’ve been her own first client, the thought never occurred to her.

Perhaps it was the members of Westbaum Baptist Church that distracted her too much. As she raced through the falling snow obscuring the last stoplight before her new company, she expected the religious fanatics to be picketing the gate as they did every day. As she slowed to turn in the drive, she noted they were suspiciously absent. No signs with religious quotes, no screaming, wide-eyed true believers harangued her as she drove through the gate. Idly, Janice wondered what was wrong with them.

Janice got out of her truck wearing weathered jeans, flannel shirt, no makeup, and her unruly hair in a ponytail. Since learning of her condition, sex no longer entered her mind. Her ambition to help others had taken it’s place. What was the point of sex if she couldn’t bear the fruit of it anyway? Though harshly self-critical, in her deepest heart, she didn’t feel female, not a true woman, and her appearance reflected that belief.

As she approached the entrance, she noted the door was broken, hanging off it’s hinges. Alarmed, she rushed inside.

She found the security guard laying in a pool of blood. He’d been shot in the arm, belly, chest, and finally in the head. At least 20 shell casings littered the floor. The attackers were terrible shots, she noted in her shock. She found her lab assistant, Sammy, down the hall with brochures still in his hand. They’d shot him many times, finally in the head from close range. They’d executed him while he was armed only with knowledge. She cried over his cold corpse for a time, and then she realized the true target of this murderous rampage.

In the lab, she found the twelve artificial wombs had been smashed, the growing lives inexpertly snuffed out with a crowbar. After careful inspection, womb #8 seemed largely intact, merely cracked. Quickly, she checked the status monitors. As Janice suspected, the wombs showed malfunctions, all except #8. As she watched artificial amniotic fluid oozing out, she realized the life inside wouldn’t stay that way for long. Her new business had no backup wombs to save that one last life. That one child was doomed…except…unless. She snatched a large syringe. There was little time before it was too late.

***

The country outside Greensboro was beautiful as Janice drove to her father’s ranch 40 miles outside the city. Cars passed her often as she drove 5 mph below the speed limit in the slow lane. She felt tired from the long drive, and decided to stop at a diner. It was risky to keep driving when fatigued. She parked and watched herself in the vanity mirror as she brushed out her hair and arranged it across her shoulders.

She stepped out of the truck, holding her swelling belly. As a warm spring breeze blew caressed her, she noted she finally felt female, and she smiled.
_____________________________________
Each week, The Speakeasy, offers up a writing challenge for up to 750 words of flash fiction. This week, the sentence, “Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold,” must begin the story. The media prompt below is must also be referenced in some way. I think I covered that. 😉 This week’s prompt may be found here: http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-157-open/

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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33 Responses to True Woman – The Speakeasy

  1. Lyn says:

    Another great story, Eric. There were so many “what ifs” running around in my head…what if she’d worked through the night on more research? Let’s hope those Westbaum Baptist nutters get what’s coming to them…big time! And I say that as a “non-nutter Baptist/Anglican Calvinist.”

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Who knew they’d go to such lengths? Janice certainly didn’t. I think the nutjobs were so inexpert, they probably left plenty of clues for the police to get a number of convictions. . I think the perps will be kept safely away from society. Some crazies just don’t comprehend the “Do unto others…” commandment As it is, they were making “real” religious folks look bad.

      Like

  2. I like this take on “designer babies”.

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  3. peggyshope says:

    Very ingenious! I love that Janice was able to save the last one for herself, and so feel like a woman again!

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Thank you! In my view, Janice always was a True Woman all along, because she thought of others first and worked so hard to improve the lives of people she didn’t know. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t see herself that way. At least in the end, she received something she desperately needed to see herself in a positive light. Thanks kindly for reading and sharing your feelings!

      Like

  4. jannatwrites says:

    This kind of science scares me because of the potential for abuse… but the fanatics scare me more. Disagreeing with the fundamental ideas of someone else – no matter how they differ from our own- is not a good reason for slaughter. I’m glad she was able to feel “whole” in the end. Maybe that will be enough to heal her emotional scars as well.

