Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Sunday, March 29, 2043. 2:57pm.

Ken and Karen woke up staring into each others’ eyes with the deep passion that had always been a primary trademark of their relationship, with a slight hint of smiles on their faces. Their sexuality was at this time, somewhere between negligible and non-existent, but for some unexplained medical or psychological reason, their romantic passion for each other was as strong then as it had been just before their transformation, which as strong as the passion they had had when they were a new couple in their late 20s.

Very few lovers could lay claim to the blessings which this couple could claim. True, at the beginning, many couples’ passion in their love may rival or even exceed that of this couple. However, most other couples of that passion usually let it ebb away over time, leaving a soft companionship-type love in its place, but lull in comparison to new love.

Not so was the case with the Hendersons. Their passion was strong at this point in time, it was strong the beginning, and it would always be, unfazed by all factors that inconsiderate fate threw at them: physical aging, loss of sexuality, children, grandchildren, accidents, illnesses, and this transformation. This couple knew they were going to have each other to the soul, in this life, or any life, or and any life after any life and they did not feel there really was ever a reason to lower the intensity of their passion at any time.

With their new circumstance, they learned to enjoy it at every opportunity that came to them, which was sparsely at best, and until recently, was almost never afforded. Just two months prior, Ken and Karen Henderson needed to sleep so much and so often, that it was rare that they would be awake at the same time for a significant amount of time and even then, it would last maybe just long enough to be fed or cared for in some way by someone else.

Saturday, February 15, 2042. 1:57pm. Before the transformation.

On the Upper Deck of the Capital Beltway, Outer Loop, near the old I-66 interchange in Virginia, the Hendersons were on their way back from seeing their grandchild’s baptism in Lutherville, Maryland, a very big deal among Mormons. Ever since CPU-controlled driving became sophisticated enough to drive a vehicle safer than a manual driver, Ken and Karen had stopped manually driving altogether. Like most people who ever learned to drive, they let their skills atrophy.

Ken sat in the driver seat, ironically still called the driver seat, while Karen sat in the passenger seat. The driver seat in automatically criving vehicles was the “control” seat and someone needed to sit there if the car was to do anything other than start up, though anyone in any seat could give navigation commands while the driver seat was occupied by someone alert and of legal age, which, by that time, was 15 in most states in the United States.

Most young people who had grown up in that day and age never learned to manually drive, even though all states allowed it on at least some roads, and Virginia was one of 18 states, mostly in the Southeast, that still allowed manual driving on any road, anywhere in the state. The only stipulation was that one had to have a manual driving certification in their General Profile, which meant that he or she had taken both the academic and simulation classes for several weeks. The driving tests of that time had become so strict that there had been people who had been manual driving for decades who could not pass. Also, the certification only lasted three years and no longer could be renewed automatically. One had to take the test every three years, and could not have a manual certification until their 21st birthday in the United States.

Just as a side note, a “General Profile,” was an entry in a database operated by all 57 states of the United States at that time, and replaced a person’s Government ID, Driver’s License, social security card, pilot’s license, criminal record, or any other state, local, and federal governmental thing that person may have had. There was no longer need to carry a piece of paper or plastic, with or without one’s picture, around anymore. Law enforcement could always have immediate access to anyone’s picture on a tablet screen along with everything about the person, immediately related to an officer’s responsibilities of protecting the public, any time the law deemed it a necessity.

Jack Mondo was a 19-year-old with a new hand-me-down car from his parents, and he wanted a couple hours with his girlfriend in Richmond before she would have to go to her second shift job at 6pm. Her parents would come back from their Jamaican vacation at midnight, and this traffic and this timidly programmed vehicle appeared to be precluding Jack from having any alone time with her. He was one of the thousands of drivers on the same Beltway Upper Deck, Beltway Middle Deck, and Beltway Lower Deck, waiting just inside the Virginia State Line, apparently, for paint to dry, which accurately described the Beltway on unseasonably warm Saturdays in February, although paint drying could arguably be more of an assurance than getting off the Beltway. Tapping his fingers and cussing to himself was not relieving his tension any more. Realizing that he was finally out from under the manual driving ban on the Beltway, enforceable by CPU-mandate only in Maryland, he had to act!

“The traffic is offering gaps that I would kill for. These goddamned pussy-assed 'bots in their boxes ain’t taking them!” said Jack to himself.

“Mine ain’t doing shit either, but I will! Let me …” he continued to seethe to himself. It did not matter that he had absolutely no manual driving schooling or experience at all. In his mind he knew more than these age-old devices and their long-since retired programmers knew about safety and control and so he was going to put his car into manual driving. Because traffic cops were rare at that day and age, he knew he would not ever get caught. He was over 18 and able to have controls over the car not afforded to him just under a year and a half prior, for the automatic driver allowed him to control the car like that even though he did not have legal authorization to do so. The 'bot just cared that he was at a fully accountable age, which was still 18 in the United States.

“Access,” he demanded, which gave the all too familiar sequence of chirps which were universal among technology of the day. “Manual driving override. All liabilities and responsibilities accepted.”

He ignored all the protesting warnings and the brief, angry, klaxxon-like squawks as he grabbed hold of the wheel, accelerator, and break and began passing and weaving between the relatively stagnant cars just like what used to happen with frequency on the Capital Beltway of Old. Little did he know that fate was going to make good on his threat about killing for those speed opportunities. As it turned out, the killing would be himself. Though, it would come very close to including two more people.

Re: Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Monday, March 30, 2043. 7:03am.

“Where are the two loves of my li-ife?” sang Emily Trudeau, their 23-year-old surrogate mother and caregiver as she danced into their nursery.

Instinctively, Karen’s crib began to slowly drop its side down when it was approached by her.

“Mommy’s here!”

Ken rolled over to watch as Karen was picked up from the crib and placed onto the changing table. Neither of the Hendersons could talk because their CCVSes (Cognitively Controlled Voice Synthesizers) hadn’t been strapped on their ankles yet and their mouths were not yet coordinated enough to talk. There was no need for these anklets while they are sleeping, so Emily took these devices off her regenerate children every night, and a few quick things were needed this morning before they would be returned to them. Biologically, instinctual, and for the most part, emotionally, the two Hendersons were infants. Chronologically and cognitively, Ken and Karen were in their 70s, with the exception of their motor and sensory skills, of course. Their livelihoods were now unrecognizable from that of any other 4-month-old except for their ability to verbally communicate with their caregiver and each other when they were wearing their CCVS devices.

“Today’s your big day!” said their mommy, “ticka-ticka.” Karen let out a reflexive hacking cackle as she poked her tummy a couple of times. No way could Karen avoid the gleeful outburst even if she wanted to, because all previously, long-dormant, infantile reflexive, actions had been revived by the transformation, as it was needed to ensure the regenerated infants’ survival. After busying herself with undressing, changing, wiping, and putting a yellow onesie followed by a green-and-yellow spring dress on Karen, Emily proceeded over to Ken and his crib, which also dropped its side in response to the surrogate mom’s presence.

“You know who’s coming to visit,” said mommy, “how’s my little boy?” Repeating the same diaper-changing and dressing process, including the ticka-tummies and cackles, she got Ken ready in a light blue dinosaur onesie followed by a blue sweatpants and matching shirt with a little embossed sailboat design in the upper left side of Ken’s front. She immediately threw the well-used overnight disposables in the diaper receptacle and washed her hands, before the waste processing nanobots in the receptacle went to work on the newly deposited items.

She got her pumped breast milk into their bottles and put them in their mouths while holding them gently. Thanks to the generous financial arrangements, she was a full-time regenerate mommy and could arguably avoid the breast pump as a middle-man. However, as much as Emily loved the bonding time and the gentle feeling at first, she later felt that it was probably time for her children to wean emotionally. They were a married couple and she had always wondered if at some level they kind of felt weird about seeing her topless.

“Oops! forgot these, …” Emily said as she placed the CCVSes on each baby’s right ankle. After they finished their bottles, she burped them, then put the two of them in their baby caddies got them downstairs to let the milk settle a little bit before breakfast. Then, she started spooning them their rice cereals. Both infants looked with love and joy at each spoonful going into their mouths. The pure rice cereal, bland to most non-infants, were heaven to these two because infant taste buds were much more sensitive. It seemed to have a very slight natural sweetness.

