June 24th, 2016
“Jennifer-Anne, where the hell are you?” Jamie screams down the line. “How could you just run and leave? You’ve been gone for ten days; you’re worrying us sick. You need to come home soon.”
“I know, I know…” I bite my nails, lying on my bed in the hotel. Most of my money is gone at this point, and I really have no choice but to go back. The only problem is how I will get back, because I know I’ve probably blown a thousand or more dollars on the car in the impound. I’m kind of stuck at this point, and even if I know I should really be wrapping up my shenanigans. Meeting Bret wasn’t the only part of my plan, but I guess I didn’t really think everything through. I’m broke and very far from home. And though I’ve managed to see Bret on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself falling deeper into everything. He didn’t quite explain everything clearly, either with the notion that I already knew most of the things he was referencing (I mean, if you did start talking to an old friend, there would not be much you’d have to explain from scratch), or he was just too reluctant to reveal whatever it is that was bothering him.
I just feel like I need to see him one last time, just to force the truth out of him. I need to do it before the doubt grows too big and before he can suss me out. I’m sure he already has his suspicions, and this was evident yesterday, when it became obvious that there were some key things that I didn’t know, that I should have. It made things a bit more transparent, and I could just see the hesitation clouding over in Bret’s eyes. The foundations are going to give way at any point now. Time is running out, and I’ll soon just have to go home and face my own reality.
“Are you going to tell me where you are?” Jamie interrogates me.
“I’m in Presley.”
“Presley? Are we talking about the same city, here? The one halfway across the damn country?”
“What are you doing there, Anne? What’s wrong with you?”
I sigh, running my hair through my hands. Listening to my sister’s voice makes me miss her, and it makes me realise how much of an idiot I really am. I went to such extreme lengths to try and live out a life that was never mine, but I thought it was the right thing to do. One didn’t choose to die, and Two didn’t choose to be born. You can’t blame me for what I do from that point onwards; my parents imposed it on me.
“I can’t tell you what I’m doing. But I just need money to get back home, now. My car got towed in Wattson. I could get the train or a plane or something but I need money for it.”
“Are you asking me for money?” she scoffs.
“Well, not exactly. But I need it. That’s the only way I can get home,” I talk quietly and sheepishly, knowing that I’m pushing any luck I may have had. Running away from home for over a week and then asking for money to get back is a little bit of a bold move.
“Anne, you need to listen to me. I need to know exactly what you’ve gone and done. You’ve stolen a considerable amount of money from Mom and Dad and they deserve to know why. There’s been a few times where they’ve been very close to calling the police to track you down. Any phone call you have with Mom is just a bunch of one-word answers that don’t really say anything. Do you know that ‘I’m fine, don’t worry’ is not an acceptable answer at this point?”
“I know!” I yell. “I know it’s not!”
“So then tell me what you’re doing!”
“Is it a boy? Did you run away for a boy?”
“Oh, God no.”
“Then what is it, Anne! Tell me!”
“I came to find Bret Walker!” I holler, frozen and astonished with how easily the admission slipped off of my tongue. I’ve let the cat out of the bag and most likely busted myself. I listen to the pause on the other side of the line, before hearing my sister breathe out a long sigh.
“Oh, Anne. What are we going to do with you?”
“Don’t tell Mom and Dad. Please don’t. Just give me the money, and I will leave tomorrow.”
“You must be kidding me. Of course I’m telling them! Are you crazy, tracking down your sister’s old friends? You must be.”
That really does it for me. Somehow it lights a fuse within me, because I knew deep down when I found out the truth, that my brother and sister must have known. They may have not known, and my parents may have just kept it to themselves. But either way, Jamie is under the impression that I am clueless to my own reality. Whether she also is, I wish to find out.
“Maybe my parents should have thought of that before deciding to create Rose again.” I say, sharply.
“What did you just say?” Jamie asks cautiously.
“I said… Mom and Dad should have thought about that when they decided to clone their own child!” This time I’m screaming, and I have the sudden urge to cry. Something I haven’t done in a long time.
