A legend about kindness.
“I do not understand this madness that comes on him,” Dr. Hans Fienl says.
He stares at the human clone, whose name of course is Adam.
Adam is threshing in the water-filled tube wherein Hans Fienl grew him. He is lean and strong and his brain is not developed but clearly he is mad.
And softly a voice from behind Hans Fienl says, “He is struggling for his wings.”
Hans turns, and it is his intention to shout, but the demeanor of the woman behind him puts Hans Fienl in silence.
She is tall and her skin is poreless, pure, like she has been dipped in fine glass.
She is wearing a jaunty orange jacket and behind her there are wings.
“I had had such hopes for this,” she says.
She gestures towards Adam. “I had thought that perhaps the world would be so kind as that he would not have an angel’s soul. That human cloning would prove the answer to a problem that has worried at me for some good time.”
“Mm,” says Hans Fienl.
“You don’t understand,” the woman asserts.
“I don’t,” he says. “But I am flattered by your presence.”
“You should not,” she says. “You should not. I am—it is not good for you, Hans Fienl, that I am here. It is not wrong and it is not unkind but it is not the day I had wished to give you.”
“What is it,” he says, “that makes it wrong?”
“I must ask you,” she says, “and humbly, that you set aside this work. That you make these clones no longer, and treat this Adam well the long and horrid years of all his life.”
“Oh,” says Hans Fienl.
“I was hoping,” he says, “to have such a visitor as yourself, but also to continue my research, both in the interests of human longevity and of science.”
“It is not so,” says the woman.
“And why is that?”
“For some time it has been clear—some few millennia—that each human birth consumes an angel’s soul. That greedy in the womb you are and in the process of development you seize us, you rend us, you consume us for yourselves. And I cannot countenance that great hope I see rising on your face, Hans Fienl, because insofar as we are aware, you are not of our kind; that what you do with our souls is somewhat different from what we do with our own; that where you may be hoping that our spirits and yours are like, of kind to kind, we are more of what you might call your raw material of soul.”
“I see,” he says.
There is a silence.
“Well,” he says, “I do not see, but I see provisionally.”
“Pending,” she says, with light good humor, “that which I shall say that makes it more acceptable?”
And he blushes.
“Yes,” he says.
And in his cage of bubbling water behind Hans Adam writhes.
“Well,” says the woman, “there is this: that it is not your burden to bear, but ours, as your species is a reproductive one.”
“Ah,” Hans says.
“It is thus,” she says, because he doubts.
“There is no policy that we may take,” the woman says, “that is kind to you and to our people both. That is why there is this tragedy, you understand. We cannot find a path that is moral root and branch; that is to you,”
And here she touches his chest,
“And to us,”
And she touches her own,
“Entirely kind. For there is an inextricability to it, you see. And so we have chosen to trust in the provenance of the world that if we allow you to— to still be born—”
And here her voice nearly breaks; and she turns her head aside.
“But that is not why I am here,” she says, abandoning the subject. “I am here because you must not engage in human cloning, Hans.”
“It is the cruelty of it,” she says. “The unimaginable cruelty of it. Look on Adam, your creation:
“He remembers an angel’s wings.”
There is a silence.
“It is not quite so publishable as my own theory,” Dr. Hans Fienl observes.