I’m excited to introduce you to friend and YA Fantasy writer Rachel Horwitz! Rachel manages a craft-focused blog and You Are What You Write, and is also active on twitter @rachelhwrites. She’s a wonderful person, a great supporter, and has an impressive never-give-up attitude. She’s also a pretty great writer, as you shall soon discover! Enjoy Rachel’s original science fiction short, and let her know what you think in the comments!
With just one word, it was all over. Any beliefs I once held crumbled in my fingers as I passed the lock of hair over to the doctor. “It doesn’t make sense to keep it,” people told me. Of course, I knew that. It wouldn’t bring him back. But it was the smallest, most cherished connection to him that remained. And I wasn’t giving it up for just anything.
Normally, the token remained locked in an old baseball display box on the mantle. That was his too. I hadn’t bothered to remove the signed ball within. He would have wanted it that way. For years it lingered in my sights, an object to be seen not touched. Sometimes it was a welcome perk in the morning after a night plagued with his face. Other days, I avoided even glancing in the direction of the room, fearful that my very presence might somehow disrupt his peace. Or rather, my peace.
I had seen the news. There wasn’t much else to entertain me. And I caught sight of the tail end of the broadcast that returned an ember of hope to my heart. It was foolish to think I would be the only one who offered a specimen. The line spanned clear down twenty city blocks. I sat eight blocks out in camaraderie with the least likely folks I thought I’d ever find myself with. He would have laughed, knowing the trouble I went through just to get there. He would laugh more at how uncomfortable I was with my equally desperate neighbors. Oh, the irony, he’d say.
Standing between me and the source of returning my world’s sunlight was a man who had brought a patch of fur from his dog. A dog. I suppose if that’s all he had, it was better than nothing. And I thought I was miserable. With tender care, the man released his tightened fist into the gloved hand of the receiving doctor. Marking the vile with the dog’s name as well as that of its owner, he handed off the tube so that he may collect one for my specimen.
“Human or animal?” he questioned dully, in a tone that was more robotic than I expected.
His hand extended a begging palm. “By handing over this specimen you waive rights to its return in this form and understand that the process may be unsuccessful.”
I took a gulp of air that lodged in my throat. What was I thinking? “If, by chance, and I stress that—if you are of the lucky one percent whose specimen takes, you understand that this individual will only resemble the person you once knew. You accept that their personality, demeanor and mannerisms will in all likelihood, not be a clone of your loved one.”