“Oh, Anne,” Jamie’s voice shakes almost immediately. “No, no, no. Annie.”
“Did you know?” my voice is nothing but a broken whisper. “Did you know about this? All my life, and you couldn’t tell me?”
“It wasn’t like that, baby. I couldn’t just tell you something like that.” By the sounds of it, she’s crying, and so am I. “It wasn’t for me to say anything. It wasn’t my place. It was something between Mom, Dad and Dr Farrow. You need to understand this.”
“Did you know that Mom and Dad knew all this time that I had found out?” I sniff. “I got into the attic in March and I found everything out. They knew and they still kept quiet about it. I was screaming out to them, in every way possible, but they tried to dismiss it. Make me look like I was just having an identity crisis. They knew what they had done and they couldn’t say it out loud.”
“Maybe because they didn’t want to encourage stunts like this!” Jamie yells.
“You’re defending them?” I hiss, feeling nauseous. My family is insane.
“No, I’m not, Anne. It’s so much more complicated than that. You need to come home so we can talk this through properly.”
“There’s nothing left to say.”
“There is so much let to talk about. Come on. We need to have a mature conversation about this.” She pleads.
“Don’t tell Mom and Dad about me being in Presley.” I plead back.
“…Have… have you seen him? Bret Walker?”
I hesitate to answer. I could easily just say that I didn’t get the chance, so I spent the week meandering around a new city and blowing the rest of my money. But I would be lying through my teeth, and I think I’m tired of that. “Yes. A couple of times. I convinced him I was Rose resurrected or whatever.”
I hear a laugh on the other side of the line, to my surprise. Jamie finds it funny. “It’s not a joke!” I feel indignant and stupid, but it’s true – this entire scenario could easily look shady to an outside. A sixteen-year-old (almost seventeen, I guess) girl going to visit a stranger almost twice her age in some other corner of the country. It may be laughable to my sister, but it’s something anybody would side-eye.
“Jesus Christ. Do you have your card? I’ll transfer some money, but only on the condition that you’re home by tomorrow evening.”
“Don’t tell them where I went or who I went to see,” I reiterate.
“What do I tell them?”
“You don’t have to tell them anything. I’ll be home by tomorrow, like you said. I’ll deal with it.”
“Jennifer-Anne, you better leave soon. Or I will have no choice. I’ll have to let them know.”
And with that, we soon say our goodbyes and hang up. I feel deflated, messy, confused. I feel a lot of regret, but I also feel like I’m in too deep to let someone like my sister sabotage anything. I’m not done yet.
The funny thing is, I honestly tried to convince myself I was doing this all for One’s legacy, her will or whatever.
But sometimes I feel like I’m just kidding myself. I feel like, no, hold on. I am doing this all for me. I’m the only one who still exists.
5th January, 2000
Jamie finds the documents. All of the scientific contracts and forms; all of the SCNT files. She finds the newspaper cutting of the article about Farrow hidden somewhere between the sheets. The second she sees it all, she wants to throw up.
“Jacque?” she yells, calling him into the study. “Please come and see this.”
He rushes through, hearing her distressed tone. Crouching down next to her, he studies the papers. It takes him a while to understand, but soon he gets it. “Oh my god.”
“They are insane,” Jamie whispers with a shaking voice. “They’ve lost their minds. And they were never going to tell us!”
“This is unbelievable.”
“It’s disgusting. Do they think this is a game?” she is fuming, eyes watering.
“It can’t be real.”
“So they didn’t just try for another kid. They cloned one? They ate up all of their money and cloned their own child?”
“I never thought they were this twisted,” Jacque says. “I thought they were clingy perfectionists, but I didn’t think they were this bad.”
“I can’t look Mom in the eye ever again. Not after this. I can’t. Rose was not a product! She wasn’t something made in a goddamned factory. She’s not something you can just… duplicate. No human is! That girl meant so much. She was worth more than this. She deserved way more dignity than this.”
Jamie finds herself crying, with Jacque trying his best to console her. To gather his own thoughts. “They have ruined this family.” Jamie mutters. “They have destroyed the world. I’m telling you - they’ve destroyed it.”