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  • Louise, not Louise, was never conceived because her first sister survived her tour of duty in the womb. The first child, and there would be only two, was not born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, her tiny body blue, under the glare of the surgical theater lights. That baby boy would eventually win the Nobel Prize for revealing a unified field theory which was not the number 42.

    Hillary, not Hillary, sat on a cold examining table in Student Health Services waiting to be told what she already knew, that she was with child in her third year of medical, not law, school. It was September, and all her attention was focused on the calendar on the wall. She counted the weeks imagining different futures. You still needed a medical opinion back then, not a stick to pee on. The baby would be born in the Spring and named Wonderbatcheldermug because that was the trend in names that year, 1980 not '70 when she graduated from or dropped out of Double Helix High named after the genetic structure of all life on the planet.

    Joan, not Joan, lost everything in the Great Small Recession of 2008. She'd been here before, broken, broke, bankrupt, foreclosed upon, underemployed but she'd been younger then and the bounce-back was easier because there were still jobs in America. That was before the Terrible Shift that left most Americans broke and renting out their cars, homes, couches, bicycles and cookware to the oligarchs who touristed in third world countries like California after it seceded from the union counting on an economy driven by porn stars in the San Fernando Valley, all now replaced by the far better looking Asian women whose beauty was prized by the top one of the top one of the tippi-top percent.

    "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

    305 words, 15 minutes, with a 5 minute edit because
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