Though they loved each other dearly, they felt they had no problems bonding with their new mother, as any human at any age could adopt a new mother and/or father, especially with the enhanced infant instincts which had been instilled in them. The Hendersons’ original parents, of course, could never be replaced, as the mommies and daddies that Ken and Karen originally had known would never leave their hearts, even long after they had watched them pass away years ago. But, it was a wonderful feeling having someone watching over them, and making sure every need of theirs was satisfied, and who loved them both unconditionally. The only thing they had to do was obey her, and the two of them had never had any problems with this requirement. After all, their surrogate had had to go through an extremely difficult procedure, much more than a normal pregnancy, and she did it all out of love.

“I used to feed my children and grandchildren exactly like that,” squawked Ken’s CCVS, “you are so very kind, mommy.” That brought a smile to Emily, almost bringing her to tears.

Karen did not want to push her mommy over the crying threshold because crying was contagious, especially at their biological ages, so she held her electronic tongue before she made a nostalgic comment of her own. She wanted so bad to tell her mommy this morning that she herself rocked her first daughter Rebekah exactly the same way her surrogate mommy did and saw no one else do it that same way until last night. She wished she could tell her last night but her CCVS was taken off for the night.

After breakfast, more burping, and cleaning up the spit-ups, Emily put her children back in their carriers and sat them next to each other in the rightmost seat of the plush, tan, 3-seat sofa and sat herself down in the middle seat, propping her feet on a matching ottoman, which automatically extended from the front. Reflexively and oblivious to the routine technology of the 2040s, she picked up her feet and rested them on the item while she got her tablet out and began to read Homer’s Iliad. Karen stared, not only amazed how such a middle-21st-century girl likes ancient classics but how her mommy consistently had always come into her room first thing in the morning, fully dressed and made up, and stayed that way until they were put to bed for the night. Other than when occasional midnight needs had gone reflexively to her or her husband’s vocal cords and tear ducts, they had never seen mommy in her night gown. Karen was a mommy herself at one time and could not even fathom being able to do that, even with no-smudge instant-dry make-up of the 2040’s.

After the two of them turned on their virtual mobiles and started batting at the items, Emily could not help looking over the top of her book with extreme adoration and joy. She enjoyed the moment watching these two darling ones as they followed the patterns, learning to control course motor skills and the ability to focus. Hoping she did not get caught staring, she returned to her Iliad.

Ken and Karen’s bodies were at the exact age when fruits and vegetables could be introduced to them, which was one of many reasons why the regeneration consultant was coming today at about 8:30. The main purpose of the consultant, however was much broader: it was to introduce Emily into the first step of engaging her babies in custom tailored development plans. It was going to be a long week of trying different foods, playtime, learning, progress testing, and fun! As tricky a process growing up was the first time around when they were in their original bodies, developing regenerates was a very precise and delicate science, and unfortunately, not every regenerate child survived their second childhood. Only certain personalities were capable of going through this process so the vast majority of people in this world had had no interest in extending their lives by this transformation, known as “Cloned Infant Bioregeneration,” or CIB. The Hendersons’ were a unique story.

Saturday, February 15, 2042. 4:43pm. Before the transformation.

As the largest pieces of the wreck were being loaded from the shoulder in front of them to the towing vehicle, Officers Chen and Gomez looked at the animated data on the squad car’s 3-D display. With what they had been seeing in front of them for the last few hours, this was a welcome break for two seasoned officers who had not seen extreme tragedies like this very often since they were just a couple of years out of the academy. The visual feed was a culmination of the dash-cams and engine stats of the victims’ and 15 witnesses’ vehicles. The recreations were purely computer-generated and showed outlined figures with color-coded data, which was much less traumatic to observe than actual machines and bodies undergoing demolition. They had had enough pictures of gore and violence in their minds just looking at the results of the accident in person. Someone 15 years younger than them lost his life instantly with a frontal head impact and spinal fracture near enough to the cortex to guarantee to be fatal: neurological equivalent of decapitation. Fortunate for the other two victims, the medivac drone choppers had taken them, unconscious and no doubt in extremely critical condition, immediately to Fairfax Inova in Fiarfax, VA, and as of that time, the officers did not know anything about their condition other than they were still alive. They weren’t sure but the few accidents that 25 years of combined experience between them afforded them suggested that the prospects of the remaining survivors were pretty grim.

The simulation’s initial frame showed the gray silhouette of a 2033 Toyota Phase sedan with a marker caption phrased in red, “Mondo: Manual Override Without Proper Certification.” Briefly touching the virtual right arrow button, Gomez was rewarded with this extra information on a pull-down menu: “Illegal Passing Without Signal; Speeding 10-20 Miles Above Posted Limit.” When Chen pressed the “Resume” virtual button, the sedan repeatedly changed lanes and sped up to 70 mph between vehicles. The simulation automatically stopped when one variable changed in the marker caption: “Mondo: Traveling in a Shoulder/Emergency Lane.” It was at this point just 20 seconds before the time of impact when it went off again, pointing to the same silver sedan silhouette on the left shoulder of the Upper Deck of the Capital Beltway, Outer Loop, indicating his speed was even faster. Chen tapped the 3-D button image again to proceed to the next variable change. About 4.7 seconds before impact, another caption appeared, in yellow, above a silver silhouette of a 2037 Toyota Madrigal SUV turning its wheels into the left shoulder, which read, “Henderson: Sleeping While Controlling an Automatically Driving Vehicle.” Zooming in, they saw the soft purple silhouetted male figure with a ‘Z’ in a cloud caption within his leaning head. The “cloud-Z” was at that time, the international symbol for sleeping, no longer delegated to the Sunday Online cartoons, so this was in no way a lack of tactfulness on the part of the original programmer.

“Sorta’ enough blame to go around,” said Officer Chen.

“My initial thoughts,” said Officer Gomez. At this point their only duty was to see if there were any charges to file other than minor traffic violations. The Commonwealth Attorney couldn’t charge a dead person with his own homicide, and Mr. Henderson couldn’t be charged with what his automatically controlled vehicle had done in response to his dozing off because legally, that was a legitimate reason to be in the shoulder. All automatic vehicles were considered “uncontrolled” when the driver was asleep and were mandated to pull out of traffic as quickly as possible. Though falling asleep during autodrive was a traffic violation, in Virginia, it was never a legal cause of an accident.

“Finish to make sure,” continued Gomez, “'Wonder how those two, in the SUV, each got such nasty head blows.”

The SUV was still in the process of pulling into the shoulder, when, a few frames later, the female passenger jiggles the shoulder of the driver but unfortunately it was too late. The SUV was in the way of Mondo’s sedan resulting in a 103 mph impact. The male driver in the sedan did not have his seat belt on and paid the fatal price immediately.

A few frames later, both officers’ jaws dropped as the answer to Gomez’s question appeared. A four-foot-long wooden beam ,loosely placed atop of two pieces of luggage came over the captain’s chairs at a velocity approximately 40 miles per hour and landed squarely on both victims, impacting exactly the same place on both of their heads: the place where the spinal cord meets the brain, before falling back behind the front seats onto the floor. Fortunately it was not enough to be immediately fatal, because the medical team was able to get to them very fast.

This 2x4 culprit was the last-minute packing idea from Ken, and surplus material from his son’s playground set for Ken and Karen’s grandchildren. Ken just wanted to take it off his son’s hands because his son had no wood chipper, which was the only way one could dispose of untreated wood and un-recyclable yard waste in Maryland. Paper was no longer made from wood but plastics, which were always recycled by nanobots from everyone’s trash. In Virginia, where Ken and Karen lived, there were all kinds of places to use wood.

Officer Gomez reached for his Rosary, dangling from his rear-view mirror, and did the old familiar Sign Of The Cross.

Re: Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Monday, March 10, 2042. 10:53am. Before the transformation.

In a conference room at University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Hendersons’ children were present with some of their spouses. Rebekah Greenburg, with her husband Ron sat on the left side of the table with its screen sections in front of them showing the same, difficult to accept information, as it did to Joel and Shirley Henderson, and the youngest son Michael on the right side of the table. By default, the conference table’s giant embedded screen partitioned itself into discrete sections in front of each chair for document presentations. Included in this conference at the windowed end, and in left-to-right order was Dr. Saihah Mohammad, Director of Neurology wearing a traditional hijab of black with gold trim, along with an appropriately matching dress; Dr. Gregory Xu, Director of Legal Issues wearing a dark suit and burgundy tie with gold stripes; Dr. Leonetta Williamson, Bioregeneration Process Specialist wearing her lab coat over her business blouse and blue skirt combination; Bishop Lance Martin, of the Charlottesville First Ward, Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, wearing a tan two-piece and a burgundy tie with silver paisleys; Dr. Suzanna Yuan, Director of Psychology in a frilled business shirt and blue slacks; and Mrs. Maribel McMillan, herself a regenerate of biological age 8, wearing her blue business skirt and blouse pair not too much different from that which was beneath Dr. Williamson’s white lab coat.

