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Miracle on 42nd Street
Drive down the highway on a casual trip and you will come across many sights. You will come across many things. Some places are the places that no one can resist, the beaches and the clubs and the places where everyone knows about because they always host some phony convention you read in the paper. These are the places where the average tourist, the conformist, would go. Then, there are the places off the beaten path, those places where not everyone notices, that often possess gems as spectacular or more spectacular that the so called “hot” locales. The metropolis of Pediatrus falls into this category. If you are a smart tourist and you feel inclined to, instead of being a passive observer and merely viewing it as a place on a map, a mere conduit for your so-called much more attractive destination, pause for a brief moment to check this place out. It will certainly teach you a thing or two if you stay there long enough. Your voyage to Pediatrus starts with an exit off Highway 1. You come across a hilltop, fields, a school where kids run around and play, a quaint church that also serves as a community meeting place, and various cows, reminiscent of a simpler time when we were all less worried and we weren’t rushing as much and life wasn’t always conducted according to a New York Minute of 9 to 5. This is evocative of something more laid- back.
This general feel continues as you come closer to the designated town of Pediatrus. You will come across a large, azure river, no different from any ordinary river you might see on an extensive voyage of the planet Earth. Not in its ripples, or its tides, or even its current, or the plants and animals that live in it or the people, strolling by, who frequent it as a fishing spot. They all have their bait and tackle laid out on the pristine river that is the community’s to share. This picturesque scene is evident of progress made in the city that the people know as Pediatrus. However there is still progress that still remains to be made. It is like a mixture, everlasting in its form, yet continually changing and redefining itself. The city is like a constant experiment in what it takes to live a life uniquely.
No adult is allowed in Pediatrus. The city is protected by a special ID that automatically knows your age. If you are 18 or over, you are surrounded by a chain-link fence that is higher than any you’ve ever seen. The metal overwhelms you and prevents you from ever getting anything done.
If you are one of the lonely few outsiders who have set foot on this special community, you are in for a special treat. You will see a community in free fall. You will see a place where special entertainments happen. It is everything a child could can ask for. It is a great city devoted to childhood.
On the road 42 blocks down, there is a building that shines above all others. It reaches for the skies, all the stars, and everything that childhood is all about is in it. It is stuffed from floor to ceiling with all the toys that one can imagine. A large mechanical toy clock from F.A.O. Schwartz hums in the distance. Dolls assume near- humanlike form. Anime and Pokemon reign supreme. Five entire floors of the building are dedicated to Bob the Builder, his likeness in Play-Doh. The roof garden, a thirty- story pavilion, contains a flower garden, several of the coolest Hot Wheels models, a monster truck, myriad board books, several plastic train sets, and many frolicsome toddlers who think they are going to be there forever just minding their own businesses. At Christmastime, the building turns into an enormous Christmas tree piercing the sky; at Easter time, it turns into a giant Easter egg; at Thanksgiving time, it turns into a giant turkey; at Halloween time, it becomes the palace of the Jack-O-Lantern. People in the building do not follow any rules. They are loose and free.
This view of innocence, however, is merely a weak, untrue notions. There are winners in this world, and there are losers. When Robert Antaramian’s boat flipped over 500 feet off the coast of Wellfleet, MA on an excursion provided to him free of charge to his “dream job” in Boston MA by a charlatan named Tom who sought personal gain and a naïve engineer to add to his list of victims. Unlike the ferocious great white that would later take Robert’s life, this was a more insidious affair. Robert’s downfall was borught about by a more local outcry. It is because he did not seek out help for all he has lost when the skies began to fade away and become grayer and eventually fade to the moonlight. He should have seen the campus psychologist when he realized his serious emotional issues and his tendency for mania and hyperactivity. His inward tightness should have been attributed to more than simply his belief that there was only innocent, that the world was laid out for him on a sliver platter, that the ideal world has he found it was the only world there was. He did not realize anything on the level of bullying or the balance of power inherent in human relationships. Society, no matter how advanced it gets, is always taken back to its primitive roots in which the stronger man gets what he wants thorough the abuse and mistreatment of other men, who slip through the cracks because the only thing they believe in is properness and decorum. Robert’s eventual fate was sealed when Tom behaved as a magnanimous man, promising gifts of diamond jewelry, handmade suits from Italy, and a ride in his Ferrari to the wild place, beyond any place conceivable, to take him out of the sleepy town of Troy, NY, to a new place, without name, but only carrying the promise of a better life. He was the tragic hero on a uniquely American journey. Robert’s spirit was the equal of many pioneers before him, heading In his car, he acted as pleasureman for the journey that would ultimately end ill-fated for Robert. The factory workers of Pediatrus, creating this enormously inefficient land with only a patina of glory. Its beauty is only skin-deep, just like a Fashion Model.
However, this freedom is short- lived. Skies turn gray. The blue has faded away. Serious storm clouds are in the distance. The Toy Factory, on a pier overlooking the vast sea and home to millions of handmade toys, is home to many slaves working under seriously inhumane conditions. If you were a few minutes late, you were whipped. If you did something that the Toy Factory head honcho didn’t like, you were whipped. If you conspire to overthrow your master, you are caned to death. If you destroy property, you are caned to death. Most of the slaves were enslaved by rich and privileged kids, forced to make artisanal toys day and night that they would never get to play with. They are in need of basic necessities, such as food, water, and medical care. The damage is exacerbated by the fact that there is little medical care available. As a result, their growth , both physically and intellectually, is seriously stunted. And, the youngest of these children is only four years old.
