Note: This story was originally published in the March 2006 issue of Wild Violet, Volume V, Issue I.
Sarah came awake slowly. Her vision was blurred. She blinked to clear it.
Where am I? she wondered as she looked around. It was a hotel room, it had to be, but was a queer oval shape. Colorful pictures of lakes and gardens decorated the walls. There were no windows that she could see. It must still be nighttime, Sarah thought as she glanced around for a clock. But it wasn't completely dark; a subtle white glow seemed to be seeping from the walls.
She wasn't sleepy but strangely energized, as if she'd already had a full night's rest. But she couldn't understand why her body seemed to have a delayed reaction to her mind's commands.
Did I take any medication last night that didn't agree with me? Sarah wondered as she tried to recall just what she had done last night.
The door opened. Sarah blinked as the glow in the walls and ceiling brightened. The light stung her eyes. She sat up and realized she was naked. Blushing in frustration, she hurriedly wrapped herself in the bed sheet.
"Good. You are finally awake," said the person who had entered, a woman in a white lab coat.
"I . . ." Sarah's voice sounded strange to her ears. "What . . . what happened?"
The woman smiled with mild sympathy. "You have been through quite a lot." She handed Sarah something that looked like a plain white jumpsuit. "Put this on and I'll take you for a walk around the facility."
Although the garment was a simple one that she just slipped on, Sarah felt awkward, as if she hadn't dressed herself for some time.
Have I been in a coma? She wanted to ask the woman that question as she followed her out into the hallway but the words evaporated on her tongue.
"My name is Amanda," the woman said, pointing to her badge, which read, "Amanda Cohen, MD." "You will be staying here for a while until you can adjust. I'll be observing you."
"Observing me?" Sarah swallowed. "So this is a hospital?"
"In a way it is."
The walls of the hallway glowed with the same subtle light as her room. Dr. Cohen led her into an exercise room filled with lights and running machines. "We will work in here together a little each day," Dr. Cohen said. "You must rebuild your strength."
They moved on through the facility. There were still more of those glowing white walls lined with pastoral pictures. Sarah and Dr. Cohen entered a large atrium filled with flowers, shrubs, and trees. Roses, daisies, lupine, morning glories . . . Sarah struggled to name the countless flowers and drew a blank on the rest. Along one wall stretched an enormous aquarium filled with tropical fish of varying sizes, shades, and designs. The sudden brilliant colors of this place made her eyes water. She blinked hard to focus.
The atrium itself was shaped like a pyramid, its slanting walls stretching up to dizzying heights. Light seeped in from a skylight covering the tiny, distant ceiling. That was the first natural light Sarah had seen since she had awakened. Why didn't this place have any windows? The tinkling sound of a small brook bubbled somewhere amongst the greenery.
"Feel free to come in here whenever you feel the need," said Dr. Cohen. "But for now, come with me. It is time for you to eat."
Eat? Now that she thought about it, Sarah realized that she was hungry. How long had she been in the coma?
As they passed the aquarium, a sudden thought jolted her. I promised to take Jill whale watching this weekend.
This weekend? Jill? The image of a cute, dark-haired child with a missing front tooth flashed through her mind.
"Jill! My baby!" The words flew from her mouth before she could stop them. "I-I promised I'd cut down on the extra hours I was putting in at work, that I'd spend more time with her. And Roger—"
Roger! She could almost see him standing before her, a tall ruddy-faced man with a boyish smile. How he used to putter around the house and the garage whistling "You Are My Sunshine." Sarah smiled as she thought about her husband. He was never one to sit still and read or watch television. He always had to be working on a project whether it was the car, laying bricks, building a bookcase, or painting a room. To him, the house they had lived in for nearly the ten years of their marriage was his masterpiece . . . one that he would never finish.
"My family. How long . . . ? I think Roger and I had a fight." The words came out in a blur of tears and emotions. "I had been working late and the house was a mess. I was cranky and Jill didn't want to do her homework and I—Are they all right?"
Dr. Cohen smiled and patted her shoulder. "They are fine. Don't worry about them. For now, you need to focus on yourself. Come. You will feel much better after you've eaten something."
Sarah was led into what appeared to be a kitchen. There were other people in white lab coats sitting at small metallic tables and chatting. They all looked up and grew instantly silent as Sarah and Dr. Cohen entered the room.
"Our subject has finally awakened," Dr. Cohen said, showing Sarah to an empty table. "It is now time for her to eat."
Sarah could almost feel their eyes burrowing into her.
