May 12th, 2016
It had been a while since I visited my sister Jamie out of town, so I decided to tag along with my parents when they offered the chance. There is never much to do over at her house, except play with Robbie for a few hours before he gets annoying. Her cable TV only has a few select channels, and it’s her last resort just to flick through the news or cooking programmes. She’s a computer person, like most of us these days.
Her husband, Daniel is kinda boring too. He tells the driest jokes. I remember when I was younger and they had just met, how unimpressed I would be at his attempts to make me laugh. It came to the point where Jamie told me I need to loosen up – that it’s not right for a man to be intimidated by a six-year-old.
I was happy to know that he was out for the day when we arrived, and it was just Jamie and Robbie alone, keeping each other company. I entered the front door before my parents, scooping up an excited Robbie whilst Jamie stood behind the door. She hugged Mom and Dad before turning to me. “How are you doing, buttercup?”
“I’d rather you didn’t call me that,” I sighed. It’s a habit she can’t let go of. I find it so patronising, and she likes to use that against me. I know she’s only joking - it’s her instinct to mother me, or treat me like a kid. Sometimes it’s like she’s the mother, and my parents are like MeMaw and Pops.
“I can’t believe you’re gonna be in senior year this Fall! You’re growing so fast!” She continued with the patronising.
“Not fast enough,” I replied. As we edged into the living room, Robbie tugged at my earring in curiosity. I bet he was wondering how it got there, and how it could get out. I put him down before his fourth tug became a yank, and I plopped myself on the couch beside me.
“Do you already have ideas of what you’re going to study at college? You’ve got a year now, practically. I think you told me before, actually; it just left my memory.” She said.
“History.” I responded.
“Oh yeah! Damn, I was telling all my colleagues it was Geography. I’m useless.” She shook her head, smiling.
“Nice to know how much you remember about me.” I muttered a bit too snidely.
“I’m sorry. It’s just been a while since we talked.”
“Well,” My father changed the conversation, sitting on the couch adjacent to me. “She has plans to study History. She’s always had good results in that subject. It only made sense to continue her studies further. You could go far in that.”
I shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
“And if that doesn’t work, you still always have tennis, right? Let’s have some more optimism.”
“Let’s have some more realism.” I countered. All of our conversations ended up bitter now.
“Listen to Dad,” Jamie told me. “He’s telling the truth. You’ve got to work your butt off once you get into college. I graduated many moons ago but I’ll never forget the workload. You’ve got to work with the belief that it means something.”
“Yeah. Let’s get senior year over with first.” I muttered. Robbie was now inspecting my shoes. I’ve never known someone to be so curious over the most mundane things.
I leaned over the island counter as Jamie cut up some vegetables for dinner. Mom and Dad were out in the garden, watching Robbie mess around on the lawn. I felt like this was the right time to ask; when there was no way that they would hear me.
“Do you remember Bret?”
Jamie stopped cutting mid-way, looking up at me. “Bret Walker?” she narrowed her eyes.
“Of course. Rose’s friend. I remember Sofia too, his partner.” Jamie is always so formal – she wouldn’t say boyfriend. Ever since she got a job as an executive, it’s like she can’t afford to use colloquial vocabulary anymore. Before I know it she’ll be nothing but a briefcase with an encyclopaedia in it.
“How much do you remember about him?”
“I haven’t seen him in years, Anne.”
“Don’t you wonder where he is now?”
“No. Why do you care? You don’t even know him.” She frowned.
“I was just wondering. Rose’s life seems interesting to me. I wish I got to know the people she knew.”
“You have your own life. Live it.”
“Oh, I know that,” I said defensively. “I just said I was wondering.”
She shook her head, sighing. She chopped the rest of the vegetables with quick hands. “….He was… from what I know… Bret was a nice kid. He was a bit of a wild one, though. He was a bit of a tornado. A fickle thing. Rumours went around, stories were made up, and he made himself known for the things he did. I didn’t like Rose hanging around him that much.”
“So you don’t ever think about where Rose’s other friends ended up?”