However, out of the toy mills comes a new hope. Meet Melissa DeVries. She is a 14- year old worker in the toy mills. She has been toiling away for the past ten years. She cannot read or sign her name. She does not even know the alphabet. No one has ever thought highly of her. She is regularly seen by her master as a wimp and a loser. She has been passed along as a mere moneymaking scheme employed by some rich kids who want to just play on and on, regardless of what is right. However, she sees herself as very bright. She is very compassionate. She aspires to be a doctor. However, her life has been ruined by obsessive children who care about nothing more than having a good time with their friends. Childhood should be about play and freedom, but more importantly, in doing so, all children should be able to achieve their dreams. Could childhood really create this paradox? She just wants to be left alone. She is very passionate about saving lives and is really kind, but so far the other kids have been very inflexible. They care only about play, taking advantage of every building in the area to do so. They will not bend their unflinching rules to accommodate a person that can save lives. If the kids don’t get toys, then they will be angry.
But Melissa is unfazed. She wants to rise up from her situation. She wants to be the first in her family to become a doctor. She wants to change Pediatrus forever. So, will Melissa be the savior that this town needs?
One morning, Melissa arrived at the glitzy Toy Factory. All goes along well until her thought process changes course, away from conformity, more toward getting out of her dire situation and inspiring Pediatrus’ poor to find jobs and be integrated into mainstream society. She wants to be the Martin Luther King of Pediatrus. She starts thinking of bright skies, of sunny days that would never end. She takes the incredible initiative to make the change. She does something to help organize a protest. Melissa grabs the first toy, a flying, 5 ft. dragonfly, and triumphantly throws it into the ocean. The Pediatrus Toy Party has officially begun.
The melee didn’t stop there. Melissa continues to throw toys into the water. All the toys that her coworkers make, she throws them into the great blue ocean. Model helicopters, Barbie dolls, Legos, you name it. All turns into a sea of various building materials. Toys collide in grand fashion. Soon, other people get involved. Toys storm into the sea. Premium items, including Mindstorm robots, begin to lose their function. However, toys continue to get tossed. The color of the sky changes and the city changes from an orderly place into a whirlwind of premium toys. The workers fling with all their might, depositing toys into the water. All through the night, they vandalize the factory, destroying just about every toy in their vast storeroom. Damages are estimated at a billion dollars.
When the workers run out of toys to destroy, they resort to striking. Melissa says in a nasty tone, “I will not be subservient to you. I will refuse to follow your unjust rules. I had the right to throw all those myriad toys into the Atlantic because you took my identity away from me. I should have had the right to live like a human being. I shouldn’t have to make toys for an indulgent few. In fact, I think that all this indulgence should end. People in the Capitol waste the toys that we work so hard to produce. Everyone inhabiting the Capitol is a spoiled, inflexible brat. I, a selfless, hardworking person, should be above all the bratty people of Pediatrus. The social elite are born with a silver spoon in their mouths. They don’t appreciate how hard it is for us to make toys. They do not understand what effort, dedication, determination, and sacrifice mean. They think that not getting access to a favorite toy is a problem. But my message is that it’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got. Making these things is not easy. They take care and determination. And, plus, machines exist. The kids should be happy with machine- manufactured toys. They are almost as good. The majority of people will die young and be subjected to a life of abuse just to fuel the ‘extreme fun.’ in the Capitol. Let’s quell their celebration over exploiting us and fight for our rights.”
The toy boss, 16- year old Michael Hamilton, responds defiantly. He feels like he should be able to use his power against Melissa and the workers. He feels like he is a champion to the Capitol. So, in the Capitol’s best interest, he attempts to cane Melissa and all the other workers involved. With one karate chop move, he attempts to begin the process of bringing all 500 workers involved in the Pediatrus Toy Party to their deaths. He jukes left with the cane, then goes right with it. The people are afraid that they are going to die. However he doesn’t hit anyone. He hits the solid ground below. The people are relieved. They don’t want to see any more of the creepy boss, so they go to the door. They try to forge lives of their own.
Word of the Pediatrus Toy Party then spreads like wildfire throughout the tabloids. Outrage spreads throughout. The Capitol appears like it is ready to topple. There is serious unrest. People are outraged. There is great shock. Mouths begin to erupt like a volcano. This is the buzz of every town and families were irate at the damage this might do with their lives. Some of the Capitol’s anchors are irate, and they are pontificating about ways to get a firmer grip on controlling their slaves. In every coffee shop, people are talking about this one event. Family struggles are being put aside in wide numbers. They are all focused on one great uprising that could shift the balance of power. They think that this will be a repeat of the Rwandan genocide.
