The Day You Turned

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An adult human test subject revisits childhood life to grow up within a more technically advanced world with a surprising outcome.

Star Potential

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Rodney was bright as a child. He skipped kindergarten and also the 4th grade. But since his family moved frequently, his potential for great things was neglected.

By the time he reached high school in an underprivileged neighborhood, his high grades loomed beneath the radar of counselors. Instead of receiving early scholarships, he nearly missed graduating with his classmates due to improper curriculum choices.

With intuitive problem-solving abilities, he rebounded, learning much at various jobs, leading him to the scientific world. During his younger adulthood, he was highly sought-after in his field, though most of his best work remains uncredited due to his lack of scholarly degrees. In time, more technically advanced graduates began crowding his opportunities for further advancement.

Better Technology

The value of his seniority is diminishing in a high-tech think tank. One project in the queue explores time travel—something many have thought about but not yet achieved.

The regeneration prototype isn’t bidirectional. Tests began with short-lived insects—doubling the average three-week lifespan of butterflies.

The group then began sending animals back a few years. For example, a seven-year-old feline could become a kitten again. In time, they reach human trials. But with so many uncertainties, human test subjects are not volunteering.

Olivia is the lead investigator that Rodney secretly admires for her brains and beauty. But with her at 20 years his junior, they maintain a professional relationship.

Rodney asks Olivia, “If someone goes back to a familiar time, how much of his surroundings are recognizable?”

She answers, “Keep in mind, that the participant isn’t traveling through a wormhole to relive a prior point in time. Rather, he goes through a physical transformation to a prior age. This means that he grows up in the current era.”

“But if he’s a child, what happens to his family, or even his adult memories?”

“Those are good questions we hope to gather data about. Since the test subject doesn’t travel anywhere, our scientists can still interact with him.”

“Who would risk losing a lifetime of acquired education and memories?” Rodney asks.

“Perhaps someone who wants a second chance. Not only does it offer an opportunity to live longer, but that person can achieve greater accomplishments with technologies that weren’t available when he was a child.”

“It sounds fascinating. So you feel that an aging single individual without living parents or children is a prime candidate?”

“That’s about right. Do you have anyone in mind?”

“Are you hinting at me becoming your guinea pig?”

Prime Candidate

“We all know you were a brilliant child who lacked early opportunities. I can’t pressure anybody, but you’re a worthy consideration. Does the prospect of becoming a child prodigy excite you at all?”

“Shaving forty something years off my life and going to grade school with a digital tablet instead of crayons would definitely have a positive impact on my career.”

Olivia then urges, “Give it more thought.”

“Will I receive two lifetimes of social security benefits?”

“Wishful thinking. Your adult life with all your worldly possessions will become a donation to science—meaning you expire along with social security benefits. Your emerging young self can keep the same name, but would require a new social security number.”

The prospect excites Rodney enough to more closely review data from successful animal trials. Rodney obtains the requisite psych evaluation and qualifies to participate six months later. Now he’s entertaining answers to final questions.

“How does this work? Do I choose a specific age or school grade?”

“Just fill in the blank with an age where the form asks, ‘The day you turned—?’ We will generate a corresponding birth certificate for your adoptive parents.”

“Who are these parents?”

“They’re a carefully screened, financially secure husband and wife team with at least one other child.”

“Will I continue to see you?”

“The entire team of scientists will perform periodic cognitive evaluations to assure that you have the best opportunities in life. I can’t say whether you’ll know who we are, but you’ll live nearby.”

“How far back should I go?”

“I imagine there’s reluctance to resuming a pre-pubescent state. It’s a longterm commitment. We hope to gather 20 years of data, ending at age 25. Current children are learning a second language in 1st grade and studying calculus by the 6th. So the earliest date possible will prevent you from a remedial comparison with other students.”

“It sounds like I’ll be regenerating kindergarten at age 5.”

“This is a great opportunity for anyone—especially a person of color.”

“I hope to make you proud,” Rodney optimistically concludes.

“Okay, the CRISPR modification is complete. I’m setting the dial to the day you turned 5. We’ll transition you with virtual reality. I’ll see you on the other side, young man!”

There’s darkness, colorful lights, crackling sounds, and a montage of childhood photos. Rodney opens his eyes as a 5-year-old boy. He knows he’s been through a dramatic process by virtue of his numerous followup tests, but has no recollection of prior adult life.

Second Chance

Biracial parents raise him well. With additional tutors, he excels in all school classes, and begins college at age 14. Brain activity is exceptional. Before the age of 20, he has a master’s degree in computer science and begins working for the Las Vegas company now called Genetibirth, Inc.

Olivia is still at Genetibirth when Rodney supplants her as project director. He asks the scientist, who is now his subordinate, if she would like to relive her childhood.

“The holographic transition should be much smoother than the prior virtual reality headsets.”

Though he never voiced interest in her when she was younger, Olivia now has a similar attraction to Rodney with the ages reversed. Despite the strands of gray hair and concealed breast ptosis, she remains attractive and single in her early 50s. Olivia reasons that there is only one way to correct the age disparity. She gives a shocking response.

“I would regenerate, if you do something for me.”

“Name it, Olivia.”

“As colleagues, I hope this isn’t inappropriate. Our ages have never been—aligned. You were too old for me; now the reverse is true. This is a big ask. But please give it some serious consideration.” With difficulty, she takes a deep breath before finally vocalizing her question.

“With me, would you be willing to go back to the day we turned 5? We can then grow up together as best friends. Perhaps, beginning in our teens, something more could develop between us.”

Rodney’s lengthy pause makes the suggestion more awkward. As he steps closer to her, their eyes lock. One pair of pupils is hopeful; the other is contemplative. He gently runs the fingers of one hand through her formerly blonde strands.

As if silently asking permission, Rodney tilts his head toward Olivia, who responds in kind. When their lips gently connect while closing their eyes, they imagine a full life together.

Then Rodney softly repeats Olivia‘s earlier words while smiling with a gentle grasp of her chin. “The day we turned 5… yes. But we won’t have any recollection of our time—now.”

“Then we have no reason to resist. It’ll be a worthwhile experiment to see if our heartfelt desires withstand the test of time.”

The End

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