Category Archives: Banned CDC Words Feature

Sarah Salway

Unconditional Dependence

 

The New Government announce that all categories of love now need to be evidence-based in order to guarantee full citizen rights. Parental love is top of the list.

My mother starts searching through old photographs on her computer.

‘There,’ she points to one of us at the zoo. ‘I’m protecting you from wild animals.’

I say she was just doing her duty to a vulnerable child. ‘It needs to be science-based,’ I explain. ‘Experiments, bunsen burners, that kind of thing.’

‘Bunsen burners?’ my mother repeats. ‘There was that time I took you to the hospital when you burned your arm on my coffee.’

I give her a long stare, and she scrolls back to the zoo photograph. ‘Diversity,’ she says. ‘There’ll be points there.’

I stare over her shoulder. ‘How do you work that out?’ I ask.

‘You’re wearing trousers.’ She taps the screen. ‘Couldn’t we claim you were transgender, and I saved you?’

There are so many times when I wish no more words would come out of my mother’s mouth. Instead I stare closer at the photograph.

She’s tut-tutting. ‘Back in those days,’ she waves at the screen, ‘we may have been riddled with so-called entitlement, but I didn’t need to prove I loved you.’

I press her shoulder.

‘Besides,’ she continues, ‘why is it all down to me? Can you tell me why there’s no word for the love a child is supposed to feel for their mother?’

It’s only when I click the mouse to zoom in on the photograph that I notice it’s her who looks vulnerable, not me. I crop the screenshot to focus on her tear-stained cheek until, finally, when she turns to me, I feel my heart turn over.

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Sarah Salway is the author of six books: three novels (Something Beginning With, Tell Me Everything, Getting the Picture), two collections of poetry (You Do Not Need Another Self-Help Book, Digging Up Paradise), and one short story collection (Leading the Dance). She is a former Canterbury Laureate and RLF Fellow at both the London School of Economics and the University of Kent. She writes about gardens at www.writerinthegarden.com, and tweets @sarahsalway. Her website is www.sarahsalway.co.uk.

David Drury

The Pink Balloon

My daughter chooses blue, but the balloon man talks her into pink. A helium-filled latex teardrop bouncing at the end of a long string at the end of a long afternoon brining in the smells of the county fair. The newspaper said today might be the day—the birth of a foal in the horse barn. My daughter has pinned her hopes on it.  We walk past the haunted house advertising room and board for lost souls. “When souls are lost,” my daughter asks, “how do we find them again?” Her balloon passes in front of the sun, and I see that it is not entirely empty and may in fact be pulsing. We return to the balloon man, who does not share my concerns. “Oh, that’s nothing,” he says, “and please don’t insult my intelligence by using the word fetus.” He looks past me and speaks to my daughter. “It’s nothing, honey. But if it is something, you can’t do anything to it. No yanking, thumping, punching, popping or letting go.” The sunlight coming through the balloon throws a shadow puppet of living pink light and bustling corpuscles across two ladies in wheelchairs in the smoking pen. “Hear about that baby horse?” says one to the other. “It got born?” asks the other. “What? It did?” asks the first. The balloon slips its string, bows slightly our way and drifts away, low over the handwashing station, bobbing above the sea of heads down the promenade. I steer my daughter into a long line to console her loss with sub-frozen treats. Word spreads like panic—something is happening in the horse barn. The line we are in clears out and we are faced with a choice. New life or science-based ice cream?

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David Drury lives in Seattle, Washington. His fiction has been broadcast on National Public Radio, published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, and is forthcoming in Scablands Books, Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, and ZYZZYVA. He has been kicked out of every casino in Las Vegas.

 

Nod Ghosh

Laboratory

It’s quiet in the laboratory today, so I do some paperwork. The office has made a code for thingy-maternal hemorrhage kits, so I can order one without typing the f-word. Without appropriate testing and treatment, pregnant women might develop antibodies. In subsequent pregnancies, the thingy is thingy and might develop haemolytic disease of the newborn. Then all sorts of weird shit might happen. Like, they might die.

We discuss lymphoma diagnosis. An thingy-based approach to lab testing is important. Intuition is fine, provided it’s legitimized with thingy-based facts.

