A moment where white surrounded me.
Lily, and someone else, and a sprinkling of water.
‘Holy water, Jenna.’
‘You can let go if you need to.’
But I couldn’t let go.
It wasn’t in my power.
I was already swirling, flying, falling.
To someplace deep I didn’t understand.
Where all the sounds but my own voice disappeared.
For so long.
I don’t want to be alone anymore.
I hear a creak. My clock reads three A.M. Father stands in my doorway, the soft yellow light from the hallway illuminating his face. A shadow of stubble is on his cheeks. His hair is uncombed. His eyes are hollow. He looks like he could have run here all the way from Boston.
‘Angel,’ he whispers.
‘I’m awake,’ I say.
He comes in and sits on the edge of my bed. ‘I’m sorry,’ he says. ‘I didn’t want you to find out this way.’
‘My hands are artificial,’ I tell him. ‘My legs, too.’
I sit up and lean against the headboard of my bed. I lift my hands in front of me and stare at them. ‘I loved my hands. My legs.’ I say it more to myself than to him. ‘I had never thought about it before. They were just there. And now I can see that these’—I turn them, looking at the palms—‘these are different. They’re not mine. They’re imposters.’
I wait for him to deny it, to erase the last twelve hours with just a few words. I watch his face. Even in my shadowed bedroom I can see how tired he is. I can see the red rims of his eyes. ‘They’re nearly identical to the original,’ he says. ‘All of your ballet recital videos allowed us to digitally measure every centimeter of you.’
‘Hurray for videos, huh?’
He hears the sarcasm in my voice and closes his eyes momentarily. I ache. Maybe for his pain. For Claire’s. But mostly for mine. My loss. I can’t care about theirs. Not now. How did I get to this point? How can I go back?
He takes my hand in his and examines the gash.
‘It’s not even real skin, is it?’ I say.
‘Yes. It’s real. Some of it is even yours.’
‘It’s lab skin. Grown in the lab and genetically engineered to be nourished through the Bio Gel. It took months to get all the skin types we needed. We could only harvest a small portion of yours because of the burns and infection. But still, we did get some.’ His voice is stronger, less tired. He is more confident as a doctor than as my father.