"Is there anything you'd like to eat?" asked Dr. Cohen.
Sarah's mind fumbled over possible choices. She was craving a pizza but remembered that she was struggling to keep her weight down and fought back that desire. Besides, she didn't think that a hospital would serve pizza.
But then Dr. Cohen did say anything, didn't she?
She finally decided on a broiled breast of chicken with vegetables and a salad with lemon herb tea to drink. She looked around as Dr. Cohen walked over to what appeared to be a wall panel with blinking lights. She pushed a few buttons. After several seconds, the panel drew back, revealing a steaming hot meal and a cup of tea . . . just what Sarah had ordered.
What kind of hospital was this?
The food tasted real enough, although chewing at first was difficult. Sarah bit her tongue a number of times before her full enjoyment of the meal could set in. Still, her acute awareness of all the staring eyes made her uncomfortable. Why were these people, who were apparently part of the medical staff at this hospital, so fascinated with her? Hadn't they ever seen a patient like her before? And where were all the other patients?
It was difficult to tell day from night in this windowless hospital with the eerie, glowing walls. Sarah was aware of the passing of the day by her mealtimes and the exercise routines Dr. Cohen gave her. Her free time, which she had much of, was spent in the atrium. After many hours she would grow tired.
Sarah was disturbed by the fact that Roger and Jill never came to visit. Didn't they miss her? She wavered between anger and depression. And why hadn't she been released yet? There seemed to be nothing wrong with her body. Dr. Cohen checked her over regularly and claimed that she was in perfect health, even "better than before," whatever that meant.
During her time in the atrium, Sarah struggled to piece together her memories. Fragments came to her: packing a suitcase, driving someplace, a truck barreling toward her, but they quickly evaporated.
I can't stay here forever! I must get away. If Dr. Cohen won't release me, I'll release myself. I must return to Roger and Jill and let them know that I'm all right. There has to be a way out of this place.
She hadn't seen any doors but the only rooms she knew of were the place that she slept, the adjoining bathroom, the exercise room, the atrium, and the kitchen. There was a large panel opposite the food processor where the staff seemed to enter and exit. She would wait until she was feeling slightly tired—an indicator that it was probably night in the outside world—and slip through there, see where it led.
Sarah's heart was pounding much later as she stepped up to the panel. Just as she had hoped, there was no one around. But what if you need a secret code to enter? She looked around for a keypad or fingerprint scanner but couldn't find any. Good. She tapped lightly on the panel, just as she'd observed the staff do and, to her relief, the panel drew aside silently.
She entered a short tunnel-like hallway that shone with the same steady glow as the rest of the building. It led to a glass panel that drew aside as she stepped up to it.
This was much too easy, she thought as she stepped outside.
Her relief was instantly replaced by a terror that clenched her throat, knotted her stomach. She was in a strange city she didn't recognize. The buildings all seemed to be made of a mirror-like material that reflected the setting sun in blinding shimmers. What looked like enormous television screens were interspersed between the buildings like three-dimensional billboards, playing an array of eye-popping ads in such rapid succession that watching them made Sarah dizzy. The wide streets had multiple lanes that bullet-shaped vehicles whizzed down at incredible speeds. The sidewalks swarmed with people, men and women, garbed in loose, cloak-like garments. They bumped her from all sides.
Sarah spun around, struggling to gain her bearings in the strange place. She could feel the chill of the smooth sidewalk through her thin hospital slippers. The cold seemed to seep into her chest. She wanted to crumple to the ground, to scream, to run back through the door she had entered. Where should she go? She had no idea where she was. She felt like a small child lost in a strange city.
"I had a feeling you would try this sooner or later," said a voice at her side. A refreshingly familiar voice.
She wanted to cry and throw her arms around Dr. Cohen.
"Come with me," she said, leading Sarah to a silver cylinder vehicle parked along the street. The gull-wing door swung gracefully open as she clicked something in her hand.
Sarah paused. "No. I have to find my family."
Dr. Cohen cocked an eyebrow. "Do you know the way from here?"
Sarah sighed and shook her head, defeated. "I have no idea where I am."
"This is the same city you came to each day to work. You have just been away for so long."
Sarah went numb. "What do you mean?" Could this possibly just be a wild dream?
"Get in the car. I'm going to take you to your daughter. I'll explain on the way."
Sarah had to stoop to enter but, once she was in, she found the interior soft, roomy, and comfortable. It held the distinct odor of a new car with a hint of lemon-blossom fragrance. "My daughter? What about Roger, my husband?" Her chest grew tight. Something was wrong.
