I’m seven years old.
“She’s waking up.”
I’m lying on a bed. There’s two women in the room. I don’t see my mommy. “Where’s my mommy?”
“Hi, you’re in a hospital. Can you tell me the last thing you remember?” one woman asks. She’s wearing all white and seems nice.
“I was laying down in a machine to scan my brain,” I say.
“Good, good. Can you tell me how old you are?” She has a pretty smile.
“I’m seven. My birthday party was last week. We went skating.” It was a lot of fun.
“Good, first layer seems to have integrated. We should get her memories up to adult range as soon as possible.” The other woman is also dressed in white and she has a computer tablet. She doesn’t smile.
“Can you sit up?”
She helps me to sit up. Something feels weird. I look down and I have boobies. “I have boobies,” I say.
“Yes, you do. Can you look at the light?” She shines a light in my eyes and snaps her fingers near my head.
“Reaction time seems fine,” the other woman says.
“Ok, lay back down and put your head here.” She points to a hole in big metal donut at the head of the bed.
I don’t want to lay down. I’m scared. I want my mommy. “I want my mommy.”
“I know but first you have to lay down and then you can see your mommy, ok.”
“Promise?” I ask.
“Promise,” she says and crosses her heart. I lay down and put my head in the donut, “Ok, spin it up.”
“Preparing upload,” the woman with the tablet says.
I’m nine years old. Camp is next week. I’m eleven years old. Sandra is having a sleepover tomorrow. I’m thirteen years old. I started my period and I feel gross. I’m fifteen years old. Steph and I are going on a date Saturday. I’m seventeen years old. I’m grounded for getting a speeding ticket. I’m eighteen years old. Looking at colleges. I’m twenty years old. I’m failing out of college. The sound of the machine changes and I’m still twenty when the attendants start asking questions.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” the ‘nice’ one asks.
I pull my head out of the brain scanner and sit up. “I was seven and you asked me to lay back down. I’m twenty and I was just in for my update. I guess I died then?”
“Yes,” the other woman said.
“Why did you upload me at seven first?” I ask.
“It’s a new upload technique. We upload successively older copies of your brain. Each one layers on the previous upload creating a more defined personality. We just uploaded seven versions of yourself from ages nine to twenty.”
“Oh, so do I get some clothes now or do you need to run tests?”
The two attendants glance at each other, the one with the tablet speaks, “Actually you’re not done yet. You have fourteen more scans to upload.”
Fourteen more versions of myself. I can feel the previous ‘layers’ floating a top each other. Mixing on the edges. I can’t imagine fourteen more. “What if I don’t want them? What if I’m fine being twenty? This body doesn’t seem older than that.”
“Our contract is not with you. Until we have completed the uploads you will not be legally recognized as yourself,” the attendant says.
“I’m not myself. Than who am I?” I demand.
“Um, no one. Legally,” she says.
“I’m not a person? What kind of bullshit is that?” This can’t be legal.
“It’s to prevent identity theft,” the other attendant chimes in.
“It’s bullshit.” I’m almost yelling.
“Can you lay down so we can continue?” the first attendant asks.
“And if I say no?” I ask in a voice calmer than I feel.
“If you assert your right as a living being, we will record you biometrics and release you. You will not have any rights to claim your original’s estate or identity. A new identity will be provided to you and then we will start over with a new clone,” she recites this in the dull voice of some who has had to memorize too much legal boilerplate.
“Whatever,” I say, unconvinced they won’t just take me out back and shoot me. I lay down with my head in the brain scanner.
“Ok, spin it up,” she says.
I’m twenty-one and I just met Jessica. I think I love her. I’m twenty-two. Blackness. Car accident? JESSICA!!!
“Fuck she’s spiking!” someone yells, “Bringing her out.”
I jerk upright and try to stand but the attendant is there to hold me back. “What’s the last thing you remember?” she asks
“I… There was… Rain… It was raining. The car started hydroplaning. We hit something. Jessica. Is Jessica ok? Where’s Jessica?”
“Calm down. The accident was years ago. Decades ago. You need to calm down,” she tells me.
“But I was just there,” I say.
“Try to remember. We are uploading your memories. Do you remember that?”
I was just in an accident. I’m being uploaded scan by scan into this body. It happened years ago. It’s the last thing I remember. “I don’t remember anything after the accident. I don’t remember being scanned.”
“You were scanned while in a coma. Scans of unconscious patients can cause a lot of disorientation and tend to be unpredictable,” she explains.
“Then why did you use that scan?” I ask.
