The following is a work of political fiction
The eve of my twenty-first birthday is spent in fits of restlessness. I am told that this will be the single most important thing I will ever do as a woman. I am reminded that this is a selfless act, a honor for me to serve this great nation. “Not everyone is given such an opportunity,” my mother told me. She hadn’t been, after all. My father beamed when he presented me with my acceptance letter several weeks ago. “Signed by our Exalted Leader himself,” he said.
I have never known my parents to be more proud of me. This is the reason I lay awake in my bed tonight, churning feelings of hope and honor, meshing them with unwelcomed angst in the dark, secret pit of my stomach. The sensation manifests itself and folds over me–the sickening feeling of the betrayal that awaits me tomorrow by my own body–and I lean over to vomit into the wastebasket.
I leave my bed and slip down the hall to the bathroom. The coolness of the water on my face does nothing to quell my trepidation. Silver moonlight pools through the open window and gathers at my bare feet. A breeze floats in, carrying the scent of lavender. I used to love the scent, the warmth of the air, this season. Now, I think, I will never again be able to look on this time of year with happiness.
I return to my room and close the door softly behind me. My parents have gone on to bed, sleeping sound with the same knowledge that keeps their only child awake at this hour. I imagine it like a blanket of comfort for them; after tomorrow, they will want for nothing.
I, however, will always be left wanting. The empty wanting for a family of my own I will never have, wanting of self-worth, of a part of myself that I can never regain. As if those things were ever all mine to begin with. I don’t even know anymore. In my mind, I have already lost everything. All because in their eyes–the only ones that seem to matter in this new world–I have won.
It’s not the luck of the draw, or like winning a lottery. It is precise and calculated; a formula. Over the past year, I have submitted. I have complied and endured. Their battery of tests and examinations, all of which conclude I possess the perfect skin tone, the desired eye color, the shade and texture of hair, even temperament, have been my undoing. My parents, ever open, eager to have our lives monitored and scrutinized, as if we had a choice, to assure the government we prescribe to the required sect and belief system, that we refrain from anything not sanctioned.
I have heard there have been a few others before me. It is not something the government advertises. Although, I imagine that day is coming sooner rather than later.
I wonder if those young women lay awake, too, on the final night of their twentieth year like me, thinking of all of their own children they would never know.
And the children, what of them? Do they miss their mothers?
No, I don’t suppose they do. It’s not likely they are told anything of us. It would belie the entire perception they strive for, this rebirth of a new nation. As for the young women, myself included after tomorrow, once our purpose has been fulfilled, we are returned to our families, even less meaningful than we were before.
I close my eyes, but sleep won’t come to me tonight. Tomorrow they will harvest all of my eggs, then strip me of my ovaries, my empty womb, just to be sure I cannot reproduce any child other than one of their own making. Mine will be methodically produced, created in a cold, sterile room, paired with pre-selected sperm from donors who have also suffered their studies.
All of this to create their ideal world.
In the hollow of my own despair, I rest my hand on my abdomen, and wonder: how many times over will I become one of this great nation’s forgotten mothers?
Originally published on Medium on November 18, 2016