(a story I submitted to Brain Harvest that didn't make the cut)
“When I’m mother,” Suzanne said, “I’m not going to love you.”
“You have to love me,” I said. “You have to love all of us.”
“I’m not going to love you, because you’re a brat and you think you can always have it your way because you’re the youngest.” Suzanne made a face at me. “I’m going to choose the man with the handsomest picture in the seed library to make your next sister, and she’s going to be beautiful, and I’m going to spoil her, and I’m going to love her more than all of you.”
I made a face back at her. “You won’t say that when you’re mother. You’ll be gone and you’ll just be mother instead.”
“Nuh-uh. I won’t be gone. I’m stronger than that. That’s why I got chosen to be mother.”
“No you aren’t! You’re still just a big crybaby! When mother fell off the tractor you wouldn’t even help carry her body into the coffin! You just hid under your bunk and cried!”
She didn’t say anything else and neither did I. We walked in silence, the purple earth crunching beneath our feet as we walked past the crop domes out to mother’s coffin. Everyone was gathered around the coffin waiting for us, Leslie, Mariella, Janis, Cassie, Heather, Samantha, and everybody else all standing around looking at Suzanne with angry impatience.
Suzanne stuck her tongue out at me a final time as Alice helped her climb into the empty coffin and Penelope put the crown upon her head as she lay back. She closed her eyes as its invisible wires whined into her skull. I stood there and held her hand, waiting for her eyes to open and for mother to love us again.