Rowan was distracted with his remaining options when they returned. She didn’t want to make more trouble for him. Instead she sat and listened to him practice, and increasingly to his own compositions, still a secret from everyone else. Mom and Dad were distracted too. The extra food wasn’t coming in as often, though it arrived enough to make them better off than most—a payment of sorts. A reminder to Anna Zimmerman Hart (Eve Elizabeth Hart now) that she had reason to keep silent.
She drew pictures of the landscapes she saw when Rowan played, and he tacked them up all over his room, until the walls and the doors were covered, and even a few on the ceiling. “They’re just right,” he said. “You make me see what I want to say in my music.” Now that she was spending more time in art classes, she knew that he was too kind—her technique was faulty and her grasp of proportion was laughable. His praise warmed her anyway. No one had ever cared enough to lie to her about her talents. And she could see, in the progression of children across the walls, that she was improving.
Perhaps some leftover part of Anna knew that men with soft voices and soft hands were not to be trusted. She snuck into the pottery teacher’s office during lunch—her new school didn’t watch the students with the same care—and asked INAFT to canvas recent newspapers for news of any young Annas.
Anna Zimmerman Burton and Anna Zimmerman Smithson were dead. So were Anna Zimmerman Harris and Anna Zimmerman Young, Anna Zimmerman Josephs and Anna Zimmerman Goldstein. Anna Zimmerman Rosenbloom, Anna Zimmerman Efferts, and Anna Zimmerman Eisenberg. Not all of the death notices had the middle name, but she could see echoes of her own face in the photos. After a sudden illness, the notices said. Cremated, no service. In lieu of flowers, they asked for donations to local symphonies or universities.
She didn’t get headaches like before, but it turned out that she could give herself a headache by throwing up everything in her stomach.
When she was much younger, she’d read the Bible from cover to cover before deciding it didn’t make sense. And I only am escaped alone …
Who could she tell? They were watching. INAFT was getting smarter every day, so they said (different they, or possibly the same they; if an INAFT terminal in a private home was under their control, then surely the system too was vulnerable). In some places, they had connected cameras to the system so that you didn’t even have to put your name in for it to recognize you and plan your path.
You slept with her, her mother (not her mother) yelled. Her voice carried through the walls, louder than music.
You gave me somebody else’s child! her father (not her father) screamed back.
So that excuses you?
The only sounds after that were a door slamming and her mother’s dry sobs.
She and Rowan looked at each other, miserable. Without speaking, they edged closer to one another on Rowan’s bed, and Rowan put his arm around her as her drawing paper crumpled in her hand.
Dad, the man who’d raised her, had had an affair with Michaela Dupont.
“It’ll be okay,” Rowan said into her hair. Another lie, kindly meant, but his voice trembled.
“I need to tell you something,” she said.
Slowly, then faster, she explained about her covert search and its terrifying results.
“We have to tell Mom and Dad,” Rowan said. The old Anna would never have understood, but she did: he thought a threat like that would bring them back together.
“What can they do?” she asked. Dad was a musician and Mom was a scientist, not a politician or even a journalist.
“They were afraid enough to let us go,” Rowan said, uncertain now.
“And afraid enough to kill those other girls,” she pointed out, curling into Rowan. His solid presence was the only thing keeping her from spinning out into nothingness, into the mist of Anna and the selections in the concentration camp. The Annas had been cremated. Escaped the ovens only to meet them again. Such a cruelty, only to hide a failed experiment, and she was the residue.
Rowan’s body was stiff against hers. “We can’t—we can’t just allow them to get away with it!” That was the outrage that had driven him to stow away and come for her, and she craved it like she used to crave the trinkets she stole.
“Yes,” she agreed, because he was her brave Rowan, and he knew right and wrong far better than she did—she’d only been herself for such a short time. “But we need to be careful. I’ve been thinking—you know I thought Michaela was hurting me on purpose.”
“Anna,” Rowan said, old annoyance in his tone with the old name.
“No, listen!” She pushed herself away so that she could face him. “That music box being the only one out? The earrings, the candles—it was like she knew everything that would bring out Anna Zimmerman. I think—what if Michaela wasn’t always Michaela? What if she was a first try at Anna? And she escaped, and she was trying to help the other Annas?”
She didn’t say that when she looked in the mirror these days the face she saw was starting to become familiar.
Rowan’s skeptical expression softened with thought. “It was a strange coincidence. I’d never heard of Clara Muller, and I looked her up at the conservatory. She’s not well known, even among musicians.”
“We have to find her, Rowan. Find her and let her know what happened.”
“All right,” Rowan said. “We’ll do it.”
And like that, Michaela was their mystery, hers and Rowan’s. She understood what Dad had done with Michaela. And that it was wrong. But what had been done to the Annas was more wrong, and if Michaela could help with that, then they had to let her know.
But Michaela Dupont had disappeared, as far as INAFT was concerned.
In fact, she discovered (the pottery teacher not having improved her security any in subsequent weeks), there was no public record of Michaela Dupont beyond the few months she’d been in their compound. Somehow, Michaela had gotten an instructor’s job and an apartment in an exclusive dome without existing outside of it.
She looked for news of new music teachers in local papers, but that produced far too many results to print out, and none that she skimmed seemed to resemble Michaela. Michaela might not even have been a music teacher. She remembered the Anna playing with her tennis ball on the island. Maybe that girl had started to play tennis instead of moving towards art; maybe Michaela had helped.
Rowan was unhelpful. Although he didn’t try to keep her from searching, he seemed angrier with Michaela than Mom did. “She didn’t need to do that,” he said, “even if she’s everything you say. Dad—that was just selfish.”
He was no happier with Dad. He sat across the dinner table from her and ignored Dad, even when she tried to bring him into the conversation. She wondered if he thought that he’d be like Dad when he grew up—after all, there was no mistaking that they were father and son. He almost could’ve been in the old pictures of Dad’s childhood, though it wasn’t quite as close a match as the Annas had been with each other.
