Wonder 43


I’m hoping we receive clearance to administer Tia Berry’s Herbal Remedy to children. We had a boy come in the other morning, and I’m sure that the mycelium in the tincture would have knocked out the virus.

We can give the remedy to adults, but since it’s in an alcohol base, we can’t let kids have it, even though the dosage is so low that they’d take the equivalent of a teaspoon of whiskey. I’m checking to see if we can use glycerin to make an alcohol-free recipe, but so far it seems like there’s a counter-action between the mushroom compounds and the glycerin.

I told this boy to rest up and drink plenty of orange juice.

“Ask your mom to come back and talk to me,” I told him. I planned to give her a bottle of the remedy so she could administer it to her son when they got home.


I hoped I was doing the right thing. It’s an odd feeling to be torn between doing what seems best for a sick person and doing what the laws require. Turns out, I didn’t have to make that choice, for his mom didn’t come back.


Instead, mine did!

Mãe!” I said. “You look awful!”

“I feel awful,” she replied.


She was worried about her heart.

“I have zero energy,” she said.

I suspected a virus. We decided to do a few tests on her heart, just so we could rule that out.


“The good news is your heart is super strong,” I told her. “And the bad news is, you’ve got that flu that’s been going around. But I’ve got good news for that, too.”


“You’re seriously giving me Berry’s herbal brew?” she asked, as I handed her the cup of the tincture mixed into some green tea.

“Yup,” I replied. “It’s the real deal.”

I felt grateful that we were within regulations to provide it to adults.


Within half an hour, she felt great, just like I had the other day when I took a dose to beat that virus I’d caught.

She laughed. “To think I could’ve just stayed home and done what we always do!”

“Sometimes the old ways are the best!” I reminded her.


The next patient wasn’t so sure about the wisdom of folk ways.

“You’re telling me it’s the mushrooms in here that make it work?” he asked, worriedly.

“That and the echinacea and goldenseal. I’m working on a paper about this. You’ll see! When you read about it in the medical journals, then you can gloat that you used it first!”


He, too, felt better in under an hour, and walked out, virus-free.

This is why I wanted to go into the medical field, to help find cures for common ailments. It’s almost like it’s fate! Heck, maybe it is fate! Maybe the Universe had me born to Tia Berry’s sister just so that I could introduce her very own herbal medicine into standard practice, helping millions of people cure flues and viruses, and maybe even cancer, if we can discover the right enzymes in the mycelium!

Ok. That’s a little grandiose. I scaled back my thoughts a bit and just felt grateful. Making people feel better was what it was all about! And if it wasn’t me, it would be somebody else.


When the clinic administrators heard about the tests we were running on the mushroom compounds, they hired two new physicians to help with the project, one who would have medical oversight, and the other to oversee the research component.

The top physician joined me at lunch.

“So you’re the famous Charlie Rocca Cup,” he said. “Grandchild of the opera star. Son of the soccer star. Wonder child. And now you’re some kind of medical genius.”


“It’s all luck,” I said.

“You’re darn right it’s luck,” he yelled back. “If it were experience, or even simple intelligence, you’d know enough not to administer the herbal medication to patients prior to written permission from the Medical Board! What kind of dufus gives patients herbs in a clinic! Cease and desist, buddy. And get your butt over to the computer and fill out form X52276 on the board’s website asking them to formally grant permission for us to precede.”


So. Not the best first impression to make on my new boss and the doctor who would be playing a significant role in the future of the widespread adoption of Tia Berry’s Herbal Remedy as the first line of cure for viruses. Eva and I had checked the regulations, and we were well within rights to use herbal tinctures with adults. I hadn’t even thought that we’d have to check with the Medical Board, when the regulations clearly state that herbal mixtures can be freely given to adults. I’m guessing Eva hadn’t considered the board, either.

The form was a bear to complete, but I felt contrite enough to consider the task of filling it out to be my penance. You know, I got a lot of benefits from my easy-free upbringing, but following rules and filling out forms were not part of them! I guess some things, I need to learn as an adult.


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Wonder 40


I woke before the sun, still feeling flushed and excited, so I channeled my extra energy into doing some more work on a novel that I’d started in my free time. It was based on the story of meus avós and how they met. The story of the opera singer and the furniture maker had always seemed so romantic to me. Minha avó gave up dreams to be with Avô, and then, in her life with him, she found her real dreams.


I reread a passage I’d written:

The aria caught in her throat. How could she sing, “Se come voi piccina io fossi, o vaghi fior/ sempre sempre vicina potrei stare al mio amor” with heart, with her soul, if she were not willing to move with him to the village so that she could always be close to him?


I suddenly felt flushed again. Was my prose that bad? Was the romance that corny?


Oh! I had a fever! I must have caught a virus the day before yesterday, when I was making the rounds at the clinic.

At least this would give me a chance to try Tia Berry’s remedy myself.


The remedy doesn’t taste that bad–Tia Berry adds cinnamon, anise, and cloves, so they tend to dominate the more bitter flavors of the echinacea and goldenseal. And the mycelium and other mushrooms didn’t have much flavor at all–at least not that could be tasted above the whiskey that forms the base.

