“I was a Blueprint Baby.”
Norah tried hard to summon the anger she desperately wanted to feel as she sat opposite her parents on their luxurious leather couch.
Norah’s father shifted uncomfortably in his chair and pushed his spectacles further up his nose. Norah’s mother fixed her with her usual icy glare. They had known this was coming for a while now but it had still caught them off guard.
“Norah, you have to realise it’s because we wanted the best possible life for you,” her father said, his voice betraying his shame.
So it is true.
She scanned the timid man who had raised her and felt the strong urge to comfort him.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” The words were meant to be accusatory and fury-laden, but they came out sounding weak and empathetic.
“What good would that have done?” her mother snapped.
Norah felt a buzzing pressure inside of her brain and she wanted to scream to make it go away.
“At least tell me what you put on my...” she cringed and put her delicate fingers to her temples to try and massage away the incessant pulsing.
“...What you put in my Blueprint Biogenetic Book?”
Norah’s mother and father exchanged a furtive look.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, honey,” her father said, looking to her mother for support.
Norah’s mother’s mouth had turned down at the corners and her steely blue eyes were now focused on a stray thread at the hem of her Valentino dress.
“I have a right to know,” Norah persisted, as the electric feeling inside of her continued to grow.
Her father cleared his throat. Her mother pinched the black thread between two red manicured fingernails.
“Please,” she whispered.
“Very well then,” her mother said, ripping the thread out with one swift yank and propelling out of the living room doorway.
She returned a moment later with a small blue book that was about the size of those obsolete phone devices that people used to carry with them when she was a child.
Her mother placed the book in the centre of the mahogany coffee table and gave a dainty wave of her hand in surrender.
Her father curled an arm around her mother’s shoulder and squeezed her closer.
Norah reached over and picked up the lightweight miniature book that had determined her life.
The words ‘Blueprint Biography: Norah Jane Walters’ were emblazoned in shining gold cursive letters on the front.
With steady fingers, she opened the first page to a series of photographs of herself at different ages and stages of her life in 10 year increments.
Newborn - 10 years old - 20 years old - 30 years old - 40 years old - 50 years old and so on up until 100 years.
The buzzing inside her brain felt like it had turned into an army of spiders that were running rapidly down her spine.
She saw her own face up until now - at 30 years of age. It had the same slight crease between the brows like she was confused about something, the same slight upturned nose, the same war raging behind almond-shaped hazel eyes. It was her. Exactly.
She saw herself ageing, the lines on her face gradually getting more defined, the light in her skin and eyes dulling, the expression getting more sour. It was like a beautiful painting that was melting.
The images were terrifying and she should have felt the fear. But instead she felt indifferent and a spark of determination to prove the pictures wrong.
Her father’s voice reached her ears, “You will live a long, happy life. That’s all we ever wanted.”
Norah ignored him and flicked to the next page.
It was a detailed list of the physical genetic traits that her parents had requested for her.
Female - Tall - Slender - Strong - Brunette - Hazel Eyes - Fair-skinned.
She was both amazed and confronted at the level of detail as her eyes scanned over her body in text form.
Button nose - Long eyelashes - Earlobes unattached - Straight teeth - Light freckles on cheeks.
Norah felt her parent’s eyes boring into her forehead as she turned the next page.
She felt the buzzing again but this time it was in the pit of her stomach like she wanted to vomit.
Intelligent - Inventive - Extroverted - Optimistic - Tenacious - Youthful - Happy - Resilient - Healthy
So this was the reason for how everything had turned out in life. She was a creation of her parent’s making. None of what she had achieved was truly her own individual doing.
This was why she yearned to feel anger, pined for a moment of sadness, or wondered what is was like to feel fear.
Because she physically couldn’t. How did she not realise this before?
Norah slammed the book shut and excused herself from the room.
Her mother’s voice called out from behind her, “Norah, please! We did it for your sake!”
She half-ran to the bathroom and slammed the door shut.
Looking at herself in the mirror she saw the biological machine her parents had created and she wanted to hate it. So badly.
She felt the buzzing in her stomach turn into a bubbling pot of murky water.
Wrenching up the toilet seat she vomited into the bowl for the first time in her adult life.
When she was finished, she calmly cleaned herself up and left her parents house without uttering a single word to them.
When she got home to her husband, he kissed her on the forehead and asked how the visit had been. “Pleasant,” she responded.
“And how’s our little one?” he smiled widely, rubbing his large knuckled hands over her stomach.
Norah smiled back. “Perfect.”
He grinned even wider, revealing his perfectly white teeth and for a split second Norah wanted to run far away from him.
She made a list of things to do the following morning, set her alarm for a 5:00am start, and retired to their large four poster bed.
And as she lay there next to her sleeping husband, she remembered those old phones again. They were an ancient relic from her childhood years. Machines that no longer served a purpose. Outsmarted by faster and smarter technology.
Then she saw her face morphing into old age.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered into the silence.
Sliding a hand over her stomach, her eyes were drawn to the darkened silhouette of her bedside table.
Even in the darkness she could see it. The little blue book.
The name of her unborn daughter reflecting the moonlight in golden cursive letters.