19 December 2008

"Family Jewels"

By Curtis C. Chen

The trouble started at Thanksgiving. Terrence brought Rachel home to meet his unexpectedly welcoming family. Of course, they were just buttering her up, biding their time.

It happened on Sunday night, after a trip to the local merchdome. Terrence's mother handed Rachel a mug of hot tea and asked, "Have you and Terrence thought about children?"

It was quite shrewd; Mrs. Katoomba had waited until the men had retired to another room for sports viewing and she was alone with Rachel.

"Well, we're not thinking about it immediately," Rachel said. "We couldn't start now anyway, with Terrence in the motility program and all."

Mrs. Katoomba blinked. "What program?"

They had to stay an extra day because bad weather closed the bridges. Rachel wanted to hide in the bathroom every time she saw Mrs. Katoomba's face.

Terrence couldn't stop apologizing during the drive home.

"I'm sorry," he said. "It just hadn't come up."

"You could have mentioned it."

"I don't generally discuss my sex life with my parents."

"So don't," Rachel snapped. "Tell her you're moonlighting. Tell her it's hard to find work in lowtown. Tell her something. Anything."

He didn't speak for a long time. Finally, when they were almost home, he said, "I'll talk to them."

Rachel sighed, her breath fogging the windshield. "No. You won't. That's not what your family does. That's why your mother cornered me. She knew you weren't going to talk."

"I'm sorry," he repeated.

There was a message waiting on their refrigerator. Terrence touched the door, and the video display came to life with the computer-generated image of a motility clinic nurse.

Rachel didn't want to hear it. She dragged their luggage into the bedroom and started unpacking.

She was angry at Terrence, but she was more unhappy with herself. Motility was a miracle of modern science, and their contribution to it was genuine charity. They had nothing to be ashamed of. But the pittance that the program paid didn't compensate for the time lost, months at a time, when Rachel and Terrence couldn't make love.

They had tried, of course. Sometimes Rachel could bring herself to a climax by rubbing against Terrence's doll-smooth groin--he still had a pelvic bone, after all--but she hated seeing his face below her, full of desire that she couldn't satisfy.

She turned around and jumped, startled by the sight of Terrence standing in the doorway.

"What's wrong?" Rachel asked.

"The clinic," he said. "They lost power during the storm."

She walked over. "Was anything--damaged?"

He blinked at her. "They're not sure. They want us to go in so they can reattach it and have us--test it. Make sure it still works."

Rachel's mouth hung open. "You mean..."

"Yeah," he said. "They want a sample. And--a video record."

She took his hand. "Oh, my."

"There's nothing sexy about this," he said, smiling. "It's purely medical."

"Yeah," she said. "You can tell that to your mother."

"You want me to call her now?"

Rachel punched his shoulder. "Go put on your hat."



steve kopka said...

A holiday gem, Curtis.

CKL said...

Everyone's a comedian.