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Groundhog Story

By Chloe Fay Campbell

The groundhog was undermining the stables attached to the barn. Daddy was just trying to save the aged structure when he decided to shoot the groundhog. Okay, maybe he had another motive. I was twelve years old and obsessed with the idea of Chloe Campbell, MD. Ever since I was old enough to hold a scalpel without injuring myself, I had been dissecting the occasional dead fish or frog from the pond, and I hugged our first grade teacher, while the rest of the class cringed, when she said we’d be dissecting an earthworm. Mom had even liberated a bottle of Novocaine and a syringe from the hospital where she works so that I could practice numbing different types of fruit. The next step seemed logical: a larger animal, namely, the troublesome groundhog.

Dad’s worktable in the garage became an operating table. Mom had readied all the necessary instruments; I ceremoniously pulled on my rubber gloves and began to work. I started with the forensic investigation, extracting the bullet and examining how it shattered the shoulder on its way to the vital organs. Finally, I was seeing real blood and organs that I had seen on Trauma: ER. As I pored over the groundhog, I was almost able to ignore the smell, but ended up screwing wads of paper towel into my nostrils. I enjoyed the challenge of scalping her, detaching the skull cap, and removing the brain. The skill came in handy in ninth grade when our lab grade depended on performing the same process on a fetal pig. The smell of formaldehyde couldn’t compare, however, to the smell of freshly eaten grass from the groundhog’s taut stomach cavity.

The surgery was a success, for the surgeon at least. The experience reinforced my desire to be a surgeon for a few more years, but eventually I found subjects that interested me more than science. I no longer need my parents to steal and shoot animals for me to pursue English and psychology. I only require their financial support.

I may not be dissecting groundhogs in the garage anymore, but I’m definitely not afraid to completely immerse myself in my subject. I will get my hands dirty and go beyond the required when I am interested. I still have the curiosity of the twelve-year-old who wanted to dissect a groundhog. I’m hesitant to tell my friends about my bloody past hobby but excited to tell them about the sonnet I wrote or how Watership Down relates to Machiavelli’s The Prince. I know that in college I will be able to explore any of my interests with success, so I am looking forward to attacking them and sharpening my mind like a scalpel.


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