My payslip suggests I’ve been overpaid. I ask H.R. to check my thingy.

We use normal ranges to interpret laboratory test results. Values vary within the population due to genetic thingy. Levels for men and women may be different. For example, guys have higher haemoglobin concentrations.

On quiet days we do competency and professional development work. Answering questions on scientific (oops) thingy-tific articles in the Institute Journal earns C.P.D. points. There’s an item about thingy people. Their haemoglobin may not conform to either male or female values when they begin treatment.

At home, away from prying eyes, I paint a fetus to illustrate my story about the fetus a vulnerable woman carries.

My partner has emptied the rubbish bins and left them outside for two days. We argue. Her friend Russell told her to do it because u.v. light kills germs. I don’t think that’s evidence-based, otherwise germs wouldn’t proliferate in sunny countries. You’d think operating an MRI scanner and doing science-based work all day would make my partner more skeptical of Russell’s ideas.

Russell is a nob. He complains about the sense of entitlement indigenous groups have. He’s uncomfortable with diversity. He used to castigate transgender people, though he’s been quieter on that topic since my partner’s surgery.

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Nod Ghosh graduated from the Hagley Writers Institute in Christchurch, New Zealand. Stories and poems feature in various New Zealand and international publications. Nod’s day job involves working in a scientific laboratory, diagnosing cancer and monitoring foetal-maternal bleeds amongst other things. Further details: http://www.nodghosh.com/about/

 

 

 

 

 

Robert John Miller

FROM THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION KEYNOTE, 2050 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

 

Remember, no one uses the term “fetuses” anymore. Call them “man-babies.” It makes people think of themselves, remembrance of times past and all that. Like, them as little kids, babies even. Sure, some people will inevitably be women, but stick with “man-babies.” It rolls off the tongue. And people will know what you mean. Everybody is included in the term “man-babies.” Men, born babies, unborn babies, everyone. Women, too. Man-babies have popped right out of all kinds of women, so women are included right there. A whole real diversity of inclusion, with the word “man-babies.” Everybody wins. So just don’t bring gender into it. “Man-babies” is a totally neutral term. Say it with me. “Man-babies.”

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Robert John Miller’s work has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Camroc Press, Full of Crow, Metazen, Monkeybicycle, PoeticDiversity, Rattle, and others, available at robertjohnmiller.com. He lives in Chicago and is working on a novel.

Dan Crawley

The Word Is Diversity

 

I’m sitting with my mother this morning at the rehab hospital. She is learning how not to be so vulnerable, using a walker, working at not dragging her leg after her like a heavy sack, lifting small weights over her head. “I can use soup cans at home.” I sit in during her speech therapy session, too. “The reason I’m still here: the right kind of supplements. There’s science-based data backs it up.” The speech therapist smiles, asks her to recite some words my mother had repeated out loud fifteen minutes ago. I can only remember three: violin, desk, truck. She remembers these, plus another one: green. Then my mother tells the speech therapist how I came to be. She had a miscarriage at her doctor’s office. A nurse fished the fetus out of the toilet in their tiny bathroom. A little boy. Her doctor told her to get pregnant again as soon as possible. My mother points a thumb at me. She tells me, “Since you’re here instead of him, listen to me: it’s evidence-based. The other little boy would listen.”

Back in her room, after getting settled in bed, my mother speaks low after the nurse leaves. “I think he’s a her.”

“You mean, transgender?”

Mom tells me to turn on the TV. “Ugh. Turn it off—blah, blah, blah.” The left side of her mouth seems droopier to me, but maybe not.

“They want to end entitlements next,” I say.

“What’s that?” She frowns and is thinking hard. “No, they want to end diservice…diservice….”

I don’t know the word she’s trying for. Lately, it feels like my left side is going numb. And earlier, I couldn’t even remember green.

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Dan Crawley’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including Wigleaf, matchbook, New World Writing, Jellyfish Review, CHEAP POP, and North American Review. He is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts creative writing fellowship and has taught fiction workshops and literature courses at various colleges and universities throughout Arizona. He is a fiction reader for Little Patuxent Review.