Rowan was also distracted with his applications. He’d made dozens of tapes, and secretly copied out scores to send to composition programs. She wanted him to have his dream, especially since she’d ruined his first choice, but all the schools were so far away. She couldn’t tell him that she didn’t want to be alone with Mom and Dad, who were still treating each other like magnets configured to repeal each other.
The vandals were getting worse. Mom forbade them from taking the people-movers without an escort. There were food riots, whispered though not reported on INAFT. There were ships shot down in the water so that the refugees onboard wouldn’t make it to land. (History repeated itself. Like science. Like progress.) There were pictures of food on packages that didn’t have much food in them. The rooftop garden grew more crowded as Dad tried every seed he could think of.
Maybe she and Rowan had betrayed the world. They could use a good replicator, just about now. Most days she was able to find it funny that they didn’t have one because they didn’t have one: a replicator, that was. If she’d come out as a perfect copy, then she could have started working on the machine right now. By the time Anna Zimmerman was a teenager she was already solving previously intractable problems.
“Julliard?” Dad said. “Rowan, that’s fantastic!” His grin was so wide it included all of them, her and Mom too, his pride overriding everything else that was strained and wrong in the house.
Rowan swallowed, and she shifted closer to him. Without looking, she reached for his hand and entwined their fingers. He’d been waiting in her room when she’d returned from school, practically floating, but now came the tricky part.
“It’s not the performance program,” Rowan said. “It’s composition.”
She squeezed his hand.
“What?” Dad sounded confident that he’d only misheard.
“I said, it’s composition. I’m going to be a composer, not a violinist.”
Dad’s mouth opened and closed. “But Rowan, you’ve worked so long—you’ve always wanted—”
“No, Dad, you’ve always wanted!” He would’ve jerked away if she hadn’t held on, as hard as she’d held on when they’d rescued Smuggler. Rowan took a deep breath. “I know it’s not what you expected. But I need you to be happy for me.”
Mom huffed out, almost a laugh. “It looks like you’re both not quite what we expected.”
Dad turned on her. “You don’t even know the difference in the tracks! A violinist, if he’s very good, can make a living—but a composer!” He threw up his hands. The dining room seemed too small for the four of them. She was so close to Rowan that she couldn’t feel anything but his heat; she could smell him, a day’s end-strong mix of salt and earth, and instead of the disgust Anna would’ve felt a year ago there was a low twisting in her stomach.
“You’re right, I don’t understand,” her mother said. “You’ve said for years that artists of every kind must always struggle. With all the chaos around us, humanity resists the indulgence of art, which is exactly why humanity needs the indulgence of art. Or did I mistake the quotation?” Her eyebrows lifted.
Dad paused, and something wry and adult passed between them, like they were talking to each other without words. His shoulders dropped and his eyes closed. “I did say that, didn’t I?”
Rowan’s fingers were sweaty in hers.
“Well, come here,” Dad said, holding his arms out. “I can’t say I understand, but I suppose I don’t have to.” Rowan hesitated, then released her hand and consented to be hugged. Then Mom put her arms around him, and then Mom gestured to her so that they were all standing together in one tight knot. Most of her was pressed against Rowan’s back, and everyone was sniffling, and all she could think about was the heat of him and how he was going to be all the way across the continent. Selfish, she thought. Selfish and weak.
Rowan wrote her, messages delivered through the wires and printed out on paper that she smoothed out and saved in a box under her bed. New York is amazing, he wrote. His stories of the adventures of his friends, out from under a dome and lost in the big city, seemed almost as mysterious to her as math did now. I hope you’re being careful with our special project. He’d told her before he left that the city’s resources would allow him to find Michaela, but she understood that he was very busy. He did care that she was safe, but as long as she was his little sister back in California, it would always be easier to go to another concert or walk through Times Square, where the new interactive displays would give him a personalized message about the latest Off-Broadway musicals.
Her own investigations had reached a dead end as well. Supposedly the government had a super-INAFT that would let you find anyone by tracking their purchases and travel, but teenage girls didn’t get to use it. If only Anna Zimmerman’s father had been a police chief, maybe she’d have had access—but then she’d never have known Rowan, and never have been saved.
Writing Rowan was so much more difficult than being with him had been. She could write about Ingres and learning to use pastels, and how the sunset looked different after you’d spent hours trying to capture it, but she wanted to show him. She wanted to hear his indrawn breath when she’d captured something precisely. And of course there was the search for Michaela or some other evidence of them, which couldn’t go on INAFT except through the most delicate of allusions.
She took refuge in the studios at school. Sculpture wasn’t for her, she determined after she nearly impaled herself on a found-object assemblage that she meant to symbolize protest but that mostly looked like the product of an unsuccessful cross between a doctor’s office and a row of bicycles. Photography intrigued her for a while: the way black and white could be more real than color, the way a frame could change the entire meaning of what you were seeing. She took self-portraits standing in the doorway of her room and, hanging them in the school’s darkroom, watched Michaela Dupont emerge out of herself like rocks when the tide went down.
Printmaking was the best of them all. To create a matrix with her own hands, apply the ink, and see how tiny shifts in coverage or pressure affected the final image—each time she learned more, and was newly surprised at how the variations changed what the final piece said.
It took her an embarrassingly long time to realize why that might be particularly meaningful to her. But she had no confidants, and the teachers thought she had real talent. She was even allowed to use some of the school’s limited stock of wood, not just the synthetics available to all.
She sent Rowan one of her early efforts, ‘Smuggler’s Cove.’ Not through INAFT, but through the mail that almost no one ever used now. Rock and sea, two textures that met in a rough embrace. As soon as she’d made it, she could see everything that was wrong with it. But she hoped he’d appreciate the reminder, and she liked the thought that he might hang the picture in his room, almost (but not quite) a twin to the one she hung in hers. Like putting her hand out, across the country, and touching him.
Rowan didn’t come back for the summer. Cross-country travel was expensive and increasingly dangerous with so many bandits roving the road, and airplanes were out of the question for the Harts now. She tried not to feel the guilty clench of her heart when Mom said as much, thinking that she wasn’t nearby.
Nothing on INAFT about a replicator. Or about a Michaela Dupont. She drew a picture of herself, shiny earrings and leotard and hair falling like seafoam around her shoulders. The greatest difference was the color of the eyes, which might’ve been contacts. The shape of the face was the same, the promise of lushness in the curl of the lips. She called it ‘Self-Portrait with Music’ and didn’t tell her parents that it was hung in the corridor by the darkrooms at school.
Her body changed. It was good that Rowan wasn’t with her, she thought. Every day there was some new surprise, not because she was a clone but because she was a girl. She watched the others, and learned. One thing Anna Zimmerman had known that was worth keeping was that there were times when the best way to stay safe was to disappear into a crowd.
Rowan’s letters came regularly. I know you don’t like the piano, he wrote, but I’m enclosing a score I wrote anyway. She played it and heard the sounds of the city—sirens and subways and the roar of thousands of people talking. When she tried to paint it, though, there was a dark cloud hanging over the young man on the street, obscuring the skyscrapers, like the wind had carried it all the way from the camps in Germany.
“Technically, it’s the best thing you’ve done,” her teacher said, drawing back from where she’d been about to touch her arm. “But it’s … dark.”
Rowan was alive. He hadn’t been torn away by anyone. She should be happy for him. Instead she drew elaborate gates in charcoal pencil, with no one behind them, and fought the urge to steal some of the little tubes of crimson paint scattered through the painting studio. She was using so much paper that they let her use an experimental INAFT terminal that could be programmed to make pictures on the screen. The lines were blocky and she had to imagine what the limited colors would look like, but when the images were shrunk down and printed out they appeared alien, like something other than a human being had created them.
She sent copies to Rowan through INAFT. My roommates were amazed to see pictures come out of the printer, he wrote back. These are wonderful. Music to follow.
Her dreams smelled of smoke. Sometimes the meaty, back-of-the-throat smoke of the camps. Sometimes sharper, more chemical, like circuits melting. A small figure outlined against the blazing fire. She could turn and run, but she doesn’t. She’s been waiting for this fire for so long. She woke with soaked sheets and Smuggler cowering in the closet, mewling fiercely when she reached out.
Rowan had an exhibition concert, and at the appointed time, she went out to the rocks above Smuggler’s Cove. It was a few hours before sunset, though it’d be dark there (she imagined electric lights blazing, lighting his way to the concert hall, even though she knew there were rolling blackouts and the streetlights were only on when there was a police action). She sat and looked out at the ocean, wrapping her arms around her knees. What if Anna Zimmerman had loved someone? Would she have tried harder to escape the fire?
The summer before his last year, Rowan managed to make it back to the dome. He’d signed on with a traveling troupe. Just because I’m not a world-class violinist doesn’t mean I can’t play well enough for regional concerts, he wrote in the letter telling her of his plans. She checked INAFT every day for his location, zigzagging across the country.
The house was calmer now. Mostly the three of them drifted past each other, tacitly agreeing not to bring up the ways in which they’d failed one another. Mom had been promoted to director that past winter, and she wasn’t around much. Dad had made three new tapes, as if knowing the truth about his family had freed him from the hesitation that had made him unwilling to commit any one performance to posterity. He knew now that there was nothing better coming.
She made a portfolio of her work to show Rowan, then hid it in her closet. He always said nice things because he had decided to support her. But he’d seen so much more of the world now and had a better basis for comparison. What if she saw incomprehension, or indifference, behind those kind words when he was here?
The day before he was supposed to arrive, there was a major attack on the highway from Nevada, where the group he was with was supposed to be traveling. She curled up in her room, remembering a little girl screaming for her mother. Rowan would be fine, she told herself. What did a group of musicians have that was worth wanting, worth hurting for? Clara’s voice drifted to her across the decades: What did we ever do to them? They hate us because they can.
She would’ve made them their damned replicator, if she could’ve. Any of the Annas would have. Instead they were killed for their makers’ failures.
Still no trace of Michaela. Maybe they’d figured her out, caught her, tossed her in the same place as the other Annas.
When her mother knocked to say that INAFT had at last spat out Rowan’s predicted arrival time, it was like being rescued from drowning.
Six hours later, right on time, he came through the door. She couldn’t keep herself from running to him, hugging so tight that he dropped his bags where he stood. His arms wrapped around her and she was safe again.
“Hey,” her father said, joking, but not really, “how about letting the rest of us in?” By which he meant, his real relatives. She made herself back away, and got a careful look at him while Mom and Dad made approving noises.
Rowan had grown at least three inches, and she hadn’t kept pace. His hands were still callused but the body they were attached to was broader. His shirt strained over the muscles of his shoulders and upper arms. She had to keep turning away because otherwise she’d be staring.
Which meant that Rowan came to her room that night.
It didn’t matter what the name on her records was. In this house, she’d always be Anna. “Rowan.”
“Are you—are you mad at me?”
She met his eyes, and all the tension didn’t leave her, but it was overwhelmed by the safety she felt when he was looking after her. “No, of course not.” She looked around her room. There was only the one chair, at her desk, and the thought of having him on her bed made her throat tighten. So she moved, placing herself in the center of the bedspread and crossing her legs, waving him into the chair she’d just vacated. “I was just so—I was frightened for you.”
“Hey, if I can sneak into secret government facilities and bluff my way out, a little road trip isn’t a problem.”
She smiled, light-headed. Had his eyes always been so dark? His hair was fashionably cut, one lock dipping down over his forehead as if to emphasize the spikiness of the rest. She wondered whether it would prick her hands if she touched it.
Rowan coughed and turned his head, examining the room. “This is amazing. Your work—”
“This is all old,” she said, embarrassed. Every flaw jumped out as if fluorescing under his gaze. “I have some newer prints, if you’d like to see them. I’ve been doing some engraving.”
“I’d love to,” he said, his voice like the warm chocolate they’d gotten once for a Christmas treat, back when she was Anna Zimmerman, and she believed him completely.
‘Founding member of the Rowan Hart fan club,’ Dad called her. Joking, but not really. It didn’t stop her from spending hours listening to Rowan try different approaches to his latest composition, or from walking from one end of the dome to the other with him, talking about New York and her classes.
