Cathy Vella’s New Short Story – Send Her Away

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petri-dish

SEND HER AWAY

Jen sat sobbing on the sofa, snot dribbling from her nose. She wiped it away with the back of her hand.

“Babes, I never wanted all this, and think…I mean…technically I was sleeping with you.” Rick pleaded.

“Don’t fuckin’ babes me! And you knew it wasn’t me.”

Jen regretted the day she got herself cloned.  On paper it looked ideal. The Company had convinced her that life would change for the better.  She’d have a soul mate, she’d only have to do half the work, the idea of jobsharing sounded sublime, and she could spend more time with her husband.  The reality was that her soul mate irritated her – how could she be irritated by herself?  Her clone did her job better, had more fun with her mates, was funnier, prettier, and was most certainly a size smaller, and now she was screwing her husband.

“Babes, come on, you nearly slept with Rick2; it’s an easy mistake to make.”

Getting her husband cloned didn’t make things easier, it just meant that there was twice the mess.

“Yes, but I didn’t did I?”

“You could…if you wan- “ Jen’s steely stare stopped him in his tracks.  Rick sat down next to his wife and put his hand on her lap, she brushed it away.

There was a clatter from the kitchen.

“I can hear you both, mooching about. I’m not deaf.” Jen wiped away more snot.

“I wouldn’t mind either!” Rick2 shouted in.

“Jesus, don’t make it worse than it already is.” Jen2 punched him in the arm.

“Well, I wouldn’t. She is my wife, and you are my wife, we could all be mixing it up, enjoying ourselves, it’s seems like the perfect opportunity to me.”

“God, you’re so insensitive.” Jen2 topped the Lemsip with a slice of lemon and a dollop of honey and took it in to Jen.  A peace offering.

“I haven’t got a bloody cold.  I’m upset.” She took the drink anyway.

Jen2 and Rick2 sat opposite Jen and Rick. Jen sipped her drink; Jen2 nervously plucked at an eyelash, Rick2 chewed at a fingernail and Rick scratched his crotch.

“I’m going to phone the Company today.” Jen broke the silence.

“And say what?”

“You’ve got to go.”

“Whooah, whoooah, hang on a minute. Go where?”  Jen2 stood and started pacing the room.

“I don’t know…I don’t know what they will do, I didn’t read the small print.”

“Errr, are we talking about Jen2 here or me as well?” Rick2 piped in, then pleaded with Rick, “Rick, mate, we’re okay aren’t we?  Me and Rick, we’ve got a big contract on this week, Jen.  We’re bringing more money in than before. I’m not to blame here. Rick tell her!” Rick shrugged and looked at Jen.

“Who is then?” Jen asked.

“Don’t look at me!” Jen2 headed to the kitchen. “I am you after all; I wouldn’t do anything that you wouldn’t do Jen.”

“It’s all a big mess.  I started all this, and now I need to end it.” She picked up her cup and followed Jen2 to the kitchen.  Rick looked at Rick2.  Both shrugged, then leant forward to pick up the TV remote. Rick flicked the sports channel on.

Jen banged around the kitchen whilst Jen2 stood by half-heartedly tidying up. Jen groaned as she struggled with a box of teabags. The bag split and the contents spilled onto the floor. Sobbing, she bent to clear up.  Jen2 crouched down and helped.

“Jen?”

“What?” she sniffed.

“Look at me.” Jen looked up. Jen2 wiped a tear away and stroked her face.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

“I wasn’t to blame, you know.  I…you…we…we wouldn’t do anything like that. He said he was Rick2, and by the time I realised it wasn’t…it was too late.  Maybe I didn’t think it mattered anyway, but it wasn’t my idea.  You know that.”

“Yes, I know.”

“And you know that there is another solution.” Jen2 took Jens hand.

“Really?”

“You know there is.  You’ve done it before.”

“What?”  Jen looked at Jen2.

“So…what do you think?” Jen2’s voice dipped to a whisper.

“About what?” she mouthed quietly.

Jen2 looked around to make sure no one was listening.  Rick and Rick2 cheered at a goal.

“Killing them.”

Rick and Rick2 sat on the sofa, a mirror image of each other. Both rubbed their feet, then sat back pulling their tracksuit bottoms out of their crotch.

“Mate, don’t worry about it.” Rick rewound the match to watch a tackle.

“Dirty bastard.” They complained in unison.

“She can’t just get rid of you like that.”

“I know she can’t, we’re past the approval period; I’ve read the small print.”

Rick2 paused the game. “Thing is, I don’t understand why she wants to get rid of me and not you.”

Rick sat and thought for a minute, looked at Rick2, shrugged and restarted the match.  They sat watching it in silence.  Rick looked around the room at all the pictures on the walls, their holidays, their wedding, and family celebrations.  They had travelled well; India, Malaysia, Australia – the pictures showed them smiling together at many famous landmarks.  These images were embedded into his memory, but when he thought hard about the occasions, he could remember nothing directly before or after the captured moments. Rick paused the game and looked at Rick2.

“Why would she get rid of me?”

Rick2 shuffled uncomfortably, and turned to look at Rick.

“You know why.”

“No, I don’t think I do.”

“Mate, you do – you really do. You’re in denial.”

“What are you saying?”

“Rick, you’re a clone too.”

Both Jens enter the room to silence and stares.

“What?  You not watching the match?” Jen places down a tray with four glasses and a bottle of wine.

“We’ve been chatting.”

“Oh yeah, what about?” Jen flicks a glance at Jen2.

“Us.”

“And?”

“We’ve decided that you’re right, we should get rid of Jen2.” Neither removed their gaze from the match.

“Yes, we’ve been chatting too, and we’ve decided not to act in haste; we think we should all give it another go.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.” Jen pours the wine and hands the glasses to the Ricks. “I don’t know why I got so upset, you were right Rick; maybe we could all try again – work together. A fresh start.” Both Jens smile weakly.

“Great, we’ll drink to that!” Both Ricks slurp the wine and turn their attention back to the match.

Both Jens return their glasses to the tray, untouched.  They sit back and watch.

And wait.

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