Reflection

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V pressed her hand up against the glass, her breath mingling and creating a misty fog on the glass. She pressed her head up against the headrest and closed her eyes, letting her mind go blank and her emotions fade away. She finally opened them after a minute, buckling down to the task that she needed to do.


“How much farther?” she asked her car as she turned to get her wig and sunglasses, putting them on as she waited for a response.

“One kilometer to go,” the car’s computer said in a dull feminine voice as they stopped at a red light. The light turned green and they coaxed through the modern city, traffic enclosing them as they delved further and further into the nucleus of downtown. Lights were turning on as the sun began to ascend to its place in the sky, the moon fading away.

Finally the car turned into an abandoned alley to the right that led to a car entrance for a parking garage. Darkness enveloped the vehicle, lights soon flickering on as the sensors quickly identified a foreign object. She knew that they were travelling far underground, as far as dirty secrets could be kept.

It took five minutes before the car found a vacant spot, the door on the left side opening automatically. She guessed that Michael had bought the latest computer built with neurosensors to read her emotions, thoughts, and moods as the consol opened to give her two pills to calm her nerves and a glass of water. She just grabbed her purse and closed the door manually in response, noting her bodyguards coming out of their SUV on her right. She didn’t need anybody to control her life anymore than they already did.

“Are you ready?” she asked them as they began to walk to the elevators that would lead them to the main floor at the hospital.

“Are you?” Maria, the newest addition to V’s bodyguards, asked as she hit the button to go up.

“When am I not?” V responded sardonically as she walked in the elevator as the doors opened, staying in the middle as her four bodyguards huddled around her.

“When’s the conference?” she asked Neeta, the only other non-bodyguard person in the elevator.

“It’s at eleven with the Prime Minister from Japan,” Neeta absently retorted as she looked up from her phone. “Do you need the notes?”

“Yeah, that was Ava’s project, not mine.”

“Of course,” Neta replied as the doors opened, everyone exiting at once. The bodyguards dissipated and marched to their spots on the periphery of V’s world as she walked to the nurse’s desk, a small brown haired woman looking up.

“How may I help you?” the nurse asked soothingly as if death wasn’t oozing from the crevices of every tile, window, and door in the place.

“I am looking for Ava Moran,” V replied as she fixed her glasses on her nose.

“Room 412,” the nurse replied before she looked back at her computer.

Artificial lights and whirling machines in every room were her serenade as she travelled to 412, not wanting to accept what fate had given to her. She had never wanted this life, never asked for it. But what child, no matter who they are, asks to breathe the air of life and have a life sentence at the same time.

The door was cracked, and she opened it easily. Michael was in the far chair, asleep with his head turned toward his daughter. Giselle was on the other side, her watchful eyes past the hope of a miracle and focused intently on the present. Giselle looked up as the door creaked, her eyes quickly taking in V before going back to Ava.

V sat on Ava’s bed, reaching out her hand to encompass Ava’s.

“Don’t mess with her,” Michael barked as he rounded his eyes on V, their intensity like laser beams ready to incinerate the enemy. “She isn’t feeling well.”

“Leave us alone,” Ava replied weakly as she opened her dull hazel eyes, encompassing the entire room in one glance and resting on V’s face. “We need to talk.”

Michael angrily glared at V as he stood up and Giselle followed with a slightly less intense glare. They closed the door before Ava talked again.

“Are you ready for the speech?”

“Neeta is getting everything together,” V replied as she stood up and sat in the chair that Giselle had been in. “I’ll be ready by that time.”

“You always could pull it off at the last minute,” Ava said as she closed her eyes.

“It’s my job,” V replied, trying to keep the anger from her voice.

“Well, it won’t be for much longer.”

V sighed as she looked out the window, sighing deeply. “Yes, I know.”

“V,” Ava said as she looked up. “You know, when I was a little girl and dad used to hold me at night, telling me that one day I would rule our country, I thought that I would die when I was old, grey, and senile. I would be leaving it to my sons and daughters and I would be a hundred and three.”

Ava closed her eyes, tears rolling down her cheeks. “But that won’t be happening now, will it? I’m only twenty-five years old and already on my death bed.” She finally composed herself, wiping the tears with the back of her hand. “But at least I will live on, won’t I? I have you, V, and you were trained by the best. You will do a good job for both of us. You will let my name reign with pride and peace and I will be remembered as the ruler who brought her country together. You will do that, won’t you?”

V wanted to laugh as she looked at Ava. The woman looked at her as if she was a zoo animal, her mind not even registering what V might feel. V was a caged animal that had only been taught to stay in the boundaries of Ava’s prison, her ambition, and because of that, she was viewed as such. To the Moran family, she was an expendable resource that had no feelings, desires, or beliefs other than what was approved by them. V took off the sunglasses and wig, putting them on the ground.

Ava gasped as she looked at V for the first time since she had become sick. Giselle and Michael had both told her that if she ever took off the wig and glasses when she was around Ava there would be hell to pay, but V didn’t care anymore. There was nothing else to lose. Her doom was already here. There was no way out of the arena. She was a lion and they, the gladiators, had already decided when she would die. V would no longer be alive.