Rowan only tried to chide her about her failure to make friends once. He became apologetic as soon as the first tears fell. She tried to explain—there was still something not right in her, bits of Anna Zimmerman like thorns in flesh, and she knew that she had to get them out. Until she found the right medium, she wasn’t fit to be anybody’s friend.
“What about me?” he asked, sounding hurt.
“You’re Rowan,” she said, her voice shaking only a little even though her eyes were still spilling over. “You know me.”
“Anyone would be lucky to know you,” he said, like he was angry. “Oh, Anna, don’t—I’m sorry.”
“No,” she managed as he pulled her into a hug, there on the public path. “I’m sorry.” Even when others had made overtures, she’d been afraid. If she’d accidentally revealed her secret to a friend, would they dispose of the evidence? “I don’t need anyone but you.” Her cheek felt hot against the rough fabric of his jacket.
“Come to New York after you graduate,” he said, running the words together. “There are art schools. Everyone comes to New York to figure out who they are.”
Pressed against him, she wanted more than anything to say yes. She wanted to go up on her toes and—
He released her like she’d gotten hot enough to burn.
She didn’t remember much math, but she remembered binaries. X or not X. On or off. One or zero.
My brother or not my brother.
If she wasn’t Anna, then she was Rowan’s sister. If she wasn’t Rowan’s sister—
She didn’t want to be Anna again. Anna was angry and sad and small and scared, and Anna had in so many ways never left the camps. Not even when she’d been multiplied, renewed. Ripped from the binary of alive or dead. Schrödinger's clone.
She’d opened the box. She wasn’t Anna; she wouldn’t be. (If she was Eve, didn’t that make them God?)
When Rowan looked at her, the tightening in her body wasn’t anything Anna had ever let herself feel. (She knew there were worse dreams than the one with the selection. She hoped to the God Anna Zimmerman had hated that she never remembered more than the wisps that remained.)
But Rowan was her brother. He’d stood by her, ruined his chances at his own dream to save her. Her brother, so beautiful she was sure there were girls back in New York who’d—do the things that the girls at school whispered about. Who’d hear his music and know what she did, that Rowan was special.
If she followed him to New York, she’d be committing to that pain, watching him find the awe and love of a wider world. Maybe, though, that was a penance she could accept.
“I’m sorry,” the headmaster said. “This is too political.”
The photo of the protestor being clubbed by three police officers had been splashed across every front page in the dome. She was proud of what she’d done with it: turned into black and white lines, the officers were distilled brutality, and the protestor’s raised arm echoed that of the Statue of Liberty, holding a placard instead of a torch. Possibly her best work yet, and she could tell the headmaster knew it.
He must’ve expected some lecture about the relevance of art, the hotheaded youthful rebellion she saw in her classmates. But she remembered the power that could come from a stare, denying the other person something to push back against. After a moment, he coughed uncomfortably. “I’m sure your other work will be more than acceptable for your final portfolio. You know you’re one of our finest students, Eve.”
“Thank you, Headmaster,” she said politely. From his frown, he’d caught a hint of what she was really saying.
Five more months. And then she’d join Rowan. In a city of twelve million people, they could be—they could be anyone.
She picked up her diploma early so that the family could all be present at Rowan’s graduation. She wasn’t resentful. His ceremony was more important. Rowan was a real Hart, and she was a palimpsest, written on paper not quite scrubbed clean.
They took the train. She packed everything she could carry. Most of her art had to be left behind, but she’d make more and different. Mom and Dad didn’t ask why her suitcase was so heavy, even when they were told it would cost extra to get on board. Dad slipped the porter a jar of his homemade jam, and the charge disappeared.
Their cabin had four beds but no other passengers. “I’ll take the top bunk,” her father volunteered. Her mother looked away, mouth tight.
She went to put her shoulder bag on the pallet underneath the bed her father had chosen.
An envelope poked out of the top. She frowned. She didn’t remember taking any envelopes. All her letters from Rowan were weighing down the bottom of her suitcase.
Her back to her parents, who were bickering about when they’d go to the food car and how much they should be willing to pay for dinner, she opened the envelope, which was unsealed.
White card, black block print: DON’T FORGET WHO YOU WERE.
From them? But why? From Michaela? That made no sense either. She searched only every few months now, the desire faded from failure after failure. Anyway, the plan to expose the people who’d run the cloning project seemed much less plausible now. Who’d get upset about an experiment that had ended years ago? People died all the time for the greater good of the state, or so the wise men said in the editorials INAFT disseminated.
But as they passed through state after state, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched by more than the usual automatic cameras.
Rowan met them at Grand Central Station, where more people than she’d ever seen at once rushed through, lines and waves of people like lights flickering on a computer console. He shook Dad’s hand and kissed Mom’s cheek, and then he swept her into a hug that took her off her feet. She closed her eyes as he spun her around. The roar of the people all around faded away, and even the sour smell of sweat and spilled drinks ceased to bother her. Letters were nothing like being in his presence. “I can’t wait to play you my latest. We’re debuting it at the final concert,” he whispered before letting her go.
Mom was watching them tolerantly, but Dad had his head tilted, as if he wasn’t sure what he was seeing. “I remember when you two couldn’t stand the sight of each other,” he said, and he almost sounded disapproving.
Her heart turned over, but Rowan shrugged. “We’ve both changed,” he said simply.
He struggled with her unwieldy suitcase alongside her all the way through the station, finally getting it into the back of the waiting cab. “Sorry,” she said, breathless.
He smiled and pushed his errant hair out of his eyes. “You’d better be planning to move here,” he said. “Because if this is how you pack for a visit, I’m going to seriously question your judgment.”
She nodded. “Do you still want me to?”
He laughed. “I’ve been waiting for this all year.”
The cabbie was explaining something about the checkpoints to Mom and Dad. She cleared her throat. “Every time you look at me I think you must be remembering that awful little girl.”
