June 23rd, 2016
There are a few important elements to my story, such as the people in my life. Before I can continue to this current moment in time, where I’m stuck in the middle of Presley, hundreds of miles away from home, a little bit of an exposition will be needed. You know - family stuff. Oh, and also, you ought to know about Dr Farrow.
Farrow comes to check up on me every now and then – he has been doing so since I was born. He’s the family doctor of course, but he specialises in Jennifer-Anne-related issues, for various reasons. And before I continue, I thought I’d just nip in the bud and stop any further confusion with my name. I was Jennifer-Rose Middleton. Now, I’m Jennifer-Anne, known mainly as Anne just as I was known as Rose. It might be a hard concept to grasp at first – distinguishing between Anne and Rose, but you’ll get the hang of it. In my First Life, I was Rose. Now, I’m Anne. Simple. Sometimes it’s Annie, or Jenny-Anne, but nobody calls me by the latter – just distant relatives from the South who love rolling out their three-syllable hyphen names - Mary-Lou, Judy-Anne, Stacy-May, and other variations of the sort.
Dr Farrow sometimes comes to our home from a couple of miles out of Bluebeach and does check-ups on my health, ensuring I’m doing OK. You may ask why I need so much medical attention to reassure my wellbeing, but I guess it will become more apparent soon enough. I spent my childhood wondering why I needed it all, but I guess all I can really say is that having two lives really weakens the soul a little – my immune system isn’t exactly the defending warrior it used to be. That’s one of the many catches of living again, but it’s not too much of a huge deal. I try not to worry too much about it.
Farrow turned up a few days after the discovery, slightly late for the appointment due to traffic in the city. He walked in calm and quiet as he always does, dressed professionally in his V-neck sweater over his collared shirt, his neatly pressed trousers and donning his 70’s rimmed glasses. Time has really taken its toll on poor old Farrow – now seventy-three, he really should have retired a long time back. His skin has basked in too much California sun, rough like leather and wrinkled beyond any sort of skincare intervention. His hands are calloused and fingers slim, like his entire posture. He’s a tall, lanky man with a slight hunchback and unsteady knees. He has never needed any aid in terms of movement, as far as I’ve known him – he still takes walks around town and keeps himself active as much as he can. He’s been alone since his wife died, twenty years earlier, before my Second Life had begun. He’s a good man, as far as I knew. He does his best to keep us well. He prescribes Mother’s sleeping meds and advises my father on how to keep on top of his recently diagnosed arthritis.
This is the routine: he comes in, sets up his kit, injects my left forearm, and collects a sample of crimson fluid for testing whilst asking me how my days have been. I’ll always reply with not bad, and I’ll try to crack some sort of joke to mask the silence that comes with Farrow’s undivided concentration as he examines my bodily functions. He’ll try smiling and he’ll nod once we’re done, and he’ll try keeping conversations to a minimum before leaving. That’s how it all went down the next week, and how it happens every time he visits. This time I understood why he was here, but I just kept quiet. I acted like I knew nothing, even though I was sure my parents had seen the broken attic door, and they could sense my unease ever since they came back from their vacation. There was no hiding an elephant that big.
Farrow never had to visit us in my First Life. My parents were unaware of him at the time – they didn’t know of people who could perform miracles. But boy oh boy, were they glad they found him. He’s like our God, our saviour. He fixed us in ways no other doctor could, however rich or renowned. He came into my Second Life and tried to ensure that it was a life worth living. He saved me. I would like to say I’m thankful for that, but sometimes I’m not too sure. I waver between being so damn glad I’m alive again, to being so annoyed that I had to endure the world and all its complications and disasters for a second time. I can’t really complain about much, now. This is how it is, and this is how it has always been. I’ll just need to live with it.
In my First Life, my favourite pastime was driving down to the beach, which was a trip I could only take every few months. It was a gruelling journey, around two hours, but it was worth the fun. My best friend Naomi was my accomplice, and we’d shop or head out to the beach. We’d revel in the nightlife and meet new strangers. I’d soak in the city at night, with lights twinkling and glimmering as we moved through the streets. I don’t go down there as much – I just stick to Bluebeach and any other neighbouring towns. I have been down to L.A. a few times for holiday and leisure purposes, and hopefully I can get into a decent college there, but for now I just live my life within at least a fifty-mile radius of my home.
