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The Definition of Being Human
I follow the footprints of those who lived before me. My life isn’t my own. It’s just a version of a story that has been told countless of times already. Every part of me is a piece of someone or something else. Originality is a foreign concept to me except when I’m with him. He makes me different from the rest; he makes me stand out of the crowd.
I stare at my hands with the perfectly rounded fingertips that never grow and the flawless skin. Sometimes I crave to be covered in freckles. I don’t own a mirror, none of us do, I’m fairly certain we’re all sick of seeing the same face every day. I breathe in and out, although it is unnecessary, before opening the door to my tiny room and stepping out into the hallway.
I ignore the other girls, not caring if my file gets updated to ‘unsocial.’ I don’t dare meet their eyes. I know very well I’m on the tenth floor but I still take the stairs; there are mirrors in the lift. I run down the stairs desperate to experience my pulse racing, my heart beating and eager for sweat to drip down my back but I know this will never happen. And I run even though I won’t feel tired. I run even though I won’t feel satisfied. I crave to feel those sensations I read about in books. I never will.
I reach the bottom too soon. I step out into the foyer of the building and watch mesmerised as the world passes by just in front of those glass doors. I want to be a part of that world. I reach my hand out to touch the glass, to scan my wrist against the door and step outside. A voice stops me. I know before I even turn around who has called me.
“Carah #11044?” I spin slowly on the balls of my feet to meet his eyes. Those dark, very real, eyes and I can’t help smiling in his direction. It’s funny how he identifies me as number 11044 and how I call him by his name, Dr Adams.
“Yes, doctor?” I answer and the very sound of my voice disgusts me because no matter what I do it always sounds the same. He steps a little closer to me, but he’s not looking at me. He’s staring, deep in thought, at the screen in his hands but then he looks at me quizzically. This is the moment in a book where my eyes would portray my lie or a bead of sweat would trail down my forehead indicating my deception. Yet nothing happens. I feel nothing.
“You missed your appointment this morning,” Dr Adams states and I attempt to set my facial structure in an expression that looks lost. I'm aiming for the ‘a screw has fallen out of my head’ look.
“I had an appointment?” I ask blankly, “I thought I just had Hours to fulfil. I was heading to the Ellison’s right now to start on the cleaning.” The schedule in my mind had indicated the appointment. I ignored it. He taps away for a couple of seconds and then nods in agreement.
“Yes, you’re right you do have to be at the Ellison’s and then in the afternoon the Knights,” he gives me a small smile that makes me want to run away and pull closer at the same time, “This evening we’ll check whatever seems to be malfunctioning inside of that head of yours. And perhaps in a few weeks you will be ready to Transfer into the everyday world.” His words make my heart soar. Freedom from all of the same faces. Freedom from the constant prodding and examining. I don’t care if it means I have to do a pointless job for seemingly no reason. As long as it means I can leave.
“Thank you,” I reply, unable to express the emotion I feel in one facial expression so I choose none, “I am ready to help achieve a peaceful world.” The lie that has been said by many girls before me slips easily out of my mouth. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Too long, but I know now that the fastest way out is compliance. I was too stubborn. They think those operations fixed me, but they didn’t. They just made me realize that to escape, I must be the perfect example of everything they’re looking for. I know I am.
“That’s great,” he smiles and then touches my arm, before walking away already focused on some information flashing up on the screen in his hands. He is the only thing I will miss when I’m gone and I’m not even sure why. I stay frozen from his touch for a few seconds. I press the perfectly rounded nail of my index finger into the fleshy outer skin of my thumb, glancing carefully at the cameras placed strategically in every room. I know where every single one is. I won’t allow them to see my momentary breakdown.
As skin grows back swiftly over the laceration from my nail, I scan my wrist against the door and step out into the busy street. I don’t ponder long on the fact that they know where I am at all times. The idea that I am never truly alone frightens me more than I care to admit.
Noise fills my ears. I strain to identify every sound, sight and smell. I wish I had an infinite amount of time just to discover the world. There are so many things I want to see and experience. A woman walks by me with tears in her eyes and I want to tell her nothing can be as bad as this. I want to be her so badly. I’m sick of all the looks and stares. The number on my wrist reveals what I am, but everyone knows with just one glance.
I cross the busy street trying to blend in and failing miserably. My slightly static movements don’t compare to the fluid motion of real muscles and a relentless beating, beating heart. They don’t know how lucky they are.
Before I turn around the corner that leads to the Ellison’s house, I gaze at the building I just came from. Every time I see it the words elevated above the door hit me like a bullet to the gut.
C.A.R.A.H. (Corporation of Artificially Replicated Auxiliary Humans) Headquarters
I watch as people rush by me, heading everywhere and anywhere, not having to worry about being constantly watched. Not having to ponder about whether or not they’re real. I spot an average height, black-haired girl in the crowd and I don’t have time to look away as I watch her turn around. She looks into my average brown eyes and I look into her average brown eyes. We are identical. Every feature matches up exactly with my own and I have to remind myself not to collapse at the sight of myself staring back at me. It still scares me to realize I am not unique. I am not special.
Her perfect black hair swishes unnaturally across her shoulders as she nods slightly in my direction. I spot the number tattooed on her wrist #9046, older than me. She walks away and gets lost in the crowd, our average looks easy to forget and overlook. I glance back at C.A.R.A.H. headquarters and promise myself that I will not let the number 11044 or my looks define me. Because I know that no matter what they say, I am human.