Meanwhile, Melissa is thrilled at the sight of being outdoors for the first time in ten years. The outdoor ambiance has a special feeling to her. She can see the cold air biting at her tongue. She can feel the wind rustling the leaves at her fingertips. She thinks that she is in a special place, just as special as the Capitol, by just being outdoors. Now that she is free, the confining walls of the Capitol feel even worse, as she was surprised that with all that’s out there, she would end up in the rat-house that is the Toy Factory. She now understands her freedom and runs all the way through the biting- cold weather. She runs all the way across, passing all kinds of functional buildings such as the post office, waste management area, various other factories, and the toy store. She tries to ascertain what goes on in these factories. She realizes that they serve similar, but different purposes to the factory she worked at for ten years. She realizes that some make other kinds of toys, whereas others make parts of the toys. When I realize there is a whole other factory district in addition to the one I work at, I am surprised that workers like me form the vast majority of the population of Pediatrus. I am also committed to social change, as I feel that the general livelihood of a town’s citizens, the way an average member of the town lives, is far more important than the quaint, pastoral image of the town to outsiders. Pediatrus may be by far the best place for a child on Earth, but it is only the best for a select few. The higher powers in the Capitol( and apparently everyone involved) ignore all the suffering in the Capitol and brush it aside, in an effort to create ads such as INCREDIBLE WONDER- OFF THE BEATEN PATH and IF YOU HAVE ANY KIDS- CAN’T MISS THIS PLACE and 13 MILE SLIDE PUTS US MILES AHEAD OF EVERYONE ELSE. That is just the incredible bravado of the Michael Hamiltons of the world, and Melissa believes it is incredibly groundless. No way is any slide going to make up for what those people did to me.
As I continue running, I stop in a small clothing store. I look around, with at least the focus and intensity that I fashioned the toys so meticulously for the spoiled Capitol. Even the grandest buildings of the horizon, as if the Capitol had a tenfold expansion, with three hundred stories devoted to Bob the Builder and one story devoted to every passing fad that just needs a quick revival, have nothing on this store in terms of the significance it has. The Capitol may feel significant to its inhabitants, but this environment exudes true significance. This store tells of true meaning. It is a symbol of all I had worked for and all the trouble and strife that I had gone through. Being very fastidious, I look at one of the tags of each article of clothing. A stranger is shocked that I would be so meticulous to do such a thing. He just assumes that everything sold in Pediatrus is made in Pediatrus. He just brushes it off and assumes that Pediatrus is a fully self- sufficient community. I realize something shocking on the tag, “Made Outside Pediatrus.” I cannot contain myself. I am surprised that no one would be able to tell whether something was made inside or outside Pediatrus. I am surprised that Pediatrus isn’t any better . It ought to be better quality, considering how hard I worked just to make one toy. The apparent higher quality of “Made in Pediatrus” is what my dreams were quashed for. I could have done a lot for the world, but the obstinate closed my window of opportunity and slammed my guiding door shut. I could have done something that would change the world, but I was, to the people of Pediatrus, what Pediatrus is to outsiders. Nobody notices who I am. Nobody notices my complex character. Nobody sees my talent or the need for cultivating it. The townspeople are fine, content in fact, if it goes wasted. Nobody sees me for what I am. Nobody even bothers to get to know me. Nobody even bothers to even mention my name. Everybody seems to take me for granted without knowing who I really am. Everyone seems to think of my big, soft, and flexible hands as a means of making high-quality toys. Everyone sees my immense creativity as a way of creating new toys no one has seen before. I think this is a total waste. I think the mere existence of Pediatrus is a total waste. I think that a place hailed as so great should be able to recognize and cultivate talent. I believe that if a place is truly great, all must work together toward a common goal. In my opinion, self- worth is determined by how you affect other people. The people in the Capitol are all worthless, caring more about their reputation than the people of their town, the people who they should be befriending and teaching. Each person should treat each other person with respect. Each person should get to know each other person before using them to their benefit. Excellence is defined by the polar opposite of what the Capitol believes is excellence. All the Capitol is striving for is an effort to ingratiate outsiders, to get away with as little as possible. They are striving for an easy way to get themselves noticed, even if it means exploiting people. I am worth far more than everyone in the Capitol put together, because I recognize the world for what it really is and think deeply about it. I recognize that what I see on the surface is just a prism of reality. Just as Pediatrus was the most important place on the road map of the United States, this is the true thing that is most noticeable about Pediatrus, more than its high technology and its “incredible efficiency.” Even though, physically speaking, it is the most efficient place possible, with ingenious ways of solving problems that seem to waste as few resources as possible; in practice it is wasting myriad resources. The resources I have to offer could make the world a better place. I learned to read for the first time when I snuck in and read the instruction manuals off a person named Amanda. Amanda actually cared about us. She was our friend. She actually treated us like sisters. We were thrilled. It was the one glimmer of hope in our lives and what it takes for everything to be possible.
My thought processes are enhanced by people saying that “Made Outside Pediatrus” is a b******* label. It is really the only legitimate label there is. I have come to hear rumors at work of a world “out there”, as if Pediatrus wasn’t this isolated “elitist bubble.” I believe that those rumors are false. Why don’t slides exist to the mainland? I see someone jump out the 133rd floor window, just as I do every day. Why don’t they ever end up in the mainland? And how are they able to do that without dying? I remember two of my good friends dying when they fell out of a metal shaft. I remember falling into the river and my friend dying to save me. I don’t need any of these close calls anymore. This is not life done right.
It is a symbol of what is to come if everyone cared and everyone just believed.
Some time passes, and she gets an interview at the hospital. The interview center seems very alien to her. She sees all these white people acting in a civilized manner. At first, she thought that white people were evil, forcing her to work her butt off and stripping her of her identity. She has grown to fear white people. She thinks that these people are leaving her alone as part of a plot to kill her and her entire family. She does not know about any world other than the world of the toy factory, and it will be hard for her to integrate into mainstream society.
