Childhood’s Day

20 Mar

Another GSP release from Author of the Week: John B. Rosenman.

Childhood's Day by John B. Rosenman


Suppose you could have yourself reborn at the age of seven so your childhood self could you help you cope with crippling guilt for the death of your father — would you do it? And would it be fair to the boy you once were, especially since he will live only one day?



    Though it was the most important appointment of his life, Winter was not prepared for the innocuous pastry shop or the plump man in an apron who stood behind a counter.
    “Yes, may I help you?”
    Winter rubbed his arm, smelling the rich fragrance of bread, rolls, and doughnuts. He glanced at the only customer, who was eyeing some eclairs in a side case.
    “I’m Steve Morrison,” he finally said, repeating what the man on the phone had told him to say. “I called last night about a special order. A . . . birthday cake for my son.”
    “Ah, yes, Mr. Morrison.” The man smiled, and then emerged from behind the counter. “Will you come with me, please?”
    He ushered Winter through a door, where a pretty young woman met them. “Please go with Ms. Starret. She’ll see that you’re taken care of.”
    As the man returned to the bakery, Winter nervously followed Ms. Starret to a room with an inclined couch, where she smiled and told him to lie down. What had he heard such rooms called? Oh yes, birthing chambers. However, he knew it would not be that kind of birth, or rather, that it would be something both more and less than a birth.
    Ms. Starret touched him gently. “Are you comfortable, Mr. Morrison?”
    “Fine.” She smiled and fitted his index finger into a plastic sheath on one of the arms of the couch, and then pressed a button. “This is a gene-scan. It will read and analyze every gene in your system. Basically, we use it to detect any problems or irregularities. If none is found, we transplant a clone-nucleus from one of your cells into a surrowomb, where it will be nurtured and grow over a period of three weeks.” She picked up an electrical attachment and placed it around his head. “In addition, selected data stored in your brain will be transferred to a holding unit and later transferred, in turn, to your reprograph’s . . .
    He raised a hand. “Please, it’s not necessary to explain everything.”
    She smiled, making him feel rude. “As you wish, Mr. Morrison. But I will need some information before we proceed.” She moved to a computer and began to type into it. “First, what is the precise age you want your reprograph to be?”
    He inhaled deeply, remembering the day his father had died. It had been shortly before Winter’s seventh birthday.
    “Maybe a couple months after seven. I don’t want this to be on his birthday.”
    “I understand. Sex?”
    “Of your reprograph. We are now able to produce an opposite-sex version of the subject.”
    “I didn’t know that. Uh, male.” He licked his lips. “One thing I’ve been meaning to ask. How will it—I mean, he—feel?” He tried to imagine what it would feel like to be “born” at the age of seven and couldn’t. “Won’t it be traumatic? I mean . . .”
    She smiled, patted his shoulder. “Mr. Morrison, your reprograph will be thoroughly conditioned, so that any trauma will be minor.”
    “But. . .”
    “At the same time, I assure you that his feelings and memories, will be yours.” She patted him again. “Now, if you have no other questions, perhaps we should begin.”
    He spread his fingers on the couch’s smooth surface. “Just one. What about the limitations of your technology? Isn’t it true you can’t create a reprograph that will last for more than . . .”
    Ms. Starret’s smile froze. “If reprography had been legalized and funded, we would have overcome such problems. But religious and other groups called it godless technology and closed their eyes to all we had to offer.” She sighed. “Shall we begin, Mr. Morrison?”
    He stiffened. As his wife tearfully stressed, prolonged psychiatric treatment had failed, and his guilt and depression about his parents was only getting worse. He’d lost three jobs in the past two years and had recently started drinking again. When his psychiatrist, an old friend, gave him a phone number and address, Winter had known it was his last chance. But was he willing to risk going to prison for it?
    He swallowed. What did he have left to lose? More importantly, what did he have to look forward to if he didn’t try it?
    He looked at Ms. Starret, forcing himself to relax. “Yes,” he heard himself say, “I’m ready.”       



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