Aphelion Issue 245, Volume 23
November 2019
 
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Annunciation

by Susan Anwin


It started with that dream. There was this super-hunky guy, I mean, super-hunky, and he goes: "you are to bear a child."

And I'm like: "yeah, don't think so. I'm only sixteen, gimme a break."

And he goes, like he didn't hear me: "you shall name him..."

I don't like to be ignored. "Aren't you listening? Go away, mister."

"...Josh."

"Ktxbye!"

I woke all sweaty. It was just a dream, thankfully. Getting up, getting dressed, breakfast, the usual Monday morning drill. I walked the half mile or so to the bus stop and instantly got into a bubbly mood when I got on the bus and saw Joe, my best buddy and long time secret crush huddled on his usual seat by the window.

"'Sup, Mamie?"

My name is Mary, but he insists on calling me Mamie for some reason, although he knows I hate it. I flop down on the seat next to him.

"You studied for the maths test?"

"It's not a question of studying; you either get it, or you don't."

He knows just how to push my buttons. "Whatever. Care to help out?"

***

Weeks came and went, summer hols were fast approaching. In a normal scenario this should have filled me with excitement; long summer afternoons with Joe at their cottage, doing absolutely nothing. This wasn't a normal scenario, though. I missed at least two periods, which could mean only one thing. It was impossible, yet a visit to the ob-gyn confirmed my worst fear. She made comforting noises, seeing as I wasn't exactly overjoyed. I pocketed the business card of the crisis centre she handed me and drifted out of her office.

I felt like the bottom of my world fell out. How was I supposed to break down the news to my parents? What was I supposed to tell them? That despite not having screwed a guy, like, ever, I still ended up preggo? What about college? What about my plans traveling the world, building a career...?

I went online and did some research. It's possible; there are documented cases of parthenogenesis, although it's more prone to occur in primitive lifeforms. Not in humans. With my unfortunate exception. Why is this happening to me? Why me? Shouldn't I feel some kind of bonding to this... thing growing inside me? I made a quick soul search, but nope; no fuzzy feelings, there was nothing there apart from panic. There was a band around my chest tightening, squeezing the air out of my lungs. I made a frantic search in the laundry for the business card and let out a shaky breath when I found it in the pocket of my jeans. Good thing mom didn't find it first.

I checked my finances. I’ve got 200 bucks leftover from delivering newspapers last summer. Not much. I'd be able to wheedle another 100 out of my parents if I'm smart, and the rest I could borrow from Joe – he is not the type to waste his savings on bullshit. It is doable. All is not lost.

***

They were very understanding at the centre, nodding along as I talked. No I wasn't raped, no I don't know who the father is; this was getting awkward. In the end, they gave me a phone number.

So, this was how I wound up in the waiting room of this nice doctor.

"It'll be over before you know it," the receptionist assured me with a smile, as I handed over the money before the preliminary examinations. That was what I was hoping for; that in a couple hours this nightmare would be over.

The door opened and the doctor gestured to me. "Mary, is it? Are you ready?"

I nodded and stepped into the relaxing pastel colors of the operating room.


2019 Susan Anwin

Susan Anwin was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. Her flash-fiction Talk of Armadale Trees was featured in the anthology My Favourite Place, published by the Scottish Book Trust in 2012. Her name appeared on the cover of Aphelion Webzine in March and July 2017, and February and August 2018. Art Here Art Now serialized 18 of her stories in the spring and summer of 2019. Selected to appear in Horror Without Borders, an international horror anthology, one of her stories has recently been translated into Russian.

Find more by Susan Anwin in the Author Index.

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