I saw an article today about some poor Indian child getting over 500 teeth removed from their mouth. It’s lucky they were able to have the surgery; some aren’t that lucky. Have you wondered why it is you don’t hear more about that happening more, babies born with distressing deformities? It happens more often than you’d expect. In my country it’s rarely on the news, and if it is, it’s usually when conjoined twins are successfully parted, never if it’s unsuccessful. Then again, you don’t hear about every heart surgery that goes wrong, or brain tumor that couldn’t be excised. The truth though, is far more horrifying.
I felt it apt today, of all days, to tell my story and how that boy with 500 teeth is relevant. I jump around a bit and I apologize for my poor English, that too will come apparent.
The odds of a conjoined twin birth are around 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 200,000. Around 4,000,000 babies are born in the US every year. That means there should be around 20 to 100 conjoined twins a year. That’s not including the other unfortunate children with numerous medical issues.
When I was born my parents were told I had died. It was kinder than telling them what they’d given birth to. Uncle John told me this. He said that he didn’t discriminate and that he’d love me no matter what.
It was a doctor, of all people, that took me away and hid me under a blanket in a laundry trolley. An orderly then took me down a service elevator to the depths of the hospital.
I always had plenty of visitors when I grew up. I was home schooled. Uncle John said I’d scare people, so couldn’t go outside. I didn’t mind. I spent most of my time in my room, only venturing out for food, and sometimes when Uncle John wanted me to meet visitors. They were always nice, wanting to look me over. Uncle John wouldn’t allow them to take photos.
In the basement of the hospital I was checked over and graded, given a letter between A and E. This determined the severity of my medical issues. I was given a B. From here, I was transported out of the hospital, to a facility unknown to my Uncle John. This was where I spent the first two years of my life. I have no memories of then, except for bright lights and fear. Even now, I prefer to sit in the near dark. I only venture out in the daytime with sunglasses.
As I grew up, children would come and go. They’d live with me in Uncle John’s house, a large house that overlooked rolling hills and forest. Rarely did they speak, most weren’t capable. The ones that were, only uttered grunts, or stayed silent. I felt like I didn’t belong there.
A woman by the name Patricia taught me how to read and write. She told me that I didn’t scare her. She was in her twenties, I think. She had a cleft palate but spoke beautifully and softly. One day I asked what was beyond the forest I could see from the window. She said cities and lots of people. That was the first time I learnt about the outside world. And children came and went.
When I was two, I had a medical exam to confirm my condition, I find irony in this now. I was given a clean bill of health. I would soon meet Uncle John, though it was a few years until I knew his name.
Patricia snuck me out once and drove me to the nearest town. The car frightened me, and like Uncle John taught me, I covered my face with my sweater. You don’t need to do that, she told me. Something changed in me that day. Uncle John later said he was only trying to protect me. I didn’t see Patricia after that day. I’ve often wondered what happened to her. I probably know but thinking about it only hurts.
From the facility I was driven to an estate in the west of the country. From there I was left in a room. Uncle John said he knew as soon as he saw me that he wanted me, that he’d pay any price necessary. He knew that wouldn’t be too much, I know this now. There were plenty of others who were worth more than me. Worth so much Uncle John could only dream of. He said he wasn’t like the others, that he was rescuing me from what the others would have done. He said I could have been someone’s own private freakshow. Uncle John was nice to me, I thought.
I was sixteen and Uncle John was getting older. The visitors stopped coming. The children stopped coming and going. I felt an anger at being held captive, that burnt so strong, I asked him who my real parents were. He told me they didn’t want me. I asked him how I ended up here. He told me. I asked him why he’d bought me. He said it was to rescue me. I asked him where the other children were now. He said he was too old. I asked if he sold them. He didn’t answer. And I snapped. When he could barely speak, as the blood seeped out of his neck, I asked why he kept me and no one else. He said, because I was the only one that could talk. The only one that seemed human. I asked him, why. He didn’t answer. He wasn’t dead yet, I knew when he was, when that flicker left his eyes. To be honest, I don’t think he knew. Was it just the money?
I visited an estate in the west of the country earlier this year. It was a lot different to when I was here. No longer are the products on show. iPads are displayed in front of rooms, where you can check the vitals and reams of medical conditions of the occupants within. If I did this right, I can save one a year for the rest of my life. It’s not enough, it never will be. The business runs too deeply into the core of our country, I can’t stop it. Everyone that’s involved, no one speaks, they know what will happen to them.
Now and then I see an article on the web, a conspiracy theory about where do all the malformed children go. They get a hell of a lot of it right, so much so, that maybe someone like me must have talked. It garners some interest, some posts on forums, and every now and again, makes the news. It disappears as quickly as it appeared, and with that it’s gone. Just like this post, some of you may talk about it, though tomorrow or next week, no one will think about it ever again.
You may wonder why I’m telling you this? I want you to know that someone cares, and I have nothing to lose, nothing they’ll try and take from me. I’m a good customer, and that’s all they really care about, consistent, reliable business. I give these children the best life they can have. My first three are now back in society. It’s amazing what plastic surgery can do. I have Uncle John’s money. No one knows he’s dead, or if they do, they don’t tell, they can’t. And besides, if someone comes after me, I’m more than a match. I brush my teeth at least three times a day, once at breakfast, after meals and before bed. That’s something Uncle John taught me right. He said my teeth were his pride and joy, worth all the money in the world.