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American Annals of the Deaf

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Outcasts and Angels: The New Anthology of Deaf Characters in Literature
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She didn’t wait for him to finish. “Okay. So I go to a gynecologist for a checkup. She sends the sample to GeneSys for testing. Then all you have to do is make sure it comes up clear. Change the label or something. I know it’s not your department, but it shouldn’t be that hard.”

“Whoa, Marina. Slow down.” He took a deep breath, and began ticking items off on his fingers. [First of all, there are a half-dozen other biotech companies in the metro area. What are the odds that your doctor even sends her stuff to GeneSys?]

“So I go to a different doctor. One that we know uses GeneSys.”

“Second, that’s not just ‘not my department.’ It’s not even close. It’s—” Marina couldn’t make out the rest. Annoyed, she looked down at the interpreter again. [It’s on the other side of the building.]

She felt everything slipping away from her. “And the ‘Senior Research Director’ doesn’t have a passkey?” She smiled at him sidelong, making it a challenge.

Reluctantly, Jeff chuckled. She waited a moment, then sneaked a look at the screen to see what he’d said. [Well—yes, actually. My card would open those labs. But I don’t have any reason to be over there, and if someone came in . . .] He shook his head, sober again. [I’m afraid there would be a lot more involved than changing a label. I’d have to find it first,] he said, gesturing with both hands. [They’ll have the doctor’s name on them, but not the patients’—just an identifying number . . .] He trailed off, thinking.

Marina smiled to herself. He was seeing it as a puzzle now, an exercise in logistics. She remembered the brilliant premed student who read mystery novels through an entire semester of biology, and broke the curve on the final anyway.

“Wait a minute.” He shook his head, frowning. “There’s something I don’t understand. [How are you going to get the fertilized ova to begin with? No, wait—] He grimaced and held up a hand. [I can imagine how you can get them fertilized, that’s not what I meant. But you’d have to have them extracted later, and you need to see a doctor for that.]

“Oh. That’s the easy part.” She pulled her shoulder bag around, found the coolpack and handed it to Jeff. “Already been done. Grant fertilized them. He’ll reimplant the altered embryo, too.”

“This?” He pulled at the Velcro and peered inside. “These are your ova?”

“Not just ova. Embryos.” She made a face at him, trying to lighten the mood. “It wasn’t nearly as steamy as you seem to think. Grant opted for the old petri dish. He said it would be easier that way, but I think he just didn’t want to embarrass us both by trying to screw me again.” Jeff just stared down at the rows of vials nestled in the coolpack. She couldn’t see his lips from that angle, but the cursor moved across the screen. [How many are there?]

“Twelve. Grant thought that would be plenty, but we can get more if you need them.”

[Uh, no. This should be more than enough.] Then he caught himself. [If I were to try to do this. But I don’t think you truly understand what is involved here, what you are risking.] Carefully he closed the Velcro strip. [The government takes its Child Protection Acts very seriously.]

“No. Believe me, I know exactly what is at stake here.”

[Then why? Why do you want this so badly?]

She looked at him, surprised and a little angry. “I’m Deaf,” she said. “You never really understood what that means. I have not, as everyone seems to assume, lived my whole life wishing to be a part of the hearing world. I wouldn’t even be the same person, if I could hear. Deaf is my identity, my culture. It is a whole community, with its own customs and a language that is graceful and unique and expressive of ideas your English can never contain. And the government,” she twisted the word bitterly, “has decided that we are ‘defective’ and must be exterminated.”

She looked away from him then, out at the water rushing up in foamy waves, and blinked back the tears that threatened. “It’s is a horrible thing, Jeffrey, to watch your culture dying all around you, because no children are born to carry it forward. You can’t imagine it.”

He was silent, the cursor still. She turned back, searching for something that would make an impact, make him understand how important this was to her. “Telling me that my child must be hearing is like—like telling a black woman that she is only allowed to bear white babies. It’s wrong, Jeff. You always believed in freedom of choice, in abolishing discrimination—well, that’s exactly what this is. Jeff, please . . .” She trailed off.


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