Dr. Cohen pushed a button on the side of the steering wheel, allowing the car to drive itself.
"Sarah, you were an organ donor, is that correct?"
"Yes. But what has that—"
"Just listen. Your accident took place over thirty years ago." Dr. Cohen's gray eyes were locked on Sarah, unblinking.
Sarah felt her face pale. "What are you talking about?" She stared out at the wide streets, the impossibly tall buildings, the billboards that eternally flashed three-dimensional holograms. And she was sitting in a bullet-shaped car that drove itself. Still, she couldn't believe it. None of this was true. It couldn't be.
"I don't work in a hospital but a cloning lab." A chill iced Sarah's spine. "We obtained your brain shortly after the accident, in the early part of this century when our company was just starting out. We had a number of body parts from other donors who had died but you were our first, and so far only, success."
Sarah was silent. She looked down at her hands. Hands that were unmistakably hers, minus the wedding ring. A lump formed in her throat. "Then I'm . . . I'm not me?"
"You are still you. You have your thoughts, your memories although they may be blurred. Just your body is new but it is identical to your old."
During her stay at the facility, Sarah had seen her reflection in the bathroom mirror a number of times but had thought nothing of it. Now she looked at her face closely in the rearview mirror. Everything was the same as she recalled, every randomly scattered freckle, even the faint laugh lines around her eyes.
"This will take some getting used to, I know. That's why I couldn't reveal any of this to you right away. You needed time. You will now have to adjust to a new life."
"What about Roger?" Her mouth went suddenly dry, her heart beat faster. "And Jill?"
"That's where we are headed. Jill is an adult now and has a family of her own. You will stay with her until you can adjust to this new life."
Sarah gazed out the window. They had left the city behind and were whipping down an open country road. The sky was frosted with more stars than she had ever seen, reminding her of the camping trips she used to take with Roger and Jill on hot summer nights. A wistful feeling twisted in her chest.
The car zoomed up to a solitary spherical structure that was made from the same shining material as the buildings she had seen earlier. Lights shone from a few scattered windows.
"Here we are," Dr. Cohen announced as the car came to a stop at the end of a long driveway leading up to it.
"This is Jill's house?"
"Yes." The car door popped open and the seat lifted slightly beneath her, as if ejecting her. Dr. Cohen shook her hand. "I'll be in touch with you if you need me."
Sarah's legs were shaking as she approached the funny looking house. Jill will be around my age, she thought as she took a deep breath. Will I be able to handle this?
She rang the doorbell. Her heart pulsed as she heard the sounds of rapid footsteps. They were light, like a child's.
Perhaps Dr. Cohen is wrong and this is all just a terrible mistake, Sarah thought as the door drew aside slowly. Jill is still little and that means Roger—
A small face peered out from behind the door. It was a boy with short auburn hair and curiously mismatched eyes: one a bright blue, the other half brown, half blue like a dusky landscape running into a pale sky. Those eyes widened as they studied Sarah.
"Are—are you my . . . are you Grandma? You don't look like any of my friends' grandmas."
Sarah's insides tingled. She couldn't move, couldn't respond. All she could do was stare down at the innocent freckled face with those odd eyes. A grandma? I have a grandson? Her legs turned fluid.
"Is that Grandma, Ryan?" called a voice that was achingly familiar yet older than she remembered. "I told you that I'd get the door."
A woman stepped up to stand beside the boy. She was pretty with long dark hair tied back into a ponytail.
Jill? Sarah found that she could only stare. She looks just the same as I saw her last yet completely different. How can that be?
Tears filled Jill's eyes. "Mom? I thought I'd never—" Her words broke off in a sob as she pulled Sarah close. "You look just like you never left. It's been . . .too long." Sarah held her sobbing daughter, momentarily feeling as if the woman were a child again, upset over a skinned knee or lost toy. But she was bigger now. God, she's taller than me.
"Is everything all right?" asked a voice from the kitchen. "Did your mother—"
A man as freckled and red-haired as the boy stepped into the room. His eyes were a startling blue.
Jill pulled herself from Sarah's grasp and brushed at her tears. "Mom," she said in a voice that was still slightly trembling from her cry, "this is my husband Bruce. Bruce, this . . . this is my mother."
Bruce smiled but continued to stare at Sarah. "It's just amazing," he said, shaking his head. "You two could be sisters."
Sarah shifted from one foot to the other, feeling like an insect under a microscope.