If it was a much less somber day, Maribel could have laughed to herself over the irony of the dress situation because she had spent up to an hour this morning with her mom trying to find something plain, simple, but unique for this event. During her whole life, both before and after her transformation, she had never liked wearing formal clothes because that was the only thing which she had ever stressed over like an obsessed, perfectionist teenager. Three people had needed to come to a consensus over whether or not to let their loved ones live and she had to be there with them.

In her mild Arab-speaking accent and her dry, matter-of-fact demeanor, Dr. Mohammad began, “Thank you all for coming today. First and foremost, Dr. Miguel Valdez, Director of Medicine sends his sincerest apologies, but he came down with the flu and unfortunately cannot appear today at this meeting. He has, however, invited each of Mr. and Mrs. Henderson’s children and their spouses to see him upon his return to full health, by appointment which he will endeavor to make his highest priority. He has requested that I proceed with the meeting in his absence. We want to present our findings on your parents’ conditions and explain why we came to the conclusion that we did before you can come to your decision. But first let us introduce each other.”

After the shaking of hands of each person around the table, Dr. Mohammad began referencing the documents displayed on each participant’s screen, and presented the doctors findings, using doctor’s jargon, and pausing every once in a while to explain what that means in non-medical jargon, to the children of both patients and to the other members of the meeting who were not medically trained.

“…Now you know why we came to the conclusion that both your mother and father are extremely unlikely to ever regain consciousness and their conditions will unfortunately continue to deteriorate slowly. It is feasible to assume that they will live another 6 months in the condition in which they are in, but not a significant amount of time afterwards. I’m really wish I had better news with respect to their conditions. If bioregeneration was not an option, I think we would probably be discussing the possibility of … terminating life support for both your parents right now, to be honest. However, because every one of you,” she addressed the children, specifically, “expressed interest in the bioregeneration option, I wanted to give you at least some good news: we have come to the consensus that we all believe both of your parents are excellent candidates for cloned infant bioregeneration, or CIB, and would approve usage of this procedure at your discretion. I would now like to introduce you to Dr. Susanna Yuan, who has reviewed all your statements on the personality characteristics of your mom and dad. Thank you Dr. Yuan, you may have the console,” She concluded.

“Thank you Dr. Mohammad,” stood the tall, lanky psychologist of Han Chinese decent. With an instant command she pulled up a very professional, clean, well developed, but simplified and easy to follow diagram on everyone’s display. She was very dynamic, easy to listen too, and if it weren’t for the fact the people which she was addressing were in a very difficult situation, the presentation might have been with light words and humor. “…There are five criteria that we can judge a personality and by your testimonies on your observations of your parents, they seem to have high marks in all five. Less than one in ten personalities meet even the minimum criteria … ,” she hesitated with the next statement, unaccustomed to not being the sunshine of any room, “but I have to be honest and this is the part that is most painful to say: even when they do have the right personality types there is a less than 15% survival rate up to five years after the procedure. The majority undergo so much psychological stress that it causes them to mentally, … shut down. That means they grieve to death over their inability to cope, and it may mean far more suffering than if they were allowed to finish their lifespans in their previous bodies. But still, in my opinion, if there was anyone I think that could be the ones most likely to succeed, both your parents would be my first pick.”

When Dr. Yuan was done, the floor was handed over to Dr. Xu of the Legal Department. There was no living will for the Hendersons, just ancillary evidence that they both, in passing conversations, would largely be uninterested in delaying the natural end of their lives but would most likely allow it if there were sudden extenuating circumstances. Karen Henderson would only want to go through it if her husband had done so, so as to minimize the amount of time one would have to carry on in this world without the other. It was a video clip from a Christmas celebration where casual “shoot-the-breeze” random conversations were normal that may have saved their lives. If there were candidates for “extenuating circumstances,” what better candidate than this circumstance? Dr. Xu reiterated that when the Hendersons regain consciousness, the procedure would be finished and they could not reverse the decision made by the family. The ball was completely in their survivors’ court at that instant in time.

“I should remind you what I’m sure your attorney has said. In Virginia, as agents under power of attorney, you may choose the surrogate, and the caregiver or caregivers, and the consultant. You have the option of selecting the surrogate as the caregiver, and most people choose this option, but it is not legally necessary.” finished Dr. Xu.

Dr. Williamson went over the procedure in a dry but informative matter, but very briefly too, sensing that the room was losing energy exponentially and she realized that she was in no way a mood enhancer when she talked. Bishop Martin advised the council that he stood by the church’s decision that it was acceptable, when circumstances warrant, for people to undergo the bioregeneration process if it was felt by those who can make the decision that God had willed them to accept the procedure. This was the view shared by the Pope, Dahli Lama, and just about every spiritual leader in the world, as there would be no loss of life because the initial embryo which was to become the surrogate body. would be genetically altered to not create any cognitive functions at all. The nanobots would take brain cells from the host and convert them into younger versions of them in the target embryo/fetus at the right stages and the right times, while the surrogate host would be induced into a coma.

After a brief and private prayer between the Bishop and the Henderson Family, and the return of the rest of the staff, it was time for Ms. McMillan to take the floor. After the now routine exchanges of gratitude.

“Thank you Bishop Martin. Excuse me while I go … where I can be seen a little better.” She got up and went to the end of the table nearest the hallway, backing off so that everyone could see most of her. Because of her small stature this was a perfectly understandable gesture, given that the table was almost neck high to her. She began her story of her own regeneration process, beginning with the news of her own terminal illness. While telling her story, she seemed to be able to reinvigorate the entire room, and it seemed to fill the room with the hope that something good could happen despite the tough circumstances.

"As someone who has lived physically as an octogenarian and a girl of eight, I could tell you from personal experience it feels very lively to be where I am. Though, I’d certainly like to sew with the skill and precision of decades worth of fine motor skill on a long, knitted summer dress for a young granddaughter. But as an eighty-year-old, I remembered my last childhood feeling so excited at the ability to run randomly in the backyard with the same soft, cool dress hand-knitted by my own grandma, from my first childhood. There are major trade-offs. I was independent until my last year of my last body. In this body I had to be totally dependent on my mommy for close to three years and still have to be quite dependent on her today. I am fully self-employed, yes, but I am also a child of Marci Valdez, my surrogate mother, daughter of Dr. Miguel Valdez. I depend on her daily for emotional strength and support that can only come from someone with the emotional age and skills of an adult. I once had that emotional stamina myself, 10 years ago in my previous body, but I won’t have again until I slowly grow up again. Chronologically, mommy is over fifty years my junior, but emotionally, I am definitely her junior. I’ll be honest, it’s a struggle to keep my emotions, and my behavior in check, almost as much as it is a struggle for any eight-year-old, even as of right now. I can manage, however, to keep myself acting professionally enough to do my consulting work, and advise you all at this meeting today. Having a mommy makes it so much easier.

“As Dr. Yuan has said, there are some risks. I did have a major downturn when I was 3 and a half years after gestation. I started out with having an uneasy feeling I couldn’t describe. Then I instantly remembered how I loved to be physically active in my previous life but I couldn’t so much as motivate myself to pick up a ball today. I was much more interested in reading or crafts. But then I went to my craft table and felt it wrong, believing I was the old child, that would want to mimic cheer leading or play basketball. Then, other differences started really being noticed and I couldn’t tell what my identity was anymore in anything I did, so I really lost my sense of being. Career choices, religion, everything started going through my head at once. Then nothing became fun and then the feeling that it was past time to live, and I was better off … originally, … letting my loved ones carry on in my absence. I had to take it upon myself to be brave enough tell my mommy that I was in trouble. I was undergoing the Personality Conflict Downspiral, or more cruelly known on the 'net as the ‘Missed Grim Reaper Syndrome,’” she continued unable to control the tears streaking down her cheek. “It was the blessing of my mother, my consultant and friend Aimee, and the wonderful staff at the now 10-year-old Regenerated Children’s Center of Richmond that got me to where I am today. I was finally able to resolve the two personalities and accept both of them as me. I resolved that I was not going to die from suicide or retreat to catatonia as have happened to my peers so many times. I live today!” she managed, amazing herself that she was able to stifle more tears from coming out. She could see that she wasn’t the only one finding it difficult to keep her face dry.

