No Place to Raise Kids
by Eileen Gunn
This is no place to raise kids, Jim thought, looking around at smooth canvas rocks and pathetic plastic trees. But for people like us, in love and on the run, with babies on the way, there’s no good place and no good time.
They’d managed to conceal their affair from prying eyes, even on the mercilessly public stage that was the Enterprise. If, as he expected, Uhura knew, she had kept their secret. But, with the twins’ gestation so near, there was nothing to do but jump ship, taking with them only the few props they could grab from the science officer’s kip and, at the last minute, McCoy’s black bag. Jim knew there was nothing in it but modernist pepper mills and hand-carved pieces of styrofoam packing material, but it would have to do in a pinch. Those weird bits of styrofoam had saved his own life in the past.
He looked over at Spock, who was sitting propped up against one of the fake rocks, breathing in short pants. ( In short pants, he thought. Who writes this crap? They should read their damned scripts out loud.)
“Push,” he said. “Shouldn’t you push?”
Or should you not push? What did he know of these things? Where was Computer? Computer would know. Computer was on the ship.
We should have used a glass tank, he thought. But Spock had wanted the human experience of giving birth, and, of course, he’d had the knowledge and skill to make the necessary modifications. And now Spock was bringing forth his children in sorrow, the curse of Eve, one hundred percent human.
He’s so stoic, Jim thought. So stoic, so brilliant—and so beautiful, really. Will he continue to be this lovely to me when the makeup wears off and the rubber ears crumble? Or will we sink into boring domesticity, raising tribbles, perhaps, for Harry Mudd? Centuries from now, a minute or two at warp speeds, the Enterprise will discover us gone. Will they return to this godforsaken location to look for us, and find us dead, our starving descendants welcoming them as saviors? Or will they find a prosperous community, happily into syndication, repeating itself season after season? Thanks to relativity and the power of television, the crew of the Enterprise will remain young while we breed, age, and die.
He could call Scottie with the flick of a switch, and Scottie would beam them up. Jim considered the idea. A few special effects, and he and Spock, in the throes of childbirth, would rematerialize on the deck of the Enterprise. Then the show would cut for a commercial, and the kids would generate plot complications happily ever after.
That’s not real life, Jim thought. That’s not what it’s all about.
He could hear Spock thrashing against the canvas rock. He was yelling “Grab the baby! Turn its head!” This was real life.
About the Author
Eileen Gunn is a short story writer, author of the collection Stable Strategies and Others (Tachyon, 2004). She received the Nebula award in 2005 for Best Short Story, and her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Philip K. Dick awards, and short-listed for the Tiptree award. Since 1988, she has served on the board of directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. She is the editor and publisher of the Infinite Matrix webzine, which refuses to die, despite the fact that she's been clubbing it like a baby seal for the past two years.
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