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Fan knew she was fucked when she opened her mouth and nothing came out. Noth. Ing. She put her palm against her belly to search for a kick or a heartbeat through her tee-shirt and the low waistband of her khaki boy shorts—her gaze gone soft-focus and not seeing the people in the check-out line staring at her.

She was breeding.

How? (In the back seat of Denny Ford’s Camaro, that’s how.)

Why? (No birth control. It was the law).

Why her?

Mrs. Huckabee paused her scan of the macaroni and cheese, the conveyer belt running full-tilt, knocking the cans of tomato sauce and tuna against each other at the end. Clink. Whir.

She leaned forward, her freckled peach cleavage pushing against her navy polyester tunic uniform. Her even blond bangs swept into her eyes. “You all right, dear?”

Those baby blues shone at Fan. It took a heartbeat to realize Mrs. Huckabee looked what?—grateful?

Fan forced her lips into a sick smile. She left the food and the Mrs. Huckabee and the faceless folks in the line (was that Denny three back—was it?—he still had on his football jersey, grass and dirt dug into the left shoulder and he was a senior and now he would never go out with her again once had been enough hadn’t it—didn’t this happen to his last girlfriend too?).

Her sneakers squeaked on the beige linoleum. She stepped out into the fading sunshine, the asphalt of the parking lot damp and steaming from the July rain. The steady chill of the air conditioner crept after her through the open door, swept the backs of her knees. She wanted to throw up.

They said:

the woman will become two beings in one body, and the child will take her voice, marking her. The woman becomes part of the earth, and the earth accepts her sacrifice. The child becomes part of the Web. And the Web becomes vaster and vaster— an underground network of children.

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