Happy Valentine's Day



Just because the switch had been turned on by a stranger, didn’t mean she couldn’t turn herself off. All night long, dreams slithered around her wrists, tangled in vines along her torso, winding her one way and then another, red and white petals across her breasts, until she woke up feeling poisoned and dizzy. Yet through the dream fog, she also emerged a heroine: she and her mom had saved a beautiful fawn. But would a heroine need a man to be whole? He had made her touch herself. An inaudible groan crept from her throat. She sensed her mother at her bedroom door. Funny how she could feel her outside, silently waiting to say, Ari, are you up yet, honey? Her mother didn’t say anything. Waited. Turned around. Ariel heard her light footsteps down the hall. In half an hour, her mom would be back. She would guide her as if by remote, on the other side of the closed door until she and Ariel were both out the door and Ariel’s striped leggings slid into the Lexus.

In the car, images flooded her like waves: the spiraling vines, swirls of pink, the frantic hooves of the fawn. Ariel’s disturbing dreams, the pink experiment, and the baby deer still tingled in her. Silence pounding inside her, she couldn’t explain this colliding ocean of new things. It might kill her mom to know what happened last night with the videographer. The baby deer and its mother could have been a dream. The closeness of Ariel and her mom evaporated into small talk. Do you have enough money, her mom asked. His soothing cell phone voice imprinted in her mind. Uh yeah, she said, not remembering why she needed money that day. She wanted to tune into nothing but him. The fawn running back into the forest. So, you’ll take the train to Sasha’s, her mom said. She muscled the switch down to make certain it stayed off. Right, Ariel said, I’ll call you when I get there.

As she got out of the car, she blew her mother a kiss that felt traitorous. The fawn vanishing. Over her shoulder she yelled out to her mom, do you think the baby is okay? Her mom was wearing sunglasses and she leaned out of the open window and said, yes, I’m sure she is happy with her mom in the forest. She rolled up the window and her mom’s car was soon out of sight.

Ariel knelt under a tree and retrieved the text. It said: Where shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain…which she knew from English 101 was from the witches in Macbeth. Three, she lightning-texted, forgoing the question mark. Was he bringing someone with him on the shoot? He didn’t answer for a few minutes. How far away was her mother now? Me, you, my camera, he thundered back. Ah, that was three. Would her mom turn back and see her kneeling beneath the tree? Then he added, 4 pm today, at McDonald’s, the one you all go to. So it was a Scottish journey, from Macbeth to McDonald’s, she thought. Creepy that he thought he knew where they all hung. They actually hung out at Starbucks but she didn’t tell him. It was better to not run into anyone she knew.

And did he know about her real home, Scotland? The country where she was born and still obsessed about. The foggy details of her childhood: a white wood house, black iron gate, cliffs, lunches of haggis and potatoes. Her Scottish burr was her secret, real voice. Often she wouldn’t answer people quickly—she had to put on her American voice. The awkward lag time seemed to irritate people. If she let her accent come through, would the videographer think she was alluring and foreign, too shy, or just strange?

Forest Rendez-vous

Keep shining the light, and I’ll go outside, said her mother, yell if something happens. Ariel nodded. She took the flashlight and steadied it on the baby deer—folded and cramped below. It moved slightly, craning its neck to escape the window well. The aluminum walls were not high but the newborn deer seemed too stuck and exhausted to make any progress. Ariel saw her mother now in the circle of light, carefully leaning over, trying to pull out the baby deer with her hands. She yelled up to Ariel, I’ll need a shovel. Ariel couldn’t believe she and her mom were now a team, the first time in a long while. Was she supposed to find a shovel?

In an instant her mother vanished, returning a few minutes later with a shovel wrapped in a cloth. She nudged the little deer and it began to move frantically. I’m trying to help you, baby, she said, Ariel sensing the desperation in her mother’s voice. Her mom, usually so measured and often distant, driven by an invisible force. Her mom slid the shovel under the fawn, raised it, and the its skinny new legs shot out and cleared the well’s wall. The fawn landed on the grass in a bundle. It tried again and again to stand up. Ariel heard a rustle and her mom said, shine the light around the yard. At the edge of the trees, Ariel saw the mother deer. Somehow the mother deer knew they were helping her baby and edged forward.

Ariel heard a strange noise rising up, and she shined the light on her own mother, who hid her face and sat on the damp, green lawn weeping. The air shifted—could it be more moist because her mom was crying? She couldn’t remember having seen her mother cry. Mom, are you okay, Ariel called down. Keep shining the light on the mother, Ari, she said in a muffled voice. From the porch, Ariel could see the mother deer slowly approaching her fawn and her own mother sitting motionlessly. The fawn was standing now and took a step to its mother. Ariel and her mom watched as the mother deer licked and nuzzled her fawn. The two tawny creatures began to walk together towards the trees. Ariel turned off the flashlight. The early sun was slowly spreading from the sky to the lawn.



Mom, something’s crying outside! Ariel had startled awake late that night from a dream: she was leaning over a waterfall, a baby crying above the roar of spray. Now dream water turned to real rain, the sound of a creature wailing. Throwing her long legs over the side of the bed, she felt drawn to the window, yet afraid to open it. Branches shadowed the carpet, giving her feet the illusion of walking on leaves. Allowing a breath into her lungs, she walked to her parent’s room. Mom, she said, I hear something strange outside. What, her mother said, Ariel? She got out of bed, leaving her husband sleeping, reached out and held Ariel’s hand.

Her mother’s hand felt bony and slightly cool as she quickly guided Ariel downstairs to the first floor —it was strange to be holding hands with her. It had been years since they had hugged. The wailing seemed to be coming from the side porch. Her mother grabbed a flashlight and threw open the porch door. The night air smelled of budding earth, and they took a breath in sync. An orange glow from the city tinged the dark sky and Ariel’s skin. Look, said her mother, pointing the flashlight beam, down there. Peering over the railing, Ariel saw what looked like matted fur, legs, ears, and a little deer face. Its tawny eyes caught the light and Ariel looked into them. The flashlight searched the yard, and her mother gasped. Near the big tree was the mother deer, stock-still and panting. She had just given birth. Ariel’s mom had a softness in her voice as she said, her baby fell into the window well. The mother deer startled, the light beam following her white tail as she pronged away into darkness.


In a glass dish of clandestine experiments, carefully nurtured, we grew. All four of us, sisters, flawless tissue. Supplying organs for the ones in need. We guided their hands and micro-instruments, as they stroked our cells and caressed our blood in airless chambers. Tank water, never moving forward. Absinthe green liquid. The color of our wombs. A still river. Never born.

Morphallaxis and Epimorphosis in Hydra attenuata

Remarkable is both the absence of senescence and the ability of morphallaxis inherent to this hydroid.  What a scientific marvel —even for the legendary BM facility — to have succeeded in transposing the RNA and DNA sequences, not only to a single human stem-cell, but, in fact, to be able to create a life-viable specimen. In spite of the fact that the current specimens are missing a cranium...

Alas, even after almost eleven years of research, we are still no step closer to creating more specimens. And I wonder what kind of technology BM had at it disposal that we do not.
I even looked back at the old shipping documents and original correspondence in order to find some more clues I might have looked over all those years.