"Dinner's almost ready, Mom," said Jill, taking Sarah's arm and leading her to an oval table with four place settings. She and Bruce disappeared momentarily into the kitchen and reappeared with a feast: baked chicken seasoned with rosemary, asparagus smothered in Hollandaise sauce, baked potatoes, a tossed salad, and dainty glasses of white wine.
"Don't look so surprised, Mom," Jill laughed as she placed a china plate of food before Sarah. "I've known about you for a while now and have been preparing for this moment for years."
"I can vouch for that." Bruce smiled at her from across the table.
"Grandma, what does it feel like to be a clone?" Ryan asked just before he shoved a piece of chicken into his mouth.
"Ryan!" Jill gave him a sharp look.
"No, it's all right. I'd be curious too." Sarah settled her gaze on the boy's unusual eyes. A grandson! I actually have a grandson. A jumble of emotions tumbled through her. I didn't get to see Jill grow up. Maybe I'll have that chance with Ryan. "It's rather disturbing. It feels like . . . like I've been asleep for such a short time and yet all this time has passed. Your mother was not much younger than you when I . . . before I—
"You died." Ryan's eyes widened. "This is great! I can't wait to tell all my friends about you. You—"
"Ryan!" Jill cut in sharply. "Have you forgotten what Dr. Cohen told us?"
Ryan's head drooped. He nodded slowly. "That Grandma's an experiment. And we're supposed to keep her a secret."
"What do you mean I'm to be kept a secret?" Sarah asked later that evening after Ryan had gone to bed and Bruce retired to the living room to read.
Jill fluffed the pillows of the guest bed. "We're supposed to watch over you now. It's funny. You raised me when I was little and now it's my turn. At least until you can take care of yourself."
Tears touched Sarah's eyes. She blinked them back. So many jumbled words tangled in her throat. One thought that had chewed at her all evening finally emerged. Even before she asked it her stomach tensed, her hands became clammy. "What happened to Roger, your father?"
Jill's face paled slightly.
Sarah went cold. "D-did he die too?"
"No." Jill sat at the edge of the bed and took a deep breath.
"What happened to him?" Her throat clenched. "Is he all right?"
Jill nodded. Sarah couldn't allow herself to be relieved, not just yet. "He remarried and moved to the other side of the country."
No! Sarah screamed internally. This didn't happen, it's a nightmare, I'll awaken soon. I want him to be happy . . . but happy with me. Why did they have to revive me? Why? She melted into Jill's embrace.
"Don't worry about him. You have a second chance. A chance not many people get. You can start over."
Start over . . . Jill's words throbbed in her mind. I don't want to start over, she thought as she struggled to sleep. I had a life before, a life I was happy with. I'd give anything to return to it, watch Jill grow up, be with Roger. I promise I'd spend more time with them.
She sat up in bed as an idea occurred to her. I don't care what Dr. Cohen or Jill tell me. I will find Roger. Jill said he was on the other side of the country but there must be some way to reach him.
Over the next few days Sarah struggled to adjust to this new situation. Jill's home was similar to the cloning lab in some respects: the walls in each room held a subtle glow when they were turned on at night and there was a room similar to the atrium, only smaller. Jill called it her "meditation room." One wall in the living room was actually a giant television screen that displayed three-dimensional images. Neither Jill nor Bruce commuted to work but each had their own "work room" where they apparently communicated long-distance to their bosses, clients, and coworkers on paper-thin computers and practically invisible cell phones. They even ordered their groceries online. Ryan, however, did leave the house each morning for school. Jill and Bruce took turns driving him and picking him up. For that single piece of normalcy, Sarah was grateful. The world was still the same in some respects.
In the evenings, after dinner, Jill would show Sarah photographs of things she had missed in the years after her death. Sarah struggled to hold back the tears, especially when a photograph had Roger in it. He seemed to disappear after Jill was grown.
On Saturday the family took Sarah out to dinner and then to the first movie she had seen in decades. The experience overwhelmed her. The entire dome-shaped theater was the screen over which the film played, flashing vivid, three-dimensional images. Smells and temperatures were even added for an extra effect, allowing the audience to feel as if they were in the middle of the action. And they were no longer called movies but holovids.
Afterwards, Sarah had a headache, which wasn't helped by Ryan's constant exclamations of, "Wasn't that great, Grandma! I'll bet you didn't have vids like that when you were my age. Didn't you feel like you were really on Mars?"
Sarah tried again to ask Jill about Roger. "I know it's difficult, Mom, but you must forget about him. He's no longer a part of our lives."
"Why? What happened?"
