CHAPTER 21
AN AXIOM OF CHOICE

You must forgive me, dear readers, for I have quickened the telling of my tale in excess, and have been lax in the details. You duly remember the picture of myself and my Chloe in her last natural breath (agitated though it was), stuck there upon the rock face, a fatal height above the ground. I have circumvented what is vital in that moment, something which bears at the core of your faith in my telling, for if lies beseech a narrator, then vent your anger upon her, and read no further. But I ask your forgiveness in this matter, and seek to redeem myself in the now, my pretext being my fragility, in worries most substantial, given especially my youth, so unused to solemnity as this.


In the plain I address my culpability in the death of my Chloe, an issue I have shrugged off, or eluded, or denied, or any number of avoidances which in itself is telling. Allow me now to be clear. I am possessed by any number of irregularities of blood, borne by my particular genesis, the twinning I have earlier conferred. It has left me lacking in the balances that the vast majority take in daily confidence, those calming influences that grease the wheels of our world and allow for physically frictionless interchange no matter the offense. Nations and others conduct themselves far more often in peace than war, a fact so often overlooked by hysterics and historians, for it is our sad nature to be comforted by the perceived suffering of others. (But this is the material for volumes of discourse, and I shall not continue to address it here.) Suffice to say that I may align myself with disease, and take the blameless route it presents, but this is not my end. I suffer the gift of cognition, and the charges that result. So I live amongst the polar demons, befriended at every turn by what is good and not, what is forgiving and not, what is generous and not, what is holy and not — everything and its opposite, the dreaded “not” that pulls in force at least equal to but seemingly greater than the “is,” for the dark pole has more gravity, will be victorious in the end, buoyed by its affinity with the master force, the all- encompassing End we call Death. What happened on that rock face was just another one of its victories. With no intermediary to govern me, I succumbed, for that’s all I can do. For this I take the blame in full.


You may interpret this however suits you, but its prominence in our story has passed, and is now mere preamble to the task at hand. Now you may conjecture freely as to why I brought my Chloe back to life, for it is a fair and reasonable question. You may say it’s the result of my guilt, an attempt at my absolution, and this may indeed be credible. You may say it stems from my love for my self/other, my Chloe, forever dear to me even as she tore at my own being in those weeks, days and minutes leading up to her demise. This, too, is an argument perfectly plausible. There would seem to be many more intertwinings of such like variables, all of which bear up well under scrutiny, and do not lack integrity.


But these would be, in the whole, wrong.

It’s impossible to underestimate the immensity of all the events leading up to this exact point in my life. My shared birth, my early love of my Chloe, her early hatred of her reflection that is me. