On our last day together my copy and I sat in the kitchen facing each other across the table.
“I don’t like going to work on Tuesdays,” my copy said. “There’s that girl who’s too into her own drama.”
“I know who you mean,” I said, “just ignore her.”
“She’s kind of mean,” my copy said, “sometimes she shouts.”
“Imagine if there were two of them.”
We both laughed, but it wasn’t really funny.
“What do you think about the world?” My copy asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “that’s why I’m off to see it.”
“Will you send me a postcard if you get to Mars?” My copy asked and turned away so I wouldn’t see the tears gathering.
“I’d be lucky to get as far as Arizona,” I said,” but yeah, sure, I’ll write all the time.”
“That’s nice,” my copy said, with a face full of light.
My copy was beautiful and smooth and had none of the lines I had around the eyes. Life hadn’t beaten my copy down yet. The worries were still new and I envied the innocence and that ability to sit still without wanting. My copy reminded me of my younger, lazier dreamier days. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a copy of themselves, to have two lives. Although that last part isn’t really true. We haven’t shared a single thought since we broke into two that afternoon in the lab, and that was a really long time ago now.
My copy finished the bowl of cereal and put it in the sink. I left mine untouched, I wasn’t hungry. I got up to finish packing.
“That’s mine,” my copy said, seeing me put our favourite sweater in my suitcase. By California law everything acquired post selves-separation belonged to both of us so if we were doing things by the book we’d have to split everything in two. But we’d still both have the memory of our first kiss, and the scar on our left knee from when we fell on that glass on the beach when we were fifteen, under the pier. Young and hopeful and stupid, and singular. No copies.
The storm was gathering outside and I was anxious to hit the road before it started to pour. I didn’t know where I was going but I knew I needed to get there as soon as possible.
My copy stood by the window, sighing.
“It’s fine,” my copy said. “You can have the sweater if you want to.”
And that was the hardest part about going. Leaving my copy behind. But I was sick of standing still. And the world was calling.
My copy had never been on a plane, train, or spaceship. The very thought of space made my copy cry. I don’t know why for me it was no big deal, just the black, once I got out there I knew I would feel my soul stretch as big as the galaxy. I wanted to tell my copy in the kitchen that day that I would never come back, but we both already knew what a broken heart felt like. So I packed my bag and left. No fuss, no muss, no tearful goodbyes.
Whatever I left behind my copy could have. As for me I only wanted the things I couldn’t even think of. The impossible. The incredible. The unexpected.
The Factory Manual read: “This copy will add twenty years to your life. You’ll be twenty years younger in an afternoon. A fresh start, with virtually no pain!” All in a moment’s procedure: a dice there, a poke here, a scan, a flash, and everything important is copied over. Only there were no money-back guarantees. Only I don’t think everything got copied right because my copy doesn’t want what I want. My copy is not me.
My copy said, I don’t know how you can live like this, enclosed in this four wall apartment. Me, I couldn’t do it at all.
It’s fine, I said and helped my copy pack. It’s fine. I smiled.
My copy was anxious to hit the road, the world was calling and it made my copy’s heart beat fast. I could feel it in my own chest, as my copy sat in front of the uneaten bowl of cereal in the kitchen.
It’s fine, I smiled, and let my copy take my favourite sweater and book, and that picture of me on the beach from before I had a copy.
Maybe it’s a coward’s way, sending your copy out into the world while you stay put, getting all the memories and experiences without moving a muscle.
My copy said, you are very nice but you can maybe change a few things when I’m gone. You can quit your job if you hate it, you can move to a nicer place.
Just because you are a copy, my copy said, doesn’t mean you can’t have a life.
Just then I hoped the com-link implant was two-way so that my copy would hear my thoughts too. I wish you knew how much I love you and wish you well, I thought, and tried to hide the tear that welled up in my eye.
My copy smiled, the playful wrinkles around my copy’s eyes said only good things, but I could hear the thoughts about how I was a little naïve and timid and faulty.
What do you know, I thought, I was born, and you came out of 3D printer in the Valley because that was the only place I could afford, and I had a coupon, and I really wanted a copy.
I wondered when my copy would discover it was my copy and not the other way around, and if anyone would know I existed at all after I died, with my copy going on and on, beyond a human’s natural life, with those perfectly flawed blue eyes and those big dreams, living both of our lives.