I didn’t want this. Not a single drop.
But here it is, crashing down on me.
I tried my best. I did. With all my power, I did everything I could to avoid this. To make a different outcome. I stretched my hands out to the river and pulled with all my might.
But, I’m not Hercules.
The river didn’t flinch.
And the water rushed on, ignoring my pleas.
Denying me any help at all.
And as it rushed on, it brought me to my knees. Because it meant a lot of things, but one hit me particularly hard.
This herculean task just wasn’t meant for me.
I wasn’t asked to move the river. In all honesty, it was a goal set by myself.
But wouldn’t you move the river, too? Or, at the very least, try?
If it meant surviving?
Yeah, I’m sure you would.
The fire rains down. A hole in the sky. It eats away the dander that’s collected on the surface. Eats it away and creates its own.
Ashes make the ground white as the sky falls.
As my blood pours out.
As the world ends around me.
He stands before me, mirrored. A reflection of my brokenness. Only, he isn’t as broken as I am.
Not nearly as broken.
We both have the same scar that runs up our abdomen. Both have vivid blue eyes. We’re both missing our back left molar. Both of us remember being kidnapped. Being tortured. Used as bait. Sucked into this world that neither of us knew existed. That neither of us, even now, really understands.
We’re mirrored. Identical.
Except in this one thing.
And, this one thing?
I guess it’s what matters most.
Because he stands with more blood in his body. Stands with solid bones. There’s a gash in his forehead, but there’s no wound in his side. No stream of red coating the ground beneath his feet.
We’re exactly alike, except in this one thing:
He is the original.
And I’m not.
It’s so stupid.
And so simple.
The earth is round. It spins. I can scream at the sky, and I can howl at the moon, and I can curse the sun with every beat of my heart and every exasperated breath.
But it does nothing.
They never told me that I wasn’t him.
That I never stood a chance.
I thought I was the original. For a long time, I thought that.
And when I found out?
What could I do?
If I was a fake, then I needed to disappear, didn’t I? Needed to fade. I wasn’t supposed to be. There was only supposed to be one of him. Just the one.
They didn’t need me.
So I thought, “why not give it a shot?”
Try and be him.
Fill his shoes.
Be who they want me to be. Who he would be.
How silly of me.
Of course, I failed.
In the end, I’m not him. I can never be him. His steely gaze. Calm demeanor. Excellent advice in the midst of storms. The way he can command the sky and make the moon sing.
That’s something that can’t be replicated.
Especially not by me.
So I tried.
And I failed.
I sit here under this failing sky. This burning sun. Red pools beneath me, making the iron slat I stand on slick. My vision is blurring. Soon, I won’t have anything to look at at all.
What happens to a clone when it dies?
I’ve never given it much thought before, but now, I have to wonder.
“Will I fade?”
The question slips out before I can think it through. Before I understand that he’s the only one here. The only one that I can ask.
And he says nothing at first.
At first, he just looks at me like I’m a mangy stray that’s showed up on his door. The dead thing his cat dropped off for him. An unwanted present. A grotesque, lingering beast.
But then it fades.
It fades fast.
He sighs, his eyes closing as he does.
And when they open?
They’re not the same.
Nowhere near the same as mine.
The blue is cracked. Ice melting in the polar reaches of the planet. He’s…
No, not just sad.
There’s something more.
The ice melts, the water welling up inside of him.
“I don’t know. I…” he shakes his head. “I don’t know.”
And I see why the river never moved.
In the end, I could never have been enough.
He and I?
We’re not the same.
Not at all.
The sky crashes down. Violet bleeding out with white ash and scalding hands. We’re baking on this dying planet. Dragging ourselves to hell with this heat, with this wonder.
And there’s no need for it.
Because I already have my answer.