Cassandra: the story of Casey and Alexandra — Chapter Five

23 Mar

Cassandra
The Story of Casey and Alexandra

Chapter Five: Choices

Once I heard it is better to ask forgiveness after you’ve done something than to beg for permission to do it in the first place.

I feel like that’s what happened in my case. Only it wasn’t me that needed the forgiveness or the permission.

The Phil Show just served to celebratize me more. My mom got a hunk of money for appearing, as did the Millers.

I declined to be a part of that circus — I’m now 19 and the age of majority, so Mom couldn’t “persuade” me to go on air. That’s not what I’m about.

And I’ve had paparazzi and media following me everywhere since I emerged after nearly two years’ of operations and therapies and Lord knows what else.

Counseling. Lots of counseling. World-famous therapists from European countries and little back-alley clinics.

For all of them — my parents, the TV show hosts, the media, the shrinks and whoever else — it’s not really about me. It’s about them. What they can get out of it. How they can attach their names and careers to the ridiculously famous Cassandra.

A never-ending line of suitors. Publicists and publishers. Movie and TV producers.

Even stalkers.

“I love you for your mind,” said one chronic emailer. I’m not sure how he got my email address. Probably hacked it.

Cassandra.

That’s my new identity. Take Casey and Alexandra and what do you get?

Fits, right? After all, I’m no longer Alexandra Sigmon. My original body — my shell — died and was peeled back and thrown to the researchers who clamored for the discarded meat and bones of my past existence.

It’ll probably end up in the Museum of Natural Science. In a glass case right next to that giant bumblebee. Or John Dillinger’s infamous member that floats in a jar. Embalmed and splayed open so that museum goers can see the result of texting and driving. And down the next hallway? Alexandra’s Memoric Exhibition.

And, I’m really not Casey Miller, though I sure as hell look like her. Casey’s soul left her long before the surgeons cut the final wires to her days-dead brain. Just a pulpy hard drive with a blown motherboard. Good for nothing. Great body, though.

When her parents were first allowed to meet this new person I am, her mom was both shocked and elated at the same time. I thought at the time she was going to have a heart attack — or maybe explode because of the inconsistencies that were racing through her body and mind.

I remember her approaching timidly, and taking my — Casey’s — hand in hers (at the time I couldn’t feel it) and bending over to whisper “Praise Jesus!” in my ear.

Growing up culturally Jewish, it didn’t really do much for me. Besides, Jesus didn’t do the surgeries. The surgeons did the surgeries.

I think my hand involuntarily twitched in hers — circuits trying to fire up — and she smiled broadly and looked up to the ceiling, tears tracing mascara-stained rivulets from her big blue eyes.

Adjustments. From the beginning. Slow and deceptive, I thought later.

I say deceptive because the only fair thing to do would be to let me have the truth at the beginning, when I came out of my safe, comfortable coma.

Just tell me: you aren’t you and you never will be you again. Then fill in the details.

That would have been the honest thing to do.

After all, nothing close to honest had occurred prior to and during the transplant.

Mom overruled Dad on her decision. She had legal custody. Dad was too much of an emotional wreck at the time to be able to stand up for me like I would have wanted him to had I been in the room and able to verbalize.

I didn’t have a Living Will, after all.

What 16-year-old does?

Nothing that attested legally to what I wanted. So, I had no say in the matter.

No choice.

And, poor Casey!

Well, actually she had already fled her body. What good was it, as athletic and beautiful as it had once been?

Her mom proclaimed that Casey would live on in — what — me? Or would it be I would live on in Casey?

Either way, she said she had prayed about it, and the pain in her knees could never match the pain in her heart.

Then there was Jaska Talgerian. I’d say “doctor,” but I’d have to add “witch” before it.

I remember the old black and white horror film, “Frankenstein,” with Boris Karloff as the monster. How wild and maniacal was Frankenstein, racing about his laboratory with trusty Igor at his side . . . “walk this way” — I still laugh at that!

Elevating the puzzle-pieced body of his experiment to the top of the tower. The lightning striking — zapping down along metal chains and wires and other scientific-looking apparatus.

Bringing the body back down into the lab, and Frankenstein listening to the monster’s heart with a stethoscope.

“He’s alive! He’s alive!” he shouted in strained ecstasy.

Talgerian didn’t perform that operation for me or for Casey or our parents. He did it for himself.

He’s the one who has continued to profit. Oh, God how he has made out!

And, to demonstrate his innate generosity, he has slipped hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mom and the Millers from all of the proceeds that have come his way as a result of my being alive.

The only sane voice I’ve heard has been that of the ethicist, Hensley Giodarva, who posed the question not only on the Dr. Phil show, but everywhere she speaks:

What about considering Alexandra’s well-being? Would it not have been kinder, more humane, to allow her to die naturally from her injuries?

Bravo! Well said, I say.

Again, this was never about me. It was about how everybody else felt.

Mom was feeling tremendous guilt at driving into the intersection and not seeing Casey ahead. She would always tell me it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about defensive driving. Huh.

Cathy Miller? Well, Casey’s mom, in my opinion, was living an extended existence through Casey. Casey was the genetic coupling of her dad’s athleticism with her mom’s looks. David Casey had been an all-state high school athlete in football and basketball, and but for a career-ending injury on the field, had eyes for a full athletic ride to a major university.

Instead, he got his associate’s degree in engineering at Catawba Community College, and started on his ladder to success in construction.

Cathy was arm candy — Homecoming Queen at Hickory High — and the most popular girl in her Hickory-centric world.

His athletic body has since gone bad on him. And her looks? There’s not enough Botox in the world can preserve how she wants to look.

The David-Cathy coupling produced their lone offspring, and Casey was a delight from the beginning, so Cathy has told me.

She has made it her business to tell me e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g about her daughter. She spent hours showing me photos of Casey from day one when I was able to “receive” information and stimulation in the hospital.

Sadly, I keep seeing the disappointment in her eyes when I don’t let Casey “come through,” as she puts it.

She thinks the DNA holds Casey’s personality, I guess. If she even knows what DNA is, that is.

Me — Alexandra, that is — was so far in the other extreme from Casey that this combination, at times, strikes me ironic and hilarious.

I mean, if God was behind this event, what a grand old time he must have had thinking it up.

What if we . . . (I think God always uses “we” when referring to himself) did this to Casey and Alexandra?

Kind of like his experiment with Job. Have you considered my servant Job, he asked Satan, who was wandering about looking for something to do. That’s my translation.

I remember watching a Youtube video of Bert Parks, who used to emcee the Miss America beauty contest.

“There she is,” he sang, “Miss America . . . there she is, our ideal!”

No such song for the new me, Cassandra.

“There she is . . . the surgical manipulation of Casey and Alexandra into Cassandra . . . there she is, so surreal!”

That would be the song. I can hear Bert singing it now.

No choice in the matter.

No choice at all.

No one asked.

No one considered.

No one imagined.

No one thought.

No one cared about “me.”

Only about themselves.

My mom. My dad. The Millers. Talgerian. Dr. Phil. God.

Only about themselves.

Wasn’t my choice.

Wouldn’t be my choice.

Will not continue to be my choice.

 

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