Beyond the Garden Close
Lena rocked back and forth, feet aching from standing so long, as if the metal floors were harder in the auditorium than anywhere else in the ship. The paper bib she wore rustled as she shifted. The waiting that the high-holy put the prospectives through made Lena nervous. Which was part of the point, of course and Lena tried not to let her nerves show. There were nine prospectives this quarter, standing in a cluster. Lena knew the other women, of course, but maintained the ship-standard illusion of privacy by ignoring them.
She wouldn’t be among the prospective child-bearer if Phoebe hadn’t wanted a babe so much.
All long-limbs and soft curves, Phoebe had the grace of a goddess, but she’d never be granted child-rights. She had the taint of celiac disease as a hand-me-down from some grand or other and that throwback meant her stock had to be culled from the tree. Even if she made it through the trials today, the high holies would never let her bear a child.
But Lena, now. Lena would pass for sure and certain, only problem was she didn’t want a child.