July 20th, 2016.
“So you specifically knew about the risk of this clone possibly carrying the same condition that Rose had?” Dr. Redman asks, leaning forward in his chair. “And you still decided to go ahead with it? You still thought the only thing that mattered was Rose’s existence in one way or another, and not the alleviation of her suffering? You knew that even despite the crash, and that since she was a child, she would most likely never live past twenty-two anyway?” he furrows his brows in pure shock. When he did all of the tests verifying Anne’s DNA, he also came across the genetic defect causing the heart condition. Like repeating history, it came about again, from Rose into Anne.
“It’s not like that,” Roseanna mumbles, clasping her hands together in unease. “We didn’t think it would happen again.”
“You decided to go ahead and clone an unhealthy human being, and you didn’t expect the same health problems to arise in the clone?”
“This is a first – it’s never been known to happen-”
“Mrs. Middleton, there have been many processes done on other mammals which proved that diseases can be replicated, just as the organism is. You cannot pick and choose what you bring back. If you wanted Rose back, you wanted her illness back too. You knew Anne may not live to an old age, just like Rose, but you played it off like ‘maybe she will’, as if that really justifies anything. This is possibly one of the most selfish things I have ever discovered.”
“I’m sorry!” Roseanna cries.
“Did Rose ever find out of her illness? I know she died before it could plague her, but did she eventually know?”
“…Yes.” Jeff responds, taking over from Roseanna’s inarticulate wailing. “She found out a few weeks before the shooting, when the first symptoms started to appear. It was something that was hard for her to deal with. That’s why we could never let her know. We could never let Anne know, either. We knew that if it were to happen again… it would have to be something spontaneous, and nothing that we could have predicted. If she knew that Rose was the same… then, I don’t know what she would do.”
“You have created lives built on lies. You have created living, breathing human beings for your own comfort. Completely disregarding their own health or comfort. How can you live knowing that?” Redman shakes his head. “This is abysmal.”
“We were hoping for the best-”
“You have lived your lives on hope, and not reality. Hope is a dangerous thing to depend on. You end up skipping cautions, red flags and warning signs. You end up falling right into an abyss, just because you saw a small light over the other side of it. Hope leaves you blind to your mistakes. I know that in essence, you are good people. But you were led astray. You somehow convinced yourselves that your perfect dream would be sculpted with no flaws. You thought you would keep Rose. Instead, you had two Roses - one dead, and one possibly dying.”
“What do we do now?” Jeff asks. “Do we tell her? Is there a way we can put her on the transplant list?”
“That could take years. This is a quick killer. It’s no joke. Even though she’s perfectly fine now, once a slither of a symptom begins to appear, she could be critical in months. It can also take years, with the right treatment and depending on the intensity of the defect. She might live a long life, with just a few hiccups, but she could be gone by the end of this year.” Redman responds. “You will just have to let her down easy, like how you told Rose. That’s all I can really say, for now.”
The couple sit in silence, staring at the floor. “I suggest you wipe away your tears for now, Mrs. Middleton. Anne will be coming back from her lunch break soon. You don’t want to raise any alarms. Any of the alarms that you… planted.”
Roseanna quickly wipes away her tears, taking deep breaths. Jeff just taps his foot in the silence of the room. They both wait for their daughter to return.
Shelly looks down at the new-born. She looks up at Roseanna, who looks exhausted and fatigued. Definitely not how she felt when Rose was born. But then again, she is older, and has lived through a lot more grief than back then.
“Ain’t she a sweetheart?” Shelly says quietly. The baby is fast asleep, but Roseanna is somewhere between consciousness and dream.
“Sure is,” Roseanna mutters.
“You are a very lucky woman. What are the odds of having another child this far into your life?”
“You tryna call me an old bat?” Roseanna manages a smile over her tired grumble.
“You’re not old old, but you’re old.”
“You can’t even talk! You’re thirty-nine.”
“I’m thirty-nine and I had my last kid years ago.” Shelly raises an eyebrow before looking back at the baby. “But she must be a blessing. After everything that has happened to you in the past year. It’s like she’s your fourth time lucky now!”
Roseanna smiles weakly. “Yeah. Somethin’ like that.”
“How much she weigh?”
“Wow. The same as Rosie.” Shelly smiles, staring long and hard at her. “What’s her name?”
“Jennifer-Anne,” Roseanna responds quickly.
“Jesus, remember all those years ago when I joked about you calling’ your next kid Anne? I was right.”
“Yeah, I guess.” she mumbles, eyes flickering, straining to stay open.
“Remember when you told me there would also be no next child?”
“Yes, I remember. But circumstances change, Shell.”
“I understand. But you’ve got to think about why I might find this all kind of… suspect. The second Rosie dies, you go and have another one. Why?”
“It doesn’t matter why.”
“I’m sure it doesn’t, in the grand scheme of things. But I want you to love all of your children the same. I want you to know that they aren’t just replacements. Ever since you were a kid, you were a perfectionist. You wanted things perfect, and you would go outta your way to fix anything that seemed broken, even if it wasn’t. I’m not saying you didn’t have to try for another child… but remember Rose like we all will. Don’t swat away her memory with another kid.”
Roseanna wasn’t expecting a minor lecture, especially right after hours of childbirth. She just sighs, turning around on the bed so her back faces Shelly.
Annie’s eyes open slowly as she wakes up. When Roseanna isn’t looking, Shelly slowly picks her up. Her skin is soft and cheeks a blush-tinted pink, and her eyes a cool grey, like a little storm. Shelly furrows her eyebrows, feeling something in the back of her mind. As she looks closer at Anne, she becomes more confused.
Her stomach turns.