Marnie's Child

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Realistic Fantasy
Marnie wants the perfect child. She wants a boy. I want a girl. We set about creating a new life.

Sperium by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Submitted: August 15, 2019

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Submitted: August 15, 2019

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Marnie’s Child

 

Marnie wants the perfect child. She wants a boy. I want a girl. We set about creating a new life. Marnie is keen to explore alternative methods of conception, or fertility catalysts, to increase the chances of her birthing a boy. I prefer more traditional methods. We agree to differ.

One night after work, I visit ancestry.com and trace our hereditary lines. It transpires that the ratio of male to females in our family equates to 4:1. I tell Marnie, over a romantic candlelit supper, that the probability of her birthing a boy, based upon my research, is 80%. She isn’t interested. 80% isn’t good enough for her. Marnie Childs wants certainty.

At that point I jumble my adjectives. ‘Certainty is not definitive in my view. There are no guarantees when it comes to sexing a baby.’

Marnie waves her soft hand dismissively in my face, splashing my shirt collar with Malbec, implying that I don’t care about her anymore. We married in church, three years ago, once I’d reached 21, and have never shared a cross word. Until tonight. Tonight, we have a blazing row.

‘Of course, I care!’ I roar, ‘I love you, don’t I? 

Marnie stands flexing her liquid hips, pushing the fake pine table hard into my gut, jabbing her wrinkled finger at me. She alleges, forcibly, that I don’t know the first thing about babies.

‘Anyway,’ she adds, ‘I went online.’

‘Online where?’

She looks at me daggers and tells me to mind my own business. I shove aside my creamy turkey lasagne served with garlic bread.

‘Online where, Marnie?’

‘Online, dark!’ 

Dark? The dark net! I recoil, feeling shocked, deflated, like a let-down human balloon.

‘And what,’ I ask, ‘did you find in the dark?’

She falls quiet. Marnie stares out of the kitchen window. It is mid-winter, early January, and the heating is on full. The snow falls in clusters of white butterflies, alighting, settling, lightly, on our windowsill.

‘It isn’t any of your business, what I found,’ she says awkwardly, ‘It’s private, personal.’

I push my stiff hand across my buzzcut. ‘Personal, really?’

‘Yes, personal. As in, for my use only.’

‘Your use?’

‘Mm.’

I lean forward and grasp her pudgy hands in mine, ‘What did you find, Marnie? Tell me!’

‘A drug,’ she mutters under her garlic-scented breath.

Incensed, I grip her so tightly, I fear I might break her delicate bones. ‘What kind of drug?’

‘A fertility drug, what did you expect, Dex, aspirin?’

I let her go, feeling guilty, if not inadequate, realising I’ve waited too long to deal with my issue. I’m still convinced, from her distracted look, that Marnie is hiding something from me. Once I grasp the proverbial nettle, I find it hard to let go. I get fixated on what she doesn’t do well, like telling me the truth.

‘Which drug are you taking? What does it do to you?’

She looks at me, sickly pale, as if concealing some unspeakable action, she cannot or will not share. I sag in my seat as she clears the dinner plates, scraping gloopy strips of leftovers into a green biodegradable bag. And wait for an answer. Marnie reaches behind my back and slides dirty plates into the dishwasher, her willowy hair draping my face, trying to change the subject:

‘Would you like yogurt, Dex?’ she says hopefully, ‘I bought you your favourite, specially. Toffee?’

Her voice quivers. She is about to cry. I swivel round to face her, emotions in a turmoil. In my heart, I want to console her but she went behind my back and made life-altering decisions without conferring with me. Her blatant disregard for my feelings doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Marnie is forever talking trash about me to her filming friends behind my back. I feel hurt. I can’t trust her.

The dishwasher is full. I watch in silence as she inserts a blue-and-white tablet with a red ball that removes baked-on food, wishing I could wipe our plate clean, start over as if her deceit never happened. Yes, I do fancy a toffee yogurt. But not until I know the drug is safe. My trouble is that I don’t know when to press pause.

‘Not until you tell me the name of the drug!’

Marnie flutters her stiff-mascara eyelashes absent-mindedly, and tells me she forgot.

‘Don’t be so bloody ridiculous! How can you forget? What is the drug? Tell me, Marnie!’

Marnie leans against the dishwasher, shutting the door with her pert bottom, pressing the start / on button, rubs the corky dark mole jutting out from her chin, says it might be Neutrazine.

‘Neutrazine! Oh, my God!’ I do tend to over-react. I’ve never heard of Neutrazine. ‘How long have you been taking that?’

She shrugs her ridged shoulders and sighs, ‘Oh, nine months or so.’

‘Nine months! Why didn’t you tell me?’

Marnie wraps her slender arm around my strained neck and holds my worried head against her narrow waist. ‘I didn’t want to bother you, darling. Dr Cheung told me the drug is perfectly safe, provided I don’t exceed the recommended dose.’

Just the mention of the oriental name conjures up unpleasant memories of the terrifying fight I witnessed between two opposing triads when I used to live near Billericay in Essex.

‘Who is Dr Cheung?!’ I yell.

By way of a reply, Marnie produces a tatty card from the pocket of her faded drainpipe jeans:

Alice Cheung, MD

Experimental Birth Consultant

The Karena Institute for Designer Babies

'The Karena Institute! Where’s that for heaven’s sake?!’

‘It’s in Karena, where do you think it is?’

‘Karena?’

'Mm, Karena, in Garth.’

‘Garth? Where’s Garth when it’s at home?’

‘Near Blinsk in Manchuria.’

Defeated, I change tack. ‘How much is this costing me, Marnie?!’