Rowan moved closer, putting his hand on her back just below her shoulderblade. Every nerve in her body rushed there and lit up. “That’s not who I see at all, Anna. I see you.”
She could spend a lifetime painting and never get his eyes right, she thought.
“What’s the holdup?” Dad yelled, over the sound of cars starting and honking. They hurried to get in the cab, and sat thigh to thigh the entire way to the hotel.
Rowan’s room at Juilliard was shared with three other students, out for a celebratory dinner with their families. Somehow Mom and Dad had gotten their signals crossed about the dates, so Dad had arranged to attend a significant concert and Mom had taken the rare opportunity to see a colleague face to face. It was just Anna and Rowan on his graduation night.
Possibly Rowan had something to do with the signals crossing. They’d skipped the dinner and sat on his bed, at opposite ends at first, and then side by side. He told her about all the places he’d miss and the professors who’d helped and hindered him. She put her hand on his leg, for support and comfort. His hand slipped from around her shoulders to around her waist.
She asked him about his upcoming auditions as their heads had turned towards each other. She was breathing in his breath, so hot, sweet with his happiness. Every place they touched felt so much more alive than the rest of her—lines of fire along her body, possibility tightening its electric hold on her.
He had to know what she wanted. She didn’t want it if this was only Rowan taking care of her, again. Her mouth was dry; she licked her lips and heard Rowan’s quick indrawn breath.
“You don’t have to do this for me,” she whispered.
“I’m not,” he told her, and turned her head to him with the slightest pressure of his fingers against her jaw.
When they kissed it was a shock in itself, white stars behind her eyes. No more numbers; no need for calm when this was why she shook. She was knots of need and he was unraveling her, laughing as they struggled to undress each other, all the tiny buttons on his dress shirt and then the cotton of his undershirt stretching as if to fight her attempts to uncover him. Her silk blouse catching on his leathery, violin-hardened fingertips, her bra clamped so firmly it could’ve been locked for all his success, until she reached behind herself and stilled his fingers and did the job herself.
“Let me taste you,” Rowan said, his voice so low it was a vibration on her skin.
Rowan hadn’t shaved since the morning. His stubble scraped across her thigh, needles of pleasure-pain making her arch up, pinned only by his hands around her hips. His thumbs pressed down as his mouth moved upwards and inwards. She was a puddle of oil, shimmering. His fingers moved inside her and she exploded into a million droplets, rainbowed and reflecting each other into infinity.
There was no pain when he entered her, nothing like what she’d expected. The waves of pleasure had slowed, but that meant that she could watch his face, enraptured like it was when he played. He was lost in her just as he lost himself in music, his eyes fluttering beneath closed lids and his mouth open. The sharpness of his hipbones against her thighs was almost too much, but he moaned again and thrust and the ache of new bruises was lost in the wonder of sex.
“Do you think it’s so good because we’re not supposed to?” she asked afterwards, her head pillowed on his chest.
She loved him more for thinking about it for a while before he answered. “No,” he said. “It’s so good because it’s us.”
Rowan’s fellowship at Columbia and money from their parents to supplement her scholarship at Tisch just sufficed to rent an apartment the size of her room back in the dome. The food was canned and often enough the labels were printed in French—gray-market goods from Canada—but they supplemented with the bruised fruits and wilting vegetables that sold at a discount at the end of Saturday’s farmer’s market. Dad’s cooking and canning skills came in handy there, and Rowan became even more popular among his classmates.
Rowan was in some ways easier to write to than to live with, demanding complete silence when he was composing, sometimes sending her out in the middle of the night to sit in coffee shops when even the sound of her breathing in the tiny space was too much for him. For her part, she was subject to black moods when some project wasn’t working, and he could become incoherent with fury when she forgot to clean the drains for long enough that wads of blonde hair stopped them up.
Even at their worst, she never forgot that he’d come for her. And he said, after the yelling and exile had passed, that he always knew how hard she’d worked to be someone else—to have talents and failings of her own.
“This is Eve,” he said when he introduced her. (‘Anna’ was for him, and from him she didn’t mind; he’d reached out to Anna when she’d needed his help.) He would say they’d grown up in the same dome if pressed. She wished she could say more, but she followed his lead. His friends played at being jaded and cosmopolitan, tut-tutting over the latest news from the new Dust Bowl, but it was hard to imagine they’d understand Anna Zimmerman Hart, or Anna and Rowan.
There were no more messages from sources unknown. She experimented with zoetropes—DON’T and FORGET separate, then overlapping when spun. She discovered Barbara Kruger and took apart an articulated mannequin, burning one word into each part: THOSE WHO DON’T DISMEMBER THE PAST ARE GUARANTEED TO REPEAT IT. Even in New York, there was art that was too political. There were professors who reported on other professors, and students who did the same. When one of her classmates bragged about a whole, fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, it was hard not to wonder what exactly it had taken to merit such largesse.
They walked the streets late at night, listening to the city breathe, smelling its smoggy exhalations. Arm in arm or hand in hand, they were explorers in this new ocean. When the heat shut off, they huddled together under quilts she’d bought from a fabric arts student, woven from scraps of dozens of different fabrics and stuffed with foam scavenged from abandoned buses. In the morning the stove would warm the place a bit while Rowan made toast, and they’d shower together to save water. He’d nag her about the drains and she’d tell him for the fiftieth time that he needed to ask his friend Joe to bring back the potato ricer he’d borrowed months ago.
She wasn’t sure who she was, but that didn’t have to stop her from being happy.
Not everything was simple.
Her mother still hoped that there was an Anna Zimmerman in her. She could hear it in every one of her mother’s questions during their monthly calls. She wasn’t the daughter her mother had wanted. But her mother had wanted a dead woman, a symbol, a girl whose heart had burned up in the ovens. She wasn’t sure she could forgive her mother for that. It was only fair, she supposed, that her mother couldn’t forgive her, either.
She was glad to be a continent away from her father. She was closer now to Michaela’s age than to the age she’d been when she’d found out the truth. Her eyes were still clear blue, but other than that they could’ve been sisters. Could’ve been, but probably weren’t.
