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Loose Every Knot

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Noise spilled into the hallway. It wasn’t pretty, like the songs you sometimes got on e-tapes, but it was supposed to be music, Ari could tell. It set her nerves on edge and made her want to give the notes a jerk, the way Maman jerked her sweater to make it sit straight.

“What’s that?”

“That’s the Bok clone,” said Alisa, pulling on her hand.

So they walked on past, because Ari had to go to Hospital for another blood test and then meet Maman for lunch, and left the strange ugly music behind them.

Clone meant genetically identical individual, like Val and Glen and Sasha down in AG, or like Ari’s own Alisa and Ginny who worked in the birthlabs. They were azi, and some people called them annies which was a nasty word and you mustn’t say it, but nobody called them the clone like some thing.

Ari wondered who the Bok clone belonged to, and why they wanted someone to make noise on a piano for them when everyone else complained about long waiting times to get lab assistants and nurses and Security.

But it turned out the Bok clone wasn’t azi, and the apartment in the part of the House nearly as nice as Ari’s was her own; when reporters came and tried to interview her they called her sera Bok, and the grownups called her Estelle--at least to her face, when she showed it, which wasn’t often.

She came to Maman’s funeral. She didn’t say anything, but she was the only one there who looked like Ari felt. Mad, just mad at everyone and everything because there was no one in particular to be mad at. Because it hurt to breathe and it hurt to think and there was nothing else do about it but be mad.

“Why does the Bok clone look like that?” she asked Alisa later.

“Rejuv failure,” said Alisa.