She is contacted by the director of the hospital, Max, who is also 14 years old. She asks her about what her passions are. She stares for a moment, wondering why such a harmful person would ask her such a question. She hesitates for a moment and says, “Well, I love working with people. I am very compassionate and friendly. I am also creative, hard- working, and fun-loving”.
The director comes back and says,” Now let’s put these traits to the test. I will give you these two exams designed just for you. Melissa complies. She is given a special test- How many uses are there for a blanket. She thinks, “Now, these people are really weird. Why would they be asking me this stuff? This doesn’t seem to fit in with the logic of society. Who is this brain-dead narcotic who is asking me all these crazy questions? Maybe, people care about me after all.” She then asks, “What is a blanket. I have never seen one before” The hospital director then explains that a blanket is something you put over yourself to keep warm and is found on a bed. “She then thinks, “If blankets exist, then why didn’t I ever get to use one. They could have really helped me during those cold winter days. She has also never seen a bed before and wonders what it is. She hesitates for a moment and tries to determine what a bed is from the conversations of people around her. So stressed out from the questions that her director is asking her, she decides to take a walk. She is feeling abject humiliation that she does not know what any of the signs are referring to. She is totally lost. She feels like the world is populated by aliens. She thinks, “Why is all this stuff written on the wall? It is all gibberish to me. ”On a sign she sees a hospital bed and then says, “This hospital bed to be used by authorized persons only. Suddenly, she has a “Eureka” moment. She jumps for joy. She exclaimed, “I have figured out what a bed is. It is a long thing that patients use in a hospital” Recognizing how dire of a state poor Melissa is in, she decides to hire a tutor for the poor thing..” She dances all the way, recognizing how happy she is to first get away from the stressful world of the hospital and second, to prove that she is good for something in this world.
She tells the tutor, Jackie, who is 16 years of age, about the incident with the bed, recognizing it as the crowning achievement of her lifetime. It proved that she was more than just the scum hanging from the walls of rich kids who only care about play. It proved that she was a legitimate person in her own right. It proved that she is bright and it left her feeling really good about herself. It gave her a chance to live the rags- to- riches situation.
The tutor says, “I wonder why this was such a major achievement for you. After all, your assessment is not fully correct. Beds are used by far more people than just people in hospitals. A bed is where one sleeps.”
This is surprising for her. As the tutor continues to do more work for her, Melissa realizes that the world has another layer of complexity in addition to the skeleton you figured her. Jackie teaches her everything there is to know about modern society. She teaches her about various types of vehicles, such as cars. She teaches her about schools, where many people go. She teaches her about different forms of entertainment. She also teaches her basic English words, such as to play. She feels really sorry her and wants her to play very frequently. And then the tutor says steadfastly, “The way they treated you down at the Toy Factory was very wrong. You deserved rights. I feel very sorry for you. I have a place for you in my heart. You are a chosen person who is blessed and has the ability to do great things. You should put your cursed past behind you. Don’t let pimps alter your self- image. Your identity is the most valuable thing about you, and it cannot be shattered. No matter how poor you are, no matter how exploited you are, no matter if you have been a slave for your whole life, you have special, unimpeachable gifts that no one can take away. Nobody can take away your exceptional talent and compassion. No one can take away your grace. No one can take away your potential to make a meaningful difference in the world. In the past, you may have been seen as nothing more than a cog in the general affairs of the toy factory, keeping things humming in the Capitol, but you were never any one of those things. You were never any of the bad names your bosses have called you by. You are far too talented to make toys for spoiled brats. You are far too talented to let other people dictate your life. You are disconnected from the people in the Capitol. They cannot wrest absolute power from you. Those threats weren’t your fault. I know why you are acting weird. It isn’t your personality. You are just in need of an education and a psychiatrist. Other than that, you are far more than the equal of the people in the Capitol.”
True to her word, she begins to teach Melissa. Jackie shows her a picture of a car, as if Melissa were a little kid. She stares at it, taking in what it looks like. Jackie then states, “This is a car.” She then repeats this for over 50 English words, with Melissa gazing and focusing intently to try to absorb the language. She then shows her how words are constructed to form sentences. She is able to recite sentences and paragraphs effortlessly. With her newfound power, she begins to write about her life. She describes all the brutal days at the Toy Factory. She describes the assembly lines and conveyor belts. She describes all the complicated steps needed to put the toys together. She describes her pushy master. Afterward, she describes how much her boss ostracized her friends and family for not working.
She then sends the essay to the hospital, perhaps being full of herself. She is waiting silently in the large, airy, well kept room that she was being tutored in. Her eyes are pursed shut, her head spinning with everything going on. Her eyes are totally closed. She is aware of nothing but her own thoughts. Her world is a sea of black, like the blackness of never- ending space. She has her own version of stars- the twinges of emotion she feels in the vast sea of non-expression. The swiftly- tilting planets that orbit these stars are like her things that pertain to these thoughts. She is like a traveler on a great spaceship, passively thinking what there is to think, passively contemplating what there is to contemplate. Passivity is the theme of all her expression. Her body is active in no way. Only the ever- ticking clock of her soul is moving. It is her soul that paces through the day. Nobody is out there. She has tuned everything out. Her mind is the king of her world.