My sister Jamie moved out a long time ago, when I was a few months old, a few towns down south of Bluebeach. She got married and had one child a few years ago, Robbie, who I visit every now and then when my parents finally urge me to come with them on their excursions to my siblings’ houses. My brother Jacque now resides with his partner, Derek out in Roba City. He never had kids and he never opted for adoption – even though my parents always thought our house would be teeming with little feet loud voices, Robbie is their only grandchild. I’m in my teens, so I guess there’s still time for their wishes to come true, but I won’t bet on becoming a mother any time soon. It looks extremely tedious, and it seems way too draining. I already have committed myself to a life of tennis match after tennis match, getting better and more well-known, hopefully graduating to Opens and Wimbledon-styled tournaments. Tennis is my child. Not the kind of grandkid my parents were up for, but it’s something that keeps me busy and something that I pour my love into, just as you would a kid.
In my First Life, I was definitely the motherly type. I wanted a whole batch of children, screaming, kicking, and messy kids. Either boys or girls; I didn’t care much. In my First Life I was going to marry my Prince Charming the minute I graduated from Caltech (where I’d obviously be able to get into) and we’d have tonnes of kids. I would keep tennis going on the side until it eventually slid into a pastime, and then eventually a passion of the past. I’d become a poster-mom, a soccer mom, who manifested a love of tennis into the little’uns and then sit back and sip champagne in my lavish backyard when they were out playing. In my First Life, I was going to settle down with someone I loved, and we’d never ever leave each other’s sides.
But my Second Life is a little different. I’m not focusing much on boys, for one – they’re a recipe for disaster. Especially with the technology of the 21st century and all this social media– there’s no way love can flourish well without being tainted by it. Jennifer-Anne is a little more reserved than Jennifer-Rose. She goes to Bluebeach South High, where she keeps her head down and studies her ass off. She hits up the courts in the afternoons or meets up with her friends, and then she comes back home in the evenings and finishes of her schoolwork, before catching up with some TV show or reading some thriller novel. Jennifer-Anne doesn’t have huge dreams like Jennifer-Rose did.
She could have, but something must have happened during shift into the Second Life.
Something must have changed her.
July 16th 1999
“She will not survive, I’m afraid.” The doctor tells the couple as they accompany their comatose daughter, only alive via Life Support.
“Not at all?” Roseanna Middleton mumbles through tears and jagged breathing. She can’t stop crying.
“…She’d be a vegetable if she did survive, but as it goes, she hasn’t. I’m sorry we couldn’t keep her alive longer – the trauma her brain received caused internal haemorrhage and swelling, and it was all too delicate to operate on. You might have to start thinking of your next steps, Mrs M-”
“Next steps?” Her wavering voice grows louder. Jeff tries to subdue her, grasping onto her hand. She rips it out of his, and rises from the chair. “My daughter is dead and I should already be planning my next steps? As if I just jumped right over this step like a goddamn frog on a lily pad? As if I still can actually comprehend the fact that she’s dead?” Her voice resonates through the ICU, bouncing off of the pastel green walls. “That’s my baby, right there!” She’s hysterical now. “Don’t talk down to me like I need pep talk to get over a lost… job, or something. This is my child you’re talking about.”
“I do apologise, Mrs. Middleton,” the doctor replies sheepishly, mortified after failing to try and do the right thing. It is never an easy job, telling the families of patients that they didn’t make it. “I didn’t mean to cause any distress or harm. I just thought I would advise you on ways that you could deal with your loss.”
Roseanna scoffs, “I’ll never deal with it. I don’t think that’s even possible.” She wipes away the moisture from her cheeks. “But thank you for trying to help,” she mumbles, back to her mousy, solemn self. She’s back in her seat, and Jeff has his arms around her shoulders, rocking her back and forth slowly. She’s staring at Jennifer-Rose’s slack, sleeping face, and all she wants to do is kiss her eyelids like she would when she was a child, and tell her that she’ll have beautiful dreams that night. Roseanna can kiss Rose’s eyelids all she wants, but she’ll never see or feel anything else but darkness.