Half an hour after drinking the remedy, I felt better. My fever was gone, my muscles no longer ached–all the symptoms were relieved. I couldn’t feel any of that heaviness that we feel when we’ve got a viral infection. My whole system felt pure.

Just to be on the safe side, though, I decided to call in to work. Eva suggested I stay home. “Policy,” she said. “You got a fever, you can’t come in for 24 hours.”

“I think I’m OK, though!” I said. “I took the remedy, and the mushrooms did their job.”

“Policy.” She hung up.


So, I had another day off. By then, I was feeling great. I swam. I played the guitar. It felt like I’d been given a box of free time, wrapped up with a big bow.


In the afternoon, I started feeling hungry, and the fridge was pretty bare, save for a slice or two of fruitcake. I felt completely well now–no fever, no symptoms, and not the slightest sensation of having rogue virus cells roaming through my tissues and veins. I felt safe to be in public, and I was getting famished.

I rode the ferry across to the high speed rail station, and within an hour I was sitting in a restaurant in Newcrest. Gunther Munch had been on the train, too. He wouldn’t tell me who he was meeting, and he and his friend seemed to be enjoying a heart-to-heart, so I kept my attention focused on the menu.


“That’s a great choice, hun,” said the waitress when I ordered a quiche. “We’re fresh out, though, so we’ve got  make another batch. You up for waiting?”

I didn’t mind. Fresh quiche with caramelized onions seemed worth the wait.


The waitress swung by with crayons, markers, and a blank placemat.

“I know who you are,” she said. “I love your paintings. Maybe this’ll help the time go more quickly–you know, just in case you’re feeling creative.”

I had to admit it was so fun to draw like a kid again. I signed the work and left it there, for the waitress. I hope she liked it.


“Best quiche I’ve had in my life!” I told her, as I was finishing up my meal.

“Really, hun?” she asked.

“For sure!” I said. “It’s my first quiche!”


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Wonder 35



When I woke, I had forgotten all the lonely thoughts of the night before. It was a new day! It was my first day as a doctor! Or at least, as an intern hoping to become a doctor.

I burst out of bed with the mockingbird’s song. I had to race to breakfast and shower before the 8:05 ferry.

For the whole ferry ride, I kept thinking about being in a position to help people. If someone’s not feeling well, I’d be able to put things right to restore comfort and health. What an honor! What a gift from the universe to be somebody that can help make somebody else feel better. I was bursting with enthusiasm and gratitude when I walked through the clinic’s doors.

The first person I met was Luna Villareal, one of the newer general physicians on staff.

“I hear we’re neighbors now,” Luna said.

“Yeah! Maybe we can take the ferry in together sometime!” I suggested.

“I work a different shift,” she said. “But maybe I’ll see you around the island? Anyway, during the times that our shifts overlap, I’ll be happy to advise or help in any way. Just ask!”


One of my first tasks was to analyze some samples. I had no idea what I was doing. It took a while to figure out the machine, and then I couldn’t make heads or tales of the charts and symbols.

Eva, the roommate/whatever of meu pai, who is my supervisor (she’s the one who got me the job, actually), said she’d be happy to show me how to interpret the results, but she got busy. I guess she gets busy a lot around here.


The receptionist called me to help admit some of the patients, and Mãe was standing in line, looking terrible.

Mãe! You’re ill!” I said.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” she replied. “I just… Oh. I’m just hot. And tired. And achy.”


“But you never get sick,” I told her, as I led her back to the examining room.

“I got sick once,” she answered, “when I was pregnant with you. Oh, I felt horrible then. Just like now. I had such a fever. We worried it would be bad for you, but the nurse practitioner said you’d be fine. And you were! Am I rambling?”

“Just a bit,” I replied.

She asked how my day was going. I confided that it was awful.

“I have no idea what I’m doing. I know I’m supposed to, being a Wonder Child and all that. But I’m seriously clueless.”

Mãe laughed. “No one’s born being a doctor,” she replied.

“I’m serious,” I said. “Take you, for example. I have no idea how to help you. What would you do if I weren’t an intern here?”

“Why,” she answered, “I’d drink some of Berry’s herbal stuff.”

“And would it work?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah! Like a charm! I don’t know what all she puts in there–cinnamon, echinacea, maybe licorice or star anise–but it works, and I’m sure I’d feel better soon.”

“Well, then,” I said, “That’s just what I prescribe. Go directly home, have a generous helping of Tia Berry’s herbal stuff, and call me in the morning. See? I’m getting this down!”


The rest of my shift went pretty smoothly. I managed to clean up a few messes, cheer up a few patients, and even open the door for a few people! Not brilliant, but at least I could say I had “done no harm.”

On the ferry ride back, I kept thinking about Tia Berry’s herbal remedies. I’d taken them a time or two growing up–sometimes for preventive measures and sometimes to cure a cold–and they worked. If Nature provides something that heals, then she does so in order for us to use it. I was going to have to call my tia to find out what she puts in that recipe.

Maybe, part of me being a doctor is doing things my style, with herbs, for example, instead of synthetic chemicals.


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