On her spaceship she passes a red giant. Into her conscious mind comes the essay thing and the ability to save lives. Like gravity, the eternal force, it sets her thoughts and expression forward. She is beginning to become a bit more expressive. In very rudimentary fashion, she is beginning to notice things around her. Worry is on the verge of penetrating through her thoughts. She really wants to change the world and her family’s situation. She really wants to save lives. She really wants to emancipate the kids in the toy factory. She really wants to make a meaningful difference. In her eyes, volunteerism, especially in the medical field, is the best way to make a difference in her life. She then thinks of what happens if she doesn’t go. She is thinking that she will be a failure. She would feel guilty that she managed to get free and her good friends all die young of hardship and overwork. Mother Teresa’s quote runs through her head. It is, “Passing on your dreams is the most selfish act one can do because it deprives the world of your gifts.” She feels like it’s her duty to destroy the Capitol for all that it has done to her. She feels like her world of gifts can save lives, sparking a movement in the Capitol to switch to machine-made toys. That is her dream. She wants to end the slavery in her down because the people are being exploited. They have no sense of pride. They are dying young because of famine, malnutrition, overwork, and diseases such as smallpox, typhoid, cholera, malaria, Ebola virus, and AIDS. And, most of all, they are stripped of a chance to do what they were most passionate about. The world cannot see the gifts of these slaves in anything other than toy making. In other words, she seriously has to do something.
The blackness of her thoughts continues, but the theme switches from her life and her being exploited to the difference she could make in the lives of others. After all, 30 years from now, what jeans one wears or the house that one lives in won’t matter, but what will matter is how one touches the world.
Her opportunity to touch the world comes right away. She hears a buzzing sound. Melissa wonders what it is. It is very eerie to her. It is Jackie’s cell phone. She had just received the essay via IM. The director IM’d back. Yeah, she’s a scs stry. Melissa interprets this seeming gibberish with great joy. She has been hired at the hospital. The accolades won’t stop there. She has been given a special position in the hospital. She is more than just a receptionist or other routine employee. She is a full doctor. She is really excited. She takes a ladder from the office, puts it right next to the window, and starts running down it, to the streets of Pediatrus.
As she is adjusting back to reality, she sees some bright lights. She thinks that they are some kind of alien procedure in her thought. However, she walks in, albeit in a kind of paranoid manner. She has no sense of what is around her. She has no sense of place or time. She has no sense of what’s next. She has no sense on what’s to come. She does not know anything. All she sees are unfamiliar objects. It is like the moment she walked out of the toy factory. She is totally unaware now that she has been in a near-coma for nearly a day.
Walking like a drunkard throughout the walls of the mysterious building, she hears a mysterious voice. It says, “I can see that Melissa DeVries has come back. I can see that she is done with the necessary sojourn that I sent you on. I hope that you have done well. Judging by the essay, it looks like you are up to date. I wonder whether you got any help with this. You most certainly did. How did you get such a great command of the English language?” Melissa thinks, “This is a familiar situation. I know where I am. Who else would be asking me about this essay? After all, I only sent it to you, the hospital director. Maybe it could be Jackie, but she didn’t help me with it. I did it all by myself. I know that you doubt my ability to do anything but make toys, but doubt me no more. I know in my heart that I wrote this essay all by myself.” The director then adds, with a grinning face and an excited tone. “I am so impressed by your essay. You fulfilled everything I wanted. You are hired to work in our hospital.”
Melissa is ecstatic. She cannot contain herself. She has finally achieved her dream. She has finally fulfilled her life’s goal. Though she has long claimed that making toys was her life’s goal, she said that just to placate her employers. This is her true life’s dream. This is where she wants to be. She cares about nothing more than helping the poor get help fixing their major diseases. She is very grateful to the hospital director for helping her fulfill her life’s quest. She is very grateful for the slip in the crack of the megamachine of the Capitol that made her dream possible. She is very grateful to be an extremely lucky benefactor of negligence on the part of the Capitol. She is very grateful to be on the winning side of misfortune in the Capitol. She is on top of the world. She is in her element. She feels special. She feels far more satisfaction than the people in the Capitol will ever feel. And, it’s just the beginning.
Despite forever rosy prospects, she still has a long way to go. She has to complete a lot of training to be in the same league as the medical doctors. She lacks even the most rudimentary education. All that she learned came from reading Jackie’s books and listening to her lessons. Believe it or not, the 16-year old girl was the sole source of her education. The hospital director gives her books to read in order to prepare for a future medical career.
Melissa starts reading the first one given by the director. It is titled 21st Century Medical Practices. She picks it up and starts reading the first page. She starts out with a very quizzical look. She is downright confused. She needs leniency and a place for cover. She thinks to herself, “I feel just as sick as the people around her, but in a different kind of way. I feel mentally ill. I feel like I am not capable of real-world tasks. I feel like I am going to cry. I feel like I cannot achieve my dream.” She fights the tears really hard. She wants to avoid the embarrassing- and damaging to her reputation- show of tears. Although she is seriously suffering over the ordeal that is the medical industry’s standard book, she cannot understand it. She has been sitting and reading for hours. She is thinking to herself, “I thought that all to life was learning the words that Jackie taught me. I thought that she provided a primer on all that I need to know. I though that she taught me a fine supply of English words. I thought that she showed me the ropes of the world. Since she treated me like a queen, I felt like she was the ultimate educator. I thought that she was the first name in all I had to learn in life. However, complex doctoral stuff is way beyond me. How could I be expected to know this gibberish? I just came out of the stinking cesspool of a hellhole that is the Toy Factory. The people there treated me as inhuman. They didn’t do anything for me. They just abused me. They were a greedy machine that cared less about human lives than enjoyment of spoiled people all of their lives. They treated us as toy- producing units and not the diverse individuals that we are. They extracted every last drop from them. But, we recognized that that wasn’t right.”