“It’s part of the contract,” the attendant with the tablet says.
“Now what? Did I survive the crash?” I take a deep breath trying to calm down.
“Well, you have scans up till your death at ninety-three so I think so.” She glances at the other attendant looking at her tablet. The other attendant nods. “Ok, now that you’ve calmed down, can you lay down so we can continue?”
“Sure,” I say and lay down.
“We’re going to do the next five and check in with you, ok?”
“Ok,” I say.
“Spin it up.”
I’m twenty-four. Jessica and I are married. I’ve started writing. I’m twenty-eight years old. I’m pregnant. I’m thirty year’s old. Jessica is pregnant this time. Jonah is one and so beautiful. I’m thirty-five years old. My third book is going to print. Danni is starting pre-k soon. I’m forty years old. My first book is being made into a movie. It’s very exciting.
“Ok wind it down. What’s the last thing you remember?” the attendant asks me.
“I… Was the movie good?” The layers feel less defined. They’re blending more. I remember being in this room but also what was happening most recent to my scan.
She smiles broadly, “Oh yes, very good. I’ve seen it dozens of times and the sequels.”
I smile, she’s a fan, “You know who I am? And you didn’t say anything?” I guess my writing had some staying power if she’s fan after all these years.
“Well, we aren’t supposed to talk to clients about things they don’t remember. I really shouldn’t have mentioned the sequels.”
“Did they make the whole series? I hope so. It would be a shame if they left it half done.”
“Yes they did. One movie a year with the same actors.” The other attendant clears her throat. “Right. If you’re ready we can continue.”
“Yes let’s,” I say.
“Ok we’re going to do the last seven now. Spin it up.”
I’m forty-five years old. Jonah is looking at colleges. I’m fifty years old. We’re selling the house since it’s just the two of us in the house. We’re moving into something smaller. I’m fifty-five years old. We’re grandmothers! Are we too young to be grandmothers? I’m sixty years old. Danni still hasn’t settled down with a family. We’re happy for her. I’m seventy years old. Jessica died a few years ago. Aneurysm. The kids visit less. I’m eighty years old. I see the kids mostly on holidays and the odd weekend. Danni spent a week with me last year. I feel old. I’m ninety-three years old. I’m in the hospital waiting to die. I’m alone a lot of the time. Jonah comes by when he can. Danni has been unreachable but I don’t blame her. I miss Jessica more than ever. Soon I’ll be with her.
“Ok that’s it,” the attendant says, “Hello Mrs. Rodriguez. What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I was in the hospital waiting to die.” The memory weighs heavy in my mind. The weeks of waiting before giving into the scan. How much longer did I last, I wonder. I didn’t get to join Jessica in death after all.
“Good, how do you feel?” she asks.
“I feel good,” I take a deep breath, “Haven’t been able to do that for several years. Am I done? Everything packed into my skull?” I want to get out of this room that has been my life up till now.
“Yes ma’am,” she says.
“Don’t ma’am me. I barely look older than you. Do I look older than you? I haven’t seen myself.” I wonder what my face will look like without that scar I got from falling off my bike.
“No you don’t. Your clone was aged up to late teens. Around eighteen or nineteen.”
“Huh, will I be able to drink or will I need to wait the extra two or three years?” I ask.
“Your id will list your age as twenty-one, so you don’t have to worry about that. You will need to wait a few years before you can rent a car,” she grins lopsidedly. I’m not sure if the joke is about renting cars or if cars even exist still.
“So now what? I claim my estate and go home to an empty home? Are my children still alive?” They were both under going regular brain scans so even if they aren’t it doesn’t mean I’ll never see them again.
“Jonah has passed and is on the revive waiting list and Danni is still alive,” she says.
“Is she here?” I ask hoping.
“It’s rare for children to attend a parent’s revival. Usually a relative or close friend who has been revived will be here for the client,” she recites this like she’s reading a brochure.
“But there’s no one here for me?” I shouldn’t expect anyone. I was part of the first wave of brain scanners. We weren’t even sure it would amount to anything.
“I didn’t say that. Ok, she can come in,” the attendant speaks into an intercom on the wall.
The door opens and a young woman walks in. Jessica says,”Hey, guess you didn’t expect to see me here.”
I stand up and grab her in a hug. “I’ve missed you for so long. Why didn’t you tell me you were brain scanned?”
“And miss out on the greatest surprise of your life? Never,” she says. She smiles at me and the years melt away. I’m twenty-one and I’ve just met the love of my life for the second time.