Blocking out Teacher’s voice, I make my list.
One, I hate the smell of cleaning fluid.
Two, I like the scent of the cologne Mother—no, Mom—bought me last year.
Three, I had to move back home the year before that when Mom got sick.
“Colin, are you listening?” Teacher says.
I slump back in my chair. “Yeah.”
Her face scrunches, mouth and eyes somehow disappearing. “Sit up and pay attention. You have to remember these things. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t.”
“The doc. checked me over and my memory is fine, Teach.” I take a swig of my soda and the lemon bubbles burn my tongue. Turning, I spit it in the trash. “I hate lemon.”
“No, you don’t.” She pinches the bridge of her nose. With a sigh, she spreads out the rifle’s pieces on my desk once more. “Can you do this or not? It is what you’ve been trained for, after all.”
Without blinking, or even looking away from those deep brown peepers, I slide and snap the pieces together until a masterpiece appears.
Taking it, she looks through the scope, testing the trigger. “So, you were paying attention.” She smiles. “Make sure to tell your dad hello for me.”
I wait at the bus stop down the street and watch a homeless woman shop a garbage bin. The breeze picks up a wisp of oily hair, whipping it into her face. She tucks it behind her ear and rubs the tip of her reddened nose.
Taking off my jacket, I pick my way through the clog of evening traffic, holding my breath against the stench of exhaust. Putting it into her cart, I hurry back to catch the bus.
“Who is that?” Mom’s voice is thick with sleep.
“It’s Colin!” Before going to her, I take the rifle from my suitcase and hide it beneath the ornate staircase.
Her nurse, Mercedies, beams and brings me a fresh cookie as I enter the living room, vaulting ceiling making me feel unusually small.
“Señor Colin, we did not expect you back so soon, but I am so happy. How is your señorita?” She fluffs Mom’s pillows, waiting for my answer.
I go through my mental list until I find it. “She’s fine,” I smile, accepting Mom’s outstretched hand.
“When are you two getting married, honey?
“We’re not.” The hot, fresh chocolate cookie calls to me and I finally take a bite, only to start itching.
Mercedies’ eyes bulge. “Are you okay?”
“Food allergies.” I spit out the bite.
“What allergies?” Mom says.
Strings of heat thread up my spine. “New development.” I pat her knee. “Nothing for you to worry about.”
Mercedies pops up from her chair. “I texted Ms. Liz to let her know you’re home and she said we’d need more salmon for supper. I offered to go to the store for her. I’m sure you and your mother would like some time.”
“Liz,” I say, shuffling through my list, “I’ve missed her cooking. She’s been with us for so long.”
Mom tilts her head, eyes me carefully and I kiss her hand.
“I’m glad you’re feeling so well, Mom.”
Biting her lip, she nods.
“I’ll make you some tea.”
I feel her gaze on me as I follow Mercedies into the kitchen and an icy, invisible, hand tightens around my throat.
“I thought you weren’t coming home until next week,” Mercedies says, wrapping an orange scarf around her neck while I fill the kettle.
I let the lightest shadow fall over my face and look at her. “It wasn’t my idea, my love has left me.”
Pity radiates from her eyes and I place the teapot onto the stove, following her out the door as I hear the television in the living room activate.
Silently, I slide the baggie from my pocket and remove the soaked rag, clamping it over her mouth and putting her in a modified reverse choke hold.
She flails, struggling against me and I whisper comforting nothings into her ear. “it’s not you I want,” I say.
When her body goes limp I take out the syringe from my other pocket and inject the secondary solution. Carefully, I lift her, taking her to the kitchen pantry. No sooner do I close the door and the kettle begins to whistle.
Remembering Mom’s favorite tea, I make her a cup and take it to her.
“Do you know when Dad’s flight gets in?”
“It should be landing any minute.” Closing her eyes, she breaths in the mint steam.
“Good, that’s what I thought. I can’t wait to tell him hello. I’ve missed him so much.”
Frowning, she lowers her mug. “You two have patched things up?”
“What do you mean?” The ice shoots down my arms, my mind flying through my list. “I don’t remember any fight.” I shrug. “It must not have been a big thing.”
Her gaze bores into me. “I wouldn’t say calling your father a fraud was any small thing.”
I smile. “Isn’t being a fraud a necessity in running for president?”
Her hands begin to shake. “Your father is a great man of business.”
I roll my eyes. “A man, plain and simple. One who is as dirty as any other.”
“How dare you!” Her nostrils flare.
“It’s the truth, and you’re a fool for allowing this!” I fling my arm gesturing to the perfectly manicured room. “He leaves you unguarded, sick, open to any attack. He is no man. How could he guard a nation?”
Looking beyond me, her mug falls to the floor, a strangled squeak emanating from her lips.
I turn to find Mercedies clinging to the kitchen doorway, scarf having fallen away to reveal dark bruises around her neck.
“What happened?” Mom says.
This was not the plan! Springing up, I retrieve my rifle. The house alarm beeping to signal the business man’s incoming convoy. With one squeeze of the trigger, I silence his wife, putting another bullet into the nurse’s knee.
Flinging down the gun, I make a run for the back wall of the property. Shouts begin to ring out from the house as I vault over the fence. Teacher told me this would be hard and she had been right, but this is what I had been created to do. This was the life they had chosen for me. This is the life of a clone.
Thank you all so much for reading! Have a question you’d like to “ask” Clone Colin? Leave it in the comments bellow and I’ll be sure to include it in my next character interview.