Sai died ten years ago. He was beautiful. In that soft way a flowing cloud morphs from image to image.
I didn’t harvest a clone immediately. Just the thought made me want to puke. I don’t suppose I really believed in his death. That is, there was this part of me that kept seeing him, smelling him, waking up next to him. And then that part died too and I began missing him. Not in the way you miss someone when they go away on a trip or that way you miss someone after you’ve broken up, but in the way you miss someone because he’s dead.
It was while lost in the missing that I went and asked for a clone harvest. Seeing Sai-clone was surreal. Because it was Sai before Haymore’s Disease and I’d forgotten how vibrant he’d once been.
We were wonderful together, Sai-clone and me, and our life together was wonderful and everything continued to be wonderful until suddenly the wonderful was stale because it was the same wonderful, like air that’s being constantly recycled. You fantasize about a relationship that stays in that first awakening of love, but when it happens you realize the artificiality of it all, of love itself, and you feel kinda sick.
So, I had Sai-clone terminated because it wasn’t Sai, just a doll, a thing unable to grow and change and really love, love me. Because it couldn’t. It was a clone so of course all it could offer me was clone-love. I was rejecting clone-love, not Sai, so don’t judge me. This is exactly what I told the clone harvesters because by law, I had to make a statement about why I wanted the clone terminated, and they said, yes, sometimes there’s a flaw in the process and a clone gets frozen in a state. Doing a quick check, they saw that Sai-clone hadn’t aged even an hour after leaving the harvest farm. Very rare, they said. Would you like another harvest?
I felt odd having a legitimate reason for my feelings. It wasn’t me, it was science. Now I felt compelled to say ‘yes, please’. Just to get rid of that awful taste. I wasn’t sure what that taste was. Failure? Longing? Incompletion? Clone-love? Science?
Sai-clone II was Sai times 1000. Supernaturally beautiful. Kind, attentive, worshipful. His passion for me burned through his eyes like deadly laser beams puncturing my soul with black ulcers. I was his whole world. Which meant he couldn’t do a thing without me. Couldn’t leave the house, order lunch, make friends, buy groceries, etc. He couldn’t even tell me what he wanted for lunch, he was so choked up with emotion: Ham or chicken? Ham or chicken? Just answer the god-damn question, Sai, ham or feckin’ chicken, ham or feckin’ chicken!!!
My nerves were shredded, so, I asked for another termination.
‘What happened to Sai?’ I asked the harvesters. Where was Sai? The Sai who’d laugh at me for being such a Mistport Minnie? The Sai who mocked me for picking out pieces of onion in my potato salad? I was always late for everything and it used to drive him crazy. Twenty minutes was the maximum he’d wait for me. Sai-clone II would literally wait until the end of the world. And there’s nothing romantic about literally. This was Sai with a personality castration.
You shouldn’t take it so personally, the harvesters told me. But it was personal: I’d had two defective Sais. Or was it three because the original Sai had diseased and died. According to science, that’s a far worse defect.
I forgot to mention that more than once, Sai-clone II had stayed up all night just to stare at my sleeping face. So creepy. And then I remembered. About a year after Sai died, I was finally clearing out the little work pod he’d kept in the backyard and I discovered this metal box full of things. Creepy things. A tiny clear envelope of long brown hair. Three strands, carefully collected and preserved. A slightly used napkin—the kind you get at cheap restaurants. A fork, the cap to a bottle. Just endless, nonsensical things. Two aspirin pills? And then I found photos. Dozens and dozens of pictures, all of the same girl, at different angles, even aerial, each with detailed notes, where and when, occasion, reason, what Sai was feeling at that moment. And the thing is, it was clear the girl wasn’t even aware Sai was taking her photos. There were even ones of her sleeping. Sai, at one time in his life, had been a stalker. A creepy, asshole stalker.
It could have been worse. What if I’d found a stack of stinking bad poems lovesick Sai had written? That would have completely destroyed me. Perhaps he had. What did I know? But, at least he’d had the good sense to destroy them. That restored my faith in Sai, so the love returned. I destroyed everything in the box. Even the memory of it. I didn’t realize memories came remanufactured with clones.
Sai-clone III. I kept waiting for a defect to emerge. But it never did. He was truly Sai. He sang off-key and didn’t care. He took me to restaurants with really bad health ratings. His socks were mismatched. Sometimes he’d go for days forgetting to shower because he was working on his latest conspiracy theory (he was obsessed with the Outer Hebrides and this weird, incomprehensible book, The Right To Self Definition). And then one day he told me we were over. Because he’d fallen in love with some other Minnie (it took me two days to pry that out of him). A woman even more frivolous and wacky than I was. And I cried, for days, because it felt right. This was love and I was accustomed to it.
[soundtrack, volume at subconscious level, been playing in the background all along: Ella Fitzgerald singing intro of ‘These Foolish Things’ (1957), lyrics written by Eric Maschwitz, inspired by a love affair (?) with legendary actress Anna May Wong (?), or equally legendary actress Hermione Gingold (?), or singer Jean Ross (?). ‘These Foolish Things’ is a ‘list’ song, a catalog, DNA code of lost love—is love itself nothing but a process of cloning, the clone, bits of indulged self, living through May, Gingold, Ross, each performer passion clones? A clone is resurrection. Resurrection is false time.]