“Hhm,” I tilted my head to the side, thinking to myself. One’s life is forgotten by us. People have to move on, I get it. It would be wrong for any of our family to reach out to the past – not while I exist. It’s just funny how nobody cares anymore. One’s belongings were covered in dust in the attic. God knows where they’ll end up in the end. Maybe they’ll get burned up, or I’ll set up a garage sale when there’s no point in them anymore. What else can you do with the past? Bury it? Hang it up on the wall? The least you could do is remember it.
I’m the only reason that there’s no need to.
Jamie narrowed her eyes after a while. She was giving me that look of suspicion, when she feels like I might be onto something.
“Why are you asking these questions?”
“No reason. I told you, I was curious.”
“Have you found Rose’s diaries?” I stared at her blankly. “Rose’s stuff; have you found them?”
Lie. Lie, just lie. “Rose has diaries?” I brightened up my eyes. “Where?”
She shook her head. “God. It doesn’t matter. Forget it.”
“Where are they?”
“I said forget it.”
July 25th, 1999
“This is ridiculous,” Farrow sternly cuts the couple off. “You sound deluded. This is unethical, and I cannot go through with it. I am sorry.”
“What if it works?” Roseanna pleads. She knows she sounds insane. She knows that they are asking for the impossible. But she has a glimmer of hope. She has faith. “What if it runs smoothly? Nobody has to know-”
“How do we even start with obtaining the somatic cells?” Furrow asks. “You are asking for too much. This is illegal. If not, immoral. If anybody ever found out about this…”
“So it’s just a case of people knowing. It can still go on, right?” Jeff asks.
“We understand that it might not work out. We understand it takes many attempts. But we’re willing to do anything, sir. We’re willing to pay as much money as you want.”
“I don’t do this for money.” Farrow huffs. “Now if you don’t mind, I have work to do. It would be such a convenience for you to leave, now. There is no way I am going ahead with something this barbaric. Where do we even start? I would need a lot of support from the scientific community. This is not a one-man job.” Farrow realises that he is talking as if he would go along with it, but he is just considering the hurdles. He scratches his chin, uncomfortable with the whole ordeal. Ever since he started the hamster treatments, it garnered a lot of attention. The first mammal was cloned in 1992 – a sheep named Janus. He followed suit down that route of biological sciences. He never thought mastering the art of cloning would ever bring him to a scenario like this; a couple begging for their child to be replicated – to be sustained – to gain a second chance at life.
“She’s still alive,” Jeff responds. “She’s on Life Support; you know that. You know you can do something about it. Pretend you need a… a biopsy. Exactly which body cells do you need?”
“Stop this. I’m not taking this conversation any further. I assumed this would be a genuine medical appointment for a legitimate enquiry - not a waste of my time. Please leave, Mr. and Mrs. Middleton.”
“Please,” Roseanna crumbles into tears. “Give us a chance. This could be the most life-changing, revolutionary breakthrough in history. If it worked. Like we said, we’ll have to give up eventually.”
“It takes hundreds of attempts. This is not an overnight job.”
“How about if we stop at one-hundred? How about if we-”
“You ought to leave, please.”
“I’ll be the surrogate,” Roseanna beseeches. “I volunteer wholly to take part.”
“I will kill myself if you don’t do it.” She says, sternly. There is an empty rage in her eyes – it’s like she is in a trance-like state. “I will find a rope and I will use it. And I will never forgive you for rejecting my one chance of happiness. You have the power to bring her back, Dr Farrow. Take that chance. Take it.”
“Roseanna-” Jeff tries to interject. He was not expecting her to say such a thing. He can feel his throat tighten up; he can envision her leaving him – doing something mad, like committing suicide. He doesn’t want to lose her either. He couldn’t take the pain.
“I will do it!” she stands, voice trembling, wavering, shaking. Her eyes are nothing but glass, reflecting light from around the room. She is losing herself.
Jeff holds her, afraid she might do something regrettable. She tries pulling herself out of her grip, hollering at the top of her lungs. She can’t stop screaming.
She always wanted three children. But not just any three children. She needed the ones she had. They can’t be replaced - they have to be the same. It was going to stay that way. Three is her lucky number. It has always been that way. She cannot break it now.
“Please,” she mutters once her manic episode is over. “I need her back. I need her back. I need her back.”