Friday, 21 January 2011

Just a quick something to get the ball rolling...

I wrote this a little while ago for a writing partner I once had:


A tiny hand curled around my finger. Every minute feature of my new great grand child was perfect. I knew it because I had checked with my own eyes, searching her body for flaws, of which I had found none. Ten fingers, ten toes – that was all I needed to know. My grandson, Ben, had laughed at my old fashioned ways. He indulged me in my antiquated check but knew it was unnecessary. He and his wife had known she would be perfect even before their first scan. Like most modern, young couples, they had paid well for the luxury of this assurance.

Genetic manipulation was commonplace. Clinics in every town provided those that could afford with artificial gene selection, working round the clock to expunge every hereditary contaminant from the members of the next generation. Of course there was no altruism involved in the process - just a tidy profit.

My great grand daughter's genome had been skillfully crafted in one of these places. Each chromosome was flawless and would provide the instructions to create every facet of her physical existence from her hair and eye colour, to her IQ. Ben and his wife Tanya, had chosen the very best of themselves for their daughter.

And yet later, as I sat in the stark hospital ward watching the new parents awkwardly change their daughter's nappy, I couldn't help but wonder how they would maintain the perfection they had strived for. At what point would they be satisfied and to what lengths would they go? The scar above Ben's eye told the story of how he learnt to ride a bike. Would it be wrong to prevent such embellishments? Even if such marks could be prevented, others could not. Unseen damage to body tissue, causing illness and decay, was unstoppable.

I looked at my own hands, gnarled and fragile – no longer perfect. They represented the story of a life: the indent from a wedding ring; the slight misalignment of a finger once broken in an accident. It made me smile at the couple's naivety and I wondered what scars they would allow Eva to gather.

“Look at her,” my grandson beamed. “She's perfect.”

“Yes,” I agreed uncomfortably. “She is.”

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