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.