“Mummy, look!” Emily was in the kitchen doorway. She pointed her foot like a ballerina. Her mother could see blood pouring down the child’s shin.
“It’s nothing. A graze,” Emily’s dad appeared behind her, holding a muddy ball. “She tripped. Scored a magnificent goal though, didn’t you, Em?”
“I did!” Emily grinned. Her mother ran cold water onto a rolled-up tea towel. She dabbed at Emily’s leg to assess the damage.
“See. It’s nothing,” said Emily’s dad.
Mother glared at him. “What have I told you about being careful?”
“Couple of days you won’t know anything happened. They heal fast at that age.”
“It doesn’t hurt, Mummy,” said Emily, trying to be helpful. “And I’ve got plenty more socks just the same.”
“You’re in shock,” Mother snapped. She looked daggers at her husband. “Take her to the cellar.”
“No!” Dad clutched Emily’s shoulders protectively. “Can’t you let it go just this once?”
“This is your fault,” Mother said through gritted teeth.
“It’s just a bit of a graze. There’s no need to -”
“The cellar! Now!”
Mother opened the door under the stairs and clicked on the light. Emily was puzzled. Up to that moment she didn’t even know they had a cellar.
“Come on, chick.” Dad scooped her up in his arms and, stooping low to avoid banging his head, carried her down the narrow steps.
There was a table in the middle of the underground room, stainless steel with a gutter running all around it. Daddy sat Emily on the edge and told her to lie down and not make a fuss.
“What’s happening, Daddy?” Emily asked but, always a good girl, did as she was told.
“Ssh, ssh, there’s my angel,” Dad smoothed her hair from her forehead. “Close your eyes.”
But Emily was too interested in the vats that filled the cellar. They were all attached to electrodes and there were clouds of condensation rising from them like breath on a chilly day.
Mother joined them. “Hold her still,” she said flatly and brandished her largest knife.
“We don’t have to do this,” Dad tried one last plea but he knew the decision had been made.
Mother approached the nearest vat and gave it an affectionate pat. “This one’s ready.”
But Emily’s words fell on deaf ears. As far as her mother concerned she was already dead.
Mother stroked the vat and cooed to its lid, addressing the clone within. “We’ll soon have you out of there, my girl. You’re going to be Mummy’s perfect little angel.”