Read part 1
They wouldn’t even let her hold a funeral for him. They weren’t classifying him as dead; they wouldn’t release the body to her. She couldn’t even hold a memorial service for him because that would be illegal. He wasn’t dead to them, but he was gone from her, and no matter what they said she knew she’d never truly get him back. People kept giving her skeptical looks, sneering at her and asking what made Calix so special. Why should he be classified as one of the wanted? What was he to the world? Why not their loved ones who had passed? She always answered that she didn’t want this, but that only seemed to make them hate her more. She stopped leaving the house altogether. August came to see her, to tell her how the progress was going, but she never let him in.
Finally the day had come. The car arrived to pick her up and she reluctantly got in. She smoothed out her black dress and began twisting a handkerchief around her fingers. When she was let out of the car, she followed the men into the building. She went through the first door, through the first scanner, pulling out her IDs and admittance papers. Everyone had stern faces. Why did everyone who worked for the government always seem to wear dark sunglasses? She pulled at her shawl. She was actually relieved by the time she had gotten to the room where August was. She felt like she’d been scanned going through every doorway. There were eyes everywhere.
August smiled at her. “Gwen, just in time.” He motioned her over. She took ten steps and was at his side. The room was empty except for a few chairs and a table. It was all white and smelt like it had just been disinfected. Besides the door she had entered from, there was a steel door opposite from where they stood, and when Gwen looked up she noticed a camera blinking in the corner. Gwen shivered. The air was cold, like she was in a freezer. “Are you ready?” When she didn’t answer, August continued. “I’ll be waiting just outside the door. We wanted to keep your meeting private.” Gwen glanced at the camera again. August waved his hand breezily. “The government’s idea of private, anyway.” He started heading towards the door Gwen had come in from. “Remember – just outside the door.” She managed a slight nod before he left her.
Gwen exhaled. She sat down in one of the chairs, gripping the edge of the table with one hand. Nothing happened. There was a quiet buzzing noise around her ears. The steel door clicked and Gwen’s head snapped up. She stared at the door. It slowly began to open.
Gwen’s face paled. She steadied her breathing, blinking slowly. He took a step towards her. She leaned back. “Calix,” she whispered, her voice barely audible. Calix stood before her, as if he had never gone away at all. His blue eyes sparkled just the same. His blond hair swept and curved the way it always did. He stood tall and firm and was completely at ease. And yet, still, she felt the difference. She eyed him skeptically, twisting her mouth.
Calix began examining his hands. He wriggled his fingers and looked up at her grinning, that same boyish grin he always used to give. “It’s amazing isn’t it? Here I stand, brand new, and I remember everything, all his thoughts and memories – my thoughts and memories,” he corrected himself. “Gwen, why are you looking at me like that?”
He moved closer. She stood quickly, and placed herself behind the chair. She leaned back, gripping the chair tightly. Calix frowned. “It’s still me.” He tapped his head. “I’m all in here. Nothing has to change.”
“You’re just a clone of him.” Gwen’s eyes glistened. “It’s not the same.”
“Gwen.” His expression was pained. “Don’t be like this. Try to understand. They took my DNA, cloned it, remade me. I am the same. I remember everything. I know what he knew, feel what he felt. It’s me. Calix Bysshe. Your husband, who loves you, and misses you.” He looked hopeful, taking a cautionary step forward. Her chest tightened. He held out his hands, showing her his open palms. “Gwen, please, it is me.”
Gwen could never understand the cloning process. It just felt so wrong. When Lancelot’s clone had been hit by the car, Gwen had thought that was the end of it. But then the little dog had picked itself back up, barked, and started licking away his wounds. “Clones can’t die,” August had explained. “They simply regenerate any fatalities. Nothing will be able to kill them; they can survive it all. That’s why we need them.” It seemed like she was the only one who felt the danger, how close they were to the brink of snapping.
For a moment Gwen was still. For a moment she looked relaxed, the ghost of familiarity upon her face. Only for a moment, though; his next step to her scared it all away. She tumbled backwards and ran towards the door, pulling her dress out of her way. She jiggled the doorknob, banging on the door. “August! Let me out! I want to go home! August!” she screamed, shaking uncontrollably. The door opened suddenly and she fell through the doorway, August reaching out his arms to catch her. She slammed the door behind her, leaning heavily against it. She closed her eyes, steadied her breathing, straightened herself out. She looked right at August, her eyes darkening. “I’m going home.” She brushed passed him and glided down the hall, her head held high with a dignity she did not feel.
August sighed and rubbed his head. He opened the door and went into the white room. Calix was standing by the table, leaning heavily against it with one hand. His brows were furrowed in confusion. “Hey buddy, how you holding up?” August eyed him carefully, not letting the concern enter his voice.
Calix shook his head. “She looked at me like I was a monster.” He collapsed into a chair, leaning his face into his hands and exhaling deeply.
“Don’t worry, she’ll come around. Some people just aren’t used to the idea still, even with as many clones as there are now.”
“What am I supposed to do? I can’t go home. I don’t want to push her further.”
“We’ll figure something out.” August moved into the chair next to him.
“Will we though? If there’s one thing I know about Gwen, she does not change her mind so easily.”
“You made her like you before. I’m sure you can do it again.” He nudged Calix’s ribs, and grinned. Calix chuckled.
“She did hate me when we first met, didn’t she?” He laughed again.
“Well, you did kind of ruin her painting.”
“It was an accident! The dangers of being a klutz.” He smiled. “She never let me live that one down.”
“We’ll figure this out.”
The car pulled into the driveway. Calix was about to step out but August held him back. “Let me talk to her first.” Calix settled back into his seat. He watched as August sauntered down the path. August entered the house and Calix’s body tensed. All he could do now was wait.
August returned sometime later. He tapped on the window and motioned Calix to come out. He clapped him on the shoulder and tilted his head toward the house. They walked over together. When August opened the door, Calix almost didn’t go in. He stood on the threshold, feeling as nervous as he had when picking her up for their first date. He felt like an outsider in his own home. He resented the feeling.
Gwen’s large eyes peeked out at him from behind the rails of the banister. She was kneeling on the landing leading to upstairs like a child waiting for someone to come home to her. “Hello,” she whispered, her voice barely audible. Not wishing to frighten her into flight again, Calix only raised his hand in return. She pressed her forehead against the banister. Calix heard a low click, and knew that August had left them. They stared at one another in silence, Calix’s neck craning upwards. He saw her fingers twisting themselves around her hair. She seemed paler than he remembered, but he thought he probably looked paler too.
A yapping bark soon greeted him. Lancelot came hurtling around the corner and ran circles around him, weaving in and out of his legs. He sniffed his shoe, wagging his tail profusely. Calix bent down and scratched his head. “Hey buddy.” Lancelot barked. Gwen watched it all from above.
“He understands you,” she whispered sadly, then scurried upstairs and out of sight. Calix’s stomach churned.
Read part 3