Monday, March 30, 2009

There Was an Old Woman

    There once was an old woman who was given a second lease on life. She was 92, widowed and her children were long grown and gone. She was taken aside after her annual check-up and made an offer.
It turns out, she was told, that she was a rarity, a women who was breastfed and breastfed her young in turn; who had O negative blood; and who had never had major surgery, nor taken hormones in any form. In addition, she had a thick and elastic skin. Though her wrinkles were deep, her skin wasn't papery and bruised like so many of her old friend's. She'd always hated her spongy skin. It hung in folds from her bones, even when she was thin and the sun turned her brown as a nut.
    She was taken to an upper-storey office with a wall of glass, gold-handled pens and a stack of papers to sign. She was offered, at no cost, a complete bodily organ transplant, or CBOT, something everyone knew of from the news but assumed was only for the extremely wealthy. On the contrary, this new procedure was strictly practiced where the odds for success were greatest, amongst O negative blood types who were breastfed, etc. It was hoped that after study of these first recipients, techniques would become available for the greater population. The extremely wealthy were, in fact, funding these procedures by purchasing places in the waiting list for more generic CBOTs in what all hoped would be the near future.
    The old woman pondered her options for about 20 minutes and then agreed. She had always had a sense of adventure, and though she was elderly, she still felt like a girl inside. The procedures were lengthy though completely numbed with the best opiates and analgesics. She enjoyed the meals on trays, the white sheets and spa treatments. After a year, she was able to return home and live out her new lease on life.
It was fascinating watching the human drama play out into history again. And the new inventions, like shiny toys, amused her as they repurposed the arts, fashion, transportation and diet. She might have been lonely, but she was older now and her social needs were much simpler than when young and lusty. She played cards with neighbors, kept a succession of small dogs, and fostered, from afar, several children who needed help with tuition and doctor's bills. And so another 90 years passed.
    The CBOT techniques were now commonplace and much more advanced. Most people had them at the age of 50 and so retained a much more youthful appearance during their extended lifespan. When she elected to undergo the procedures a second time, she was one of the few inhabitants of Earth that actually looked something like their 180 years. She became a bit of a freak show and ventured out in opera gloves, a turtle neck, large sunglasses and a poncho.
    It was only a decade into her third lease on life that CBOT was transformed into a prenatal intervention that prevented ageing, and death, forever. Now she was truly an oddity. For the next few decades, opinion wavered between adulation and condemnation. Some were uncomfortable with reminders of the past fate of humans, and wanted to round up the very old woman and her like and penalize them on an island far away.       
    Others felt that the wisdom of the ancients should be venerated, even worshipped, and she was often disturbed by their spontaneous groupings outside her home, and the desire of so many to touch her gray head and wrinkled skin. Towards her 275th year, she was taken aside after her annual check-up and offered a new option -- a lease from life. There were many variations possible, due to revolutionary advances in cyrogenics and replication technologies. She pondered this offer for about 20 minutes and then...

No comments:

Post a Comment