By Teresa Stewart Copyright 1994-1995. This was my first published work in my university’s annual Writers Digest.
Ferrin Truman inched cautiously toward the teenage boy, one of her arms partially outstretched. The tips of his fingers, clinging precariously to the rusty steel bars of the bridge, was the only salvation between him and the murky waves below. “You have another choice,” she pleaded.
“I don’t want to be a Trophy anymore.”
With horror she recognized the resignation in his eyes,then watched his fingers relax. Heart racing, she rushed toward the bar in time to view his body quietly slice into the undulating blackness of the bay below. Her head and shoulders drooped as if the cement where she stood was sucking her in head first. She felt a warm arm slide around her shoulders.
“You did your best Ferrin. Sorry you lost him.”
Mike Washington, a Seattle street cop, had been a witness for many months to Ferrins’s skills in suicide negotiations. She worked on contract as a psychologist for the S.P.D.; they contacted her whenever notification came in of a potential suicide. He had never seen her lose anyone.
“I wasn’t good enough Mike. If only I had kept him talking a bit longer. If only I could have….”
“Let it go Ferrin,” Mike said softly as he gently embraced her. “He said he didn’t want to be a Trophy anymore.”
“Yea I heard him. I wonder if he knew that he wasn’t alone? Reds and Greens are already about one sixth of our population.”
“And that number is growing,” Ferrin whispered.
“We could have gotten him into a support group. Being a teenager is hard enough, and having to deal with being different on top of that…it ain’t easy if you don’t have a lot of support around you.” A streetlight harshly illuminated his reddish tinged skin.
“When I’m in a situation like this it makes me wonder if the scientists who developed cross-breeding ever thought about the morality or ethics of what they were doing. Did they bother to think far enough forward to realize the repercussions, like suicides?” she spat out bitterly.
“Progress is never without risks.”
“Suicide isn’t what I call progress Mike.”
“Look it’s cold out here. Can I drive you to the office?”
“No, thanks for offering buy my car is here. I’m going home now but I’ll drop by the office in the morning to file the report.”
“Okay then, we’ll see ya on the morrow. Take care Ferrin.”
She adjusted the rear view mirror in her car to study her own coffee-colored face and wondered how she would feel if she was a Red or a Green. Admittedly the technology was without dispute the single greatest, most unprecedented advance of the twentieth century. Scientists had began experimentation with gene splicing in the mid to late 1900’s to produce new medicines. That evolved to genetically altering plants with insect genes to develop crops and produce which were resistant to disease, pests, and spoilage. The technology eventually progressed to the point which allowed human genes to be splicedwith plant genes to produce a breed of humans who didn’t need to eat. They were labeled as human autotrophs as they synthesized sunlight for food, just like plants. Someone coined the term “Trophy” for short and it stuck as a nickname.
While adjusting the rear view mirror back into place she spoke out loud to the automobile’s CompuTrol. “Dial: my husband at work.” A small transparent video screen embedded inthe lower left quadrant of her windshield flickered with lights and Jess Truman’s greenish image appeared. “Baby, hi. Autopilot: Home.”
“Ferrin? Hey peaches, what’s up? Sorry I had to work late but this project is due tomorrow.”
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