My hearing has returned!
With gladness so intense it borders on anguish I
recognize Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante. The orchestra
forms a delicate background as the violin melody slides
downward until it is joined by the darker viola, the two
instruments braiding together in a sound that is sensuous
and lush. God, but it’s beautiful! How was the miracle of
hearing restored to me? Were my ears clogged? No,
impossible: I’d at least have heard the sound of my own
blood pumping. I’d heard nothing at all, yet now my
hearing is sensitive, perfect.
I listen past the music and-- Yes, I hear the sound
of air moving through the vents in the walls, the buzzing of
fluorescents, the distant sounds of traffic, the nearer
echoes of people talking in hallways and unseen offices or
rooms, a telephone bleeping.
I revel in the Mozart, almost failing to notice the
approaching voices: Richard Kornfeld has been rejoined
by his colleagues. They stare at me with awe and disbelief.
Kornfeld says, “It was only a stroke of luck that
made me realize the astonishingly rapid display speed was
preventing us from seeing--”
“Slowing that down was brilliant,” observes the
older man grudgingly. He has a slight German accent.
“No, of course not.”
The young woman looks concerned. “Good. This is
pretty delicate. I think it has to be handled carefully.” Her
voice is deep and musical. I love her voice. Al their voices.
Kornfeld’s reply sounds defensive. “It’s bound to be
a shock no matter how tactfully it’s handled. But he’l have
to get over his initial response. Otherwise, how stable is--
In the silence, the Mozart recaptures my wandering
I become aware they’re staring at me again. The
older man says, “This goes beyond anything we’d hoped.
Certainly anything I thought possible in my lifetime.”
They share a serious moment. What have they
done besides restore my hearing? Is it possible they’ve
found the cure for the rest of my problems?
“Whatever happens, we’ve pushed the envelope,”
says the woman.
“We’ve ripped it to shreds,” declares the Asian man
solemnly. “Or maybe we’ve opened Pandora’s box.”
Kornfeld shoots him an anxious look. “We’l have to
start writing this up,” he says. “I only wish the other
attempts had also borne fruit.”
“Yes, so do we all,” says the older man. “It would
be wonderful to have several of them, not only for
comparison purposes, but to see how they might interact
The phone rings. The older man interrupts himself
to answer. “Yes? --Oh, good. Someone wil be right out.”
He hangs up and says to the others, “He’s here. I imagine
he’l be pretty interested in our latest result.”
The others laugh. The woman says, “Interested.
Now there’s an understatement.”
Kornfeld stands. “I should go fetch him. I’m the one
who got him into this.” He leaves.
The vigorous third movement of the Mozart begins.
The young woman frowns and moves out of my line of
sight. The music suddenly stops.
After a moment, I hear a door open and they greet
The older man booms, “So glad you could make it
on such short notice. You might not remember me from
your last visit. I’m Hans Lascher, head of neuroscience
here at the lab. This is Jan Robinson, my post-doc and
colleague. And you remember Kenny Ng, who assisted in
the procedure six weeks ago.”
“Good to see you,” says a voice I find strangely
The five of them come into my field of view.
My mind freezes.
The visitor is wearing my clothes.
And my face.
He is me.
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