Pass The Parcel

Entry by: Olivia

25th December 2015
Pass the parcel

She took her first breath in the stifling atmosphere of the operating theatre. Molly laid back, hearing the thready cry of her daughter. She was exhausted and elated; isn’t that what all new mothers felt? But she wasn’t a real mother.

Molly pushed the thoughts that she didn’t want from her mind, she had pushed so hard lately, terrified of facing what lie ahead. She gazed at the little bundle that the nurse had put so gently on her chest. What should she feel now she wondered? She knew how she wanted to feel but knowledge of what lay ahead put a barrier between her and her feelings.

‘Baby girl Number 165 to cubicle 6, nurse, said the officer. The nurse marched towards Molly, a look of sad triumph in her tired eyes. Molly had guarded herself against this moment ever since she had first felt the stirrings of her baby inside her.

Baby’s conception (she had never been able to give the lump inside her any name or personality) had been inauspicious. Standard entry, standard timing, it was only her second attempt and he was a Grade 2 so she had entered into the level 6 stream ‘uncomplicated and non-bonding’ was her birth plan; ‘twelve hour stay, capture at birth’. There was never any expectation that this thing growing inside her would belong to her. Molly had been entered onto the ‘pre programme’ but had grown tired of trying to understand the government’s policy on populating and didn’t want to know any more about emotional withdrawal.

Molly could still remember the days of what she called ‘normal’. Her normal of love, marriage and babies that stayed with you. She had been a much wanted part of a large family, full of happiness and joy. `Nowadays the need to keep the gene pool pure meant that procreation was as well regulated as any other government function. She knew that most women went through what she was going through but this was her first time and she felt the tsunami of pain deep inside her, visceral and raw.

Her little baby was taken like a parcel; passed to the waiting birthing inspector, ready to go to the allocated cot bank, awaiting checking. Babies were raised communally; belonging to the state, free to go between any member of their allocated section. She would be in the infant section until she started her education then passed, like the bundle she was, to academic selection.

Molly felt another wave of loss wash over her, engulfing every part of her deep inner self, taking her breath, her life, her love. Nothing had prepared her for this and the need to hold her baby was the strongest feeling that she had ever had. Other women had seemed to see this as their duty, even proud to be helping the state to keep on target. Molly had never been sure that she belonged to that category and she struggled to get up. The anesthetic had been brief and just adequate but she felt groggy and dizzy when she stood up. She knew she had to see her daughter again. She shuffled to the baby room, to the serried ranks of cots, identical in size and colour. Panic gripped her, how was she going to know which was her little bundle? The cots were numbered and she scrambled her mind back to remember the numbers that the officer had called out. She found cubicle 6, baby number 165 and gazed down. The feeling of love took her breath away, her breasts already engorged and her pelvis aching. She went to pick her up; she knew how she would smell, how she would feel. The voice of the infant guard felt like a slap as she ordered Molly out. ‘Don’t touch that parcel, it’s not yours.’ She felt the hand on her arm as she was abruptly led back to her room. Go back to bed, you know the rules, that little bundle is no longer yours, she belongs to the state’.

Molly laid down, helpless in the agony of her loss. Her belly and her arms empty, her parcel given over for the good of the community.