Jill sighed. "That's just the way it is, that's all. Now let's forget it. You've been here for over a week now and it is time that you were trained for a job. Dr. Cohen left explicit instructions that you learn to become independent." She led Sarah into her private office. "In fact, Dr. Cohen will be the one training you."
Sarah felt momentarily relieved. It had been so long since she'd worked and she'd been becoming increasingly anxious since she had been here but a deep fear gnawed at her stomach. She wasn't familiar with all of this new technology. The anxiety gripped her even harder when Jill unrolled her computer as if it were a thin sheet of papyrus and hung it over the desk.
Work! The thought echoed through Sarah's head. By all means, I should be retired by now. I can barely remember what I did before although the hours were long and it kept me from my family much of the time.
"It's good to see you again, Sarah." She jumped when she heard Dr. Cohen's voice and saw the woman peering out at her from the thin computer screen. The image was so clear that Sarah was almost certain she could just reach out and touch Dr. Cohen. "Have you adjusted to your new situation?"
"Um . . . a little, I suppose." She felt strange speaking to that screen. "I don't think I'll ever be able to get used to this completely."
Dr. Cohen nodded. "That's understandable. You are our first cloned success, after all but hopefully not our last. We are working on other subjects and that's where I need your help."
"My help?" Chills tingled along Sarah's skin.
"It's simple, really. I just need you to catalog the names of our donors who, just like you, had died and had body parts contributed to our lab." Sarah shivered. "Catalog their names, their family members, and the progress that their bodies are making. We'll pay you, of course. Times haven't changed that much in this respect and you still must be able to make a living. Eventually your work will become more challenging."
For the next several days, Sarah spent a few hours at this computer, placing the information that Dr. Cohen sent her into a large database. The work was tedious and Sarah found she needed frequent breaks in the meditation room but at least she felt as if she were productive again. Is this what Bruce and Jill do all day? They certainly stay in front of their screens for quite some time.
As Sarah gradually became more comfortable with this new computer system, she began to search for information concerning Roger. If Jill or the other family members came by while she was doing this, she would fold up her computer and tuck it into a pocket as if it were a scrap of paper. This was her personal business, after all.
Jill had told her the truth: Roger had remarried and had moved far away. Her despair didn't last too long since there were now Laser Trains, super-fast trains that ran through a vacuum-tunnel and could travel hundreds of miles an hour, faster than a commercial jet in her day. She stumbled upon this information when she learned that one of the persons she had been cataloging had died from a heart attack while he was riding one of those trains. It wouldn't take her any longer to reach Roger's new home than it would have for her to drive across town in her previous life.
She purchased a round trip ticket with some of the money she had earned working for Dr. Cohen. Credit cards were obsolete: she only had to scan her fingerprints when ordering online and the proper amount was deducted from her account.
Sarah left early the next morning, before Jill and her family had awakened.
Her heart pounded and her throat was so dry that she could barely breathe as she boarded the train. It was narrow and bullet-shaped, a sleek silver. Inside the seats were plush, if a bit worn. There were no windows but the walls and ceiling of this train were actually vid-screens that flickered an array of three-dimensional ads, entertainment, and news reports. There was only a small sprinkling of people riding at this time, for which Sarah was grateful.
She settled into a seat and struggled to tune out the bombardment of holovid images. Soon I will see Roger . . .
Nerves tore at her as the train sped away. The engine was soundless and she barely felt the motion.
In little over an hour they had arrived.
Sarah opted to walk down the residential streets instead of attempting to flag some taxi since it was still quite early. The autumn air was crisp and cool and smelled fresh. How did they keep the pollution out of the air? Sarah wondered. The cars and Laser Trains are apparently powered by something other than gasoline. But what?
Unlike Jill's house, which was miles out in the countryside and futuristic in design, this neighborhood resembled one from the time that Sarah had known. The houses were older but were still nicely kempt with manicured lawns.
Sarah's stomach was fluttery and her legs fluid as she started up the walkway of a simple frame house that had Roger's address. Her hand shook as she rang the doorbell. The musical chime pierced her ears.
She struggled to steady herself as the door drew aside, revealing a tall man with a familiar ruddy face. A face that she had loved, that was now lined with age. Roger? His gray eyes, the eyes she had once known so well, widened when they saw her.
"Sarah . . .?" His voice was a choked gasp.
Sarah blinked and felt the tickling warmth of tears upon her cheeks. She drew herself into Roger's arms. His body felt similar to how she remembered: lanky yet muscular although his belly now sagged.
