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The Foreigner

The Foreigner

“And of course here, between the different anatomy and advances in medical science, doctors make barely enough to live off. Where I’m from, let me just say, such an idea would be unthinkable.”

I laugh, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He says, “Back home, I had money and power, but neither of those can guarantee you good health. At least not on my plane. I never planned on moving; didn’t even like to travel much. But, I had a sickness that would have killed me there. I’d heard that here it was a five minute job to remove the tumour. So, in order to live, I moved.”

He doesn’t say anything after that, but I can feel his tools poking around in my reproductive sac. It feels like he’s almost done. “Why didn’t you just go back?” I ask.

He sighs, long and sad. “Things are different everywhere,” he said, his voice thick with something that almost sounds like regret. “It’s a one-way trip out of my plane, unfortunately. You can leave, but you can’t come back.”

“Why is that?” I ask, genuinely curious.

“They are afraid that the trip out changes you permanently,” he says, “and the government is afraid that these changes pose a risk to everyone else. The fact that your cells change both ways in the transporter is something my people don’t seem to understand,” he says, bitterly. It sounds like a reasonable enough precaution to me, though. Maybe we could learn something from those other planes after all.

After a moment I ask, “So, you were a doctor back home, too?”

He snorts. He’s pulling the baby out of my uterus now, and I can see my heart in its organ sac beating faster. Nothing hurts, of course, but my system must be pumping extra fluids into the reproductive sac to fill the void left by my soon to be child. I’ve read about how on some planes, people have their organs inside their skin. How awful that must be – how would they ever fix anything?

“No, I wasn’t a doctor,” he says. “I was a decorated personal carrier jet pilot. It was the best job in the world, I think. Money, prestige, you got to meet the most influential people on the planet.”

“A carrier jet pilot,” I ask, as he comes around the barrier with the squirming jumble of bulbous organ sacs that is my child, and places it in my hands. Under the translucent sacs that hold her organs – it’s a girl, I can see her tiny uterus – I see her face squint as she starts to cry. I hope she knocks that off before I drop her off at day care. They hate whiny kids there.

“Yeah,” he said, smiling ruefully, as he pulls off his gloves. “I was a taxi driver.”

© M. Darusha Wehm

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