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April 25, 2007
My father has a tin "mess kit" that's been sealed for at least 60 years. I used to sit in the den and stare at it, where it rested on the bookcase, envisioning myself rushing over, lifting up the hinged clasp, releasing the pressure, and flipping the attached lid back to allow the trapped air to escape.

But what if it wasn't just air, I wondered. What if, inside, spores or atoms or beads or bubbles of old-time but long-cured diseases were swarming or colliding or rolling or bouncing? Did I really want to contract polio?

The kit stayed sealed.