“It will save her life, right?”
Marnie let the desperation in her question plead for her and her daughter Marisa. She sat on the floor, holding Marisa and hoping that this last resort would work.
Dr. Jackson hesitated before he answered, trying to come up with a delicate answer. “The nanites will clear Marisa’s cancer, and will fix the damage. But there’s a strong possibility that they won’t stop with just fixing it. Nanites work at a molecular level, perpetually pulling materials from the bloodstream.”
Jackson paused, looking down at Marisa’s striking green eyes. “Marisa would survive,” he said. “But by the time she’s an adult, the nanites will have transformed her.”
Marnie looked up, fresh tears in her eyes. “But she would be alive. I’d get to hold her, to see her grow up.” Her head lowered as she watched her daughter struggle to breathe.
Jackson squatted down next to Marnie, trying to look into her eyes. “The nanites would fix things, then they’d keep building,” he said. “Her mind wouldn’t be able to keep up, there’s a strong chance her emotions might turn unpredictable. Nanites themselves are so unpredictable, they might even try to infect others.”
Marnie mumbled, “She would be alive.” She left her tears to fall on their own, no longer bothering to wipe them away.
“She’d be alive,” Jackson said, “but the nanites might be too effective, and may start to hurt other–”
Marnie suddenly turned her head and screamed at Jackson. “SHE’D BE ALIVE DAMMIT!”
Jackson stumbled back, standing up awkwardly. Echoes of Marnie’s scream faded into the halls, orderlies slowly getting back to their work.
He looked away, out the windows towards the serene mountains. He thought about what he could do, or say. He silently damned Marisa’s pediatrician for bringing up such a dangerous proposition.
He admitted to himself that he would do everything to save his own family. Shouldn’t Marisa also get that same chance?
Jackson moved slowly towards Marnie. “We can look at starting the procedure on Monday,” he said. “That’s as quickly as the team can do it. Then Marisa will have to be sedated for several days.”
Marnie looked up at him, wiping away the tears. “I’m sorry I yelled, Doctor. Thank you for going ahead with it.”
“This is an emotional time, Marnie,” he said. “You don’t have to apologize, I just wanted you to know everything about it before we started.”
Marnie smiled slightly. “I appreciate that, Dr. Jackson. You’ve been good to us.”
She stood up, a sleepy Marisa in her arms. “What happens after the procedure, once she’s fully awake again?”
Jackson sat down in the chair opposite of Marnie, setting down his papers on the small table. “We’ll have to monitor Marisa closely for a few months. Over time, that will ease into every few weeks, then every few months, then maybe every year until she’s an adult. But it’ll be awhile to get there.”
“Thank you Doctor Jackson,” Marnie said. “I’m going to get her down for her nap now.” Marnie turned away, walking towards Marisa’s room.
Jackson watched them walk, silently contemplating. He looked out towards the mountains, and his lost serenity. He pondered what it was worth, to save a life but possibly condemn others. His mission had always been to save lives, and he wanted to save Marisa. The cost was high, though, and he rolled it over and over in his head.
As the clouds started to cover the mountains in the distance, he muttered one last thought.
“May the future forgive us our desperate acts.”
Copyright 2014 Russell Dickerson, All Rights Reserved.