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      The science is pretty controversial. At the same time as bad things, a lot of good can come from it. I think it’s all about how it’s implemented. I just hope that when science like this becomes possible it’s managed properly and the fanatics keep themselves in check. Well, I can always hope anyway. :/ I’m glad for Janice too. Like the Scarecrow, she really was whole all along, but at least now she “feels” it. As always, thanks so much for your thoughts, Janna! 🙂

      Like

  5. Indira says:

    Superb story, very sweet. You can give good feedback to scientists. Wish all good inventions go to safe and well meaning hands only. Happy for Janice.

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    • EagleAye says:

      Me too. I hope for good things from their ideas. At last Janice sees herself as complete. So glad you liked the story, Indira. It means a lot to hear that. 🙂

      Like

  6. tinsenpup says:

    It’s sad that she felt she needed to bear a child to feel like a woman, but I’m glad she got what she needed in the end. I wonder about the genetic parents though. Baby making can be such a fraught, complicated process no matter how it happens.

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Oh yes, it can be difficult for some couples. That’s why Janice ended up doing this research. Her initial idea was simply to help those who couldn’t have children. It is sad that she saw herself as less. There was no reason to put herself down like that. Ironically, it took an event with much death for her to end up with a life growing inside of her. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  7. This is so beautiful 🙂 I’m really happy Janice found herself able to feel like a real woman after she saved the baby, seems like the beginning of a new,happier life for her. I think its terrible though that the other fetuses were destroyed so callously by the so-called believers of God- sad that they couldn’t understand how God would never approve of slaughtering the innocent…

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    • EagleAye says:

      Yes, Janice will be much happier now, I think. The experience will be healing I expect. As for the attackers, I like that you say “so-called believers.” Every day I read about people killing in the name of their religion, and I wonder how religious they really are, and how much of their desire is just to kill and destroy simply because they like it. Some of those folks need to study their books a little more thoroughly. Thanks for stopping in, Tinkerbelle! I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

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  8. jstansfeld says:

    Good story well told – I believed it and especially liked the way that Janice changed when she became pregnant. Perhaps we all do but her transformation was subtle and endearing.

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    • EagleAye says:

      Oh that’s good to hear. That’s exactly what I was aiming for. I wanted the story to start with winter/barren womb and end with spring/life-giving womb. And I wanted her personality to grow as well. It sounds like it worked. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  9. atrm61 says:

    Just love this beautifully creative take on the prompt Eric-I was scared till the end that maybe her nightmare would come true and heaved a sigh of relief when no such thing happened-so happy for Janice-hope she has a healthy baby and lives happily ever after 🙂

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  10. Shey says:

    Sweet story with emotional healing at the end.

    Like

  11. Westbaum Baptist Church – ha! This is a skillfully written piece – very well done.

    Like

  12. Suzanne says:

    This is such a creative story – not that I expect anything less from you! I’m glad Janice got a happy ending. The road of infertility is a difficult one, particularly because those who have never walked it are so quick to pass judgment. Great take on the prompts! 🙂

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Thank you Suzanne! She really did struggle with her condition, and she punished herself for it albeit only in her subconscious. Poor woman after torturing her throughout this story, I finally had to giver her a break in the end. I did want to study the psychology of someone who is infertile in this piece. I expect her response is only one of many. I do hope that someday, science can find a resolution for such problems. Thanks so much for your thoughts as always, Suzanne!

      Like

  13. jenbrunett says:

    I’m happy for the ending, too. 🙂 I always enjoyer reading your stories!

    Like

  14. Natalie D says:

    Ooo, the suspense! I like the tongue-in-cheek mention of “Westbaum Baptist Church.” Don’t think I didn’t catch that. 😉
    Once again, captivating and an imaginative story.

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Huh? What? What do you mean? 😉 I almost coughed rum & coke onto my monitor when I saw your comment. Guilty as charged! I guess my feelings about “Westbaum” are out there now. I wonder if they’ll start picketing me? Glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Like

  15. Pat(ricia) says:

    Wonderfully creative writing here. Impressive with the plot and twist ending. Engaging and concise, but interestingly presented. 🙂

    Like

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