The year was 2080.
The old lady made her way slowly out to the verandah facing the children’s park. Reaching her favourite rocking chair, she settled herself down carefully. Her limbs were too stiff with arthritis for her to do otherwise. Yet, every evening she made the long journey from her bedroom to the verandah.
You see, it was her favourite time of day. In her twilight years, there was nothing more she liked than watching the colours of twilight dawn in the evening sky. She often thought that the streaks of purple, pink and orange cast light on the beauty of the long life she had lived.
Today, the twilight hours were going to be more special. She was waiting for her great-grandchildren to come visit on her centenary birthday.
As the centenarian rocked and waited, she watched some teenagers play throwball in the park adjoining her garden wall.
The world she had been born in had changed so much, she thought.
“Karan,” she called out, sensing her even older husband come out to sit with her.
“Come, look at those kids in the court. Would you have believed, even 50 years ago, that we would live to see such a picture?”
Her husband settled down in the chair next to hers and shook his head to express both his agreement and wonder. He had always been a man of few words and now, even those words had dried up. But the lack of words had never mattered. The man and his partner had always managed without them.
He reached for her hand and clasped it. She squeezed his gnarled fingers gently. That’s the language they had always spoken. A touch. A glance. Silences that spoke.
They used their special language now as they sat there in their golden silence, gazing at the kids on the throwball court.
All the kids, male and female, were of the identical height and weight. They even had the same curvature and skin tone. The only difference, as far as the eyesight could travel, was in the colour of their hair and eyes.
Once again, Karan shook his head again in wonder.
“Donna,” he murmured. “For whom will the clones call?”
The old lady turned to look at him sharply. Karan had voiced a thought after….after, she couldn’t remember how long.
She turned her sight back on the cloned kids throwing the ball over the net to each other.
“Well,” she said. “These kids may have been cloned, Karan. But they can’t design and clone souls, you know.”
“Maybe, it’s for the best,” she continued thoughtfully.
Karan turned and gave her a quizzical look.
“Do you remember, she asked? “When we were young, how many of our friends chased beauty that was all too often just skin-deep?”
“These kids have a better chance at finding happiness now. They have no choice but to look at each other’s souls now. The days of the beauty stakes are now over.”
Author’s Note: This short story is a figment of the author’s imagination after wondering about where cloning and designer babies will lead the human race. The story further expands the thinking in Happily Unequal and The Robotics Emperor with a slightly different perspective though.
Featured Cover Image Credit: Cloning Experiments Jess Payne by Dan Foy (Flickr.com CC By 2.0)
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