Title: THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME
Genre: MG historical science fiction
Word Count: 53,000
Twelve-year-old Ella Mae is a sensible girl. She eats her vegetables, especially asparagus, and only tunes in to watch that new showI Love Lucy if Dragnet isn’t on. So when her auntie Mildred starts spouting nonsense about deoxyribo-something-or-other and how some egghead scientist can regenerate her dead son from the blood on his old dog tags, Ella Mae doesn’t believe her. Or at least she doesn’t until a man steps out of that bio-pod and drips yellow-green slime on the floor.
Problem is, the man isn’t her cousin. He’s Japanese.
Ella Mae knows she should hate him, but she was just a baby when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Besides, she can’t bring herself to hate a man who can’t remember his own name. Her indifference even turns to friendliness after she teaches the man English and defends him from the reverend’s talk of H-E-double-toothpicks and abominations with a well-aimed wad of spit. But when the man’s memories resurface, memories about the war and what really happened on the day his blood splashed on her cousin’s dog tags, Ella Mae learns the hard way what it means to be human—and what it means to be a friend.
Mama said it was plum foolishness to keep my cousin’s dog tags like that, with his blood still stuck between the ridges of his name. “Don’t know why Mildred won’t wash ’em,” Mama muttered one day while scrubbing dishes. “It’s like she thinks that blood will keep Robby alive somehow, like it’ll keep him with her. And we both know that’s plum foolishness.” She shook a soapy finger in my face. “That’s foolishness, Ella Mae, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently. Especially Auntie Mildred.”
But that was exactly what Mildred told me. “It’s not foolishness, Ella Mae,” she said one day while sweeping floors. “It’s science.” She gave the broom a flick. “And one of these days, those eggheads who invented the atomic bomb are going to figure out how to create life instead of just destroy it.”
I never told Auntie Mildred what Mama had said, and I never told Mama what Auntie Mildred had said, either. Those two already had enough to fight about, seeing as how they were sisters and all. In fact, when Mama answered the telephone that Saturday afternoon, I figured it was Auntie Mildred calling to resume their ongoing argument about Ajax.
But I was only half right.
“Settle down, Mildred,” Mama said, since she wasn’t the sort to stand for anyone’s shenanigans (least of all Auntie Mildred’s). “Now what’s this about Robby?”
I stopped chomping on my asparagus. Something told me I’d want to hear every word of this particular conversation.