What Dad hadn’t known, even if he might’ve sensed it—at some level wouldn’t it have been clear, a sort of subconscious resonance between them?—what he hadn’t been conscious of at the time wouldn’t have been fair to burden him with now, so many years later.
The man who’d raised her had slept with a woman who wasn’t her, but wasn’t not her.
Like father, like son? These worries weren’t from Anna, she thought. They were hers. Or humanity’s. She saw the echoes of her own uncertainties in a classmate’s portrait of a woman staring at her own image in the mirror, except that the mirror showed a monster, and in a favorite professor’s nervous bragging about her exhibition in Paris ten years back. Rowan didn’t give her any reason to doubt him. The doubts were more about herself.
“You had a crush on Michaela Dupont, didn’t you?” she asked him once, over a candlelight dinner of beans and rice. Even knowing the answer, she wanted to hear him say it, to know that he’d always tell her the truth.
“Yes,” he said. “The way she smiled—I know you’re not the same, I know how you can change, but—you have it too. When she paid attention to you, it was like standing in the light of your own sun. I don’t think you could ever be anything but extraordinary.”
Later, she moved on top of him, rocking slowly in the rhythm of her own pleasure. He looked surprised below her, mouth parted, hands cupping the sway of her breasts so gently. Her skin was flour-pale between his darker fingers. She leaned into him, letting him take her weight. “I love you,” she said, and he thrust upward hard enough to make her gasp.
Afterwards, she lay curled on her side, arms wrapped around her knees. He draped his arm over her and whispered into her shoulder that he’d never leave. She knew that people couldn’t always keep promises like that, even when they very much wanted to, but she liked to hear it anyway.
She didn’t even think about what her mother would say if she found out. When she thought about it, the conversation always ended with anger: throwing her mother’s plans back in her face. I was supposed to be a savior, and the only thing I did was tear your family apart. Rowan and I came from the same womb. Are you proud of what you’ve made?
But that was so cruel, even in her imagination, that it made her cringe at her own viciousness. Whatever her mother deserved, it wasn’t to see her children as monsters. Even if Mom would never see Rowan’s choices as quite as important as science, she could appreciate his achievements in her own way.
She didn’t want to take that away from the only mother she’d ever known.
The issue couldn’t be put off forever; even in a world where artists could barely afford the taxes for a child, their mother was eventually going to ask about Rowan’s plans for a family. For now, though, they could pretend that there was nothing unusual going on in their family, the way her mother had pretended for years.
She was six weeks from graduation when they came.
She came through the door carrying a bag of dandelion greens she’d gotten for painting a mural above a baby’s crib; her mouth was already opening to tell Rowan about their bounty when she saw the man standing in the tiny kitchen area.
“Come in, Anna,” he said. He was wearing a suit and tie, despite the day’s heat. Other than that he could have been anyone. “Close the door behind you.”
Her hands turned to ice. Following orders from smooth-voiced men was death, she knew that.
“Where’s Rowan?” she managed, her voice not shaking much.
“Close the door,” he said, kindly, the same way Dr. Jelliff had spoken to a pubescent girl.
She closed the door, the bag dropping unheeded to the floor beside it.
“Rowan’s fine,” he said, holding out his hands as if to reassure her. “He’s with us.”
“What do you want?”
“We want you to try again. We think there still may be a latent talent.”
“That’s ridiculous!” she said, her heart pounding and her vision clouding with terror. If Rowan’s safety depended on her—she couldn’t even balance their checkbook.
“I know you believe that, Anna. But your art—there are subtle mathematical patterns in almost everything, did you know that? And we believe that you’re expressing Anna Zimmerman’s ideas, through a medium of your own. We have a state of the art laboratory. You’ll be quite comfortable.”
Yes, like Clara Muller was comfortable. “And if I don’t, you’ll kill Rowan.”
The man grimaced. “There’s no need to be crude. We certainly wouldn’t begin by killing him.”
Her skin was cold, then hot. The man rearranged his face into neutrality, hiding the smug certainty of her capitulation. She’d escaped from them with Rowan before. There had to be a chance.
She cast her eyes down. “I’ll have to pack a bag.”
“I’ll wait,” he said. Having him watch her open her drawers and pull out underwear felt like a violation, even though he stayed on the little square of linoleum in front of the sink. She packed for Rowan, too.
They obviously had no problem getting gas rations; the man packed her into a black car with blackened windows. They went over a bridge and drove for long enough to be halfway into New Jersey. The man, sitting across from her on the rear-facing bench seat, didn’t talk and neither did she.
If they wanted a replicator, they’d have to give her access to an INAFT terminal. But she wasn’t a spy or an engineer; she didn’t know how to make a call to her parents, or the New York Times, without being detected. Now, if she’d needed to program the terminal to draw her pictures pixel by pixel—
A spike of pain arrowed through her right temple, and she cringed, curling in on herself. She heard the rustle of the man noticing and leaning forward. He didn’t say anything; maybe he thought she was crying over her situation.
She wasn’t Anna Zimmerman. But Anna Zimmerman had been a thief and a survivor, and Anna Zimmerman might be able to help. She thought that Anna Zimmerman would want to do that. Or, at least, that she’d want to hurt people who hurt her.
The ride continued, though she couldn’t pay much attention to anything but the flashes and flutters of agony inside her head. When they stopped, the man gestured her out, and then put his arm around her shoulders when he apparently decided that she wasn’t faking. She didn’t have the energy to cringe away. He smelled of damp wool and cologne, and the hammering in her brain increased.
He led her past a nurse’s station, where a row of video monitors showed five rooms, each with a little girl in them, differing only in the exact placement of the dinner trays on the desks. She guessed that having parents raise them had been discarded as too uncontrolled. Who loved them? “You’re trying again,” she said, not a question. “Will you put them in concentration camps for real this time if they’re defective too? I hear the camps on the border are close to perfect.”
She didn’t expect an answer, and she didn’t get one.
Her room looked the same as the girls’, even down to the cooling tray of roast beef and potatoes. The thought of food sent her scrambling to the tiny, doorless bathroom, spitting into the toilet. After a moment, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and turned her head, looking straight into the camera lens trained on her.