She continues going. Then, a television monitor flips on. She has never seen one before. She thinks that it is a kind of special light beam. She is fascinated. She thinks to herself “This scene is filled with lights. This is a special light show beyond the ordinary. It shows ordinary people and animals doing extraordinary things. It feels very special to me. Then, a surprising moment happens. She sees a panda on the screen. It is talking in a human voice. She wonders why the animal is talking in a human voice. She never thought that animals could talk. She wonders what suspicious thing is going on. She wonders how this is possible. She sees most of the movie and has an excellent time. However, she doesn’t understand how a movie can be anything more than a distraction from her work. Then, she gets to the final scene, “Belief is the secret ingredient. It is all about belief.” This is a message that can be taken to the heart. From this point on, she will live by this message. She will take this message. She then sees the movie Rudy ,about a person who would never give up. This is a powerful message.
For a different take, she sees the movie The Social Network. This stars Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. It shows a prodigy who at first was heading in a bad direction when he became so stuck on computer programming and nearly shut down Harvard’s computer system. He then ended up revolutionizing the way we communicate and changes the world.
Melissa connects these movies to her own life. She thinks of herself as a prodigy with no tendency to give up. She thinks of herself as a person who combines the best features of all these people. Even though she does not have the athletic ability of Rudy, she absorbs the message of the movie. Never give up. Melissa will not let her hardscrabble upbringing at the Toy Factory prevent her from doing something meaningful in life. She will not kowtow to authority. She is stronger. She is now armed with confidence that she can learn.
She keeps these messages in mind as she continues studying the medical books. With her newfound attitude, the material becomes more cohesive. She is beginning to understand the various terminology. Also, her self- esteem is rising. She is going up like a tempest. She is turning herself into a powerful individual. With her combination of intellect and dedication, she is debunking various stereotypes and continuing to corroborate that the Capitol is extremely pushy. She is rising up against authority. She is no slave to people’s preconceived notions in her. She is continuing to confirm that she amounts to something. She is beginning to confirm that she has a place in life.
However, most material is nebulous, and she feels hopeless. She is lost in a forest in which she cannot find her way. She is lost at sea without a compass. She feels like she is failing the test. The sea is sweeping her. Maybe she is a victim of the tempest .
Accomplishments continue to fall for her. She is realizing more and more. She is beginning to make strides and meaningful connections. She is beginning to learn. It feels like a sunny day inside the DeVries head. It feels like she is ready.
With a little more work, she appears ready. But, she is only ready on paper. Life is not contested on paper. Life is about what you do in the real world. School and textbooks are not the real world. Actually contributing to the world is. Schools and textbooks are simply a primer needed to gain these skills. However, they are not the only thing needed to be a citizen that can contribute something meaningful to society. One needs real- world experience. So, the director sends him to a computer program for training. She says to her, “If you can pass this computer program with ease, then you should be fine. “
The director hooks Melissa up to the computer system. She gives her a mouse and a very large machine. Melissa wonders how a machine like the one she saw in Jackie’s office can deal with medicine. She wonders how a computer can be responsible for a person’s needs. Machines are not living, and she wonders how a machine can viscerally replicate living conditions or the conditions of a dying patient.
She passes the computer test with flying colors. The hospital director congratulates her on a job well done. She fully recognizes Melissa’s exceptional ability. She thinks Melissa can do breathtaking things. In her mind, Melissa is the savior that the hospital needs. Melissa feels like an anointed one. She feels special. She is at the zenith of her life. She has a euphoric feeling inside. Her feelings are inalienable. She feels like the chosen one. However, she better not let this feeling of specialness get in the way. She must not do a half- done job. She must do it right. Lives will hang in the balance. She must do it right.
She wonders what surprises her job will hold for her. She wonders how the patient will look. How old will the patient be? What preexisting conditions will he have? Will she be relaxed performing her duties? And, most importantly, how will she do it?
With great hesitation, she starts her duties. A complete stranger walks in. His face was greatly pointed left and he has a greatly difficult time holding it up due to a land mine accident. Bones in his neck appear stretched out, many of them broken. His brain seems misformed. There is a gaping hole in it the size of a tennis ball. Many of his cognitive processes are missing. He is walking like a zombie because of this. Additionally, his heart is barely beating. His skin is a disheveled, rotting mess. Worst of all, maggots and other dangerous worms are taking hold of his body. He may have little time to live. His spirit has even less time. It looks like he is doomed to become a mere corpse just because of the deleterious effects of his dangerous occupation, working in the same factory that Melissa worked in.
