Strangest of Gifts
By BabyPop Massacre
I've volunteered for many things in my life. I've handed out stickers during the writer's strike, I've marched with the lovely people of PETA and I've posed naked in public for the sake of one great photographer and his vision of male beauty. I've done so many things for people for free that to be offered money feels almost immoral.
Immorality had to wait. Today I was to give something that I've never given before, my sperm. It wasn't my idea but rather my friend Cathy's. She works at an anonymous sperm bank and offered me 120 dollars for my genes. Of course I don't need the money but I was willing to do anything for a friend.
"So how does this work?" I rubbed the back of my head feeling a little embarrassed. Both men and women entered different sections of the building all looking quite timid or blank faced.
Cathy smiled up at me enjoying the blush I knew was making itself present on my cheeks. "Just fill out these papers and bring them up here. I'll call you when we're ready."
"Okay." I nodded taking the clipboard from her and found a seat in the middle of the silent waiting room. A few men sat around me flipping through their own papers or magazines. None of them looked up to acknowledge each other or the women around us.
As I answered the questions regarding family illnesses, I lifted my head seeing a tall, short-haired woman enter the clinic. She looked nervous or shy and walked brushing the snow over her shoulders.
She chewed on her brown-sugared lips and smoothed down her hair that was streaked in different shades of brunette. Her eyes scanned the waiting room and fell onto mine but only for a second.
I smiled at her finding her dark eyes beautiful. I observed her posture as she walked to the counter where Cathy smiled brightly at her and the two exchanged a few words before the woman was handed a clipboard. It was hard to mind my own business. I loved how she walked and her facial expressions were hilarious as she sat down reading the questions quietly.
She sat only a few feet away from me and I was just itching to talk to her. I figured it would probably feel awkward for a man and a woman to make light conversation in a sperm bank so I relaxed in my seat.
Minutes passed, more people came, some people left and I had not yet finished answering all the questions. There were only about 30 but I was too distracted to concern myself with them. I was fascinated by the woman sitting feet away from me. She was reading over her clipboard, shaking her head no and nodding in approval at what she wrote.
She dropped her pen in her lap and mindlessly rubbed a spot on her cinnamon colored wrist before beginning to write again. I wanted to find out her name. Her age had to be close to mine and she looked like quite the classy woman. Spending time with her was probably close to heaven. I smiled at my overactive imagination.
Seemingly finished with her papers, the woman stood and strolled back over to Cathy who greeted her again with a big smile followed by a frown, a nod, and then another smile.
"Thank you." I heard the woman reply. I instantly loved her voice.
Wanting a chance to say something to her, I answered the remaining questions in a hurry, grabbed my clipboard and approached the counter just in time for her to turn around and bump into me.
"Oh, I'm sorry." She placed a hand on my arm that hooked around her waist.
I quickly removed it. "That's okay."
She nodded awkwardly before strolling away looking embarrassed. I watched her go before turning back to Cathy who clicked her tongue.
"She changed her mind."
"Really?" I looked behind me again even though she wasn't there.
"You know a lot of women do that. They get all psyched to have a baby artificially and then bam, they wimp out. She said she would come back though."
Cathy nodded. "She said today just wasn't the day."
Chances are I would never see the beautiful woman again. I wasn't planning on coming to the clinic everyday but then an idea came to my mind.
"Cathy? She left her information with you didn't she?"
"Could you give me her name and her phone number?"
"Grant you know I can't do that. Why can't you pick up girls the old fashioned way?"
"I wasn't going to ask her on a date, Cathy. I was going to-I was going to make her an offer."
Cathy choked on her Pepsi. "What? You can't. You're not going to offer her your stuff, are you?"
"Why not? She wants a baby, doesn't she?"
"Yeah. A baby that looks like her. I highly doubt she wants one with green eyes and dirty blonde hair."
"You don't know that."
"Why do you want to give it to her anyway? There are hundreds of women who would love your…genes."
"I just want to."
The next day, I stood near the counter pacing the carpeted floor and looking out for the woman in the white trench coat. I made an effort in dressing up. I wore something less causual, styled my hair and checked my breath a least four times. I wanted to make an impression on this woman. I wanted it to be an impression so perfect that maybe the heavens would bless me and I could give her my genes the old-fashioned way.
"Will you stop pacing like that? You look desperate." Cathy rolled her eyes.
"I'm nervous." I corrected.
"I still fail to see how big of a deal this is."
I turned to her and leaned over the counter. "I like her Cathy. Okay? I like her. All I need for you to do is be a little supportive and tell me when she gets here."
Cathy raised an eyebrow. "She's here."
I held my breath and turned. She was here. She wore the same trench coat from yesterday and brushed the snow off her shelves. Lifting her head, we made eye contact and she looked a little surprised.
I glanced at Cathy as her snickered. "Better keep your mouth closed. I don't want you drooling on my floor."
The woman in the trench coat approached the counter giving me glances every now and then. All I could do was watch, having lost my voice completely and grown tense.