“I have to say that in all honesty, I personally am glad I made the transition, glad I trusted my mommy with my care, I’m glad I spoke out to my mommy when things were not going the way they should, and I am glad I made myself go through the treatment at the center. Though all the struggles, and trials, and with the help of my own regenerate consultant Aimee, my mother, friends, extended family, and my church, I am able to become who I am today. It was Aimee that inspired me to become a consultant myself. Having spent decades in family counseling in my previous career from which I retired, I knew I could easily transition.” The 8-year-old regenerate, with the knowledge of an eighty-year-old, approached the table but in such a way that all members can still see most of her. Looking into the eyes of each family member in turn, with serious compassion in her voice she continued, "I don’t want to advertise bioregeneration, or push you to make one decision or another any more than anyone else here wants to. We all fully respect your decision no matter what, and will support you in that decision. Please make no decision other than that which you feel is best. I just want to remind you that it doesn’t have to fail. If everyone of you, me, and the wonderful staff here at UVA put their best effort forward, and I’m definitely sure your parents will put their best effort forward, I could never consider it a failure.

“The key to improving their chances is first, having a surrogate mother who hosts a regenerate to raise the patients, for the most part, as she would a child of her own. The hospital recommends from candidates extremely carefully. The candidate must visit physicians regularly for checkups for herself and the regenerated child, and to have periodic visits with a consultant, beginning at their fourth month after birth. That’s where people like me come in. There are so many variables in the redevelopment of a child that a precise development plan is always needed. You do not have to choose me.” She waved her hand in a command to display the electronic calling card portfolio of 6 other regenerate consultants, with hers at the end. This package was her only contribution to the virtual folder of documents available to each person’s display. “I searched around the region and I would recommend any one of these others, not just myself. Research them all. All of us in the small industry recommend you do that. My purpose here today is to be an objective, living testimony to bioregeneration.”

The little powerhouse that Maribel McMillan was, was exactly what the room needed to convince Henderson’s children that a decision to start the procedure was the wisest decision they could ever do under the circumstances, despite her clear intentions not to influence anyone’s decision. The Hendersons had already gotten their lawyers to handle all the paperwork and made sure their clients checked the box on each section of the documents that they were required to check and placed their thumbprints on the final page. It was conditional, at this point, only on the unanimous verbal consent of all three biological children of the Hendersons before a court magistrate with the raising of hands. The magistrate was in the room next door with their lawyer, and all three headed to that room with Drs. Xu and Mohammad behind. They were going to turn their parents into children.

On the way to her home outside Richmond, little Maribel fell fast asleep in the passenger seat while Mrs. Valdez gently stroked her hair from the drivers seat of the red Mercedes sedan. They were originally going to visit Grandma at her flower shop while Grandpa had the flu, however there were always limits to even the strongest powerhouses and certainly the events of the day did push this little one’s limit.

Re: Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Monday, March 30, 2043. 8:31am. After the transformation.

Ken and Karen were waiving the floating 3-D display controls in their caddies, catching up with news events and then took time to play with the virtual mobiles again. The mobile icons changed between turtles, birds, balls, and other items when the infants touched them. Their baby caddies were equipped with 3-D holographic-projectors that extended from the top and bottom of the frame to project 3-D images and detect motions, and the only thing they needed was a portable tablet the docking socket below each of them.

“Access, app, change theme, shapes,” commanded Ken to his mobile app from his CCVS. Suddenly different colored shapes appeared on the virtual mobile, replacing the previous icons. Ken had always started his youngest children with geometric shapes before teaching them common objects. He thought they would be good for redeveloping his own visual cortex too. Karen looked over and discovered the shapes not only changed shapes, but they also changed randomly into different colors when touched and so she ordered her mobiles app to duplicate Ken’s.

The door chimed a high-pitched arpeggio when the consultant and her chauffeur parked their vehicle and started pacing up the sidewalk. In obedience of the new courtesy culture that had taken shape since doors could do that, Emily Trudeau got up and waited for the right time to open the door and greet the guests.

In came a 9-year-old girl pulling the handle of her carrying case on wheels, nearly as tall as her and printed with her logo and her name, “Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant.” Shortly behind came in her chauffeur, her own surrogate mom, Sheri Valdez. She pulled two identical cases to that of the little Ms. McMillan and carried in her arm what looked like a rolled up child-size mattress. Almost comically, they both had the same businesslike, slight, aristocratic gait as they walked in the house. However, they revealed their true, friendly demeanor when they came to greet Mrs. Trudeau, almost as if they were long, lost, close relatives.

Maribel was wearing a pair of classic relaxed-fit bluejeans, a mint green silk turtleneck sweater, and fresh white tennis shoes with a pink version of that timeless Nike Swoosh. Being one of the last of the Baby Boomer Generation, she had always loved jeans. Her mom was wearing a gray and pink workout outfit and she looked fit enough to suggest the outfit got plenty of use. After the three of them finished gathering the cases and mattress into a corner of the living room, hugging, and kissing, Maribel’s surrogate mom crouched down and told her quietly, but audibly enough to be heard by the baby couple, that she would miss her this week and she loved her. Her hands gently held Maribel’s arms and Maribel smiled back. Then, Ms. Valdez went to greet Ken and Karen and say a final goodbye to Emily before returning back to her car.

Maribel was going to be a resident consultant for the week.

Emily thanked the mom for her help, and Maribel for coming out here, and Maribel returned the thanks to Emily, addressing her as “Ms. T,” saying she loved the opportunity to meet the Hendersons. Then it was Maribel’s turn to greet Ken and Karen, who had long since turned off their mobiles apps out of courtesy.

“Hello, remember me? … yes? … I was there to greet you shortly after you two were born.”

“We remember,” said Karen’s CCVS, “we were awake just long enough. You are Maribel.” Maribel happened to be in the still holographic-photo taken by the press to announce the birth of the world’s first, married, regenerate couple. Not only were they the first couple to undergo the regeneration procedure at the same time, they were the first regenerate fraternal twins and also celebrities in their own rights. Ken Henderson was the founder and long-since retired ex-CEO of Starball Enterprises, the company responsible for putting computer programming in the hands of every man woman and child around the world, effectively obsoleting most of the expensive computer programmers of the world. He was always affectionately named, “The Geek To End All Geeks.”

“We appreciate you coming all the way out here to help us, … put us on the straight and narrow,” said Ken, through his CCVS, always the comedian.

They all got a chuckle out of the religious reference, with the loveliest giggles coming from the infants. Maribel had grown up Catholic in her last life and was growing up Catholic in her new life too, as her new mom was Catholic. Emily was also a fellow Catholic, but was raising two Mormon regenerates. Since the previous month, on Sundays, she had been dropping them off to a volunteer who had been taking them into the Mormon services while she spent her time at Mass. Before that, the babies would be with their mother at Mass. It broke Emily’s heart that she couldn’t baptize them as infants in her own church because it was against Mormon beliefs to infant baptize, almost as much as it did to drop them off on Sunday for a few hours of being away from them at such a young age.

“I’m hear to help you with your new childhood, and to make it as good and healthy as your first one. First, I need to talk something over with your mommy, and come back to you to talk to you both,” she said with loving, cutesy, older-sister type affectionate inflections in her voice.

Maribel McMillan and Emily Trudeau were going over the questionnaires that Ken and Karen Henderson had taken long before the consultant date when Karen started crying. Both babies were overdue for their after-breakfast diaper change. Maribel offered to help with the situation because she had packed two changing pads in her cases, thinking it would be better if routines were as synchronized between both infants as possible. They each took a baby and started their work.

“I notice you don’t cry when you are wet and stinky,” said Emily as she poked Ken’s tummy.

Flailing his arms and giggling in response to the stimulus, he talked through his anklet CCVS, which was muffled by his pants being around his ankles, “I was like that in my last childhood too. I never cared if I was wet, or yucky. I was potty trained late for my time, just about the time I turned three.” Physically incapable of controlling their weak pelvic floor muscle for long periods of time rendered all 4-month-olds incontinent, despite the adult cognitive level and the faster advancement of the motor skills of the Hendersons. “I do want to start a little earlier than that the second time around. Maybe I can start … exercises … for my potty muscles. … However, mommy doesn’t think elimination communication is practical right now and thinks diaper changes at this age are easier.”

“Kegal exercises for 4-month-olds?” she replied, " … um … I think I’m going to have to side with your mommy on this one. And I’m sure your pediatrician would do the same. Let’s wait until all your muscles are toned up before we give special worry about the ones down there. Maybe when you are able to walk to the potty?" The babies giggled at the cute sassy inflections of their consultant. “I was not able to go potty all by myself until about the same age as the first time I was potty trained: 31 months. I too wanted to be a little earlier to help my mommy out but had to accept my limitations. Enjoy being a baby for now,” said Maribel.

