the short story project


Sucas Lilva

In The Rough

In the near future, designer children have become a common occurrence.  Following the rise of brand-name children, one model became synonymous with “generic”: The Chad.  Over a period barely longer than a year, so many Chads were born in America that a few decades later, everyone knows what a Chad looks like.

               Looking in the mirror, I can see a face, somehow more familiar as somebody else’s than my own.  I reach down and pick up my first brush.  As I start putting the first layer of paint onto my masterpiece, my thoughts wander to my morning bus ride.  Up on the billboards, there was Chad.  Coming in over the radio, there was Chad.  Sitting alone on the street corner, there was Chad.

               Finished with the base layer, I move on to a lighter paint, this one a bluish color.  Continuing through my day, I remember the interview.  I was the second of three Chads applying for this position, along with a few other varied people.  When I entered the room, each of my three interviewers looked unique.  They could very easily have been natural-birthed.  They asked me mostly about my home life, what I ate, where I lived.  They looked at my resume, then at me, then at each other, and then told me I could go.  I walked out, knowing that each of those interviewers knew I could excel as their accountant, that I could do as well as any other Chad.

               Picking my final color, I gently applied a white paint to my artwork, putting on my finishing touches.  I remembered my anger when I left the room I was interviewed in.  The next person up was Chad #3, his dirty jeans and t-shirt contrasting my run-down suit.  Chad #3 was about to get the job, because he could do it as well as any other Chad, he’d just do it for less.

Taking a deep breath to release my feelings, I took a look at my masterpiece.  The face in my mirror no longer belonged to Chad.  It was mostly a dark blue, with some light coming in at the bottom.  Stars adorned its forehead, and cheekbones with a bright moon covering its eye.  The face in my mirror now belonged to Andrew Farleigh, the aspiring writer and artist who had forgone his biological programming to pursue the humanities rather than the mathematical aptitude he had been designed for.

               Having put on my face, I put on my jacket and headed out the door into the evening air, making sure to grab my latest poem, “Meditations on a Moonlit Sky.”  My support group was waiting, each member adorned with their own temporary face.  Among them, in a room full of men who had been born to be identical, Chad was nowhere to be found.

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