They were waiting in the airport terminal when their daughter called them back. It was already 10:45 in the morning her time, and they really hoped she hadn’t been sleeping this entire time. The dad answered and the daughter calmed his fears—she had been in church.
The dad was relieved; for the last few years, the daughter hadn’t been going to church anywhere. She was always involved in church, and then she moved to a new town and just stopped going. Even though he wasn’t devout, he thought the daughter should be going, though he never actually told her that.
The daughter wanted to hear about the cruise, so he told the best parts: they snorkeled in the Cayman Islands, visited Mayan ruins near Cozumel, and floated down a river in Belize that had monkeys and crocodiles. The daughter asked if he had lost any fingers. He told her about the lobster at dinner, the rough seas on the fifth day, and singing Bob Seger at karaoke because he had always wanted to do that. He said he wished they had videotaped it; she asked if he had been drinking, though they both knew he had only had a Coke and rum at his nephew’s wedding because she said he should.
A few days before, the daughter called the dad’s cell phone. The parents normally called a lot, which sometimes annoyed the daughter, but since they were in the middle of the ocean, they couldn’t call, and she missed them. She decided to call and leave a quick message saying that she loved them and missed them. It would be a nice little surprise when they got off the boat and had cell phone service again.
What the daughter didn’t know, though, was that the dad had kept his cell phone on the entire trip. He felt like it was his duty as a father to make sure that he was available; his daughters were both in their twenties, but you never knew when something might happen. He didn’t even listen to the voicemail, but called her back immediately. The daughter was surprised: “You have cell phone service in the Cayman Islands?” and he said that he did, but it was international roaming.
After the dad finished telling the daughter all about the cruise, the daughter talked a little about her week. They had gotten about a foot of snow, and she spent a good portion of the week under her electric blanket working from home. She didn’t mind, though. She liked the snow and thought it was nice when things slowed down. She said she had also found a way to make a little extra money. The dad perked up for this—he was always finding ways to make or save money. She said she was selling eggs.
“What? Eggs?” he asked.
“Yeah, eggs. Eggs. As in, from my ovaries,” the daughter responded matter-of-factly. “You know how men sell sperm?” Somehow the dad didn’t know about this. “Women can sell eggs. They’re worth a lot more than sperm.”
The dad tried to seem cool. It sounded like a terrible idea. “So, how does that, um, work?”
The daughter explained the process. She had to go to this clinic once a month for three months. Getting the egg was actually pretty gross, she said, so she’d leave all that out. “You know how I pass out really easily?”
The dad did know, because he had helped her out of many a doctor’s office after she passed out. “Yeah.” He drew the word out, ending it as if it were a question.
“I passed out, but they can still use my egg. I guess it’s not like getting a tattoo; they don’t have to stop if you pass out.”
The dad was silent.
“So, you come in three times and do this and they give you, like, 5,000 dollars,” the daughter continued proudly. “I mean, I’m not using my eggs. It only makes sense.”
“How often can you do this?” he asked. His wife was giving him a puzzled look; he knew she was getting worried because she could tell the conversation was important.
“Every six months. It’s a really easy way to make money.”
Without enthusiasm, the dad said, “There might be a lot of little yous running around.”
“Yeah! Isn’t that weird!” the daughter hardly took a breath before launching into a hypothetical situation where she had her own kids in the future. Her real kids might fall in love with the kids she didn’t know existed and then have “mutant kids.”
The dad repeated the word “mutant” into the phone.
“Yeah, mutants. So weird,” she said. “I guess that’s kind of a moral dilemma, but it’s 5,000 dollars.”
The dad only agreed that it was a lot of money.
The daughter waited, and then said she was only kidding. She didn’t sell any eggs.
He laughed relief. “I thought maybe you were lying, but then I just didn’t know."
“Yeah, I’m not selling eggs. I took on this editing thing. It’s this guy’s dissertation.” She said she just wanted to play a joke. She said it would be weird to have kids you didn’t know existed.
Kara M. Bollinger is pursuing a Master's in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Kansas. Though not an MFA student, Kara takes writing workshops and will serve as the 2011-2012 Assistant Nonfiction Editor of the literary journal, Beecher's. Kara spends more time in the garden than most graduate students. Her essay "DNA Proves That Elvis is Alive" can be found in the The Connecticut Review's Spring 2010 issue.
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