Below is an assignment for my literature class. It was meant as a reflection on the novel Frankenstein, though I’ll admit the parallels are subtle at best. I have difficulty, besides in a few places, making more direct allusions to the text. I’ll save that for people with a more deft hand than my own and those who choose to show their guns rather than conceal them.
The piece itself isn’t great. It is a creature of my own creation and so, it is an extension of myself and my blood. In that respect, I guess it only deserves a B+. I won’t lie to you that I was hoping my immune system would reject anything less than an A. Some natural selection.
I was born dead.
Neither kicking nor screaming, crying nor breathing, I came into this world without a fight. My heart was too weak to beat and my lungs were the oozing remains of shriveled, undeveloped grapes. I was a bucket of water and a few sprinkles of minerals weighing no more than two pounds. Born from a sea of hormones and the promise of better days, I was as lifeless as the liquid around me.
It took three days to issue a birth certificate. And when my life was legitimized in white paper, I became a monster. A ghost. Kacper with a K. The name would haunt me forever.
I was born twice.
Unlike most skydiving into world with only their umbilical cord for a harness, I had a twin for a parachute. For sixth months, he was beside me growing, breathing, kicking, and living with the same urgency as I did. We were mirrors – left and right reflected – with twenty toes, twenty fingers, and two hearts entwined.
Thirty minutes after I was conceived into an unfamiliar place for unfamiliar reasons, I was alone for the first time in what was my short life. My brother was still struggling to claw his way into the cold, anesthetized hospital room. It was the first day of spring, and despite the early tree buds and warmth the day should have brought, he was a flower stuck trying to grow in cement.
If I could speak then I would have said that without my brother there was no me. But for a while, I was an alien trying to communicate with other bigger aliens. I entered their world and they took me from mine. No one understood me, not even myself.
They didn’t understand my brother either, so he came out butt first: he was mooning the world. And it would go on like that – an elaborate joke – for a while. Oskar and Kacper. Kacper and Oskar. I was him. He was me. And we were we.
I was born from blood.
Wrestling with my twin like the first day we came to this Earth – naked and unbridled – my face was flung into the butt end of a nail by a simple push and the aftermath of Newtonian mechanics. In the air, I was nothing more than a physics experiment.
When I brushed myself off from the meteoric collision that would make any other species go extinct, I noticed that my brother was unable to meet my eyes. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and a stranger greeted me instead. He was familiar – small-boned, loose jointed, at ease. But he had two faces; one drooped and hung freely, the other was no different than before. Ruby red melted one side of the stranger’s face bit by bit by bit, until he resembled a caricature of a Picasso painting. From afar, the stranger looked like a volcano.
My father ran into the bathroom and looked at me with a wry countenance as if to ask who was this person in front of him and where had they put his beautiful son. He picked me up in a hurried pursuit and blotted two towels on my face to stop the profuse bleeding. It took twenty hours and three different doctors to make me look human again. They tried their best, at least.
A few weeks later, the hybrid was revealed to the world. Friends called me a creature. Enemies said I was a monster. All, though, referred to me as Frankenstein. It was almost necessary given how contorted my face was at the time: I had a war scar that would give a solider nightmares. I was only six. I still played with Lego.
I was born loved.
My mother was an avid reader of the classics, though she only knew the texts in Polish. Emigrating in to Canada 1987, she escaped with the hopes of a solid future for the family she wanted to raise. Her selflessness was stubbornly at the heart of everything she did, even when I was born. Though I was lifeless when I first entered the world, I like to believe she whispered a line in Polish from Frankenstein. “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
Because she did. She gave up finishing her education to nurture two boys who most thought would amount to no more than a third grade intelligence. She left her native country as a way to provide her family with chances she was never granted. She took on two jobs so to ensure that this very family would never have financial troubles. Even now where each sleep is a little death and each morning is a little birth, she defends me. She kisses my head every day before I go off to school.
If that isn’t happiness, I’m not sure what is.
I was born everything and anything and nothing all at the same time.
I was born fearless. I’m not afraid of people. I was born fearful. I’m scared of the dark. I was born strong. I can do three finger pushups. I was born weak. I can’t run very far. I was born monstrous. I once chased my sister around with a knife. I was born lovely. I once wrote a story that made my father cry. I was born a sinner. I have stolen. I was born a saint. I have donated. I was born smart. I’ve done well academically. I was born stupid. I can’t grasp simple ideas. I was born funny. I joke whenever I can. I was born serious. I can’t joke about some things. I was born in change and I was born from it just the same.
In the end all I can tell you is that I was born, and I will die, and both make me lucky because both make me human. It is the experiences in between these two milestones – those few moments we can call our own, those insignificantly significant inches where we are really born, live and die – that make us anything but because they make us us.
They make us Kacper. They make us Oskar. They make us Frankenstein. They make us a mother’s son and dreams.
And that is humanity’s legacy: the happiness in knowing we are all this and more because we chose to be, not because we have to be.