The Sum of Expectation
by Oscar Deadwood
forum: The Sum of Expectation
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Sum of Expectation


       Amanda was just starting to show and the arguments ensued.

       "I want to know," she said, fretting over the color of the nursery and a thousand other details that would otherwise take years to reveal.

       "But what difference does it make?" Steven asked, tipping back a green bottle of beer and staring at the television. He didn't want to make eye contact with his wife as she stood in the doorway that separated the living room from the kitchen with her hands on her hips as she tapped her foot to an agitated tune.

       "All the difference in the world," she said.

       "Why? Would you get rid of it?" he asked, tipping the bottle back again, emptying half of the beer in one swallow.

       "No, of course not," Amanda said, walking across the living room and she sat heavily on the couch. She wanted to hold Steve's hand, but one hand held the remote control and the other that green bottle of beer.

       "Don't you think," she continued as she twirled a lock of her long and frazzled black hair, "that it would make things easier, you know, if we knew what to expect, and besides our age, there's always a greater risk for complications…."

       "But still," and his voice trailed off as he stomped in his stocking feet to the refrigerator. He figured she would be distracted now and wouldn't chastise him for drinking two beers in rapid fire succession, "we'll still keep it, I mean, we've been trying for so long, and I don't want to ruin it, you know, the thrill of it all and the surprise…"

       "I know you," she sat upright, "you just don't want to spend the money on all those tests."

       True, the extra tests weren't covered by his insurance, and the thought of spending extra money on something he couldn't eat or drink or ride or wear or watch did cause a certain amount of anxiety.

       "No, no, that's not it, it's just, it's just, you know," and he emptied the second green bottle in three swallows and he was forced to stifle what was sure to be a loud belch.

       "If you love me you'll do it, you'll let me do it, you'll want to do it, if you love me…"

       He never had any firepower to answer the old "if you love me" bit. He let out a deep sigh and his body sagged in resignation.

       "Fine," he said, "we'll do it, we'll get the tests." And he used her squeal of delight as an excuse to return to the refrigerator and crack open another bottle of green beer.

       She made the appointment the very next day, and he left work early to sit with her and hold her hand while she waited anxiously in the waiting room for the results that would be immediate.

       The tests were done at the hospital, and she just loved to go to the hospital. She just loved all the attention that one received, she loved the soft leather chairs in the waiting rooms and the marble floors of the concourses and the brass fixtures and the soft lights recessed in the paneled walls and tiled ceiling.

       And the tests were rather simple, a long needle was strategically placed through her barely protruding stomach and the doctor guided the needle as an ultrasound technician kept a bead on the still microscopic child-to-be.

       The needle pierced the womb, ever so slightly, and drew just the tiniest amounts of bodily fluid from the fetus. That fluid was run through a battery of computer aided tests, tests that broke down the genetic makeup of the forthcoming baby.

       The results were generated in less than an hour, and the administering physician called them into his office that was adjacent to the lab. The couple followed the doctor into his office, still holding hands and the wife looked with admiration on all the certificates and diplomas scattered on the wall, as well as pictures of tropical and exotic locales.

       "Did you take those pictures Dr. Huntley?" she asked as she dropped into one of the two chairs in front of the doctor's desk, dragging her husband down into the next chair.

       "I did, last year, my trip to Java, excellent place to relax, I highly recommend it."

       "Wow, it's beautiful," she said, having no idea of where Java was but images of brewed coffee danced in her mind. It would be wonderful to be married to a doctor, she imagined, living in a nice big house with furniture that never grew old and taking wonderful vacations to places she never heard of. The only place her and her husband ever went was Niagara Falls and a family reunion in Dayton, nothing too exciting in either place.

       "Well," and the doctor leaned over his desk with folded hands. He was young, their age maybe, thirty-something, and she admired his slim and muscular build and nicely cut hair. Salon cut hair, not like her husband's haircut, a haircut done at a discount place in a strip mall near their house. "You ready? You want to know?"

       They both nodded.

       "First off, you're going to have a boy,"

       And Steven gave off a "Yes!" in an exclamatory whisper. Finally, there would be an athlete in the family. Amanda had no problem with a boy, and names paraded in her mind: Justin, Devin, Alexander, Dominic…

       "And now for the rest of it," and the doctor opened a folder and leaned back in his chair.

       He avoided their eyes.

       "He is going to be no taller than 5'5'' when fully grown. He is going to be extremely near-sighted with a severe case of astigmatism that could be surgically corrected during his adolescence. His IQ will be below average and he will struggle with math as that side of his brain will be the least dominant. He will be pre-disposed to chest ailments, you know, he'll probably be asthmatic and his anticipated body type is that of an endomorph."

       Neither Amanda nor Steve knew what endomorph meant, but anything morph didn't sound good.

       "His pheromone production will be low," and the doctor started to give a low whistle but remembered his bedside manners, "so he may be challenged in the romance department when that time comes..."

       "Just how accurate are those tests?" Steve interrupted as beads of sweat started to form on his temples and the back of his neck.

       "Well, we've been performing neo-natal genetic evaluations here at Royal Oak General since 2010, which means the first test cases have now reached adolescence and our follow-up inquiries have indicated that we are 97% accurate," the doctor responded rather proudly.


       And Steve sagged into his chair as Amanda let go of his hand.



copyright 2006 Oscar Deadwood.

Oscar Deadwood:
I have had some non-SF stories appear in Wanderings and Darkervision, and hope to have my first novel "The Trinity" released by Silverthought Press soon.