The two blue marbles blink under fluorescent light, unable to focus yet; lids crush together like rose petals, crinkled pink. Blue was my favourite colour since Henry Lapworth snuck a forget-me-not into the morning newspaper when I was 13. I pressed it between the heavy pages of my bible, let it dry and put it in a locket that hung, too large around my slender neck.
“It will fall out soon enough—totally normal—the blonde will come through bright white.” The doctor winked at me, stroking the dark shock of hair on her head. I couldn’t help but notice his eyes were blue too, closer to an ocean than the light sky I’d picked. I pictured the view from my window a few nights prior, snowfall erasing dark earth.
“Yes.” My tongue felt swollen, too large for my mouth, the word struggled to find its way past. My birth therapist had warned me that panic was normal for women in this position; to practice my usual breathing, to imagine my lungs turning from metal to cotton. A copper tang burst from my cheek where I didn’t notice myself chewing.
“It darkens to a lovely honey between the ages of 5 and 8.” The doctor's voice was like a TV advertising voice, too musical for this setting. I’d had honey on toast two days prior, it was overly sweet, bought on a late bout of morning sickness.
Small fingers wrapped around my fingertip, cradling the ragged nail, bitten down, framed in peeling skin. The shrill cry from her round mouth sounded muffled, like we were submerged in water—in honey. I pulled my finger away, traced it over the tiny nose—round and soft like a mushroom cup, plump cheeks, outlining her sweetheart shaped face, the skin endlessly smooth. I remembered the bright screen of the presentation, the repetition of "symmetry is key" from the smartly dressed speaker. The couple next to me were talking in overly loud whispers, like stage performers, lamenting about how awful they felt for the people who couldn’t afford this, whose children would grow up with buck teeth and spots and dull hair. They laughed at the pictures of children from before whose faces were wonky, marred with marks.
“A beauty isn’t she,” The nurse smiled at me. “Such thick eyelashes, mine will all have ones like that if I can afford it.”
I nodded, thick eyelashes were all the vogue apparently, soon mascara would be a thing of the past.
“What’re you calling her?” I looked down as her arms failed out; last month I’d picked the name Dalilah, after my mother, a few years passed. My mother had been short, and as round bodied as she was round faced; her front teeth had a gap between them that she never bothered to fix and by the time I was a teen her hair was a home cropped bob, peppered with grey and black. This girl, this definitely not Dalilah, was beginning to feel too warm, too heavy in my freckled arms.
“I think I need some time.” I looked away from the face I’d seen too many times before, for something so new it was wrong, like seeing a date in person for the first time—familiar in a disconcerting way.
“Mothers often do, especially when you don’t have a man around,” The nurse shrugged and handed me a leaflet from a rack on the wall. “These are the most fashionable ones, you don’t want to pick something common.”
She grimaced before going back to smiling doe-eyed at the whimpering child in my arms. I glanced at the front cover of the leaflet, a sea of green and blue eyes stared back at me. I drew mine in my mind, like my mother’s, narrow, the colour of freshly turned soil.
“She looks nothing like me.”
“Isn’t it wonderful,” the nurse replied, smiling before she left the room. The child began to cry.