Hebron Academy Writing Contest Winner
By Katherine Ducharme ’21
Imagine waking up one day and realizing your identity has completely changed. You are still yourself and can still identify with your given name, but the only issue is none of that matters anymore. The year is 2060. Just yesterday you were living your mundane life without a care in the world. However, waking up this morning you realize that nothing is the same. Everything you have feared has come true and there is nothing you can do to stop it. This is exactly how I felt on the morning of February 20th, 2060.
The one part of yourself that you have kept a secret from all of those around you is finally released into the world. Your DNA. It no longer matters what you have been eating or how much you exercise every day, the only thing that matters now is your genetic code. The government announced the “Genetic Coding Program” early this morning on the news and has ordered mandatory testing for everyone to go to the nearest Coding Station. President Patricia Locust gave her address this morning and issued a National Holiday, so that everyone may be excused from work to go get tested. I am extremely petrified to go and get tested because I already know what the results will be. I wish I could say I am optimistic about this experience, but without any parents left to comfort me, I am suddenly left with an unsettling feeling.
I teleport to the Testing Clinic as soon as my dog is safe in his rejuvenating chamber. Once I arrive I wait in line just like everyone else and am sure to stay clear of the unloading zone so I am not trampled by any teleporters. We have all been given surveys on our Pearpads to fill-out before the doctor is able to see us. I wait anxiously for my turn and when my name is finally called I stand up out of the waiting room seat and walk ever so slowly to the door where my clammy hands gently turn the knob. I am asked to sit on the patient’s bed and proceed to give them my arm so they can take my blood. I know this is not the most important detail, but you think they could have found a less invasive way to get this information. Anyways… before I know it the doctor has finished and grabs this strange looking device. The perspiration on my forehead is evident as he airdrops my results. He says “enjoy your day” and escorts me out of the room. It was not until I began to read the virtual ink of my demise that I understood why he was unable to read the results out loud.
Imagine reading every single thing about yourself that you never wanted to know. All of the flaws you carry that you were never able to admit to yourself. This is exactly what reading the results felt like. My eyes followed down the screen: 67% chance of early onset Alzheimer’s, 90% iron immune deficiency, then the ones I predicted, 20% this cancer, 82% that cancer, and the absolute killer, 97.6% Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. At that moment I wish I had not known what those words meant and I hated myself for being in medical school. Those three words and 38 characters meant I would become an absolute mess of tissue where my bones should be, within a couple of years. My name was no longer of any worth and my financial status did not mean a thing. The only thing people would now see me as is a large pile of walking tissue that can barely stand up on her own. Forget about becoming a doctor, I will be lucky to live past 21.
I have been kicked out of Med school and all of my hopes of becoming a doctor are shattered. It has been only a couple of months since being tested, and the symptoms of my Fibrodysplasia are bound to come any day. My teachers told me “it is best if you just relax and enjoy the rest of your time.” Just like that, I am no longer a human being, but rather another statistic who is awaiting their death. Once the symptoms kick in, I do not even bother going to see a medical professional. They cannot do anything to help me and I would rather enjoy my last months alive outside of a hospital bed. Ironically I spend my last weeks at the hospital I had always dream of working at. Instead of tending to patients. I would sit outside of the NICU and watch as each child was ripped of their innocence when the doctor came to code the newborns. I am thankful I was able to live what short amount of time I had without fear of what would happen the next day, unlike those poor children who will wake up everyday in fear of what could happen tomorrow.