She turned to Emily, “Ms. T., you don’t mind me calling you that, do you?”

“Not at all dear,” responded the babies’ mommy.

“Is it okay if I get out their play mat while we finish up?”

“Sure, let’s do that.”

After washing hands and disposing of the diapers, the little consultant and the mommy put the two darlings on the unfolded mat in the living room. There was no need for a playpen as the Hendersons knew to stay put for mommy. Besides, despite even the bright colorful interactive toy icons enticing them on the blanket, the only thing this couple was interested in at that time was engaging in their passionate bond with each others’ eyes. They did this until they fell asleep.

“Ken seems to take a liking to logical and mathematical stuff. Karen prefers sensual, artistic and verbal stuff. We have a left brain baby and a right brain baby. However, given their histories, it looks like both of them should be a little bit balanced in their operational skills,” said Maribel.

“I knew their profiles when I chose to be their mommies. I chose them because I wanted to provide for special babies and did not care what their personalities and backgrounds were, of course, but I read up on them because of my curiosity and love for them. And I’m willing to do this even though there is a … chance of not being successful, and the likelihood they will, … leave the nest much earlier,” said Emily with a hint of sorrow.

Maribel reached across the table to put her hand on Emily’s, and Emily moved her arm forward to accommodate the regenerate youngster. It was time for the compassionate elder side of Maribel to come forward.

“Please understand, that they will make it. Count on that. Don’t even consider thinking otherwise,” responded the consultant. It was also Emily’s way of comforting and convincing herself, as she had seen cases go both ways.

“The oldest regenerate right now is 13 and he has little interest in leaving home, even though he is back in his profession. I messaged him once and he has told me that he thinks he could probably make it on his own but wants to stay home because it was easier. Sound like a typical teenager?” they chuckled, “But, with enough of an anchor of wisdom of his previous life he knows that he is still very susceptible to temptations of youth and will stay home until he is ready. Your children are with you for the long haul, Ms. T. Besides, the law says they are yours until they are 18. The only difference between them and real children is they can vote at age five, they do not need public education, and the child labor laws are much more gentle and flexible.”

“Sleeping birdies, wake-up!” said the cheery 9-year-old. “It’s time to begin!”

She placed them on their backs and briefed them on how the week was going to progress. In place of the holographically projected baby caddie tablet-apps which offered no touch sensations, she brought out two physical, interactive baby mobiles and put their suspension frames together, adjusting them so that they could hover the mobiles over them while they are on their backs. One mobile had pet animals and the other had geometric shapes. She put the mobiles on the stands and asked the two to touch them. Even though the icons were non-projection, they were capable of changing color and patterns on interaction. Karen’s mobile was the pets mobile and their colors were appropriate for their types. The canary was yellow, the dog was blue, and the cat was orange with tabby bands.

Next she asked them to touch the icon that was different in some way, other than its shape, of course, because the icons were made of a base polymer with LED veneers. One of Karen’s animal icons would either be in a different stance, or making noise, or behaving differently in some other way, while one of Ken’s shape icons would change colors, shadings, patterns, or display shapes within shapes differently as the development exercises go on. Also, the mobiles were motorized so that the bars and arms would move to patterns and randomness when the time came to start moving the icons. Despite their solidness, the icons on Karen’s display could simulate motion, as the icons’ shapes were rectangular at areas nearby legs, wings, and even come heads of each figure.

Play time was interrupted early so that there could be some preparations for lunch. Maribel got out a bright pink insect-like device, whose exact purpose the couple knew. It was a painless motorized syringe for drawing small amounts of blood for many at-home tests. “Millie Mosquito” was its name. As intimidating as the name would have been to children of earlier generations, repellents had been perfected at this time, and insect-borne diseases like malaria and Lyme’s had been eradicated. So it became socially acceptable for depictions of these parasites to be used as childhood icons. Allergy testing could be done at home too, which was a good thing because this was the standard thing to do for all babies being introduced to fruits and vegetables for the first time.

“Let’s see what Millie says about you, Ken.” She placed Millie on Ken’s thigh as, out of his view, a tiny red droplet formed within the device’s vile. She removed Millie, detached her vile and placed it on Millie’s base while the nanobots went to work looking for reactions to agents. She did the same with Karen. The process was going to take a while so until the device was ready, she played ticka-tummy with her two tiny clients. When the chime went off, she said, “excuse me,” and got her tablet out. RF interaction between devices had, of course, long since been the norm.

“Okay, Ken: … Peanuts are a wait-and-see …. all nuts are wait-and-see. … Goat meat is a no! … Goat milk is a no! … tomatoes can wait …,” said Maribel. She turned to Karen, “Okay, Karen: … Nuts are a wait-and-see too. Expected at this age. … Strawberries are nos! … Tomatoes are nos! … It’s a good thing we found these things out now!” She immediately took out two jars of what looked like a puree, out of her case, and immediately disposed of them. The color of the puree suggested strawberries. There was no need to have anything like that around the house. Karen never had been allergic to any food that severely before, and especially had never been allergic to strawberries, so she was shocked to see first hand that the experts were right when they said that DNA was not the only factor which determined propensity towards allergies.

First few days were for bland fruits and veggies. The tester tested for everything, and just because the allergy tests said yes on somethings, wouldn’t mean tiny tummies would say yes. She started with durians that were cut up, mashed, and softened with water by her and her mom last weekend. Ken recognized the taste and asked, “I assume that you used fresh durians. Why don’t your hands smell like their rinds?”

Long the staple fruit of Indonesia, it had finally taken a huge root in the Americas within the previous 20 years, and has always had the reputation for the tell-tale repugnant smell, despite the really nice flavor of their flesh. Soon, buses and other public places on this continent forbade their presence, just like in Asia. “No durians or produce with excessive odors,” said the signs here. Typical Americans: make sure rules are as general as possible, just in case someone finds another stinky think to bring onto a bus.

“We had plenty of time to get the smell off with salad oil. Besides, this variety was bred to have a weaker smell. Let’s give you a little milk to wash-” Maribel was interrupted by Ken’s hacking and crying. Too late. Durian yuck was on his bib and everywhere else. It was a little thicker than the rice cereal so it was a little painful coming up. After she gave a bottle to Karen to prevent the same mishap on the other one, Maribel was happy to take care of her own mistake on Ken. She took off the bib and wiped the face of Ken who could not fight his protest grunts and instinct to turn away from the cold wet rag, and so he apologized for it. She went to wash her hands again, and try durians again on Ken, this time with the milk. Emily resisted the maternal urge to help until it was burping time and she had to participate. New tummies have always had minds on their own, separate from infants, and they still needed help with nasty painful air pockets.

The two of them put the infants in their cribs for nap time and had lunch themselves. After nap time was finished, and another diaper change was done, the babies spent a little bit of time with mommy. Afterwards, it was exercise play time for both. For 4-month-olds, it was rolling along the long foam mat Emily unpacked. Karen was much more gleeful to roll around than Ken, though both enjoyed it.

“You’re an excitable little one aren’t you Karen,” said Maribel, as she ticka-tummied Karen.

Letting out a loud cackle that almost drowned out her CCVS, she responded. "I haven’t felt this free in decades. I can’t do anything for myself at all except talk, but for some reason just rolling around made me feel much freer than I feel like I had in my last childhood.

“I don’t know if you know what it’s like dear- oops I mean Maribel,” She did not want to address a person who was older than her both chronologically and physically as “dear.” “You know what it’s like to want to go back to your childhood, and you have it now to go back to as a Great Blessing from God. I’m not sure if you know what it’s like to not have all that much of a childhood in the first place but to have a complete one now!” Karen’s original mom, God rest her soul, had had the best intentions for her daughter when she, as regional tradition encouraged, made sure Karen was a responsible little girl from about the time she was able to walk. The disadvantage was that childhood was short circuited to adulthood too quickly.

After more mobile-time, more bottles, another small nap, and … of course… another diaper change, it was dinner time. Ken and Karen were excited over the new item because they loved it in their previous lives: butternut squash! To their dismay they both gagged and made reflexive yucky-faces at the bitter mash brought on because they did not expect to be that strong on their sensitive little taste buds. It tasted exactly like squash but for whatever reason did not register right at all with either of them.

“Forgive us, Maribel, and mommy. We will get used to it again,” responded the infant girl.

