I Die When I Am Six

Cold, light. Confusion. A mother. She is so happy. I cry because I’m cold. A father, too. He is also happy.

 

The smooth paper-white woman with a soothing voice tells my parents something. My father cries. My mother turns white. They are unhappy. I’m scared and I cry even more. “No!” my mother shouts and pushes over the woman. The woman doesn’t mind, but my father picks her up and looks around. “It’s an expensive piece of equipment,” he says and sets the woman upright. She has a shiny silver scratch. Mother just cries.

 

I grow bigger and stronger and Mom and Dad love me very much. My name is Sophie and I’m four. Mom always tells me I’ll be alright after all. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I know Dad doesn’t believe it.

 

Dad is very smart. He has a lab in the basement I’m not allowed to go into and he is on the phone a lot. He has some robots but they don’t look much like people. He has friends that come into his basement sometimes to see what he’s doing. Sometimes they come out and they are very happy. Then they talk warmly with Mom and everyone hugs a lot. Everyone is happy, but sometimes someone looks at me and gets a little sad, but then they hide it.

 

I’m five. I get tired sometimes. Then my heart races and I have to sit down. It’s so annoying. It even hurts Mom and Dad when they see it, so I try not to play too much. It’s hard to, anyway. But Dad lets me go into his lab! It has a lot of microscopes. And there are some mice, which I like to look at when Dad takes my blood. He tells me he’ll make me better.

 

I die when I am six.

 

My name is Sophie. I’m four, and my Dad loves me very much. My Mom sometimes cries when she looks at me, and she says I’m not the same as Sophie. I don’t know what that means, since I am Sophie. I don’t know any other people named Sophie. But Dad says I’m “genetically identical”. I like the sound of those words, but I can’t say them yet. Once I got close to saying them, and I ran to tell Mom, but she just got angry.

 

A while ago, Mom went away. She hasn’t come back yet. Dad says she’ll be back soon, and he loves me very much, because I’m Sophie. I know I’m Sophie, and I know Dad loves me, but when will Mom be back? Did she go away because I’m genetically identical?

 

It’s my fifth birthday, and I’m eating cake when my chest starts to hurt really bad. I tell Dad and he goes quiet for a while. Then he takes me down into his laboratory. I’ve never been down here before. There are some mice, and some monkeys too. I didn’t know Dad had pet monkeys. They don’t look like the monkeys on TV. I ask Dad what their names are, and he laughs and shakes his head. Dad sits me down on his chair and takes my blood. Needles scare me a little, but brave girls don’t cry at little things like needles. Besides, I’m looking at the monkeys.

 

I see a big glass tube full of water. “What’s that?” I ask Dad, and he tells me it’s where I was born. He says it with a smile like it’s a joke. I stare at it while Dad puts my blood in a little fridge. I imagine what it must be like to swim in it. It looks cold. I shudder, and then start to cough. Dad quickly brings me upstairs to bed.

 

I die when I am six.

 

My name is Sophie, and I’m four. Most kids have a mom and a dad, but I only have a dad. He’s older than most kid’s dads, and he has a big black and grey beard. He’s very important and lots of people come to see him. We have a big house, so it’s very easy to hide when people come over. I wonder how kids in smaller houses hide when people come over. Dad has taught me how, and I’m very good at it. Sometimes the robots help me. Once some people came over and I didn’t have time to hide. Dad told them I was a robot! I acted as much like a robot as I could and tried very hard not to giggle.

 

Dad likes to bring me on trips with him. We live in California, so we sometimes go to Disneyland. Once we even go to the moon. I expected the rocket to be very loud, but it’s very quiet inside. The weirdest thing Is when I turn over the roof became the floor and nothing falls over. There are a lot of fun things to do on the moon. My space suit doesn’t fit me very well, because Dad says they only have a few sizes for kids. I have to wear my space suit when we aren’t in the big glass room with the lady who explains things. We see a family at the moon. The dad and the kids don’t pay any attention to us, but the mom looks at me and turns white. She shouts at Dad and Dad calls her a word I can’t say and then we have to leave. It’s scary. I ask Dad who the lady was and he just calls her that word again. Then he says sorry and doesn’t talk until we get back to Earth.

 

Being scared makes me tired. My chest hurts and Dad makes me stay in bed.

