Growing up human

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 13 May 2023



The first sign of progress was that they began to ask questions and not just stand mute and wait for explanations as they did at first. Their queries were similar to those of a small child with the word ‘why’ the most frequent. When we framed our answers in down to earth, simple terms they seemed not only to understand but appreciate our replies.

They had a good command of language, just no practice in thinking. So they progressed much faster than a child, who would have to acquire language and the thinking process at the same time and hampered even more by having to navigate all the challenges of growth and coordination.

Because it was Winter, the women planted an indoor garden in a curious conference room that was half glass and bathed in sunlight. They covered a section in plastic and top soil watering flowers and a few vegetables more as a hobby than a task to grow food. That would come in the Spring. Amira developed a personal closeness to Jane as they watered their plants, just as an older sister would for a younger, though their actual ages were now reversed.

One day I overheard this conversation:

“Jane, would you like to be a mother. You might be one really soon?”

“Maybe I would. I don’t know. I’ve never been one. But I did help sometimes in the nursery at the hive and the toddler’s room. Those were some of my tasks.”

“Yes Jane, but those weren’t your own child. When you have one grow inside you and give birth and first hold it, then you love it and can hardly take your eyes off it. You’ll see what happens with Beth. I was given an infant to hold once and I wished with all my heart that it was mine. But I was blind then and wouldn’t be able to take care of it. But I wished it was mine. If you have a child what name will you give it?”

“I would call it Jane.”

“No, you can’t if it’s a boy and you can’t if it’s a girl because that’s your name and it would be too confusing. When you do have a baby and we see if it’s a girl or a boy, I’ll sit down with you and we’ll pick out a name together, a really good one.”

“Thank you Amira. You’re such a good friend.”

It was talks like this they shared together. Jane was quickly catching up to Amira in intellect and as Beth’s term approached eight months later, I would say they were almost on a par and more than ever inseparable. What closed the bond even more was that Jane did become pregnant a month after Beth, fulfilling Amira’s wishes and now doubly dear to her.

I’d spend some hours outdoors with Tom, then with all four of them in the small library, teaching them how to read. Beth and Amira only knew braille but this somehow helped. Jane and Tom learned just as quickly, within two weeks and I’m sure it was in the back of their heads from long ago, discontinued for six years because all commands from Dora were verbal.

Then I had to show them what to read. They were all completely blind as to that. From the books at hand I started with juvenile novels and simple prose, like Steinbeck, and nature books by John Muir, the whole collection there. Like obedient pupils Tom and Jane would sit with me all afternoon and read a hundred pages without issuing a murmur, freeing me up for my own leisure reading, Beth and Amira too as they had a lot of catching up to do in that department and I constantly stressed how important it was to be educated. On the colder days of winter we would all repair to a sitting room with a huge fireplace, cozy and close, one happy family of readers each with their own book in hand.

Dora too was a great help in this ‘schooling’ if you could call it that. Since their arrival Jane and Tom had been instructed to wear their headbands on their necks all day, so Dora could advise them and explain details when necessary. At night, after their sex romp, they put them back over their eyes, almost like turning out the lights in a child’s room before sleep. Then Dora would scan their minds for new developments, as she was already contemplating this same experiment on a much larger scale.

We stayed in our safe and happy retreat through the next summer, just as I had promised Beth, not to risk any expeditions until she held our child in her arms. She gave birth to a healthy boy with Jane and Amira her assistants and Dora the doctor, while Tom and I stood nervously outside the door.

A month later it was Jane’s turn and she delivered a girl whom Amira named Jenny from some childhood friend. We called our child David, after my father. Some things never change.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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