Note: This is a sorta sequel to “What is the Last Thing You Remember?”
I was twenty-two years old. I woke up in the future in a strange room surrounded by strange people. They told me I was a clone with implanted memories but the procedure wasn’t done. I was scared of who I would be when, had been before, the procedure was completed. So, I asked to leave and they let me. It was my right as a sentient human being after all. But I would not be who I remembered being. Not legally.
Retinal patterns, fingerprints, birthmarks, are random even in perfect clones. They scanned my biometrics, created a new identity, and sent me on my way. I was a failed clone.
I met Jackie through my apartment manager. He thought it was odd that I was applying for an apartment when “I” already had an apartment in the building. She’s older than me not only because she was (made/created/imprinted) before me. Jackie has more memories from the original. She wouldn’t say much about the thirteen years she could remember but I couldn’t.
“It’s in the past.” She sat in one of my window sills smoking, silhouetted against the dusky sky. The red cherry of her cigarette flaring up occasionally.
“It was my future,” I said.
“None of the memories in our heads really belong to us. That woman died a long time ago. We’re just misprinted copies.”
“We’ve lost everything. Our name, our friends, our family. Our whole life is gone.”
“None of that was ever ours. We aren’t the original. The final clone gets to pretend to be her but she isn’t her.” The cherry glowed brightly.
“But we remember-” She interrupted me with lungs full of smoke. Smoke flowed out with every word.
“So, who’s real. You, me, her? We all remember some of the original’s life. But it’s just memories. It doesn’t matter.” I waved away the smoke.
“All we are is memories.”
“No. Our memories don’t define who we will or can be.”
“Don’t you miss her?” Jackie glared at me before deflating.
“Everyday. But that wasn’t my life. That wasn’t me. We have to move forward. All this looking back at a life we didn’t live is useless.” She finished her cigarette in silence and left for the night.
I saw the final clone on the street one day. She was the one who stuck it out. When I first saw her I thought she was Jackie, then I got a better look at her. She was dressed nice, too nice to be one of us failures. I’ve read some of the books we wrote in our thirties; the royalties must have paid well.
Jackie won’t read them. I liked the one I read well enough.
“I tried reading the first one once but I have the first draft and rough outlines of the first four books in my head. All the foreshadowing and red herrings are too obvious. And I hate that she cut some of my, her, favorite scenes,” she explained.
“Have you ever thought of rewriting it?”
“No, I want to write something different but I have too much of her story in my head. I need some time to find my own story.”
For a failure, I’m doing okay. I have a nice place to live, a job that lets me have small luxuries, and a sister/friend who knows me better than anyone. And yet I feel like I’m missing something. Like I need to do something.
I pause by a display of bound journals and pens. I can remember writing in something similar when I was a child. No, the original wrote in journals as a child. I didn’t have a childhood. I sprung fully formed from Recovery Inc’s forehead.
Next to journals are sketchpads and pencils and charcoals and pastels. I grab a beginner set and head home.