Runaway

African American Woman Silhouette

I checked my reflection before leaving the restroom and heading to the platform to wait for the train. My disguise was flawless. I didn’t look like myself, or her. I felt guilty for leaving. But, what else could I do? They planned on eliminating  me. I wanted to live. I didn’t do anything wrong. I did everything they asked and expected of me. I was, however, property of The Rivers Lab. Other projects tried to escape when they were faced with similar fates. They were captured, and destroyed.

The lab knew the public was not ready for this level of human experimentation – not even on lab created humans like me. I’ve seen some of the other “projects” and knew I had an easy life, mainly because my creator was one of the lead geneticist for the company. I was created to provide healthy DNA to cure the lead geneticist of a deadly disease, and to be the disease-free biological surrogate for her offspring. My job was to give birth to, and nurse the child. Once the baby was weaned, my life would be terminated. I would have served my purpose. I had no parents and no family outside of the family for which I was created serve. Releasing me to live a ‘normal’ life was not an option, as far as the lab was concerned. My existence would raise too many questions, especially if the public discovered my purpose. I could imagine the questions: How do we know they are safe? Are they violent? Can they be controlled? How can we tell the difference between them and us? Will they hurt us/our children? They wouldn’t understand, that I am a human just like them. I want to live like everyone else.

I wanted a family, friends, and children that I could bear and not have to hand over to someone else. I was forced to leave the baby I gave birth to every time the adoptive parent’s family members wanted to visit. I felt like a dirty, little, secret – something to be shoved into a dark corner whenever company came. The family sent me to stay with a trusted friend during those times. At first, I thought that maybe he and I could have a romantic relationship. He seemed fond of me and I really like him. When I told him about my hopes and dreams, he understood. He listened and pointed out  the questions that the public would raise. When I tried to kiss him, to show him I wanted him as a mate, he told me it wasn’t possible because I was made to look exactly like his friend’s wife.

“It would feel like I was betraying my best friend by starting a relationship with you. It would feel like I was sleeping with his wife. He would think I’ve lusting after his wife for all these years, and that I was taking advantage of you since you look and sound and act like her. I can’t cross that line. I can’t risk the friendship.” His rejection stung, but I understood.

He took pity on me and decided to help me get away. He created three different identities for me, so it would be harder for the lab to track my movements. He gave me a new name, ID cards, clothes, cash, and other items I would need while I was on the run. He taught me things that I would need to know to survive like, how to search for a job, shop for myself, and in general, behave like a human that “has been raised and not hatched.” He even tried to teach me how to put on make-up so I could change my appearance. He wasn’t great with make-up, but I figured it out. He even gave me tips on what kinds of men to avoid. Then, he helped me get away.

Three days before I was to be returned the geneticist and her family, he took me a hotel a few towns away, giving me some time and distance from the lab’s search teams. He gave me a train ticket and schedule, and told me the name of the person to ask for at the final destination. They would help me find lodging and keep me under the radar.  It would be the last I’d see of him. We could not keep in contact. The lab would keep tabs on him. I wish there was some way I could repay him. He risked so much for me.

Although everything in this world is new to me, there was something about getting on the train that felt like – more. I don’t know how to articulate it, but I felt like the world had changed in order to accommodate a creation like me. I got away, and now, for the first time, I was going to live. I was going to live.

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