“I won’t do anything for you until I see Rowan.”
There was no answer. Eventually she stood, ran water into her cupped hand to clean her mouth, and went back out into the main area. Her bag had been left on the bed, Rowan’s clothes removed. After a while, the lights went out, and she stretched out on the bed and closed her eyes and thought about Anna Zimmerman.
Even after more than a decade, she remembered Dr. Jelliff. When she was ushered in to see him the next morning, she found him flipping through prints from her latest series, Spiral/Fractal. She wanted to jump at him and claw his face to shreds for touching them. “Mathematics,” he said, raising his head and smiling at her, “is the deep structure of the universe. It is, in itself, the purest of art. I think we were wrong about you, Anna.”
“You get nothing until I see Rowan,” she said. Clara had saved Anna Zimmerman because Clara had something the Commandant wanted. (More than one thing, but she wasn’t going to think about that now.) The Commandant could do anything he wanted to her body, but that wasn’t enough for him: he’d wanted Clara’s compliance. It wasn’t power, but it was leverage, and she was in the same situation.
Dr. Jelliff didn’t seem surprised. “Come around here,” he said, and reluctantly she edged around his desk. On the monitor, Rowan was in yet another of their seemingly endless little rooms with no doorknobs on the inside. He was wearing one of the shirts she’d brought. On the desk there were papers, ruled for musical notation, as if they thought they were being kind to him by providing a distraction.
“All right,” she said. “But I see him every day.”
Dr. Jelliff smiled. “That’s fine, Anna. Know that our patience isn’t unlimited. Ultimately, it’s results that justify the investment of resources.”
“Then why are you still here?” she asked, and turned to walk out.
They had reams of papers: the few papers Anna Zimmerman had published; every paper her papers had cited; fragments recovered after the lab fire, the flimsies reproducing the char around the edges; the textbooks Anna Zimmerman had studied at Berkeley. Nothing that made sense to her. The Anna-ghost had to help her. If all Anna Zimmerman had to give was Nazis and the music of despair, then she was lost and Rowan was going to die, and there were five little girls lined up to be miserable, terrified replacements.
Shuffling through Anna Zimmerman’s dissertation again, a figure caught her eye. A graph—she didn’t understand the labels, but she’d seen it before, somewhere—
It was the same shape she’d made with the computer’s crude rendering tools, with pastels, with carved styrofoam spray-painted until it crumpled and shrank. Three-dimensional, she thought. Anna Zimmerman had never seen it that way.
She could see it in her mind, moving through time, changing the way a flame did: determined by math too complicated for even the most advanced computers, but determined by rules nonetheless. Like the rules of beauty, which artists knew but INAFT never could.
The graph in the paper wasn’t right. She could see how it should be—she could even carve it, given a knife and a block of soft material. Except that might help Dr. Jelliff and the people behind him. She didn’t believe for a second that they’d share the replicator with the world, not when it was so much more useful to hand out extra food to people who did favors for them.
“I need access to INAFT,” she said.
Dr. Jelliff didn’t react.
“You can have one of your lackeys type in the searches if you want. But what’s here isn’t enough for me.”
She was relying on the hope that Dr. Jelliff was on the cloning side of the operation. If he offered to bring in human assistants she’d be helpless; a real physicist would be able to tell in fifteen minutes that she had no conscious understanding of the mathematical relationships in Anna Zimmerman’s work.
A slight tightening in the corners of his mouth was his only signal that he was under pressure as well. “I’ll have a terminal sent down. And you will be supervised.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything different.”
Rowan was composing. The cameras showed pages of scratched-out material, overflowing trash cans, pencils ground to nubs. And a small stack of finished work. One day, she saw a title: ‘Juliet’s Lament.’ Later, it was ‘Romeo Alone.’ She couldn’t read the notes well enough to imagine how the music would sound. She imagined that Rowan had composed two different themes that would surge and retreat, entwining into something greater when they reached each other.
He’d saved her before. It was her job to save him now.
When the lights snapped on, she screamed involuntarily. The headache arrived like a lightning strike. She buried her head under her pillow, and struggled when the orderlies came to retrieve her. After an infinity of flailing and hammering pain, she heard Dr. Jelliff’s voice, saying this was a good sign. She’s getting closer.
The lights dimmed but the icicle-stab feeling in her skull remained, until a prick at the back of her neck sent her spiralling into true darkness.
She’s getting closer, she thought as the quiet rushed over her and pulled her down. She’d better be.
She didn’t know what the shapes meant, only that they were right, in the way that Anna Zimmerman’s models hadn’t been. Dr. Jelliff expected more; he expected her to be able to build him his replicator. She could adjust a lens and stretch a canvas and, in a pinch, explain color theory.
Nothing useful. She should’ve studied war. Or at least lockpicking.
She’d asked for materials, but he was going to get suspicious soon, and when he cracked the case she’d been working on he’d only find an array of lights that dimmed and brightened according to the movement of people through the room around it. Each morning she expected would be their last, and she could see in the mirror how her face was tightening, getting closer to Anna’s.
Two of the interchangeable orderlies were escorting her down the narrow hallway to the lab when a light popped in a shower of sparks. She screamed and launched herself backwards, startling them enough that she’d run most of the way back to her room by the time they caught up. The larger one grabbed her arms, lifting her off the ground so that her heels drummed uselessly against his knees as she struggled. The smaller, darker-skinned one spoke urgently into his walkie-talkie, asking whether he should sedate the subject or have her brought to the lab.
He must’ve gotten tired of her whimpering, because they shoved her back into her room while he continued to ask questions, though it didn’t sound like he was getting answers. She crumpled into a ball just over the threshold, her head full of fire and her throat full of ashes.
The lights went out.
Now they were the ones yelling. She made herself freeze and go quiet. The windowless room was as dark as death. She scooted to the side, out of the way of whoever might come looking for her.
She was shivering, though it was no colder than ever.
