American Chimera – 14.2

American Chimera Cover Small

Janie pointed to the holographic note. “Now, you know what we said earlier. Not gettin’ the score you want don’t mean you’re bad.”

“Yeah,” Dani said. She rubbed her claws in excitement then reared back onto four legs. I remember her cute little pink dress, the one my mother had made special for the summer. It had white polka dots and Minnie Mouse on the print.

Janie gave me our secret look. We’d been married long ’nuff that I could ’bout read her mind. She was worried.

Hell, I was ’bout to piss myself I was so worried. Janie couldn’tve been much better off.

The end of year tests. When I was in school, leastwise up ’till it mattered, the tests just determined if you passed to the next grade. I’d scoot by on the minimum and look for’ard to fishin’ in the summers. There weren’t no fat-measurin’ contests nor beauty pageants nor physical fitness tests. Janie might’ve failed the phenotypic tests just ’cause she ain’t never learned to swim. The tests were real hard back when they was first cuttin’ out people’s testicles and ovaries. Had to get rid of a slew of undesirables, ya know.

Anyway, the scores came in the mail. “Open the letter, Mama.” She hopped up and down, just shy of bein’ able to touch the hologram.

So Janie tapped the note, and the airy envelope opened. On the inside of the envelope was the scoring rubric and what the state had given for each category.

Dani tugged a claw at the bottom of the letter and pulled it to her height so she could see it. “2!” she cried out. “I got a 2!”

I looked at Janie. A two? Our daughter?

A tear came to my eyes. I couldn’t be more proud of her, couldn’t wish greater success. At the same time, my heart sank – how would getting a tentative two-child rating help a creature so clearly inhuman?

We knew she was a Chimera. The news had broke just a couple weeks afore her first exam results came in. So who was she going to breed with? How would we break her heart?

Well, of course we decided not to break her heart right then.

Janie pointed to a number. “Dani, look at this! You did so well on your physical aptitude test – that’s a very high score!”

I looked over her shoulder. “Wow…holy mackeral, sweetie, that’s perfect in every subcategory. When’d you learn to swim?”

“Basketball camp,” she answered, “And the internet.”

I whistled. “Lord have mercy, child. I’m gonna have to see that. You teach me how to swim?”

She nodded. “Yeah!”

Just so it’s clear, the swimmin’ lessons didn’t go too well. Ain’t gonna suggest learnin’ to swim from an 8-legged person to no one.

Janie shook her head incredulously. “It’s…this is amazing. Reading, writing, math, science, history are all very good! You’ve done so well, Dani!”

“I think this calls for ice cream!” I decided.

“Yes! Absolutely. You want ice cream, Dani?”

The little girl pulled the paper down and kept perusing it. Her ecstatic demeanor crashed when she pointed out a single number. “I got a zero in this one.”

I blinked and looked at what she pointed out. “Aw, that one ain’t worth jack diddly.”

She dropped the hologram and left it floating in midair.

Janie offered her a hand. “The rubric ain’t fair for you on that one, sweetie.”

Dani clutched her claw tight. “Am I ugly, Mama?”

“No!” Janie denied. “Look at this sub-rubric – ear size. Sweetcakes, your ears don’t look nothin’ like Mama’s or Daddy’s. They’re on your face, kinda like dolphin ears ’cept tuned to work in air rather than water.”

“And nose,” I said. “You say you smell with your legs. How they gonna compare your legs with my nose?”

Dani’s legs curled in. “How do I get a nose like yours? Ears?” She reached up and caressed my legs, then held tight to the pants on my outer thigh. “Do I get to grow up to be human, eventually? Is that going to happen?”

I shook my head. “No. You’re a chimera, and we love you for who you are.”

“But that makes me ugly.”

“Swetheart, no,” Janie insisted. “This is a stupid paper. See this bit?”

Dani nodded, saying that yes, she understood that Janie’s finger pointed to ‘Morality.’

Janie ran her finger down the list. “You are just. You are kind. You are smart. You are way ahead of the curve on altruism, which means niceness. This section right here says you’re gorgeous.”

“Then why is this section called ‘beauty’?”


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17 thoughts on “American Chimera – 14.2

  1. robertawrites235681907 says:

    This is such a poignant episode, H. It brings tears to your eyes when you think about this in human terms, never mind a giant spider. Sorry for the huge catch up on your posts. I spent the whole weekend reading the Great Blogger’s Bake Off posts because I went made and entered six pictures. Such a fun challenge for bakers and anyone who eats food.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Oh, no problem! I don’t expect serials to work out well for stats anyway. Right now I’m mostly coasting around on my book reviews, and I don’t really know what I’m going to do when the serial is up. Prompts have been a crutch in the past, but I’m finding I just want to come home and veg after the job nowadays. Hoping to get in the groove… eventually.

      • Jules says:

        I was thinking some hybrid… but golly stuffing human DNA into anything where it doesn’t fit. Kind of like Spiderman… Though we like him because he looks like us and takes out bad guys.

      • H.R.R. Gorman says:

        I don’t think Spiderman was about DNA. That was the Hulk.

        My job is all about stuffing DNA into things and making stuff. I 100% am for genetic engineering of most things – the problem is when you get into things like this, where eugenics intersect. And, as we all know, genetically engineering humans would probably lead to eugenics becoming a thing again.

      • Jules says:

        Science isn’t for everyone and yet science is all around everyone. Like the Japanese bug problem… is there a reason for that bug? How can we make something that will just destroy the bug but not harm the plant it is destroying. Or Kudzu…. how can we a) stop or slow down the growth of that plant or find a way to make it useful?

      • H.R.R. Gorman says:

        Kudzu has a solution. Already we’re starting to see the effect of the new Bayer spray in North Carolina. There’s some ditches I’ve driven by that are swamped by the stuff, but it doesn’t grow on literally every lightpole and litter every embankment anymore. When I came back from California, it was like, “WHOAAAA”.

      • Jules says:

        Got anything for eradicating Spotted Lantern flies… ? Kind of disappointing that the government says we’ve got to get rid of them and leaves it up to homeowners and businesses to pay for themselves.

        Oh, so you’ve got the tree the Spotted Lantern fly likes. ~ pay for a service to cut it down. Now this bug is creeping onto other types of trees and shrubs… not just the vineyards.

      • Jules says:

        If you had the time to look ’em up…these bugs have the potential to do a great deal of damage. They look pretty but they aren’t.

        Identification. Spotted lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive planthopper, native to Asia, that was first detected in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania. As of August 2019, SLF is now found in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.Aug 20, 2019

        he spotted lanternfly feeds on plants by sucking out the sap from leaves, stems or trunks. It sucks in more sap than it can handle and excretes most of it. That excretion, called “honeydew,” can grow mold or attract other insects, further damaging the tree. Both nymphs and adults can cause damage to plants.

        Here’s one article with images…

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