Author : K Clarke
I wasn’t the first to be twinned, of course.
They did it first with a woman called Adrienne Deuxfois, in France. There were all kinds of protests, and the government wanted to make it illegal, but before long CEOs had begun using twin bodies to work and vacation at the same time, and sports champions had seized the opportunity to train with an exact equal. But it was when the military realized they could double the number of warm bodies under their command without recruiting a single soul that governmental opposition melted away overnight. By the time I could afford it, the process was hardly even controversial anymore.
That didn’t make it any easier.
The twinning itself went by, for me, in a blink. They put my body in complete stasis, stopping every cell in time. A full scan and catalogue was fed to the 3-D printer, which replicated each individual molecule in my body, down to the contents of my stomach. If the body wasn’t exactly as my brain had left it, the process wouldn’t take. Nine and a half hours later, they linked my old body to the new and dropped me out of stasis.
I had closed my eyes in the stasis chamber and open them, seconds later, in the recovery room. Both of us –of me –are lying close together, tucked up in the same bed to minimize the visual discrepancies between us –me and me. A tangle of wires run from skull to skull, linking my brains until they’re strong enough to hold the connection for themselves. I turn to look at myself and am rewarded with a sliding double image of the room, one of them featuring the back of my own head. I sit up, both bodies moving with perfect synchronization. As if on cue, a nurse comes in to check on me. Her eyes are distant –half her mind is elsewhere. When I speak to her, both my bodies vocalize, two voices expressing one thought.
I spend a lot of time watching the TV on the far wall, learning to focus two sets of eyes at once. In the outside world, the Embodied Narcissists continue their campaign to be allowed to marry themselves. On Judge Judy, a man’s multiple personalities have each claimed a body and are suing each other for legal autonomy. My favorite is the opera singer performing a live duet with herself.
I continue to live two lives in parallel, matching motions with myself. Long ago, in high school, I played the flute, and I remember the work it took to memorize the finger positions, recognize the mark for each note, keep the airstream tight and steady, learn to adjust the tuning for temperature and humidity, all while keeping one eye on the conductor. But somewhere, after years of practice, the dots on the page became the movement, the steps in between seeming to vanish, and music happened. Now, in this hospital room, I lay my hands flat on the meal tray and concentrate. Twenty digits, side by side. Two brows furrow, two jaws clench, two hearts pound, but with agonizing slowness, on the far right, only one finger rises.