‘Dex,’ she says firmly, ‘My treatment isn’t costing you a penny. How could you possibly afford it on the minimum wage? I’m paying for Cheung, the Institute, Neutrazine, out of my modelling earnings.

I throw up my arms in despair, my fist accidentally flicking the tip of her turned-up nose. Marnie pinches her nose and drops her head into the NHS-recommended position, checking for signs of a bleed. I feel awful, punching her beautiful nose like that. I wonder if she’ll bruise, pray she won’t be forced to cancel Tahiti, Capri, Goa, Cairns…

'I’m sorry Marnie,’ I say, ‘I didn’t mean to…’

‘S’alwight,’ she replies, nasally, ‘Don’t zinc it’s broken, Dex.’

My heart plummets. Broken! ‘Please! Please!’ I beg, ‘Show me the information leaflet!’

She removes her hand from her face so that I can admire her deliciously-twisted, protruding, pout. My heart flutters as a light comes on in my pituitary gland. My rudimentary glands come to life in sympathy with my male hormones.

Suddenly, I feel fertile, manly, loving. I want to love Marnie, upstairs, her bed preferably. I want her to take off my black satin gown and...! But I can’t! Question time hasn’t finished yet.

‘Marnie! Please! Show me the information leaflet!’

‘What information leaflet?’

‘You know, about Neutrazine!’

‘I threw it away, Dex.’

I suffer a sudden rush of blood to the head. ‘You did what?!’

‘I threw it away, in the clear sack, for recycling. The dustbin men collected it on Tuesday.’

‘Marnie! Refuse collectors, please!’

‘You know who I mean.’

‘I can’t believe you did that to me, Marnie!’

‘It’s none of your business, what I do,’ she falters, ‘Don’t forget, it’s me who put you where you are now, and I can put you back there too.’

I hold fire, ‘Where, on table clearing?’

‘Mm.’

‘Don’t, don’t you want me?’

‘I know you won’t believe it,’ Marnie sticks her tongue in my ear, ‘But I do!’

I detect the unmistakeable presence of her oxytocin. I like to think that I am in charge of my own behaviour. That my thoughts are under my conscious control. But my mood falls under the sway of her love hormone, her cuddle chemical. I bond with Marnie, I empathize with her, trust her.

My anxiety over Neutrazine lifts as she produces a tiny gold atomiser and wafts a fine spray of mist into my nostrils. I fall under her spell, stare at her calendar, stuck to the fridge by a magnet which reads: ‘I Generally Avoid Temptation, Unless I Can’t Resist It!’; noting the thick red circle scrawled around today’s date.

It’s now or never, I sing to myself, be mine tonight, kiss me my darling, come hold me tight, tomorrow may be too late, it’s now or never, my sperm can’t wait.

‘I’m sorry I was so horrid to you, Marnie,’ I bleat, ‘I love you more than life itself.’

‘My egg is ripe and wants you to spray her with your sperms,’ Marnie murmurs seductively. She has a way with words. ‘Would you like to come to bed with me, Dex? And try for a baby?’

The thought of Marnie, ovulating, elevates my testosterone level to an exciting lifetime high. I crane my neck and watch as she breezes into our lounge diner, wiggling her derrière in a clear statement of intent.

It’s snowing heavily outside, white moths’ flit around my face in the dark window. I carefully check that the locks and bolts on the door and windows are secured, then draw down the blinds.  I switch off the kitchen light, enter the subdued lounge diner, and lock the door behind me. Our lounge is sparsely furnished with a turquoise chaise sofa, cooler stannic coffee table, Dixie love seat, slam dunk floor lamp, punch lamp and big brass mirror.

Marnie’s plasma screen tv takes up a full wall, and the sound system is state-of-the art Sensurround. She enjoys her creature comforts: the deep-pile, cherry-red carpet that coats every inch of our little abode like a rich topping on an ice-cream sundae; the fab flapper desk and hound dog armchair in the diner (we eat in the kitchen). I tidy Marnie’s Tatler magazines, check the window locks, straighten the casbah rug, dust the mucker shelving, draw the heavy plum drapes and walk to the hall.

Once I have triple-locked the front door, I follow her up the crimson staircase tripping clumsily over my own feet in my haste. I find Marnie on the landing, gazing out of the dormer window at the snow-ridden landscape, at someone: cowering, umbrid, under the only lamppost in our cul-de-sac. We chose to live in an end-of-row starter home for two reasons.

First, the dormer window in Marnie’s bedroom provides an excellent vantage point for the plain-clothes policewoman who, in return for a constant supply of chocolate biscuits and mugs of strong breakfast tea, undertakes routine surveillance every Friday night.

Second, Marnie wanted to live in arbours cool, under the shady trees, in order to adopt a low profile and avoid the unwanted attention of stalkers.

Sadly, the policewoman is instantly recognisable from her black fleece, brand new white trainers and navy needlecords, advertising her presence to potential criminals. Marnie’s dormer window provides her with an excellent view of the cul-de-sac, but not of the path that leads the woodland rambler out of the trees, past the side of our house.

I wrap a tender arm around Marnie’s shoulders, rubbing her bare arm to keep her warm, to find her covered in goose bumps and trembling with fear. She raises her free arm, her wrinkled index finger stiffening as it homes in on the figure.

‘Who is it Marnie?’ I ask.

‘He’s back.’

‘Who’s back Marnie?! Tell me!?’

‘The stalker of course!’ she cries, ‘Who did you think I meant? The abominable snowman?’

I clutch my frightened angel’s head to my shallow chest, I try to shoo the beast away, waving frantically at the pervert with my free hand. He waves at her, grimacing, mouthing: ‘Mummy!’

Marnie’s Child....

 


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