"I missed you. . . I . . . " Her throat ached with sobs, her emotions were an incongruous combination of joy and grief.
"Sarah?" Roger's eyes watered. "How many did they make?"
"What?" Sarah shook her head, confused. Her stomach knotted. This wasn't what she had been expecting from Roger, not after all this time. What was he talking about?
"Roger, is someone at the door?" asked a sleepy voice from behind.
A chill stabbed Sarah's stomach. She knew Roger had remarried but still the knowledge of it stung.
That voice was disturbingly familiar.
"I suppose they didn't tell you." Roger stepped aside and spoke to the woman behind him. "Sarah, I didn't think this would happen but you should meet her. She's the second clone."
Sarah froze as the woman, draped in a pink flannel robe, stepped up to the doorway. She felt as if she were looking into a mirror, at a reflection that had aged a few years.
"Who. . .what. . .?" Her mouth refused to form coherent words. Her head spun.
She was barely aware of Roger grabbing her arm and leading her into the house, settling her onto a soft chair. She closed her eyes and wondered if she was close to awakening. This was all so strange it had to be a dream. Neither Jill nor Dr. Cohen had mentioned anything about another clone.
"Will she be all right?" Sarah felt strange hearing her own voice coming from a different part of the room.
"I think so. Perhaps you should get her some tea. Lemon herb, the same kind you like." She felt Roger's hand on her shoulder. "Sarah, I'm sorry. This wasn't supposed to happen. You were supposed to stay with Jill until you were able to start a new life of your own."
Sarah pried her eyes open. The room looked disturbingly like the living room of their old house with the same green-striped sofa and love seat ensemble and the fake Turkish rug beneath the coffee table. He still had the same television set, a clunky flat screen with the DVD player and remote control. After the weeks that Sarah had spent with her daughter's family, these items looked like antiques and prickled her with a pang of nostalgia. A reluctant smile tugged at her lips when she saw that one of the shelves had been taken apart. He never could leave anything alone.
Roger has been living in the past. It's as if I never died. . .
A sob caught in Sarah's throat. But it isn't me he ended up with. Well, it is and it isn't.
She took the tea that her older double handed her and struggled to find the words. "I . . . I don't understand. I thought Dr. Cohen said I was the first success."
"You were. Two of you were formed from your original DNA. I insisted since this was a very new procedure back then and it was a risky one. It took almost twenty-five years before she awakened." He smiled and nodded toward Sarah's double—his current wife—who had curled up on the sofa with an old-fashioned newspaper. "She was the first so she became you, the you before your accident. We moved to this suburb, where the residents still retain the semblance of early twenty-first century lifestyles, in an effort to continue the life together that we had lost. You remained asleep, comatose, but I couldn't bear to have you destroyed. After all, both you and she are still . . . my Sarah, complete with her memories, since her brain was what was cloned first. Since Jill had distanced herself from me over the years—she didn't agree with my choices—I still saw her as my little girl and wanted her own mother to look after her. I left instructions with Dr. Cohen to have you stay with her and her family." He rubbed at his eyes. "I know from Dr. Cohen that she is doing well and is happy to have you back in her life."
Sarah sipped the tea, barely tasting it. She handed the half-empty cup back to Roger. "I should leave," she whispered, kissing his cheek. The familiar scent of his skin brought fresh tears to her eyes.
"You are still with me, Sarah," Roger said, leading her to the door. "You and she are the same person." He nodded to her double who had glanced up from her newspaper. "Take good care of Jill, all right?" Sarah nodded and turned away.
She didn't allow herself to cry until she had gone some distance from Roger's house. Her chest ached, her eyes felt sore. Why. . .why? Why couldn't I have been the first to awaken? She crumpled onto the curb, buried her face in her hands and wept for some time.
"Are you all right, Sarah?" asked a familiar voice.
Sarah turned to see Dr. Cohen sitting on the curb beside her. She wiped her eyes. "You . . . you followed me?"
Dr. Cohen squeezed her hand. "I traced your steps with the transactions you made over the computer."
"Why didn't you tell me you had made another clone?"
"I didn't think it was important at the time and was hoping that you'd be willing to start a new life. I was wrong and I'm sorry." Dr. Cohen touched her arm.
"It looks like I will have to now. I just wish it didn't hurt so much. I—" Her voice broke.
"I know." Dr. Cohen helped her to stand and started in the direction of the train station. "I'll take you home."
"It hurts now." The chill morning brushed against her tear-wet face. "But maybe you're right. It's now my turn to start over."