Tears started rolling down Ava’s face as she looked at what she once had been. Five years of fighting cancer had drained her body and spirit. The long flowing nut brown hair and deep hazel eyes staring her in the face had been exchanged for a wig and dim eyes that had not even a trace of the desire that once stared at her in the mirror. V wanted her to feel some of the pain that she had felt growing up the shadow of a being. However, she put the wig back on as she realized the pain she was causing. No matter how angry she was, she couldn’t take it out on Ava as she was dying. She was better than that, even though no one else in her life was.

“I will be what I was made to be,” V said instead as she looked out the window, sighing. “That is why I am your clone, right?”

“Yes, it is,” Ava responded as she looked out the window too.

V sighed as their conversation brought up memories of how she was made. It had been over twenty years since cloning for humans had been allowed. At that time, and even at the present, only the wealthiest individuals could buy a clone. But with Ava’s right as leader of one of the fastest growing nations in the world, Michael had made sure to buy one of the first ten. V had been made in the exact image of Ava except she was genetically engineered to not have any defects. She was never sick except for a common cold once in a while. She had been taught by the best teachers, had mastered the languages and sports that Ava had, had been the shadow that she was supposed to be. But it was never enough for her. She had never been what she wanted to be, done what she wanted to do, play what she wanted to play.

She was only someone else. And now that was what she would always be.

After a few minutes, Ava looked back at V. “Make sure that you don’t back down from the reporters at the conference today. They are very wary with the economy as bad as it is now. And let Mom and Dad in when you leave.”

V nodded, getting up. She walked to the door and paused, looking over her shoulder. “I will do my best for both of us. I will make sure that our country stays strong.”

She opened the door and left Ava alone, motioning to Michael and Giselle as she walked out. Her bodyguards honed in around her as she hit the down button for the elevator. Neeta squeezed in beside her, giving her a packet that V didn’t even bother looking at until she got in the car. The car door shut and the computer started the engine up.

“Where to?” the computer asked as V took off the wig and glasses and took out the packet, leafing through it.

“The Mansion,” V replied as she tried to see what Ava wanted to hone in on.

It took her ten minutes to read what she needed to speak about before she arrived at the President’s mansion. Getting out of the car, she waited for her bodyguards and Neeta before she went in. She went to the right where she waited as the makeup artists and hair dressers remade her entire face. She seemed more like Ava as they went along, more determined and proud. As V picked out a new outfit, Neeta came in with the packet again.

“I don’t need to look at it,” V said as she went into the dressing room and changed. “I already know what I want to say.”

“Are you sure?” Neeta asked as V took her favorite necklace and put it around her neck. It had been a gift from one of Ava’s boyfriends that she had thrown in the trash, but V had kept it because she had cared for him.

“Yes,” V muttered as she went to the coffee machine and poured coffee. “And if anything happens in the meeting tell me.”

“Of course,” Neeta said before V went to the meeting with her heads of staff.

The meeting was long, filled with information that V didn’t even want to think about at the moment. Her mind kept on going back to her childhood and what it would be like to be the person in the front. Her mind kept wandering off, something that everyone could tell.

“Are you okay?” the Chief of Staff asked as she poured herself another cup of coffee.

“I’m fine,” V replied as she looked at all of Ava’s staff who had no clue what was happening. They had no clue that the woman they emulated was dying in a bed all alone. “Perfectly fine.”

“Just rest well tonight, okay?”

“I’ll do that,” she told him as she turned away from them and started walking down the hallway toward the conference room. Neeta came up beside her, tears flowing down her cheeks. She had a cell phone in her hand and she gave it to V.

“Ava wants to talk to you,” Neeta said as she tried to control her sobs, her mascara running down her face. V felt no emotion as she took the phone, putting the speaker to her ear. She had known for many years that this time would come, but it felt surreal to know that this was the last time that she would be talking to Ava. This would be the last conversation that she would ever have as V.

“Be good for our country,” Ava breathed over the phone as she gasped for breath, coughing before starting again. “Make sure that no one takes it down the path that it was on before. I trust you, and I can’t wait to see you in the next life and see what you have done for both of us. Thank you, V, so much. . .” The voice died, and V heard Giselle cry out in the background. “No! My baby! Ava! Come back!”

V took the phone away from her ear and stared at it. Her world seemed as if it was a hurricane, and the eye of the storm was far away.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” Neeta asked between sobs. “V, she’s gone, right?”

“Yes, she’s gone,” V said as she gave the phone back, trying to control her emotions. She could feel the firestorm of tears and anger, but she knew that she needed to keep it down. She wouldn’t be able to perform her duty if she kept on thinking of all of the possibilities that her life could have taken.

“Ava, the conference is starting,” someone said as V tried to control herself, closing her eyes.

“I’ll be right there,” she told them as she opened her eyes, looking at Neeta.

“All right,” she said as she handed Neeta a tissue. “Wipe your face.”

“But what about you, V?” Neeta whispered as she took the tissue and wiped her face.

“It’s Ava,” V said as she turned away, her face becoming the mask that it would forever be. “There is no V.”

And with that Ava walked to the conference room, her lone steps reverberating throughout the hallway.





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