Melissa walks with the poor patient through a maze of mysterious, dark corridors into a high- tech room the size of a school with various supplies, including scrub nurses and various other equipment. An assistant, the director’s daughter, is there to help. They notice together that the patient needs open- heart surgery or he will die within 24 hours. Melissa begins to cry as she hears this dizzying prognosis. She feels like she can’t make a mistake. If she does, she will feel remorse and guilt for the rest of her life. She must do it right.
Emotions are flying through her head. Will I do it right? Will he live or will he die? She is extremely worried. However, she follows standard operating procedure for doing surgery. She first sequences the genome. She uses this HP supercomputer the size of an average living room specially equipped for reading the 3.2 billion base pairs that make up the patient’s genome. It is a somewhat complicated affair, reading the chemical makeup of the compounds and translating it into A, C ,G,and T. A click. G click T click G click C click .A click, all in a very artful progression that rivals Picasso, Monet, Renoir, all of them. The process keeps on going on its merry way. She is captivated by what is going on on the screen. She has never seen a human genome sequenced before. She hasn’t even seen a bacterium’s genome get sequenced before. She feels amazed, awestruck by the wonderful sight that is going on. She wonders how a mere machine can produce captivating works of art that rivals Da Vinci, that speak to the heart and the soul. She wonders how a mere machine can produce a symphony to rival Mozart. She wonders how a mere machine can produce a scintillating performance that can stand in for any Broadway musical, any Metropolitan Opera dance, you name it. She can sit there all day and all night, seeing the mystical drama of a genome unfold before her eyes.
She then capitalizes on this wealth of genetic information. She subcontracts this to an assistant medical doctor, Joseph. She sends him the long document via fax. The doctor hesitates for a long while, trying to think about how best to cure the poor patient. It is a vexing puzzle for him. The patient’s genome don’t match anything in the database. Joseph has a hard time reading the tea leaves that is the patient’s book that dictates everything that he does. He thinks about it like a chess grandmaster thinks about his next move. He has that kind of mentality. However, he is not as punctilious as Melissa. Will Melissa’s hopes get blown again, this time by some kind of quack doctor? After formulating the prescription for Melissa, he says to her, “I have found by far the best way of curing the patient who needs help.” Melissa is skeptical. She thinks that Joseph might be lying. These doubts begin to inhabit her head. Will the patient die of no fault of her own?
The doctor then calls a division of Pharming for America for these drugs in Melissa’s name. Melissa wanted to choose the biologically- sourced products so she could be on a shorter tightrope by being less dangerous to the patient. The drugs go on an airplane and make it to the doctor’s office in about an hour. Joseph is relieved at the quick timing.
Meanwhile, the patient’s blood is turning blue. It looks like his heart is going to stop any second. It looks like his lungs are going to decay into charcoal. It looks like his stomach is going to get totally squeezed. It looks like his kidneys are going to explode. It appears like he needs a transplant of practically every organ in his body. The genome-sequencing affair feels like a ill- timed symphony, a case of misprioritizing, thinking about aesthetics and not about what is practical; extravagance over sensibility. Will her captivation continue? If it does, it means serious trouble for her down the road.
A few hours later, she realizes that the whole genome thing was done and she wasted two whole hours of valuable time, time that could have been used to cure the patient and save his life; time that could potentially stand between life and death for this young, innocent child . So, with a hesitant, grudging look, she bites the bullet and decides to turn off the machine, knowing that she isn’t the only one in this world. She resists the classic temptation of a wonderful performance unfolding before her eyes in order to save a life. She proves herself strong enough not to do what’s best in the short term. She proves herself strong enough not to be narcissistic. She proves herself strong enough to put the patient first. She tries hard to cut the dead cells that are preventing the boy’s heart from beating properly. She is being very careful and punctilious. She is like a tour guide for Mount Everest. The patient is hanging on a cliff. She cannot cut too much living tissue or else the organ cannot be saved. 99% and growing rapidly is the amount of weak tissue in the organ. The fragmented pockets of red are dwindling. She attempts a karate chop move. She pierces a hole in seemingly the last living tissue of the soon- to- be cadaver. The organ is purely rotted and nearly in dust. The boy is gasping for help. Cries and wails fill the operating room. His skin is turning blue. It feels like he is knocking on death’s door. In a hesitant manner, she rushes and activates the morphine. It flows like an ocean, soothing and dulling the pain of this serious operation. The cries and wails have ended. Melissa can breathe easy.
However, this is not a panacea. The last cell of the patient’s heart is swallowed by morphine, dying a long, slow and toxic death. What formerly was the vital pump of a great soul is now tantamount to lab tissue. This frightens, dizzies, and worries her. She is as worried as one could possibly be. She feels physically and mentally challenged by her chronic embarrassment. It is making her thought processes as weak as an amoeba. She must take immediate action by hooking him up to a giant respirator. It is bigger than anything she has ever seen before. It is a giant, tangled sea of wires and beams. She is naturally curious about all of this cool technology. She thinks that she can tackle it. She must start slow. With intense worry and no shred of confidence, she mindfully plugs in all of the components of the machine. First plug, into first socket. Second plug, into second socket. Third plug into third socket. It works like a charm. Now, I just have to get the most important piece, the one in the middle, activated, as it is the actual breather for the organism. This piece is a rectangular box that about the size of a hardcover book. It has 25 slits in it, much like a black box or cassette. It has a large object, made of a mixture of metals that includes iron, platinum, gold, silver, tin and traces of technetium. She wonders how this will work. Since she is a bit iffy, she tries to search for unused artificial hearts made by other surgeons in the past. She doesn’t find any. The tenuous strand of the patient- and her- existence, hangs in the balance and is not getting any shorter. She is like a tightrope walker walking for someone else who could not free herself. She feels like a chauffeur in the real- life version of Grand Theft Auto. She is responsible for two lives with a razor –thin margin of error. She has to hope that her seeming kluge works.
