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My father spent years building his Doomsday Machine. Three stories tall, it sat in the hall like a dormant volcano, like the promise of Christmas, like a guarantee that keeps your fingers crossed behind your back where no one will see, because hoping that way leaves you vulnerable.

My father, the scientist. A mad genius. You could tell by the blood spattered on his safety goggles, his rubber gloves, his sense of poetry. He never picked up his socks. We lived under a dome at the bottom of the ocean. Do you know how much water weighs? On all sides of us, endless pressure. My mother was abducted from the surface in order to love me, but you never acquiesce to demands like that. My father built me, brick by brick. Technically, I am the daughter of recombinant DNA. I am a seahorse, a lion, a darting mouse, a monkey. I don't know where he got the wings. But because he built me, he is my father. Because he built me, I belong entirely to him.

He hates the eggs I cook. I sweep up the pieces of his plate. I bandage his knuckles, which is hard with these claws I have. My mother used to cry in her dark room, sobs that sounded like shattering glass. I stand at the windows in his lab, and I wish for light, and I wish for air. But we live at the bottom of the ocean.

I am told that I should want to see the sun someday—when the dust settles, and the radiation is gone. It is a promise. When he killed my mother, who never thought the Doomsday Machine was a good idea, he said, She never supported my dreams. He said, We didn't need her, anyway. When he asked me to pull the lever of the Doomsday Machine, he said, This is all for you. He wrapped his fingers around mine, and his muscles bunched, and there it was. The end of the world! A flash like a fish. Perfect silence. He said, We didn't need it, anyway.

Jen Larsen is a writer and proofreader living for less on the outskirts of Salt Lake City. To contact her, write to
Current Issue
17 Jan 2022

The land burns so hot and high tonight that Let can see its orange glow even from the heart of The City of Birds. It burns so thick she can taste the whole year’s growth of leaves and branches on her lips. It burns so fast she can almost hear the deer and cottontails scream as flames outrun them and devour them whole.
I writhe in bed with fever, chills, chatters and shivers. The near becomes far as the far comes close.
No one gets married before going to space.
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