Flash Fiction: Bad Parents

 “No, I do not think that a wise idea.” Tethys watched their expressions fall.

“But others have done it.”

Three of her own children, many times over that in clan-children and marriage-protegees, and she never ceased hearing that excuse. She forebore from asking if others leapt into vacuum, would they do the same.

Tethys imagined that elders at the time of the journey-ships and before were asking their juniors the same.

“But it’s already done.” The young woman drew herself up. “I’m already pregnant with our body-child.” Her clan-spouse looked on, beaming.

Well, clearly it was both their idea, and Tethys could guess who had given them that notion — well, whose son. Bad ideas long outlived their original propagandists.

She sighed. “Well, done is done. At a minimum, let me ask you to do your child a favor.”

The young couple looked at her expectantly, faces aglow. You would think both of them were pregnant, sharing that legendary luminosity. “We’ve given her every possible advantage. Our body-parents lent their prestige to our application for the Genetic Pantheon.”

Tethys forebore from sighing, as she mentally upgraded the situation from folie a deux to folie a six. Both sets of body-parents, plus the culprits themselves. Not clear if they’d listen, but honor required that she make the attempt.

“At very least, don’t name her Naime.”

They blinked, which told her yes, that had been their notion.

“She’s a Full Clone of the Great Shipwright herself. Don’t, for the love of the Queen of Snows, …” Words failed her. If it wasn’t perfectly clear to the young fools what they were contemplating, how to explain it to them? “Your child will be recognizable as a clone of Naime yr Astok long before she’s of age. Even if you don’t tell her whose genotype she bears, she’ll hear it from others. And yes, right now you’re thinking of your prestige, and how you’re bringing back one of the Great Ones. But your child isn’t Naime yr Astok. Her time is past, and we live in a different world.”

The young man leaned forward. “How should we name her, then?”

“You hadn’t picked out a name?”

They shook their heads.

No contingency plan whatsoever. So they hadn’t anticipated any opposition from their clan-patron, which she supposed she could put down to the frivolity of youth, but their body-parents had no excuse. No, things were going rapidly to the bad. One could fight folly in the debating arena, the official field of honor so to speak, but when it reared its head under the mask of fashion, the fight verged on hopeless.

Nonetheless, she owed the offspring of folly and vanity her best effort, the wisdom of a clan-elder–

If only they’d thought a bit sooner, so that her wisdom might be applied to prevention.

But that wasn’t the way the world worked.

“Give her an ordinary name. Yasmin, for example. Perfectly ordinary name, so for a while at least …”

For a while at least, that blameless child-to-be could live an ordinary life, without the expectation of a life already lived with a different upbringing and a story already brought to conclusion. A glorious conclusion, Great Shipwright and distinguished Ship’s Captain, a combination not even possible now that the Ships were something very different, not a prototype but a practice embedded in the culture.

Forerunners were very different from inheritors.

They nodded.

“Yasmin it is, then,” the young woman said.

It wasn’t acceptance, she realized, nor agreement, but blind obedience.

Tethys sighed. She would have preferred an argument; in the struggle of thought, one could learn; she would have divined where their true passion lay, what aspect of the Full Clone had drawn them.

“And do you plan to have other children?” Tethys asked. She dreaded the answer, though the guardians of the Pantheon could be expected to do their duty with a second request from the same couple.

The young woman shrugged. “Well, if this one survives, we suppose we might conceive more, some ways later. On the random plan, of course.”

“Not that we’ll have a choice,” the young man said.

Tethys wondered how far into shadow those subsequent children would fall.

“We’ll wait till after the patronage ceremony,” the young woman said. “Probably till Naime — I mean Yasmin — is seven.”

Tethys closed her eyes, then enveloped that gesture of exasperation into the traditional obeisance to the Fates.


Flash fiction in response to this week’s terribleminds flash fiction challenge, Bad Parents.

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6 Responses to Flash Fiction: Bad Parents

  1. Mark Baron says:

    Impressive! Especially written at con! Bravo!

  2. I am really, really enjoying all the glimpses around the corners, whispered connotations come to life, of your other pieces I’ve read. Yipeee! Yahoo!

  3. It’s a strong snippet for sure, and you clearly know the characters well. That’s a necessity for having believable characters.
    But *puts on moderator hat* for WeWriWa, this is way over the 8 sentence limit. Having everybody stick to 8 keeps it fair for the whole list. So if you could do that in future excerpts we’d really appreciate it. Thanks! 🙂

  4. Fascinating, hints at so much more of a story!

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