She checks for various signs of life in the patient. First, she decides to check whether the patient is breathing. She hooks a respirator with giant suction cups to the patient. She notices crests and troughs. These are signs of breathing. This feels like a good reprieve to her. She then attaches a microchip to the brain. It is showing the vital signs that it is alive- not comatose or severely impaired by strokelike conditions.
The drugs arrive precisely on time- in clear containers to identify which drugs are which. She knows how much to use and what order to put them into the body based on the medical data, but she wants to verify just to make sure. She is a cautious person. She does not tolerate any nonsense.
She grabs the first vial from the shelf. She gets ready to apply it. As she gets ready to send it gushing through the patient, many questions penetrate her mind, “Can the heart be salvaged? Was I negligent? Did I take the right drug? Was it too late?”
In the turbulent procession of her life, she ends up at the shakiest crossroads. How will she apply the drug? This will shape two lives- the patient’s and Melissa’s own. The application of the first drug will precipitate a long sequence of events. She wonders how these will turn out. Will it be a stately procession or will it be doomed from the start? Will the whole affair be lethal, merely counterproductive, or successful? Will this be the last straw in the Jenga game that is a life- or- death affair? Will this become a Romeo and Juliet story? Will this be a problem of commitment? Did I do enough to cure him? Will he be at full strength?
She very carefully opens the red jar. She then gets the dropper. She is supposed to apply only 1mL of the drug. Any more or any less could result in the patient’s death. She then dips the dropper in the drug- tantamount to the pool of life. She is very careful. However, the pressure is biting her. She cannot succumb to it. She needs focus- and she needs it now. She needs focus just as much as the patient needs medicine. The minutes- the seconds- are getting blown up. The past few hours have seen like years- and now time is getting even more magnified. She checks the dropper and fills it to the first line. It sounds reasonable. She thinks she has the amount correct. However, more worries penetrate her brain. Will I do everything else correctly?
She puts the drug inside the giant wiring system that connects the drug outlets to the poor patient. The heart is starting to regrow itself. It is coalescing like a youth group meeting together. All of its cells are coming in to excellent line. It feels like the organ is perfectly designed. She then sticks the blue drug in. The heart regrows!. With minimal repercussions, the patient lives. Everyone is jubilant as the unbelievable story gets done. Melissa is lionized. The whole town sings her praise. She dominates the news. She sees many newspaper headlines devoted to her mind- blowing achievement. She did it. She feels special. She feels as light as a ballerina. She lets her jubilant personality soar. The Capitol throws a party for her. By a relentless torment, she takes the Capitol by storm. All the gardens are now hers. She becomes sole ruler. She appoints the patient viceroy. She then appoints all of her various friends to be in the upper echelon of the society. She appoints Jackie into crucial positions. Next come the various organizers of the Pediatrus Toy Party. They come high on the social hierarchy. After the various strikers, she then puts the director into power for making it all possible. She is acting as hectically as President Obama. Thoughts are racing through her
A few days later, a joint committee made up of all these people decides to convene and take action to reform society, As the head of this committee, Melissa has a major job. She thinks to herself, “The parties have come to an end. I have to reform this place. I have to make Pediatrus a good place for all to live. I better not have this slavery.
Melissa’s first order of business is to raze the Toy Factory with dynamite. In one major explosion, a symbol of happiness in the Capitol will get razed to bits. After that, her plan is to put in an ambitious tree-planting program. In a short amount of time, the landscape will look leafy and verdant.
In order to make a triumphant statement, Melissa grabs a 20- ton container of concrete to obliterate the monolith of concrete that was one of Pediatrus’ bedrocks for centuries. She wants to make a bold statement that this building does not belong on the city’s skyline. It is a vestige of ancient times. It is a relic of when slavery was the rule of law. It is a relic of when it was okay for one man to exploit another. It is a relic of when serious inequality is okay. It is a relic of an imperfect time.
However, something unforeseen happens. The demolition does not go smoothly. Proving herself a mere amateur, she lets a fuel rod escape. With a very loud sound, it explodes over Melissa. Melissa is blown to pieces. The news media, frequently rocked by the turmoil here, has yet another very sad story to harp on.
Civil war then rocks the city. Michael, the ruthless leader, wants to take power. Moderates, such as various Toy Factory workers, want to keep it the way it is. With one blow, Michael attacks the opposition leader and takes power for himself.
Michael, in a surprising move, preserves Melissa’s legacy. She follows the will to the letter.
Melissa’s legacy lives on. She is loved by everyone. The people in the Capitol don’t notice the difference. There are still 30 floors devoted to Bob the Builder. The lights continue to shine. The Toy Factory is converted into a tree-lined park. The ruins will remain and infamous tribute to a great hero. At the center of this burial site, a monument is built. This truly is the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Shine, world, Shine. Melissa will be remembered forever. Miracles really do happen.