Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#FridayFlash - Baby Talk

Mary stared at her phone, excited about the possibilities of what the new app promised. On screen, a pink and blue banner greeted her: Baby Talk. The phone then cooed at her and vibrated as an avatar infant laughed.

Mary smiled.

Another app had promised to allow the baby to select its name from a pool of names already preselected by the parent. By measuring the baby’s kick, the app provided the baby to choose its own name. Still, the parent had much more work to do—like determining the sex of the child in advance, and then selecting a pool of names, a task which proved far more complicated than Mary wanted to absorb right now. Could absorb, in fact.

Coming away from the party with no memory except the one of her walking in—What a mistake that had been!—she had no idea who the father was. With more than a hundred fraternity brothers, none of which remembered her or knew that she even had been at their little weekend bash, there was no point in trying to chase down that rabbit. And with the self-righteous parents she had been blessed with, both of whom would probably ask her to kneel down at an altar, beg forgiveness for this most egregious sin of sins, there was nowhere else to turn. There was only her now.

So when Mary thumbed through a list of new apps, finding one that not only emitted a sonogram pulse and could determine the sex of the child with ninety-eight percent accuracy, but also connected to the baby’s brain—well, that was down-right cool. According to the app description, the connection to the baby was made possible by a new technology. The specifics of the device turned out to be like something out of Star Trek, far above what Mary could comprehend, but that didn’t matter. If, through her phone, her baby could talk to her, then she could ask it several things. Like what it wanted to be named. Suzanne Henderson from Wisconsin had done so, according to the app description, and her baby told her it liked the name Jordan. Vera White from Georgia had done it, too; her baby announced that he was Tyrone.

Mary could even ask her baby what color it would like in the nursery. Sure, the painting might be a little much, and it would certainly set her back a week in costs, what with the price of paint and brushes and such, but knowing the right color in advance would certainly take the guess work out of it.

Staring at the screen, watching the banner swirl away, Mary’s smile faded as a new thought occurred to her. How would the baby know what color to pick? It wasn’t like it had already been exposed to a palette of oils or a rainbow, right? She laughed at herself then. Okay, so the painting decision would be up to her as well.

A message instructed her to place the phone on her belly and press “Select” to discover the baby’s sex. After a minute of buzzing, accompanied by a digitized version of Brahms’s Lullaby, the screen announced that her child was a boy.

Mary’s smile returned.

The phone then instructed her to type a greeting to her child and, after placing the phone on her belly again, to press “Send.” Mary tapped the keys and followed the protocol. Ten seconds later, the ting-ting! of a countertop bell reached her ears, and her baby’s first word flashed on the screen.


Laughing, she wiped away a tear. Being an unwed mother wasn’t going to be a lonely experience after all. During the long months of waiting, she could talk to her child. She could share her experiences. In fact, they could be best friends. Right now, miles away from home, if she could consider her parents’ place a “home,” she needed a good friend—someone on her level for a change.

She quickly typed in her next message:

What is your name?

No immediate response came. The musical tune ended and the screen timed out. Her smile faded again. Had the app failed to produce upon its promise? Was this just another cheap waste of time, raising her hopes to find some level of happiness, some meaning and purpose, only to dash it all on the digital rocks of despair?

Suddenly, the phone vibrated. The bell chimed, and Mary turned the screen to see her baby's answer:

I am god.

Author's Note:

While riding to work this week, I heard the radio hosts talk about this new phone app that would allow your baby to choose its own name by measuring its kicks. I couldn't help but laugh. What is this world coming to when parents give even their unborn children the right to choose their own name? And if we come to that, then what other response should we expect? And before people start accusing me of blasphemy, I would like to point out that I used the lower case G in my story.

Anyway, I was having a little fun with this one, so I hope you'll indulge me a little twisted humor.

Until next time...


  1. I'm so old that the opening made me think she was staring at a rotary dial model.

    Some day, we'll be able to text each other pregnancies. It's all coming together.

  2. Good story. I'm sure all of these apps are coming soon.

  3. Dear me, people really will buy any kind of app, won't they? I'm clinging to my old phone - I don't want one of these smartphones with all of these fancy things on it. Anyway, excellent flash - that last line was a doozy.

  4. Y'know Stephen, this is a great, humourous take on the gullibility of some people, I wonder what colour his nursery will turn out to be? :-D

  5. Good story! I am good indeed. The app sounds like an odd game, but she took it seriously?

  6. Wow, what a story Stephen! Scary how true an experience this could be for some people. The ending surprised, I thought for sure he would say his name was Lucifer. :)
    Great work!

  7. Wow think of the time and money it would save on knowing what to buy and how to ice the christening cake!

    This story certainly made me smile, having come from a generation where you didn't find out what sex your baby was until it was born.

  8. John: I'm old enough to remember those type of phones, too. The sad thing is my kids would probably ask why those phones can't take pictures.

    Eric: With all speculative fiction, it only takes an idea. Sooner or later, technology catches up.

    Icy: People will buy the craziest apps. A look at iTunes is proof-positive.

    Steve: My guess is, the room will be painted with Pure White. What other color could possibly do for someone who thinks he's god?

    Ella: Thanks for stopping by. To us it sounds like a game, but only the future will tell. I bet people once thought the Dick Tracy video phones would only amount to somebody else's dream. Now we have iPhones with the ability to video conference.

    Deanna: To use the demon seed angle would have been frightening indeed.

    Helen: your response makes me smile. I was born in the age you mention--a time when people had to think of two names for their baby. Now people can actually have 3-D images of their child in the womb. Where do we go from here? Only time will tell.

  9. A very funny concept with this one - had me chuckling all the way through. Great job, Stephen.

  10. Clever stuff, gave me a chuckle. But kind of scary, too; we really ARE heading into a totally digitalized world. Peace...