“We know that, Karen,” responded Maribel, continuing to feed them persistently. Hunger was a stronger feeling which encouraged them to persist in swallowing the bitter yuck in their mouths anyway.

“I used to love to bake it for Thanksgiving,” said Karen. “It still puzzles me why we as children are programmed to hate things that are only slightly bitter.”

“I don’t know either. Who does? Sweet things are so much sweeter at your age too. A banana tastes as good to you as banana ice cream does to a bigger kid like me. Enjoy being babies when you can.”

All four managed to eat dinner at the same time despite two of them having to feed the other two of them in addition to themselves. Then there was a brief total free time where the two of them get to do what they want. It was 'net time for the Hendersons. When they caught up on the news, they started their bonding again with each other only to have it interrupted because they spent much more time on the news than they thought and free time was now over. It was mommy-child time now. Maribel cleaned the table and washed the tableware, no small feat for a small body, and then proceeded upstairs to get their bath ready. She had a cup with a small spout and a kids toy watering can. She had always been nervous about this time because it was hard to gauge when the little ones use their diapers after dinner. It goes without saying that it was definitely preferential that they soil before they get in the tubs. Thankfully she hasn’t had too much drama with regards to that in her profession.

When the baby tubs were full, Maribel and Emily went to work on Ken’s and Karen’s baths, removing the CCVSes, clothes, and diapers, and placing them in their bath seats. The baths were relaxing to both babies, mommy, and the little helper. Just a month ago, the infant couple were always nervous about being in water when they couldn’t sit up. After they were clean and rinsed, Maribel took out a the cup with the pour spout and dribbled warm water on their tummies, chest, head, and after leaning them forward: their upper backs, all the while watching the infants let out loads of cackles and giggles. She also used the watering can in the same manner as before, as it had a shower head on the spout and got similar results from the infants. Then, Emily and Maribel got them dry, put clean diapers on them, and got their footed sleepers on. Ken’s was pale with Yosemite Sam on the front. To Ken, this was still funny that Disney’s logo was on the tag, even though it had been two decades since Disney bought Warner Brothers. Karen’s sleeper was white with patterned pink hearts and flowers. It was noticeably funny to her how footed sleepers for 4-month-olds had treads on the bottoms of the feet, even though they were a long way from being used for walking.

Maribel got ready in her own Cinderella print night gown and laid out her sleep mat and blanket in the nursery. She was going to spend the night in the infants’ room. Ken and Karen each got a bottle prepared by Maribel. Then, Maribel grabbed her tablet and a watch, and said goodnight to Ms. T. and her two fellow regenerates, shortly before the lights went out. Ken was puzzled why there wasn’t a glow by the tablet which he presumed she would read before going to sleep herself, and also why did she wait until bedtime to wear a watch?

Re: Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Tuesday, March 31, 2043. 7:00 am.

The watch on Maribel’s wrist vibrated her awake and she tapped it to quiet it. She very quickly went into the bathroom with a roll of Tuesday’s clothes and her timeless Nike shoes. Ken and Karen were still asleep when she came back in with her night gown rolled up and wasted no time to get them ready for the morning.

Maribel was wearing bell-bottoms, which had a pink butterfly and an orange-centered daisy with white spoon-shaped petals on the pant legs, as was a mimicking of the baby-boomer era, with the exception that jeans in the baby-boomer era were usually plain blue with maybe a patch or safety pin, and the childish butterfly and daisies were more likely to be on Volks Wagan Beetles than jeans. Cutesy combinations had always been requirements for kid clothes. Maribel did not mind. After all, the jeans did go with her Hello Kitty sweatshirt which was the exact same shade of pink as the butterfly, and of course the pink Nike Swoosh on her shoes. Three decades in one were Maribel’s clothes today: 70s, 80s, and 90s, and they looked great, … so clashes between decade icons be darned.

She had to pull the sides down by hand because the cribs do not automatically respond to children, no exceptions. “Sleeping beauty number one!” she sang to Karen as she picked her up out of the crib, not an easy task when your own body is not all that large. Karen made a few reflexive, protest hacks before being able to settle herself with the help of the “shhh, shhh” from Maribel. She placed Karen down on one of the changing pads she had already had ready and went to get Ken to put on the other one. At Maribel’s request, mommy was downstairs the first morning to allow Maribel to be the only one taking care of them. The purpose was to test their behavior when their morning routine was a little bit different than usual, with someone other than their mommy taking care of them first thing in the morning. As she got both of them ready, both Ken and Karen were wondering why they weren’t as wet today as they were the other morning. Their anklets with their CCVSes were not on them yet so they couldn’t ask yet. Karen was dressed into an infant’s romper, which consisted of a pale blue top with had a white toy poodle in her upper left side, and dark blue bottoms. Ken’s outfit was a race car sweatshirt and blue jean overalls with fasteners along the crotch, no doubt for diaper access. Maribel finally affixed the CCVSes to Ken and Karen.

“Did you change us in the middle of the night without waking us?” asked Ken.

“My little boy is observant!” giggled the consultant. Ken didn’t mind language consistent with what someone would say to an infant, when it would otherwise sound a little condescending if said to him when he was an adult. “I took care of your diapers and gave you a bottle in your sleep. With a tiny amount of chamomile tea and other gentle good-for-you herbs both last evening and last night, you probably noticed you two are not quite as hungry this morning either. You don’t remember the bah-bahs, do you?” The two managed to shake their heads “no” despite being unable to lift them from the pads. Maribel put them in their caddies.

“I was wondering,” began Karen, “why you took your tablet to bed but did not turn on its back light so you could see?”

“Let me show you my little secret…” said Maribel as she got her tablet out to present to her. Realizing tiny visual cortexes didn’t have much experience processing 3-D, she ran Karen’s finger across the tiny lumps on the tablet. The tablet was capable of displaying in braille!

“Ah. … Did you ever have family members or friends who were blind?”

“Nope.”

“Clients.”

“Nuh-uh,” shook Maribel’s head.

“Why the braille?” asked Karen.

“Just so I don’t disturb you while you need your sleepy-byes,” she said with a tickle-finger to Karen’s tummy, causing another cackle reflex. The little eccentric learned braille just so she could read at night!

Emily was downstairs with tiny bowls of rice sweetened with Maribel’s special: seedless raspberry mash! The raspberries used in the mash did not need any sugar at all because they were much less tart than most varieties. It led to lot’s of smiley faces and compliments from Ken and Karen.

After breakfast, the morning went by with face wipes, followed by the physical mobiles, followed by diapers. There was also allowed some mommy-baby bonding time, which preceded nap time, and then “free time” where the couple went briefly to the internet, (yes they still called it that!) and then to each others’ passionate eyes. Lunch time was plantain bananas, again cut with milk. Physical exercise was rolling on mats again, but a little longer. For the first time in a long time Ken and Karen felt like their muscles were actually being stretched and used.

On the way upstairs to the nursery to get something out of her case, Maribel’s foot kicked a step and caused her to trip forward, banging her knee on another step. Growth spurts sneak up on you at those physical ages. Trying all she could to suppress a bawl but failing, she manged to whimper, “I’m okay Ms. T! Just give me a few minutes to get over it.”

That wasn’t going to stop Emily’s maternal instinct. She rapidly went over to comfort the 93-year-old consultant with the 9-year-old body and 9-year-old girl instincts. After kissing her forehead and stroking her shoulder, she pulled a tissue out of her pocket case and wiped Maribel’s tears.

“You are so very kind, Ms. T, thank you.” sniffled Maribel.

After retrieving the materials she was going use for the babies’ dinner, it was walking time! Because the little ones couldn’t sit up yet, strollers weren’t an option. Emily Trudeau had two retro-Victorian carriages she got from an E-Bay-happy uncle. Disabling the CCVSes on the babies so as not to startle any passersby who would not be used to regenerate infants in public, Emily and Maribel each got a baby in a carriage and started pushing it outside into the sunny, unusually warm, early spring afternoon. Emily’s door and inside floor was flush with the sidewalk outside, so there were no stairs to overcome. With the shades over their tiny eyes, the two could just enjoy laying back and watching the clouds, trees, and the occasional baby-talking stranger’s face going by. When one commutes for decades, as Ken had, and take it for granted that one has to go outside everyday when one commutes, one does not have the perspective of someone who had not been outside a significant number of times in months. It was more than a blessing to be able to just enjoy the ride. Ken, pushed by mommy, got a tear in his eye at the thought. It was no baby-needs tear, it was a deep tear from his adult inside of him.

