By Angelique Phillips

Note: This is the preface for a novel that I am currently working on.

Jeri Dale watched as the coffee dripped slowly into the pot. She knew the cigarettes were behind her; they weren’t going to smoke themselves. Despite her efforts to ignore them, she found her neck wrenching around to look at the small box. She drummed her fingers on the worn, faux-marble laminate countertop. If I just have one, Jeri thought. But, no, she was already having a cup of coffee; maybe later, after lunch. As if replying, the coffee maker gurgled, indicating its brewing process was complete. She poured the steaming liquid into her mug, and picked up the milk. She glanced at the label, the ingredients caused her to smirk. Organic cow’s milk, all the vitamins and minerals one needs, and of course, B2Z8. As if they needed to say “Organic;” all milk was organic now. She splashed a bit into her coffee and popped on the cup’s lid. Just as she was bringing it to her lips, the beep came from the bathroom, startling her. It was time; the bathroom knew she hadn’t been in there yet. Jeri closed her eyes for a brief moment, wishing that just for today, she could avoid this routine. She gingerly set the mug on the counter, pulled her robe in close around her, and dejectedly scuffled to the bathroom.

Jeri approached the device cautiously; even with its blinking lights, readouts, and screens, it failed to discourage her bladder from screaming that it needed to be emptied. So, she lowered onto the seat and began to relieve herself. Immediately the device began its work, processing and testing her urine, checking for signs of disease, pregnancy, vitamin deficiency, ovulation and more. Two robotic arms came out from either side; the right grasped her wrist and pulled her arm straight. She looked away as blood was drawn. The arm on the left was gentler, simply clamping down on the tips of her fingers and monitoring heart rate and temperature. Jeri sat motionless, attempting to ignore the boulder of sobs forcing its way up her throat. The required 90 seconds went by; the right side clamp dropped her arm, but the left side continued its work. “Please remain seated and still, until the process is complete,” said the voice above her. She noted the difference in the voice since the last update; the BFA was trying out different celebrities to find one that instilled a sense of calm. “Screw you!” she shouted.

She knew what the tests had revealed; she knew her period was due to start in just ten days. So, when the arm in front of her came forth with the syringe, the needle alone measuring over 4 inches, she was not surprised. The restraints came from behind her, holding her torso and arms, and the seat pushed her pelvis forward. The needle inserted just below her belly button. She winced, although after thousands of injections, they didn’t really hurt anymore. Her breathing and heartbeat quickened, yet she felt as though she couldn’t breathe, and that her heart had stopped. “Please don’t take,” Jeri pleaded. “Please don’t take.”

Categories: Essay, Issue 4 | Leave a comment

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