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A Human Story

The mutability of memory

The line between memory and fiction is always fine, and never finer than with memories from another lifetime.

Here is such a memory, but it may only be a child’s fable.

So. When I was 5 or so, I was taken into the local medical conglomerate—HIP—along with my elder sister. I thought that it was a perfectly normal medical checkup. I would go to an office near the surface of the buildings (they are burrowed into the hill), and a doctor would weigh me and tickle me with a stethoscope and so on.

And that did happen. But afterwards, I didn’t leave! My parents led me deeper into the warren to a long narrow yellow-lit room. There a nurse settled me down. They told me that some blood had to be drawn.

I need to explain something. I hate and fear needles with a great passion. I also hate vampires and the act of sucking out precious bodily fluids even more than needles. You can imagine my reaction to this combination.

My parents tried to calm me down. They promised me that they would get me that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles combat-van that I wanted. At this time, the Teenage Mutant Turtles were all the rage in the younger set, and I had it bad. I wanted that van quite a bit—it was the pinnacle of the TMNT toys at the time, and besides: how else were my Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo supposed to get around? I only had two hoverboards! (These days, I look back on the TMNT with nostalgia and a persistent liking for the old-school TMNT video games.)

Well, so they had promised the van. And I calmed down enough for the nurse to suck out an adequate volume of my blood. I don’t know how long it all took, as I fainted part-way through. As I said, I have issues with needles to this day. And I don’t think I’ve ever had that much blood to spare in the first place.

But the real kicker for me was not the needles, nor the fainting, nor the tremendous injustice of my sister being completely spared any bloodletting. Rather, the reason I still remember this incident is this:

I never did get that van.

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