E veryone was thrilled at the radon building up in the cellars, slowly staining our children’s skins until they shimmered and radiated and shone. “Look what a healthy glow they have,” we cried. “Besides, it makes it easier to tuck them in at night.” And few minded more arsenic in the water even after our children grew fat poison sacs and spat venom at us if we sent them to bed without any supper. “It’s a tough world,” we said. “Better than mace. They just need to learn some restraint.” And no one said anything when the power plants pumped out more CO2 and our children budded, sprouting little leaves and curled vines in their hair. “Photosynthesis is a useful trade,” we mused. “Make no mistake. Besides, they look so cute in green.” And we just smiled when the pondering slowness of global warming melted the poles and our children opened their new gills and withdrew beneath the waves. “It’s always sad to see them leave home,” we sighed. “Even when we worked so hard to bring them up right.”
Copyright © 2002 Jon Hansen. Originally published in Star*Line #25.6. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Jon Hansen (he/his) is a writer, former librarian, and occasional blood donor. He lives about fifty feet from Boston with his wife, son, and three pushy cats. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of places, including Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Quarterly. Like many these days, he's working on a novel, when not spending too much time on Twitter. He likes tea and cheese.