"Good morning Cathy." She spoke in that warm honey voice.
"Good morning Ivory." Cathy replied exaggerating the woman's name and giving me a pushy look.
Ivory caught the hint and looked at me questionably.
I cleared my throat. "Uh,hi. My name is Grant Washington." I held out my hand which she took cautiously.
"Hello Grant. I remember you from yesterday. Cathy said you needed to ask me something."
"She called you?"
Ivory and Cathy nodded in unison.
Wanting to both hug and strangle my friend, I offered Ivory a seat on the couch near the window and joined her.
"Listen Ivory-is that okay if I call you Ivory?"
The woman shrugged cutely. "That's my name isn't it?"
"Well I saw you the yesterday and I admire the way you carry yourself. I find you very beautiful and I was wondering if you would…" I paused. I had forgotten how I wanted to phrase the question. "I would like to give you my sperm."
Ivory's eyes widened and she looked at me confused. "Why do you want to do that?"
I felt my cheeks grow hot. "I just feel like I should do it. I feel like it's my purpose."
"Purpose? Ever thought maybe I wanted a black baby?"
I bit my lip. "Yes but I feel as though I should be the father of your child."
Ivory sat back in the couch and sighed. She was clearly astounded and placed two fingers on her forehead. "I don't know anything about you."
"I'll tell you whatever you want to know." I blurted out grabbing her hand without thinking.
Ivory stared blankly at it before excusing herself to go talk to Cathy. I instantly felt defeated. She probably thought I was a freak. Maybe Cathy was right. Maybe Ivory didn't want a mixed child. Maybe she wasn't as interested in me as I was in her. What was I thinking?
Feeling foolish, I left the clinic and promised myself to never enter the place ever again.
Three Years Later
"One white chocolate bunny coming up!" I grinned at a couple enjoying their Valentine's Day together. They held hands and gave each other loving glances as I decorated their purchased holiday treat.
Wrapping the candy bunny and placing it in a red plastic case, I waved them goodbye before going back to making samples for the browsing customers.
It was called Vladimir's Chocolates, my place of work. It's a family owned business named after some guy who wasn't a part of my family. I always asked my grandmother to change the name but she claimed it was pretty fine.
I felt bored dipping large strawberries into a pool of pink chocolate and it didn't help with all the happy couples popping in to by this and that. I was single. Still single.
With all the giggles and sounds of smooching filling the small candy shop, I wanted to dunk my head into the vat of liquid sugar.
"Grant?" My grandmother whispered bitterly. "Straightened yourself up we have customers."
"Here." She handed me a chocolate lollipop. "Go give this to that little boy looking at the cookies."
Groaning I took the treat from her and shuffled over to the cookie display switching by attitude from droopy to perky. I leaned over the counter with a smile that broke as soon as I saw the boy's mother.
It was Ivory. She was dressed in red and crouched down next to her son pointing out the cookies and their names. The boy was the first to see me and beaming after noticing the lollipop in my hand.
I straightened up. "Hey little man, this is for you." I could have collapsed. His eyes, his nose, it was like looking into a mirror. His toffee colored curls laid heavily against his forehead and bounced as he jumped with excitement. His tan little fingers gripped the stick and he shoved the candy into his mouth mercilessly.
Ivory laughed. She hadn't looked at me yet. "What do you say, baby?"
"Tank you." The boy mumbled with a mouth full of candy.
His mother smiled and finally rested her eyes on me. Her lips parted as she rose and she played with her fingers.
"Hello." I spoke first.
"Hey." She sniffed and I wondered if she was going to cry.
"How are you?"
"Great." She looked down at her son as he tugged at the end of her skirt. "And you?"
"Bored out of my mine." I grinned and produced a short laugh with her. My smile died and soon there was a silence between us. "Ivory, is he-"
"But I thought-"
"I know. You left before I could tell you."
"Cathy didn't give you my number?"
"She did. I called you but you didn't answer."
I recalled the several times I received a mysterious phone number on my caller ID. I remembered the time Cathy asked me if I set up my voicemail yet and the strange scolding I received for not being responsible. "Ivory, I'm so sorry."
The woman held up her hadn't to silence me. "It's okay. Obviously fate knew we would meet so I wasn't worried."
"What made you change your mind?"
"I don't know." She shrugged rubbed her arm. "I just felt right with you."
I couldn't help but grin. "I could kiss you right now."
Keeping my eyes on her, I walked around the counter and wrapped my arms around her. "I love you Ivory." Before she could answer back, I kissed her ignoring my grandmother's humming and the annoying hooting coming from the other couples in the shop.
Feeling something poking my knee, I looked down at Ivory's son, my son, and picked him up.
Ivory giggled. "You have chocolate all over your face." She searched for a napkin which my grandmother handed her. "And to think we were going to go have McDonald's after this."
I studied the boy's face as she wiped it, seeing how beautiful our features looked together.
"What's his name?"
Ivory kissed her baby's face with pride. "Grant."