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Petri-Dish Pink

by Sara Genge

They ordered their girls pink and their boys blue. Purple and green were also available, but the elderly parents who bought artificial children preferred conservative colors. Human skin tones were illegal, obviously. It would have been distressing to have artificial children grow up to infiltrate Human society.

When Mary was eleven, she caught site of another pink head spying her from the neighbour's house. That night, Mary crept out of bed and threw stones at the other girl's window until she came down.

"What's your name?"

"Mary, yours?"


The girls laughed.

"I'm bored, Mary," said Mary.

"Do you want to swap?," replied Mary.

They switched pyjamas and swapped houses. Mary loved her new room.

In the morning, her new mother came to kiss her good morning. Her mother didn't notice the change.


They wanted their girls pretty and their boys smart but sending them to school was out of the question. The younger adults weren't prepared to support the artificial baby-boom so the Mary and Peter models stayed at home and played on the computer.


Mary enjoyed being a different Mary for a while, but staying at home all the time wasn't much fun. It was just as boring to be Next Door Mary as it had been to be the previous Mary.
This time, she wouldn't stay in the same neighbourhood. She searched the Internet for other Marys in her city, but they all seemed to lead the same boring lives.
Then, she found out about China. Her parents were concerned about China, they said, because artificial children where put to work there. They also said that Chinese people called their Marys Yings. Mary had never worked and she had never been called Ying. It sounded fun, so she got on the computer.

"Who wants to swap?" she asked the Chinese Yings.

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