Dinner time was sweet potato, which was milked down and mashed by Maribel and her own mom. It was a little bit happier on the taste buds for the tiny clients but not so much on the tummies, as it was still a tiny bit dense, just like the durians and plantains, so bib cleanups were in order. Loving them herself, Maribel had packed some whole sweet potatoes with a bag of marshmallows and spice packets, so that is what she and Ms. T. had for dinner as well. Ms. T’s and her’s were baked into sweet-potato spuds.

Bath time, diapers, mobiles time, mommy time, and bed time concluded the evening. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Re: Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Wednesday, April 1, 2043. 7:00 am.

It’s morning again and this time mommy came in to help.

“My angels!” said Emily as she entered the door. Maribel excused herself to get dressed while Ms. T. got to work on Ken and Karen. Maribel was quick to put on her Denim skirt, white tights, and a Hanna Montana top in time to help out. It appears she was trying for “worked all decades” this week with the throwback from the 2000’s.

They cleaned up the babies and got them into solid pink and solid blue outfits, each having a gender-appropriate baby face sew-on on their tummies, then took them down where they had breakfast ready: a mixture of rice, milk, and home made apple sauce. The morning activities included a different set of physical mobiles: Face icons for both of them! Also, instead of rolling on the mats, this time the infants were told to stay on to their tummies and splay out their arms with their legs pointed straight back, keeping all appendages above the mat. Then Emily and Maribel each took a little one and played “airplane” with them. Squeals and laughter emanated from the two infants.

“Keep those wings and tails up,” ordered the little consultant to the even smaller airplanes. Ken and Karen’s arms started getting tired so the long mat was a welcome runway.

Lunch was pineapple cut with a little bit of banana to make sure tiny tummies don’t protest over the acidity. Afternoon was more mobiles and bonding time with mommy. Dinner was carrots and peas, which, … well, … was a little easier to get used to than the butternut squash. Bath time this time involved bubbles from a bubble maker! The Hendersons really felt happy to be babies that week. Maribel’s creativity for baby activities knew no bounds. After getting them dry and dressed for bed time, Maribel and Ms. T. sang “Frere Jaques” in a duet to them until the two infants slept.

Thursday, April 2, 2043. 7:00 am.

Thursday’s schedule was more happy and had more new activities. Food was all fruit today. The infant’s menu was rice and pears for breakfast, mango for lunch, and melon and banana for dinner: always fresh stuff from the blender, not the jar. Play time wasn’t mobiles, it was a texture book, each page had a different material: felt, smooth, rough, hard, and crinkly. Sometimes the simple non-21st-century toys could be the best. Exercise involved inflatable logs where Ken and Karen learned to push with their legs and arms in their new bodies. This was also tiring, but it was good for helping them become strong enough to sit up and perhaps even crawl a little earlier than normal. The two of them missed their bonding time with each other and they were hoping to get some in that day. While they were napping, Maribel took a little bit of free time to VC (video chat) with her mom and tell her things were going great.

Bath time was bubbles again, but this time it involved both the wand-bubbles from a bubble maker and bubble bath! Oh, how much Ken and Karen wished they could at least sit up in the tub. Textures, smells, sounds, touches and tastes was their life this week, to help them put their personalities back into the reigns of their new bodies. It seemed the infants were worked extra hard today so they needed very little help going to sleep at night. Friday would be the last day for them and would be the time where ideas and suggestions get drawn up for the next two months. Maribel was going to spend time with the infants and their mother to go over how to keep the infants, and to a certain extent, mommy, emotionally balanced so that no problems would less likely occur later on in their new lives. Maribel herself slept pretty heavily, except of course, when the watch vibrated her to her midnight chore of taking care of the babies, and in the morning when it was time for her to wake up. Because the babies were in a rhythm, Maribel did not put chamomile in Ken and Karen’s night bottles anymore. Maribel was also going to encourage their mom to wake up in the middle of the night to change them until they became a little older, because this routine seemed to work out well for the both of them.

Re: Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant

Friday, April 3, 2043. 7:00 am.

“Good morning babies!” said mommy as she and Maribel entered the room, both fully dressed, as Maribel needed to get some stuff ready. Maribel had a red plaid dress and white tights. This time she had a red bow in her hair that was attached to a plastic hair band. Well, … it was sort of retro, but not uncommon in any decade for a little girl. Mommy was wearing her favorite yellow and green flower dress, which was Karen’s favorite.

Karen missed being able to wear tights and was looking forward to being able to do that again, regularly. Yes, they do have tights for infants, but it wasn’t practical for babies until they were at the age where they can walk, and even then, tights are a little tough on mommies of little girls who are still in diapers. In the mean time, Karen is content to wear them only when they were an attached part of a romper.

After the diapering and dressing routine, Maribel and Emily decided that it was going to be a little bit more chilly so warmer dress was in order, even though they were not going to be outside today. For Karen, it was a light pink onesie, purple baby slacks with snaps along the pant legs, and a matching purple sweatshirt with a huge pink flower on both the front and back. While Maribel worked on Karen’s dress, Emily put Ken in a light green onesie, followed by deep-forest sweatpants and matching sweatshirt with stalks of bamboo and a toucan on the front. Because the sweatpants were very elastic and easy to slide down, there was no need for snaps along the crotch for changing. When the CCVSes were strapped on, both were glad to talk.

“We both are going to miss you, Maribel. You were wonderful to us,” said Ken.

“I will miss you too, but it’s too early to say goodbye yet,” responded Maribel, poking the giggle buttons on both babies bellies. “I’m not leaving until late this afternoon. In the meantime let’s have some fun. Let’s start with the yummies.”

Breakfast was the rice mixture with pulverized jackfruit from Jamaica. Well, from Florida anyway. Like durians, jackfruit was another huge tree fruit, which relatively recently, had established itself in American popular culture.

“I meant to tell you how lovely you look today, Maribel,” said Karen.

“What a sweet little one! Why thank you!” responded Maribel. Like, Ken, Karen did not mind and even kind of enjoyed the “talking down” to her like she was an infant. Because, after all, she was an infant and did not see being an infant as being anything bad, so why get offended?

After their now routine post-breakfast cleanup, mobiles, and diaper changes, today’s playtime was the texture books again, but this time it was pictures, with different materials for different parts of the picture. A bird could have a soft felt for the down, and canary feathers for the tail feathers, and the nest could be twiggy. A beach ball would have three different smooth materials for the different colors of the ball, and the beach sand would be very slightly gritty. After a few pages she asked Ken and Karen to predict the texture of something before they touch it.

When that was done, Maribel asked for Ken and Karen’s tablets from under their caddies and they allowed her to take them so that she could upload a few 3-D apps that were good for their coordination. She lent out her mobiles kit and the texture book to them and instructed them and their mom on how they should continue. She also brought out some other toys to lend to them for use when they were more skilled in their new bodies. The inflatable tubes were free and Ms. T. said she would get a good rolling mat for them before they could get used to the texture of the low pile carpet in her house.

Then, it was time to use Maribel’s mat for one last time. This time Maribel had the two of them exercising their legs and arms on the log, and then rolling along the mat. She told them that the primary purpose of the battery of exercises this week was not so much to strengthen their tiny muscles, it’s mainly psychological: to encourage their “high-energy child” instinct a little more. Studies showed regenerates really benefited from this activity early, as well as non-regenerate infants. The little consultant also talked to Emily on nutrition and to encourage as much bonding as possible. She told her that jarred food is great but home-made baby food is most flexible. She handed Emily her compliment of home made infant meat dinners for when that time comes, and told her to make it a surprise every meal time and rotate everything around while adding new stuff. She reiterated that it was up to her, but do not feel hesitant to continue breast feeding directly, while occasionally supplementing formula and cow’s milk. Along with the meats, Maribel gave Ms. T. the rest of her preserves, another week’s worth, minus the strawberries that were thrown out earlier, and told her that the Millie Mosquito kit has already uploaded the allergy test data to their pediatrician.

Lunch time was peaches. Karen hated peaches, and had always her whole life. However, she really did not want to upset the routine so she asked them to ignore the reflexive gags and yucky-faces and she will try to get used to them. Ken was very tolerant of anything sweet. That’s just the way he always had been.

After diapers, the regenerate infants were put in their caddies for their naps so Maribel and Emily could go over a few more things with Ms. T. When they wake up Maribel wants to have a talk with both of the Hendersons about their future.

After a long discussion, they both discovered that both of the infants had already waken up just before nap time was over. Maribel and Emily each took a baby, a diaper, and a changing pad, and got to work. With the change in their diets, diapers were starting to less often be dirty, and more often be wet-only. Though, they were also becoming less predictable because their tiny GI systems were not tolerant of all foods equally.

