Life automatically sets you up to be disappointed. For we’re initially conditioned to believe we can inhabit a no-cost space where readily available sustenance is also provided. That is to say, the womb: the only safe place we’ll ever know–only to be ripped out of it and forced to pay and pay and pay for the rest of our lives, when, during that whole gestation period, we were living in rent-free bliss. Can one blame us for getting a false sense of security? An unrealistic portrait of how existence might turn out to be based on our first very formative nine months?
To add insult to injury, we can’t even be laid to rest in a joint that we don’t have to plunk down cash for. Because that coffin–even that cremation, evermore popular as people pretend to be “conscientious” about Mother Earth–is something we have to account for in our budget. Being laid to rest is not restful at all. Could never compare to the start of life that seemed so promising at the outset when going on only what we had been exposed to: the coziness of a free cocoon where all we had to do was float around and eat, like sloths. Some people willfully–with the help of a subconscious that can’t forget–choose to stay that way, often known as deadbeats, Mama’s boys or meth addicts. In truth, however, we all spend the rest of our lives seeking to re-create the bliss of that lacuna where we came to fruition. That beauteous tabula rasa with no responsibility and no trauma.
There is a reason psychologists state that being summarily ripped out of Mother’s belly is every human’s first trauma. It’s one of the greatest betrayals of your life, one supposes that’s why it has to happen when you’re in a non-fully formed phase of development, cognizance-wise. It’s the only way to convince you to keep moving forward, for your instincts are still in a state of hyper-survival mode. Keep going forward no matter what–grow, grow, grow—don’t question anything just stay at your healthiest. That is, until you start taking up the necessary means of coping in the format of drugs and alcohol that will dull your mind and more effectively atrophy your body than life itself. By this time, of course, it 1) means you’ve already unearthed that existence is a painful lie and 2) you’re far enough along to know that getting through it in a primarily sober state is not the way to go if you don’t want to become further damaged. Alcohol, in effect, is the adult version of amniotic fluid we tell ourselves can function with just as much of a soothing outcome. After all, it conjures a similarly numbing, “not really there” sensation.
It took a long time for Lola to understand that this was the reason she had become an alcoholic so early on, even before her college days when it was not only encouraged, but expected (yes, even at MIT, for the “brains” of America are the most debauched of all). She had managed to get into Massachusetts Institute of Technology, much to both parents’ surprise and dismay, for they would be paying most of the cost. They almost wished they hadn’t been so enthusiastic about telling her to “apply herself” all those years, starting in kindergarten. Apparently, she took the message very much to heart. Or maybe it was the fact that Kelly had insisted to Yeardley that they play classical music via headphones on her stomach every day for the entire pregnancy. Anything to make her not come out a dullard. Kelly had an innate fear of this, for her own brother, Lyle, was plagued with developmental problems before her parents gave up on him at age five and placed him in an institution. She was nine years old at the time, and could distinctly remember accompanying them to the facility in their dreary brown station wagon. She wanted to cry, to express some token of sentiment for the brother she knew she would never really see again, therefore never really know. Lyle was seemingly oblivious to what was happening to him, until they tried to take him out of the car and he began kicking and screaming in much the same way that we all do when we first get ejected from the black hole called Mother’s vagina. The abyss from whence we came that we will return to in death. At fifteen, Lola was informed that Lyle had had an accident at the institution; left unattended for too long, he ended up falling off of a high tree branch and splitting his head wide open, that feeble brain of his on display for everyone to see. It was a vision that so often haunted her in dreams.
She felt that part of his issue was that he had been born several weeks late, which can often cause complications early on. Lola knew he thought he was being shrewd in trying to remain in the only place in this world that was safe. The only place that wouldn’t force him to sell his soul for the price of hourly minimum wage. But his embryonic intelligence had cost him. As a result, Lola was determined to find a way to unrig the system. The falsity of pre-existence as a fetus that set every single human being on this earth up for failure and disappointment. Her plan had been germinating almost as early as eleven, when her mother showed her a picture of her ill-planned baby brother in the iteration of a sonogram. Kelly was fraught about having a boy, for it gave her a certain amount of PTSD in thinking of Lyle. She was afraid the boys of her family might be cursed. Nonetheless, she wasn’t about to have an abortion at her age merely because of superstition.
Lola largely ignored Caleb when he came barreling into their lives and sucking up all the air in the room as most male narcissists do. She was fixated on her project. The one that would give fetuses an accurate depiction of what life would actually be like once born. She knew that the implementation of a small video screen inside of the mother’s stomach would be too Bradburian, yet she couldn’t figure out how to otherwise most seamlessly give preparatory instructions for what life would be versus how it seemed it would be within the lulling confines of the womb. The glorious incubation period that left every baby needing to be placed in a man-made incubator after birth in order to cope with the transitional period into the asshole of existence. She decided, “Fuck it,” screens were more a part of life than anything so she might as well teach them what living was through this conduit that so accurately represented it. Pitching her project at MIT, she was met with many murmurs of doubt and consternation, with one student even telling her she ripped off the idea from Donnie Darko, quipping, “Are you gonna call it an Infant Memory Generator?”
Lola snapped back, “It’s not going to be some fucking Google Glass shit outside of the womb, it will be implanted vaginally.”
“What woman would agree to that?” asked one professor.
“One that cared about tempering her child’s expectations.”
Her conception was not well-received until she herself decided to put her theory into practice via artificial insemination (because, seriously, a “steady man” in her life was not a symbol of the evolution she was trying to promote). She would undergo the process herself and prove to everyone that a more well-adjusted, less disenchanted being would result from her way of pregnancy. And with the doctor sticking the instructional video (featuring such tips as, “Remember, you will be forced to work for most of your life for a thing called money. It buys you the shelter that you are now presently getting for free. But do not be fooled by this precedent.”) that would play twenty-four hours on repeat up her canal, she could feel the promise of change–real progress–being implanted as well.
Her pregnancy didn’t feel strange or like anything unusual, though the vibrations and kicks inside of her did seem much more palpable than what she had heard or read about. She would name her child Anthony, a nod to the patron saint of lost items–for she felt that, as a rule, being born meant instantly losing one’s innocence and purity. But no more. In just a few days, her experiment human would be revealed to the world. And he was born, as everyone should have predicted, looking like an exact replica of Robert Smith (now that she thought of it, she had soundtracked a lot of the images with The Cure). In short, a goth. For how else was one supposed to come out already indoctrinated with the revelation that life is hell?