BELLA’S BIRTHDAY • by Robert O’Shea

I asked for a baby planet for my eighth birthday. Dan Wandering got a baby planet for his birthday. He’s not allowed to have it in his bedroom but you can go see it in the big laboratory at the top of his house.

His Daddy1 has to be there though when we want to look at it. You can’t touch it! It’s the size of a big head and it’s in a box that looks like glass. Except it’s not a glass box because Dan’s Daddy1 said it’s made of something that begins with ‘P’. There’s a microscope thingy that’s above the box. When you look through the microscope thingy you can see all the little countries. If you turn a button then you can see closer and watch the little people running around with no clothes. Sometimes you can see them getting chased by those big things from the zoo. Sometimes you see big things eat a little person. But you can’t see close enough to see guts or lots of blood.

I went home and told my Mammies about it. Mammy1 was boiling a fruit frog for dinner.

“Dan’s Daddies brought him a planet.”

Mammy1 made that annoyed noise. Her third eye glowed with anger-lust.

“Dan’s Daddies have a lot more money. You aren’t getting a planet.”

Mammy2 smiled at me with sad eyes. I hate that. Cause she still takes Mammy1’s side.

When my birthday happened on the Clerksday, I’d hoped that Mammy1 had changed her mind. A baby planet, I prayed, I want a baby planet .

The start and middle bit of my birthday were really good. Everyone was there! Maz S! Jane G! Even TomKat came! Dan Wandering ate too much spider cake and some legs were sticking out of his mouth. I called him ‘fat and greedy’. Mammy1 got the rainbow robot to sing. Pink stars flew out of the birthday box. After all the small presents then Mammy1 took the big one out. I hoped that she changed her mind… But she hadn’t… It wasn’t a baby planet. It was something stupid. It looked like us but with two arms and a smaller head and no third eye.

“What is it?” I asked Mammy1.

“It’s a human being. It’s our ancestor. It’s what we used to look like before the Combining. It can’t fly and it can’t separate but you can feed it and talk to it. You can make it clean your room and carry your bags. You just need to make sure you give it one of these every day so it behaves itself.”

Mammy1 handed me a tablet injector.

“That’s not as good as baby planet,” Dan Wandering whispered into my ear.

“Who wants an old-fashioned human that can’t even make his thoughts turn into solids? What’s the point in that?” he said.

I hate Dan Wandering.

I’ve got it in my room now. I’ve only had it a week and I’m fed up with it. If you don’t inject it in time then it gets rebellious. It tries to run away. And it talked lots. I cut the tongue out and now it looks at me with stupid wet eyes. All sniffling. It looks at me from the corner of my room.

I look back at it.

I hate the crybaby eyes. I hate that this was what we used to be like before the Combining. It’s stupid and silly and it’s not a Baby Planet. I think I’ll cut its eyes out now… Next year I want a better birthday present.

Robert O’Shea is a Dubliner living in New Zealand. His stories have been published in Ireland (New Irish Writing), England (First Edition Magazine) and New Zealand (Her Magazine). Robert has worked as an editor for legal publishers and literary journals. He was part of the editing and project team for New Zealand bestseller, The Six Pack in 2008. He works as Resource Developer and Editor for Retail Institute (ITO) in Wellington. He is working on a collection of short stories. His story “Cut Throat” was shortlisted for Hennessy X O Literary Awards (2009).


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