It was the thought of Rowan, locked in the darkness, that got her standing. Well, bracing herself against the wall, but on her feet. One of the guards was still outside; she could hear him moving, his shoes creaking against the old linoleum of the floor.
Moving carefully, she slipped off her shoes. She didn’t have handcuffs or guns or any other jingling things, and they hadn’t closed the door all the way.
He moved a few feet away, towards the lab, and she pulled the door further open, cringing in anticipation of a betraying sound, but there was nothing.
Holding her breath, she eased out of the door. Anyone else in the darkness would probably be sticking to a wall, but that was her best bet too, despite the risks of collision with another guard. She backed away, feeling like she was moving through syrup even though she knew she was nearly tripping over herself in her haste.
She came to another door, and tried the knob on general principles. Shockingly, it opened, and she almost fell inside. She’d assumed that this corridor had the rooms for all the prisoners, but she’d never known for sure.
“Rowan?” She tried to keep her voice down, just in case the guard had good ears.
“What’s going on?” The voice was a young girl’s. She didn’t want to believe she’d ever sounded that bratty.
“Anna,” she said, and hated herself for what came next, “you have to be very quiet. There’s going to be a selection.”
By the choked gasp, the girl had the general idea, even if she didn’t know why she knew.
She left the Anna behind—not forever, she hoped—and continued down the black hallway.
The next door was locked, and then she ran into a door blocking the hallway, also locked. Her fingers found a keypad by the door. They’d always covered the pad when entering the codes, but Anna Zimmerman had a very good ear for tones. She took a deep, shuddering breath and put in the numbers, 8-6-8-4, and the door released with a pneumatic hiss.
Far ahead, there was a flash of light, which nearly incapacitated her. As a child, she’d been able to scream and refuse to move when the pain hit, so she’d never mastered the trick of working through it. She clenched her fists so hard that she could feel her palms begin to bleed where the nails dug through and continued forward.
Halfway towards her objective, there was a deep shudder and the electric lights all came on. She paused to throw up the small breakfast she’d managed to eat, then continued forward, now leaning on the wall for assistance rather than direction.
She wasn’t surprised that, when she exited the hallway into a larger atrium, the first person she saw was Michaela Dupont, dressed like a partisan in fatigues and carrying a long gun.
The second was Rowan, who ran to her and swept her into his arms, his hand cupping the back of her head as she leaned into his shoulder and he told her he loved her.
“I’m sorry it took so long to find you,” Michaela said, cutting through the diamond-fractured pounding of her head. “Searching for Clara Muller was a good idea.”
“Thank you,” she said, pulling away from Rowan far enough to see that Michaela was accompanied by several other people with guns, including two bracketing Dr. Jelliff.
“You,” he said, staring with poisonous hate at Michaela.
“Me,” Michaela said, smiling.
“Why couldn’t you just leave us alone?” he asked, sounding almost bewildered. “Because of you, we had to restart the entire program, dispose of all those girls—”
“No,” she said, tugging Rowan forward. “It never would have worked. Anna Zimmerman didn’t have the right equations.”
Michaela looked at her. “Have you figured it out?”
She shook her head. “But I can see—something. The work I’ve done is in Dr. Jelliff’s office.”
Michaela jerked her head, and one of her companions headed off, presumably towards the office. The others moved through the room, checking the bonds holding the various guards and personnel immobilized.
“You need to help the new girls,” she said.
Michaela quirked a smile at her. “I was hoping you’d be able to help with that. I may be a little busy exposing a giant government conspiracy.”
She thought of the miserable little girl Anna Hart had been, and how these girls would lie and steal and never know why. “Of course,” she said.
A small woman with a cap of tight curls approached Michaela. “Look at this,” she said to Michaela, pointing to a familiar series of drawings. “I think this is the segment that never worked right.”
Michaela glanced down, then took the papers. “I can’t make a replicator, not on my own.”
Her stomach clenched. All this—it didn’t feel like enough, just to have survived, not when so many hadn’t.
Then Michaela continued: “But there are other people who might be able to, if we share this along with the other things we’ve found.”
She nodded, lightheaded with relief, and leaned back into Rowan. Anna Zimmerman always worked alone because she couldn’t trust anyone. They were the same, in their way, thinking that Anna Zimmerman was their only alternative and that normal people couldn’t handle the truth of what they’d tried. You couldn’t fix the world by making a hundred Annas, or a thousand, all isolated in their separate cages.
“We’re going to make our story pop up on every terminal in the country,” Michaela said. As if responding to her words, the screen in the center of the room turned on, showing a black-and-white picture of Anna Zimmerman. Even in the blocky black and white, the resemblance to both of them was obvious. This was a face that never smiled. Never had a Rowan.
“Eve,” Michaela said, and she jolted, because that wasn’t quite her name either, especially after so many days-weeks-months reaching for the bits of her that were still Anna’s. “Is there anything you want to say to the people who did this to you?”
She turned to Dr. Jelliff, who looked like he’d aged decades in the last few minutes. “You wanted me to be Anna Zimmerman, because you couldn’t think of anything better. But I’m not Anna,” she said. “I’m something new.” Rowan squeezed her hand hard, then let go as she continued to speak.
“I’m just an artist. But art taught me the truth: You can’t make a perfect copy. So don’t try. We can’t depend on other people’s ideas. We stopped dreaming about the future, and now the future is running out.
“That’s why art matters: because it makes new things out of the old. It finds a way. When we couldn’t get film we drew, and when we couldn’t get paper we learned how to carve stone. I refuse to believe that humanity could produce a Picasso and a Mahlangu and a Sun and not three different technological geniuses.”
She drew a breath. “None of the Annas got a chance. I think the rest of us deserve one—without you.”
“You think you can just give out a technology like this—you’ll create chaos!” Dr. Jelliff already sounded like a prisoner, bitter and vindictive. “We had it under control!”
She looked from Michaela, holding her gun like she knew how to use it, to the pictures now spread out over what looked like a receptionist’s desk, pictures she’d made without fully understanding. “No,” she said. “You never did. It’s our turn now.”
And when she kissed Rowan, out in front of everyone, the world didn’t end.