April 23rd, 2016
It had been a month since my discovery. I kept most things under wraps, but I would make small jabs to my parents and remind them that I knew. They still hadn’t sat down and talked to me about it yet, and I guess that was just because they were afraid of me, and what I could do. They didn’t know how to go about it. And to be honest, I was bursting with zest at the discovery of my First Life at first, but a part of me was full of fear too. It forced me to suspend my plans and shrink into a long lonely quietness. Everybody just knew that I wasn’t myself, and I was somewhere so far deep that I couldn’t get out. For whatever reason, I was just depressed.
Farrow came to check up on me again, and I think that my parents were scared, because they just knew I would act out. I would send alarm bells ringing. And they were right; I did.
“Your immune system is a tad weak at the moment, Anne.” Dr Farrow told me nonchalantly. He sat on our living room sofa with one leg folded over his knee and a leather briefcase by his feet. I swallowed hard, trying not to cry in front of my parents. I hadn’t done it in years, and I was not starting again anytime soon. My parents seemed annoyingly calm about it –it’s almost like they had prepared themselves for this moment. They knew why my body was playing up with me, and they knew I knew.
“You saw this coming, didn’t you?” I began to argue. “But it’s a risk worth taking, right?”
“I don’t quite follow, Miss Middleton.” Farrow responded.
“Anne, it’s not like we planned for this to happen.” My mother interjected.
“Yeah, you knew I wouldn’t be as healthy as she was. You knew I’d spend a lot of my life needing treatment. And naïve old me, just thought it was a condition.”
“You need to understand that we love you so, so much, and-”
“Parents who love their children don’t keep secret after secret away from them, especially when those secrets revolve a life-or-death situation.”
“You don’t love me. You’ve always loved the first one more. She was perfection.” Just looking through the old photos of One, I felt heartache. You could just tell she was sought after, popular, lusted for. She was loved and she was fun and wild, and I’m not quite there.
Soon, my parents were both lost for words. I could see my father fuming, close to bursting. I always see it before it happens; agitated, he starts impatiently tapping his foot on the ground and trying too hard not to curse under his breath. Then, he’ll raise his voice, make it as stern as possible, and it will get louder until the neighbours can hear our arguments – our daily arguments, repeating like a circadian rhythm.
“I’m nothing but a glitch. I’m like a second draft that was worse than the first. And it’s fine by you, as long as I’m around. As long as you can pretend you’re just going back in time and not that you spent thousands of dollars getting someone to play God for your own benefit.”
I was expecting Dr Farrow to be as shocked as my parents with my outburst, but he just sat there calmly as if he were a patient waiting at a clinic.
“I apologise for this, Dr Farrow…” My mother said sheepishly, cupping onto her tea like she was scared of dropping it. I could see her hands shaking.
“We’ve known each other almost nineteen years, Roseanna. It’s Vincent, to you. You’re no stranger to me.”
I turned to Farrow, cocking my head to the side as if analysing him. “Are you proud of yourself? Are you happy you went through with this? Does it feel good to know you did it?” This was the first time I had ever confronted him about the biggest elephant in the room, and my heart raced more than it would otherwise.
“No, Jennifer-Anne. I’m not proud of myself at all. In fact, I feel a lot like Dr Frankenstein. I feel like a terrible human being. I’ve haven’t felt happiness in a long, long time.” He smiled sadly.
“And I’m the monster, right? The freak? Obviously nobody else sees it that way, but it’s true, isn’t it?”
“The real monster of the story was Dr Frankenstein. He was the one that had caused the most pain. You, dear, are a wonder. Something that spiralled out of our control, purely because you are a human being, and humans are unpredictable creatures. You’re nothing more, nothing less.”
“Honey, you’ve always been a miracle, that’s all you are!” My mother said to me.
“But here’s the catch: I’m someone else’s miracle. Not my own.”
And that was the story of how the revelation finally got out.
July 20th 1999
The crying stops after about two minutes; she has either possibly fallen asleep, or fallen into an empty-eyed trance. This is around the same time that Jeff settles on the front porch, newspaper in hand. Between entering the porch and settling down, he went to grab a whisky and the local paper and use up some of his time doing something other than constantly sulking and praying that his daughter might just survive the un-survivable.
Most of the local news is as expected; soccer games, petty crime reports, trivial achievements around the local area, and political updates around town.
But something catches Jeff’s eye, and it almost goes unnoticed - a small, one-column article hidden in the top corner of a page. The title reads:
UNORTHODOX SCIENTIST HELPS CLONE HAMSTERS FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH
Of course, at first Jeff doesn’t think much of it. He sips his whisky, feels it burn like alkaline down his throat, and licks his finger, ready to turn the page. But something inside him stops. Something budges him to stay put, on this one page. He continues reading the article.
Californian scientist, former biologist and surgeon, Dr Vincent Farrow has teamed up with other specialists to try and find a cure for a number of illnesses, using the controversial process of cloning. The scientist, who obtained a PhD at Harvard University back in 1965 aged just twenty-three, has been working with lab rats and hamsters during his duration of research, has begun replicating the DNA of ‘donor’ hamsters, using their body cells, and inserting it into the empty egg cells of ‘surrogates’. With the right amount of electrical stimulation, the exact copy of the donor is created. However, it should be noted that this is an extremely gruelling process with high risks of failure - so the question is; do the benefits of the potentiality of curing diseases outweigh the risks of life being ‘meddled’ with in the name of science?
Jeff closes the newspaper after reading that article before staring out into the horizon over the suburban rooftops around him. The fantasy that has erupted within his mind seems so far-fetched and absurd, but there’s a part of him that cannot let go of it. It’s a fantasy worth holding on to, even if it means nothing at all.