Convenience Store Babies

Rosaleen Lynch

              Convenience store babies were all the rage back then. Came with pipettes the size of turkey basters. Advertised in windows, posters, zines and on family meals. Cartoon diagrams, a mix of science and wonder, like describing how to grow sea monkeys. The sign below it told customers to read the label carefully. Follow the instructions. No returns.

              Fegg packs were in the refrigerated section and reminded me of those plastic pouches of mozzarella preserved in brine, but smaller. When I was a kid, I’d press to feel the slip and slide of half a dozen feggs, the size of silver balls from wedding cakes, that once inside the uterus dissolved. We all knew this from reproduction classes at school. Didn’t need the illustrations.

              The day I picked you, I squeezed to check there were six, in case the first one or five didn’t take.  I already knew I wanted you to have the same colour hair and eyes as mine, and a good mix of the athletic and academic and I chose the less-likelihood-option for the usual conditions but like the packet said, there were no guarantees. Mosaicism was rare and even though they could test for it in utero, I was still worried and checked the sell-by date again. They kept the pipettes at the counter, with the register and the corresponding age QR code which could only be accessed when the contract was signed online, agreeing to the terms. In red it said: No refunds for mortality.

              These were high-end items, for a convenience store. The one near home was robbed just for them. When we walked past police tape Mama did a sign of the cross and prayed the feggs wouldn’t end up on farms or trafficked to countries with less stringent laws about GM babies. I had nightmares about being implanted, but Mama said that was a myth, some girls did that to get around the law. She had traditional views about babies, multiples were unusual in her time. So if you meet your doppelgänger, Mama said, you know why—you’re both convenience store babies.

              Our local convenience store did not stock designer babies only basic brands, but still expensive to people in our neighbourhood. So when I got pregnant with you, instead of destroying the other feggs I gave them to my two friends, that’s how your secret sisters came to be. Yes, you’re right, we broke the law,  but I could have had triplets and you’d have to share the little we have with two others. Isn’t it better to spread the load? Share the love? I’m sorry you heard about it this way. It’s hard to see your own face, looking back at you, from an obituary. But it doesn’t mean you’re going to die just because she did. Don’t they teach you about nature-nurture in school? Anyway you know what they say about convenience store babies—you’re guaranteed for life.

Rosaleen Lynch, an Irish community worker and writer in the East End of London, loves stories conversational, literary and performed. Words in lots of lovely places and can be found on Twitter @quotes_52 and