From the sofa, she could see the doll collection filling the bookcase. One
whole wall a shrine to her childhood. She got up, walked to the shelves and picked up a poodle-skirted Barbie. For long moments
she stood staring at the doll , squeezing it in white knuckled grasp, then let it fall to the floor. The wall clock ticked
in reproach and Macie picked up the doll, sighing.
She returned the toy to its perch and walked to the window, peering into the
early dark. If only she could shake this edginess. She didn’t understand all the things that went on at the clinic.
She did know that Dr. Sorkin provided fetuses to a colleague. Something about research, and now there was this man—Steve.
He’d shown up, white cane tapping the clinic floor, after closing one
night. His frumpy wife led him to the examination room. When Dr. Sorkin saw Macie standing by the reception desk, his face
paled and he’d seemed distraught. He’d cleared his throat, and then asked her to come into the room with them.
Months later Steve had surgery. One of four, Macie was told: two more men
and a woman. Then, just last week…
“Can I help you?” Macie hadn’t recognized the couple when
they’d entered as she shut the computer down for the night.
“Sorkin isn’t expecting us?” The man jerked his head and
the woman behind him took his coat as he shrugged it off. He picked up a pen from the counter, rotated it, studying the printing
on the barrel, and then spoke. “Steve Voight, remember?”
The doctor had hurried to greet them and escort them into his office. Macie
still could see her employer’s expression: his eyes bright under bushy brown eyebrows, his mouth stretched in a tight
Behind her, Phil stirred, returning her thoughts to the present. “Anything
wrong?” He came to stand beside her.
“I’m just thinking about Steve. About the transplant.”
“What’s to think about? You don’t know anything. The guy
was blind and now he sees. Kind of like a Bible story. Speaking of that, how in the world can old Sorkin live with himself— up to his neck, so to speak, in stem-cells? I thought religious people all opposed
stem-cell research. Falwell certainly is against it.”
Macie rolled her eyes. “Most fundamentalists are. They say it violates
the Hippocratic Oath. You know, they have to kill an embryo to get the cells. It’s another take on the abortion thing.
But those fetuses would be destroyed anyway, so why not use them?”
“I suppose that makes sense. IF you can get past the thing about killing
Macie stiffened. “ I don’t know if they are babies. They don’t
look like much until they’re a couple months old.”
“So, what does Sorkin say?”
“Justify what he does.” Phil had his glasses off again, cleaning
them on his shirttail.
“I don’t think he feels he has to justify it.”
“Is that what you think?” Phil squinted at her over the top of
“I don’t know. I’ve been wondering lately about….”
Macie realized she had wrapped her arms tightly around her abdomen, and she dropped them to her sides. Inexplicably, tears
welled in her eyes. She turned so Phil couldn’t see them. “ It’s not fair to pick on me like this. You’ve
got it all together. I haven’t. I’m not perfect like you.”
“Whoa. Where‘d that come from? I just asked a question.”