 

Light. Warm. I wake up inside the tube where I have been all my life. The man with the grey beard who comes to see me all the time is there, and a lot of other men. They are wearing blue and are very angry. The man with the beard is kneeling down with his hands behind his back. “She’s not finished yet!” he yells. I don’t understand, but I’m scared. I thrash around and scream as much as I can and the men in blue jump. They say something very angry. “She’s awake?” one says. “Why don’t they live past six?” another demands. “You had their genome at your fingertips. You could have fixed them. You’re sick.” The man with the beard just cries softly.

 

My name is Sophie. I’m five and I live in an orphanage with a lot of nuns. My favourite is Sister Rose who hugs me a lot. She tells me that God loves me very much and so does she. Sometimes I ask her who my mom and dad were, but she won’t tell me yet. But she says my dad was very smart.

 

I’m six now. I like to run around and play with the other kids. Sister Rose says she wishes she had half my energy. She asks about my heart, but I don’t know what she’s talking about. My heart’s just fine.

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Delio Senatore: The Stuff of Champions

It’s proof that with the right attitude and a lot of training, you can realize your goals. Delio Senatore looks like anyone else in Brisbane. His job as a high school teacher keeps him busy. He’s planning on getting married and he likes cars. You might think that’s all there is to him, unless you asked him how he typically spends his evenings on weekdays.

A black belt in karate, Delio teaches in a small dojo with his father Ettore and their friend. Khai Tran. And in 2011 and 2012, Delio took home the Australian National All Styles championship belt two years in a row. I met up with him to find out how.

He first ousted Dean Gould, to whom he had lost the previous year. “Videotape is golden,” Delio laughs, explaining how he had studied his rival carefully in order to beat him. “I studied him a lot. Dean lives in New South Wales, so it’s not like I get to spy on him. All I had was the way he sparred over the last couple of events. I was able to analyse where I went wrong as well, when he beat me. I was able to focus my training toward that, to be able to outweigh him.”

Eventually, Delio was able to lure Dean in and catch him with a perfectly-timed hook kick to the head, winning the match.

Delio had aspired to win the NAS Champion of Champions title since he started karate at the age of eight. His father Ettore has instilled in his son a strong sense of discipline and a love for the sport. “My dad has probably been my biggest support, to be honest,” nods Delio. “He pushes me a lot, mentally. He’s always tried to show me that I can achieve what I set my mind to.”

Both Delio and Dean were top-notch athletes and equally quick on their feet, so it was the man with better timing that won in the end. Delio remembers the training Ettore and Khai put him through to improve his timing. They would hold up a padded glove and Delio would have to kick it. If Delio kicked too early, they simply wouldn’t extend the glove and his foot would hit only air. Kicking too late would result in Ettore or Khai moving past his defences and hitting him with a technique. When the time of the tournament came, it was this training that allowed Delio to overcome his opponent’s speed.

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Delio after his second victory. Photo courtesy of Blitzmag and National All Styles

Delio remembers his first victory more than his second one. In his second victory, the following year, he didn’t have as much to prove and he was simply trying to retain the championship. The build-up to the final championship fight was much easier, although the fight itself almost went disastrously. Delio was briefly knocked out by his much larger opponent, David Auty. Only after he had been revived and he was told that he still had a chance did the adrenaline kick in, and he went back to successfully defend his championship.

Through his trials, Delio has always had a strong family support structure to back him up. His father, of course, remains his trainer and mentor. His mother is also supportive. “Even though my mum doesn’t do karate, she’s been a very big shoulder to lean on,” Delio tells me. “She’s been a very big support as well, and a drive to help me achieve my goals.” Finally, his partner, Mel, was a rock beside him the entire time, helping him train and cheering him on from the sidelines.

While Delio still teaches karate, he doesn’t have the time to train for the tournament circuit anymore. Life has caught up with him. His job takes precedence and married life awaits him. With karate due to appear as a sport in the Olympics in 2020, Delio would like to see himself competing, but he acknowledges that this is unlikely. “I’ll be thirty then,” he smiles ruefully, although he maintains that smart sportsmanship is what wins matches over brute youthful strength. Who knows what the future holds?

When asked how his wins changed the way he thought about karate and life, Delio stops to think. “It’s made me more humble,” he ruminates, “in all situations. It’s very, very hard. Not just physically, but mentally as well. It can be quite overwhelming. But it’s definitely made me grow as a person.”

Delio teaches classes at Seishin-Ryu Karate-do in Brisbane, for people of all ages.