I never wanted to be here. I could never have imagined this would be how this terrible road could finally come to this end.
It all happened so clearly. I was in the middle of my work when Jackson told me I had a call. I told him it would have to wait, but I picked it up the moment he said it was from Michelle. She was crying. Apologizing. Sobbing in agony. She wasn’t even sure what had happened, it had gone by so fast.
Mr. Collins across the street was always such a nice man. What on earth was he doing drunk and behind the wheel on a snowy Wednesday afternoon?
Michelle said you were building a snowman when it happened, and that she was going to make you some hot chocolate when you went inside.
I rushed to the hospital, but I was already too late. And with just two weeks before your sixth birthday too. You were such a handsome boy, and you had your father’s curly blondes. You were beautiful.
I told the university I had to leave. That I wasn’t sure I would ever be coming back. Your dad was so understanding, Casey. He said he could handle a few more hours a week if it meant we could keep our heads above water. Maybe move into a smaller house, if the need arose, and it did, three years later.
Your father may have been doing things behind my back. He may have shared his love with others. It didn’t matter to me, Casey. Without you, I may as well have not even been alive anymore.
In the sixth year, I thought a miracle had finally come.
I didn’t recognize the phone number. The man on the other end spoke in an accent I could barely understand, but I caught the most important bits. He knew I used to be a neuroscientist. He knew I used to work in cloning. And he knew I wanted you back. And that if I told anyone he was offering me a chance, he would kill your father and I.
I didn’t even question it. I know I should have. I know you would have wanted me to say no and take whatever consequences would come of it. People do terrible things when they are in terrible places, Casey.
I don’t even remember the name of the country they said they were from. They said they represented a great power and a higher calling. That if I could master the cloning of humans, I would change the world, in their case, for the better. They would give me whatever resources I needed. Space. Equipment. Eggs. Whatever I had to have.
I never asked where they got any of those materials, but I felt disturbed when the ground before your grave felt so fresh that year. The prospect was so sickening it made me weep, but I just told myself it would all be worth it in the end.
I arranged with those men to take my eggs. I was sure it would be easier that way, going back to where it all began. They were the first hundred tries, and every one ended in bitter failure. My employers told me not to be discouraged, that they could supply me with more eggs whenever I needed them. I should have questioned where in God’s name they were coming from, but the thought of your smiling face impaired my judgement.
Over the next nine years I tried thousands of times. I searched for even the most subtle difference in any of the eggs. Sooner or later, after all of that trial and error, something had to be coming. I knew I had to be making some kind of progress. Supplementing the proteins lost from removing the nucleus, experimenting with higher and lower temperatures, rendering the eggs in different preservatives. I had to find something.
Three years after your father left me for the last time, I finally created an embryo. And I was sure, even from that microscopic view, that it had your face.
My employers congratulated me, and greatly increased my payment. I was ready to carry you myself for the second time, when they insisted a younger, healthier carrier would be a better idea. I fought them a little at first, but I knew they were right. I had grown too old and frail in all those years. Someone else would have to suffice.
I never met, only saw the young woman who they said would be carrying you. She was a frightened thing, couldn’t have been more than twenty. I should have asked where she had come from. Why she had agreed to this… If she had agreed with this. But I didn’t. And you already know why.
I was so sure that was going to be the end of it. We were finally going to be together again.
Then I got the call. It… You… Had an oversized placenta. Blood couldn’t reach your poor little body. They’d lost you. I never bothered to ask, but I know they lost her too. I drank myself into submission for a week after that.
But they were quick to bolster me. They would find me new carriers, and surely after I had managed to make it so far once, I could do it again.
I don’t even know how many years we were at it then. Or how many girls we lost. I just kept trying, demanding they hand you over so I could see where I went wrong. I kept you, all of you, in a lab, and looked over you constantly. I had to know where I had failed, so that I could succeed.
But as time went on, it soon became clear how disinterested my employers were becoming with the project. That, and that someone was catching on to them. They must have been.
With each new trial, I was sure I was inching closer to you. That last time, when I heard the latest of the bunch, screaming and pleading for help, I was so sure I would finally see you again. This would be the last in-vitro. The last injection. The last experiment. This had to be the end of my life’s work. It had to be.
Three months later I screamed as I entered the lab. Equipment had been ripped out overnight, your specimen jars were spilled all over the ground, and the corpse of the last girl laid on the floor, dried blood setting on her throat. As I searched around the lab for some kind of explanation, I discovered a set of documents I had never seen within a folder in one of my desks before. They were simple things, rent on the building, payment for equipment… And all of them were signed with my name, though I’d never seen any of them before in my life.
Whoever had paid for this experiment had run for their lives, and my name was the only one anyone had to go off of.
My body went numb as I stared at my work in disbelief. Saline and blood stained the floor, shattered glass sat everywhere, and the cadaver looked on at me, as if it was making an accusation.
I knelt to her side and grabbed the scalpel. All these years, everything I had worked for, I deserved this. Just for a moment. I cut into her lower stomach, searching through desperately. You had to be there, you had to be. I combed through innards until I was sure I had found the placenta and slashed it open.
There you were, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. I was crying, but I was so sure they were happy tears.
But you looked so angry.
I looked at you in terror, trying to tell you I had done all this for you. That I had given up everything because I love you so. You had to believe me, Casey. You had to! I was your mother, I had dedicated my life to brining you back!
You were still angry.
Everyone makes difficult choices. I only did what I felt I had to do!
You were still angry.
Casey please… It was because I love you so much!
You were still angry.
I curled up into a ball and sobbed next to you. You were right. I had failed you. I couldn’t bring you back. And I couldn’t honor your memory. Our names are stained in blood Casey. I’m so, so sorry.
I leave this to whoever is coming to find me and all these illegal activities… Don’t blame him… Casey never asked for any of this. By this scalpel I saw my life’s work. And by this scalpel, it ends.
I can’t believe I’m saying this Casey, but I hope I never see you again. You deserve so much better than I do. If there is a heaven, I know you’re there. If there is only death, I know you are at peace. I will never have either of those things.
I love you Casey and I’m so sorry.