The first time I saw it happen, I was eight. My Great Grammy Luce walked into the large white building that sat directly in the middle of Town Centre. When she walked out, she wasn’t the same. Her clothes were tighter, her skin smoother, and on her feet: heels. I hadn’t seen her wear heels once in all the time that I had known her, because she couldn’t walk in them without falling over. No, this new person wasn’t my Grammy Luce, but everyone else seemed to think she was. My mother hugged her and complimented how fantastic and renewed she looked, and the new woman smiled. The Grandma impersonator turned to me next, but I could barely look her in the eye. My grandma was old and sweet, and this wasn’t her, but I hugged her anyway, because that’s what everyone else would want me to do.
The second time I saw it happen, I was thirteen. I had heard a lot of my classmates talk about how amazing it was to play ball with their Grandparents again. How cool it was to see their sibling’s broken arm miraculously fixed. I always nodded and smiled, because by that time, I understood. It’s also what my teacher, Mr. Norman, would want me to do. The day before, he had to sit down after standing for more than 5 minutes, and take a break after a long lecture. But after a trip to Town Centre, his glasses were gone, and he was laughing and jumping around with the class again. None of my other teachers seemed to mind; my math teacher even told us that was the fifth time Mr. Norman had gone through the procedure. Then she made us do an algebra problem to find out how old he was. He’s three hundred and eighty. I double-checked.
The third time I saw it happen, I was seventeen. My father strained his back at work, and was feeling too tired to get out of bed. My mother took my sister and me to Town Centre to see my father when he was done with the procedure, and I waited for him like any other family member would. I was excited for him, naturally, because who wouldn’t be ecstatic to see their relative become young and energized again? When my father emerged, he was smiling. This was the first time he had smiled since I was ten. I didn’t know that becoming young again would make him happy again.
The sixth time I saw it happen, I was thirty-two. My colleague that worked with me in the office of Public Health broke her leg and was told she wouldn’t be able to walk for six months. However, that would be a waste of talent, so a procedure was required. Later that day she told me to take a file attached to her computer, but to make sure that I never showed it to anyone. She told me that if I opened the file, I would understand, but I didn’t want to. Before curiosity got the best of me, I settled for placing the file in my desk, where it could gather dust and be forgotten about. I should have reported something like that to Town Centre immediately, but something about her face made me stop. The next day, I was told that she was moved to a new office because she received a promotion. Of course, the rest of my colleagues were delighted, because who wouldn’t be excited for one of their close friends? I knew that she would be very happy wherever she was, because working for the Bureau of New Life never leaves you unsatisfied.
The ninth time I saw it happen, I was sixty-three. My sister in law's scheduled procedure was going on without a hitch, and my husband was excited to see her well again. Old age was the only thing wrong with the world now. He worked in the Bureau of Public Happiness, and the only complaint was the trouble of the procedure. No one had the time to waste for the hour-long operation, because there were so many opportunities for citizens. People lived forever because of the procedure, and with all the knowledge that one could possess, there was no limit to what could be accomplished. When my husband was reunited with his sister, he was overjoyed that she could suddenly run around town again, but whenever I looked into her eyes, I could see that something was different. Her once clear eyes were cloudy with forgetfulness, but she didn’t seem to mind. The only thing that really confused me was that she forgot that I told her about the file hidden under my desk.
The tenth time I saw it happen, I was sixty-seven. Great Grammy Luce had reached her next appointment. Over time she had become old and frail again, almost to how she used to be when I was a little girl. I asked her if it hurt the first time, because I knew that my appointment would be coming soon, and she told me she barely remembered what it felt like. Although some would think that was a weird thing to say, people everywhere seem to forget things constantly. Instead of waiting with the rest of my family for Grammy, I went home and opened my desk drawer where I had moved the file after retiring until my procedure. I inserted the file into my computer, and when it opened there was a folder with a video inside. As soon as it started playing, I recognized my old coworker in a room that I’ve never seen before. She looked panicked, but I couldn’t tell why until she started speaking; ‘I am embedding all the evidence that I have into this drive. The Bureau of New Life is wiping any memories of rebellion by using their high-tech DNA splicer to take out chunks of a person’s memory. I am doing everything in my power to stop the procedure from the inside, but I need someone’s help. They are too smart, and they know too much. I have found camera’s everywhere. Nowhere is safe. Whatever you do, do not d--’. That was when the video cut out. There was nothing else on the file.
Lately I’ve been looking into what my coworker was talking about, and it all seems to check out. I visited my old office a week ago, and with one glance I could see over four cameras point around the office floor. I left almost as soon as I got there. I’ve been living in a panic ever since. Nothing is what we think it is. Whenever I try to talk to my husband about it, he brushes me off because he thinks I’m going crazy in my old age. It’s true, I am getting older; my scheduled procedure is in two weeks. I knew that I couldn’t go through with my procedure, because if my coworker was right, it meant I would forget everything that I have found out. I just have to find a way to avoid it, even though I am getting weaker every day.
I didn’t plan on getting sick. My husband and children thought that it was time for the procedure, and I never figured out how I was going to avoid it. There is no need for medicine, because whenever an elderly person gets sick, they go through the procedure. Young people are so genetically advanced that they are always healthy. I knew that I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t do the operation, but there was no choice. I couldn’t do it. I thought that I could put off the surgery until one morning when I woke up so weak that I couldn’t move. My husband brought me to Town Centre and I was too frail to protest. I knew that as soon as I walked out of Town Centre, I wouldn’t remember anything from the past few years, and I burned the file so that no one could accuse me of thinking the Bureau of New Life was wrong.
The thirteenth time I saw it happen, I looked in the mirror. Two hours prior, I had been sick and feeble. Luckily, my husband took me to get the procedure, and now I am young again. My skin is smooth and my eyes are brighter. I didn’t feel like the world was holding me down anymore, and I could return to work the next day. For some reason I remember the last few years being very exhausting, but I’m sure whatever was causing that is solved now that I am young again. What a world we live in. Everything is perfect.