Extraction is always the worst part of check-ups. It reminds me exactly why I'm here, and what it is they want. My only comfort is that I only have to go down the corridor to my personal clinic - a good thing since the sickness is returning, and I don't want the embarrassment of Sean carrying me again. I'm also thankful that Dr. Seymour remains nonchalant about the procedure, whilst Dr. Connor stares at the blood sliding up the tube like it's liquid gold. I suppose it is...
"Alright, all done," says Dr. Seymour softly, nimbly detaching the tube so that only the cannula juts out from the underside of my left elbow. I'm used to how uncomfortable it is by now, and given the number of times I need operations, they eventually decided to leave it in. As he unwinds the tourniquet from my arm, I reach across the table and grab a chewy sweet from a nearby bowl. I'm sure it's what he uses to bribe the younger patients, but as for me, I need at least half a dozen before the weakness goes away.
He's taken the usual from me, and as I recline on the white-leather surgeon's chair, I turn and see a pint of my blood hanging beside me. To this day, I still don't see anything special about it. It looks so much like everybody else's, bright red and healthy. Often I stare at it to see if I can see what's so special - heteroclitic cells, they call them. At first I wondered if they glowed in the dark, and Dr. Seymour even turned off the lights to indulge me, but nothing. I've seen a sample in the microscope before, and there's something there, I just have no idea why. Absently, I've wondered what it is exactly, and if it's at all possible to get it out.
It isn't that I don't want to help anybody. I'm surrounded by little children who need whatever I have inside me to live, and the doctors are always telling me about all the pandemics across the world. The guilt-trip was what made me agree to live at the White Lily Institute in the first place, and it's why I'm still here. Mom's in on it too, and she tries to pretend that the amount of money she gets in exchange for me isn't an incentive. Sophie still doesn't quite understand where I am, she's six after all, and all I'm able to tell her is that I'm here to get better, as if I'm the sick one.
"Alison had a call from your mother today," says the doctor, sitting down in his chair as the sickness in me settles down and I sit up and cross my legs. I flinch uncomfortably. Alison Vanbrughn is clinical head of White Lily, and she's also the spawn of everything I hate about this place. "She was asking how you were, asked whether she could come see you." Mom calls every check-up and asks the same things, and on the few occasions she's visited this year, I've parted from her realising a little more each time how annoying she is.
"She should tell her I'm sick this time," I murmur, slipping from the high chair, my drained arm throbbing as I ease myself down.
Dr. Seymour leans towards me with a look of sympathy. "You shouldn't give up on her, Dana. She is your mother after all, she loves you very much..."
I know Dr. Seymour was a paediatrician before he came here, so I often wonder whether he still confuses me with a child that doesn't know when they're being lied to.