Gone a Little Far

By: JL

“Oh, we have a mole on our back.”

Julia – the other Julia twisted around in an attempt to spot the unexpected discovery. Her effort proved futile, of course, because the mole was on the very base of her spine. She wouldn’t be able to see it herself without a mirror or…

Julia lifted the hem of her skirt and turned her back toward the other Julia. The other Julia stopped and stared before saying, “You have a tattoo.”

“What? Oh.”

Julia smoothed her skirt back down as she faced the other Julia. Julia struggled to meet the other Julia’s gaze, her fingers tapping an erratic rhythm against the side of her thights.

“I didn’t choose the design,” Julia blurted.

The other Julia nodded slowly. She was probably already aware that it was a touchy subject and didn’t push for a definitive answer. It was a small mercy to be confronted by herself: she never overstepped her boundaries.

Julia wiped her palms on the front of her jeans. “We should come up with a name,” Julia said. “For you, I mean. At least until I’m gone.”

The other Julia looked at her, her eyes deep with something like pity. It made Julia’s stomach twist.

“Okay,” the other Julia said. “You know that name we always wanted when we were eight?”

“Julia blinked and snapped her fingers. “Juliette?”

The newly christened Juliette nodded with a shy smile. “Thanks for donating it. I thought you’d try to keep it for yourself.”

Julia chuckled and shook her head. Was it narcissistic to laugh at her own joke? Either way, she was glad to have a name for an identical face. It’d be troublesome for herself and the people around her without a way to differentiate themselves.

“I’ll bring you to work with me tomorrow,” Julia said. “I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Mr. Anderson doesn’t overload me with too much work since I’m only his secretary.”

Juliette seemed to appreciate this, beaming at Julia with a megawatt smile. She couldn’t blame her, landing an easy job so soon after graduating college was a major relief. She was certain to cruise through life. Well, Juliette was.

Julia shook off her wandering thoughts and set up the inflatable bed she bought earlier that day. Her own bed wouldn’t fit both of them, and Julia wasn’t quite ready to give up her bed. She needed that familiar comfort.

Juliette settled into the inflatable bed without any complaints. Julia tossed a throw blanket over her and turned down the AC’s fan strength. They said their goodnights and fell into stilted silence.

Julia couldn’t sleep. The upcoming week would be a whirlwind for her and Juliette, her mind couldn’t stop racing. An ache settled deep within her chest, and she clutched her night shirt within her fist. The ache spread and constricted her breath, and she gasped out, sharp and quick.

“Hey.”

The inflatable bed squeaked with Juliette’s movements, and Julia met her eyes as she settled on her bedside.

“Breathe with me, okay?” Juliette said as she took Julia’s hand into her own. “In…”

“And out…”

She released it, her body deflating and sinking into the mattress.

“In… And out…”

“Julia didn’t know how much time had passed before she regained control over her breathing. Juliette was still there, perched on the mattress’s edge and gazing down at Julia with sympathetic eyes.

“It’s hard to say goodbye, isn’t it?” Juliette murmered.

Julia didn’t reply. She shifted herself so that she was pressed against the wall before patting the empty space. Juliette lowered herself into the bed, turned onto her side, and stared at Julia. Maybe it wasn’t so great to be confronted by herself: She never pushed the conversation, waiting for the other person to make the first move.

“It’s not about saying goodbye,” Julia whispered. “I don’t want to leave them with you. Your memories… They aren’t complete, are they?”

Juliette shook her head. “You backed them up when you were twenty. You haven’t updated them since.”

Julia sighed. “I got that tattoo the day after I registered,” she said. “I was feeling rebellious or something, I don’t know. I wanted a definitive way to know that we would be different.”

“Maybe that’s why I never went back to update your memories,” Julia continued. “I wanted to keep them to myself. I wanted them to be mine and mine alone. I couldn’t stand the thought of sharing everything in my mind with someone who was made to replace me.” She barked out a laugh, sharp and bitter. “Now, look at me. I have to show you the ropes for a job I’ve had for years because I was too stubborn to just… give you that knowledge.”

Juliette stayed silent for a moment, putting together a proper response. Something that wouldn’t cause Julia greater pain.

“You’ve got time,” Juliette said, her voice soft and neutral. “You don’t have to leave your friends and family with a stranger. You can always update my memories. And I know it will hurt you, but it cannot possibly be worse than doing nothing to prepare for the inevitable.”

And it was inevitable. Julia wouldn’t be around for much longer. The doctors gave her a month, and she gave herself a week. She didn’t want to stay and rot; she didn’t want her family to watch her fade away.

She should leave everything to Juliette. That was what she was created for, after all.

But Julia was stubborn and bitter and selfish. She would hold her memories close and never let them go. Not ever.

“I’ll think about it,” Julia muttered as she turned over and faced the wall, closing her eyes and forcing an end to the conversation.

“Juliette didn’t reply. They both knew she was lying, but twenty-year-old Julia wasn’t nearly as selfish as twenty-five-year-old Julia. Juliette wouldn’t call her out. She was too nice.

And that hurt the most.


This story brought to us by a guest author.

In short order, we’re taken from lightheartedness; and a conversation between friends/clones(flones), and just as soon, a wall is built between them, painting two characters in contrast from the same mold. No one ever said that saying goodbye was easy; the same can be said for knowing oneself.

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