June 19th, 2016
I traipsed around a grocery store, looking for any food to take back to the hotel.
When I shop, I always go into the fruit aisle first. Scanning around, I picked out some bananas, apples, oranges and strawberries and make a mental note to create a mini picnic for myself in my hotel room. This reminded me of Kal, and I smiled.
I’ve tried a lot of things over the years. I’ve tried becoming pescetarian, and then a diet without red meat. I’ve tried being vegetarian, and I’ve tried being vegan. I lived off of bananas and fancy carb-filled meals but it became evident that veganism is not as cheap as those health nuts like to make it out to be – even though I’m pretty well-off, I missed my quick ice-cream fixes which didn’t require me searching for the nearest dairy-free desserts like they were an endangered species. Now when I shop, I basically take what I want. The perk of having old parents is that you almost have full control of what you eat. I buy Mom and Dad what they want, and I just knock myself out. Sometimes I take things I’ve never bought or tasted before, just to shake things up.
I needed to familiarise myself with this new environment - figure out the routes and places easily, so I would get lost or stuck. I’d get closer to Bret; I’d reel him in somehow. I’d see what One always saw. I’d see what One was always supposed to see.
I almost dropped my fruit when I turn to my left, and I noticed him standing in the opposite aisle.
Minding his own business, picking out some food for his own kitchen. He reached forward to get some spices, sporting a brown parka jacket over a t-shirt with varsity graphics and tapered jeans. I became stuck in a trance – I began to panic. I knew he wouldn’t suspect anything from afar, but I felt like a deer trapped in headlights.
I slowly lowered my basket to the floor, never unlatching my gaze. It felt like I was moving around a force-sensitive bomb, making subtle predator-to-prey movements. Even amongst the throng of shoppers, I felt like this was a one-on-one. I felt exposed. I shouldn’t have felt that scared, I really shouldn’t have.
I stood stock-still, hoping he’d turn around in the other direction. Hoping he’ll move along to the next aisle. I started thinking, what if it’s not him? What if it’s a look-a-like? I’d only ever seen him in photos, after all. Never in person. But I just knew.
What are the damn odds?
I tried hiding behind someone. Acting as casual as I possibly could, I was moving along strangers like a surfer to a wave, concealing myself.
In the same way that I accidentally caught myself looking in his direction, his eyes flickered over to the fruit aisle. He turned back, oblivious.
But then there was the double-take. The millisecond eye-lock; the one moment where our scopes of vision crossed over.
The second time, his eyes narrowed as if he couldn’t quite make out what he was looking at. My heart was going mad. It was panicking in my chest; it wanted out.
So I didn’t give him time for more inspection.
I glided straight out of his view, as if I was never there.
November 25th, 1999
Roseanna feels calm on the day of Jennifer-Rose’s funeral. She doesn’t shed a tear. She doesn’t smile either, but that would be way out of character. She’s supposed to feel distraught. She’s supposed to be wailing, hard to control or restrain. She just moves with stone-cold features instead, gripping onto Jeff’s hand at the funeral service. Despite Christmas being around the corner, the weather forecast isn’t too bad, so they decided to hold it outdoors. People could bring gloves and scarves if they needed to. Plus, the heat indoors made Roseanna nauseous. She didn’t want to risk it.
It was as if God intervened. It was as if He was tired of seeing this couple suffer – He wanted to alleviate their pain. It worked on the hundred-and-thirtieth time. Day after day after day, they tried. It finally worked.
And it wasn’t just Farrow – a whole team of scientists helped. It was just all kept completely confidential, like Area 51. Nobody would ever have to find out.
They took out her eggs, like they would with IVF treatment. They removed the nucleus from the cells, rubbing out traces of past generations. Rose’s somatic cell was enucleated and implanted in Roseanna’s ovum, and was stimulated to divide via electric shock. It was inevitable to see those attempts fall flat, with a lot not even making it to blastocyst form. Then some would give up at the embryonic stage. It was a constant cycle - it was like Groundhog Day. They kept trying and trying, putting in a quarter of a million just to get it started. Though Farrow didn’t do it for the money, it was exactly what they needed to set sail. They needed as much funding they could get, and obviously not from the government. It was tricky business, and it was exhausting.
But one-hundred and thirty attempts in, and it worked. Not only the first successful human attempt, but the shortest attempt of any mammal; just three months. Janus had taken almost a year.
The embryo stayed viable in the test-tube, and eventually it was time to implant it. The odds were stacked even worse, seeming as Roseanna has just reached her forties. She never even really considered if she could carry. It could fail at the last hurdle – she could miscarry. Everything is working against them – they are swimming against the tide. But God must have intervened. He must have.
They switched Jennifer-Rose’s Life Support off once the implanting was deemed successful, and treatment could come to an end. It was the most successful leap of mankind since the moon walk. Since Janus. This is something that the world should know about. But it may also be the defeat of mankind. It might be the reason the world burns. It might be a catastrophic downfall, sending humanity into chaos.
Roseanna can’t help but think about all the possibilities where this might fail. How the baby might be stillborn – how she might even be severely disabled. She might look nothing like Jennifer-Rose, despite the obvious likelihood. She shudders in fear, thinking these things over and over in her head. Sometimes she can’t sleep, and her morning sickness is ten times worse than it ever was with Jamie or Jacque. She’s not sure it’s because she’s older, full of more stress, or because this is not a normal pregnancy. She’s not sure if it is all of the above. She is very afraid. But she is also hopeful. She will have hope, right until the end.
Jacque’s eulogy is a mess – he tries his best to hold in tears, mumbling with a voice so husky, so wobbly, so hollow. He mentions Rose’s big tournament win a year ago, and how it was the proudest moment of her short life. He mentions everything that would need to be mentioned in a eulogy, before he’s too exhausted to say anything more. Jamie helps, chipping in towards the end. Roseanna feels so much pain for what her family have lost, but she thinks, don’t worry. It will be better soon. We’ll get her back.
As they lower her casket into the soil, singing old Christian hymns, Roseanna’s stomach turns. The nausea builds up. She begins to cry for the first time since they reached the end of the somatic cell nuclear transfer. She’s scared for what she has done. The emotions are but a raging current, coursing through her veins. She can only hear the blood gushing through her ears. She can only hear her hysterical heartbeat.
Once the white roses have been thrown into the earth cavity, dressing up the mahogany case that Jennifer-Rose rests asleep in, they chuck the soil back into its place.
This is around the same time that the world spins around Roseanna. She collapses, being caught by the rough ground.
The crowd gasp and murmur in bothered voices. Jeff and a few other hands lift her up, but she stays limp and unresponsive.
“Roseanna!” Jeff calls. Jamie and Jacque push through to delve into the commotion.
Roseanna doesn’t wake up.