Afterwards, Emily helped Maribel placing the two caddies a little bit apart, but turned slightly inward so that the little consultant could discuss with the tiny ones what she discussed with their mommy just a little while ago. Then, Ms. T. excused herself while Maribel sat on the floor, cross-legged to talk to both of them.

“First of all,” she began, “it has been wonderful seeing you two taking so well to your new bodies and your new dependencies. I really enjoyed the time with you two and am looking forward to our next visit. You have been patient and have allowed your surrogate mother to make all your decisions for you. She has told me that you have never complained or compared her methods with your own from your past life, unless it was to compliment her. Most regenerates I talk too want to try to be raised the way they think they should be raised. The adult inside us all can be arrogant and have a sense of entitlement which then interferes with a primary need we fail to remember we have as regenerates: our need for us to trust our caregivers.”

“If you don’t mind me interrupting, I … just wanted to add that I … feel more secure when I trust someone with better emotional maturity than me even if she is decades my junior, and I think Karen can vouch for that too, right, Karen?” said Ken.

“I think so too,” replied Karen, “A primary example is mommy took it upon herself to cover the outlets around the house with safeties even though we would never dream of getting near them, the fact that they are covered gives me much more peace. It’s hard to explain.”

“I think I know where you are going, and there is no need to explain,” replied Maribel, “I too am like that! I feel secure when mommy has rules, not just housework or things like that, but bed times, physical exercise times, and she even reminds me to sit up straight when I eat,” pausing for giggles. She continued, "I’ve been a sloucher my whole life and used to do it deliberately to rebel against my original parents, but for some reason I prefer now to… have her, … kind of micromanage me a little bit, if that’s a good word. Anyway, back to what I wanted to say to you. Keep trusting your mommy and your second childhood will be as good if not better than the first.

"Next, I have a recommended schedule for visiting a psychologist next week, who specializes in regenerates, and your mommy has punched in a couple of appointment requests already: Dr. Michelle Hilton. This is routine for every infant I consult that I recommend psychological examinations, so their chances of making it past the critical age are much better. Every month after that for at least a year, both of you will be seeing her, followed by seeing her about every two months after that, and more often if needed, until you are five, and it can be verified that you are successfully past the most critical phase of your development.

"I will be doing another week of on-site residency when you are six months old, and then when you are about to start walking, you will be seeing me in Richmond for an all-day workshop. I have more workshops after that if your mommy is interested, or even if you yourselves are interested and you can convince your mommy. I even have one for helping with potty-training! I had to tell you about that one because you both showed interest already, even though you are a long ways away. I will have another one-week residency about two months after you start walking. You will also have periodic visits with me in my office in Richmond, every few months, or more or less often as necessary, and with a social worker.

"Your mommy will be loading every day you have with education and physical activities for a long while, and I want you to endeavor as much as you can with them. It won’t be quite as busy as it was this week, in which I’ve been here trying everything on you, just to get ideas on how you two should proceed. However, if anytime you get warn out by anything, very important, please tell mommy and she phand of hers is big enough to gently clutch two of a 4-month-old’s even when the infants hands are reflexively balled up. Both Hendersons looked up to Maribel with intent focus.

"… which leads me to one more thing I want to say and I beg you both to listen. I want you to be a success story as bad as you do, and so does your mommy. You know that it is hard to be successful and not everyone is successful, so there is one thing I need to tell you both.

"When I say your mommy is the most important person, here on Earth, for your lives, I mean it. I’ve seen something that concerns me. You both seem to want to spend much more time bonding with each other than your mommy. It is as important for you to bond with your mommy now, as it was in your first childhood, if not more important. You need to let go-, I shouldn’t say let go because you aren’t letting each other go, you just need to stop the deep bonding time with each other for a while. That will happen again some day. Don’t worry. Just not today. You will not fall away from each other, either, because even though we do not have an adult regenerate yet, we know with almost certainty that regenerates who make it most often lean towards having two childhoods and one adulthood, and the adults you will become again will be very much like the one you were before. You didn’t lose your personality when we regenerated you, otherwise we would not have considered it moral to regenerate.

“You are, without a doubt in my mind, still bonded with each other, without the need to spend time with each other more often than your mommy. You are still legally married now. You can talk to each other like husband and wife. You always will be in love with each other, and when the time comes, you will be all husband-and-wife again, but you cannot let your relationship with each other interfere with your second childhood.”

Ken and Karen both started to have a tear from one of each of their eyes roll down their cheeks, no doubt, deep adult tears.

“You are the first regenerated couple in the world but not the first regenerate couple. There are regenerates who met after they were regenerated and have been dating each other, and there is one couple who even got married just before you were born. You are not the first clients I have had who have started to have bonding issues with their mommy, either. That is the purpose of the first night where mommy isn’t there. A well bonded infant will immediately show signs of insecurity that you two had not shown. I’ve seen first hand, situations when a regenerate fails to have his or her emotional needs met because they set aside their bonding instinct, for one reason or another, sometimes just to try to grow up fast. Maybe they don’t have the same out-of-control behavior as original children with displaced attachment issues, but they still become very withdrawn, very isolated, very socially resistant, and have to go through the painful process of re-bonding, if even that is successful. They are also even much more vulnerable to …. not being a success story in their second childhood.”

Maribel winced a couple of times to prevent tears from streaming down her face, albeit unsuccessfully, "To be honest, even if I have to be brutal, … I’ve known one who did not make it simply because she lost bonding with her mommy and daddy. Trust me, it’s much easier to go back into using your bonding instinct now than later.

“So please, just remember, for my sake, for your mommy’s sake, for your sake, for each other’s sake, for the sake of everyone who loves you both and who put you into a new childhood: bonding with your mommy is a gift from God, and perhaps one day you may have a daddy to bond to you too. Bonding with parents is not bondage. Not bonding with parents is bondage.”

With that hard-to-take news that the two of them must not be the most important people in each others’ lives to survive, the Hendersons asked for a few moments alone, and even away from each other, across the room so that perhaps they were not tempted to ignite their passions again, but there wasn’t much motivation to do that at that time anyway. Their voluntary separation was a little more out of shame. The same way when Adam and Eve put their relationship above God and took from the wrong tree, Ken and Karen felt shameful that they let themselves reignite adult passions for which they were not ready, and put their own relationship above God, above their mommy, and their survival. To add insult, both of them had known deep inside that it was wrong from day one. They knew it could jeopardize their bond with the person in which they are supposed to bond. They were just thinking that everything would be okay in the end.

“You know she means well. And you know that I agree with her,” said Emily after she put Ken down and stood back.

Both of them nodded.

“Then you should know that it is up to you to put grown up things away until later,” responded Emily to their nods.

Both of them nodded a gain.

Maribel and Emily finished packing when her mom arrived just on time. After the exchange of hugs and kisses between the bigger people, both Ken and Karen thanked Maribel for their help. Only Karen could muster the courage to say, “Maribel,” causing her to pause, “… thank you for being upfront and honest.”

Maribel paused with compassion in her eyes reminding them both that it was difficult for her to bear the news she had to, and then she replied, “You understand why I had to say what I had to say, don’t you?”

“We do. You had the best of intentions. Stubborn old mules like both of us need a stake rather than a carrot sometimes. Thank you for being brave enough to show tough love,” said Ken.

Maribel paused, and then put on a slight smile in an innocent attempt to get them back into a good mood, and said, “You are quite welcome, and you are not stubborn old mules. You both are very sweet little babies, and wonderful people in general, and a wonderful couple. I hope I don’t sound like I am talking down to you, or being rude by calling you sweet little babies, do I?” Complimenting them always brought them into good moods from Maribel, no matter what.

“No, … you are not. I could never think of you as being rude to us.” responded Karen’s CCVS.

With that, Maribel bent to both of them to say a final goodbye to each of them, followed by rolling her luggage down the sidewalk with the help of her mom. Ms. T. and the two babies watched them both get into Ms. Valdez’s car.

“Mommy?” beckoned Ken when the car drove away.

“Yes my love?”

“Can I … we be picked up and held with you while you sit on the couch?”

“Sure. Karen, you too?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Sure.”

Both infants felt the most comfortable they ever had as new infants, as their mommy slowly rocked them, as the consultant and her mom waved goodbye, honking their horn. Emily waved back as their vehicle started pulled away. Ken and Karen felt bad that they could not wave back too, but it was understandable. The red Mercedes was now out of site and the consultancy session was complete.

THE END

Just remember, Not bonding with mommy and daddy is bondage.