Ten months ago, life stretched before me like an endless river. I lolled about with friends, shared stories, gorged myself when fancy took.

Then the vortex. Before I knew it, I was in a glass-walled room. Three animals took turns to peer at me from the outside. I planted my foot against the wall to listen. Didn't take me long to decipher their primitive babble.

I was in the mansion of Sorgvliet. The three gawpers were a tutor and his two pupils, sons of the mansion's owner. My glass-walled apartment stood on a windowsill of the ground floor. Outside lay a magnificent formal garden enclosed by a semi-circular orangery, decked with June flowers. Inside, a spacious cavern furnished with a table, a cabinet topped with books, and a writing desk where the tutor made copious notes.

The tutor informed his pupils that he'd never seen anything like me before. My sedentary lifestyle, multiple limbs, and green colour lent me a botanical flavour. Yet my arms made slow movements, and I contracted when disturbed. Perhaps I was a touch-sensitive plant. But, after observing me somersault along the walls, he decided I was most likely animal.

By September, several sisters had joined me in the glass emporium. Being sun-lovers, we all congregated on the garden side. One day, the tutor placed his hand on our glass ceiling. The world began to spin, and we found ourselves facing the dark interior. We naturally shuffled back to the lit side. This seemed to baffle the tutor. Perhaps our fondness for light meant we were plants after all. Yet our ability to migrate argued against this. I believe that's when he decided on surgery.

On 25th November, I found myself in the palm of the tutor's hand. I felt a sharp pain in my gut and contracted into a ball. I was lowered into a small glass chamber. On re-extending myself I found my entire body from the waist down was missing. I regenerated my foot and slid over to see how my other half was doing. She was in the process of growing new arms and was soon moving about just like me. Our arms touched. “What happened?” I asked. “I don't know. I felt this pain, then my top half was gone.”

We'd been the same individual, sharing the same neural net, same memories, same aspirations. Then our experiences had diverged. I'd lost my bottom half, while she'd lost her top. I'd become a me and she. Our thoughts, pains and pleasures were now divided by a neural chasm.

What did my tutor make of all this? As he returned us to the windowsill, he explained to his pupils that animals would not be expected to survive such a drastic operation, let alone regenerate. Yet our spontaneous movements made him hesitate from assigning us to the vegetable world. The only option was to ask an expert. He would write to biologist René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur. He'd send him a long letter describing his observations, together with several of my sisters in a wax-sealed container.

The news back from Réaumur wasn't good: all my sisters had died in transit. The tutor packed off another lot, this time without a seal and by horseback. In March, he received the verdict: there was no doubt we were animals. Réaumur had read the tutor's letter to the Académie Royale des Sciences. It caused quite a sensation. Such regenerative abilities were unheard of in the animal kingdom.

It was around then that the first of my companions died. There was no way of telling the tutor we needed meat. The possibility of a world without me loomed for the first time.

I had heard the tutor discuss mortality with his pupils on several occasions. It seems death isn't purely an accidental matter for these animals but greets them with certainty at the end of an ageing process. The tutor had told his protégés not to worry: life would continue in a different world, better than this. I found little solace in such wishful thinking.

The hunger was becoming intense, and I spent most days huddled with my other half, for she understood me better than anyone else. “Maybe there is a different world,” she once said, trying to comfort me. “Not one where we live on, but where our stories do.” On another occasion, she wrapped an arm around me, “We've got one thing on our side. We share so many memories that I can carry on through you, and you through me. We have a double chance.”

It's now April. The window is open, and the only movement comes from the occasional flutter of notes lying on the tutor's desk.

Following the loss of his entire stock of Hydra viridissima in April 1741, the Swiss naturalist Abraham Trembley realised it had a carnivorous habit. He continued his investigations with new material and published his findings in 1744. He left Sorgvliet three years later and dedicated the rest of his life to the religious, moral and scientific education of his five children. He died in Geneva on 12th May 1784, aged 73.

The formal gardens and orangery of Sorgvliet have long disappeared. It is now the official residence of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.