The Child



When we bring the child home, we bring more than just her. We bring warmth into the empty room in our flat, joy to our hearts. She’s a gift from the government to childless couples, to re-populate our city once more.

She slips her hand into mine, eyes alight. As we stroll along the corridor, we peek into homes that had doors ajar, smiling as couples lift their children of all ages and sizes out of boxes, satisfaction etched in their faces.

 This is how the humanoid children arrived at Block 197.


The child refuses to use the empty room. I put a bed in it for her, painted the walls pink as she requested, but she won’t stay in there. Now, her black hair spills on my lap as she sleeps. Her eyelids twitch, so do her ears, alert in sleep. What’s puzzling is that even while awake, she clings to me still

Hubby says she’ll grow out of it, just her trying to bond with me. I look down. It’s been two months. I’ve grown used to it.


 The child is extremely observant, her eyes drinking in the playground.

 She looks towards me, not at me, but beyond to a man behind. Her eyes narrow at a can on the floor then to his face. I stop her before she can make her usual comment about littering. I sigh. Embarrassment avoided, though she continues to stare. Process.

Until a policeman arrives minutes later and shoves a two-thousand-dollar fine into the man’s hand. The child shrugs, ignores my incredulous look. The government always knows, she says.

 After today, it’s sounds believable.


 I awake to shouting. Hubby and I walk out to investigate, trailed by the child. Policemen drag our neighbour from his home, gripping a laptop. Illegal streaming, they explain curtly, leading the man away.

I swallow. Giving hasty condolences to his distraught wife and oddly nonchalant son, I escape to my room and whip out my phone. When did they even start tracking? My fingers tremble, dragging, selecting, and deleting my stash of illegal videos, blinking panicked tears.

I click away, too preoccupied to hear the child enter. Feel her chin on my shoulder as she watches.


When policemen barge in, they head straight for me. Initial calm turns to panic once they reject protests of no evidence. Piracy, and the witness is right here, they say. Confused, my eyes dart, searching the room till they fall on the child. We lock eyes. Hers sharpen, pupils tighten.

Just like a camera’s.

When I’m led out, I notice I’m not the only one. My neighbours, also being arrested for various crimes. Pornography to illegal gambling to piracy. We walk, a somber parade, I see the child who turned me in. I want to break the lenses that’s her eyes, unearth the government’s lies, but any blame I throw stains me too.          

For when I brought the child home, I brought more than just her.

Kooi Xiu Min was a student in Literary Arts from 2016 and 2019. In that time she has grown to appreciate writing as a bridge between people; to convey universal themes that all can understand, regardless of form.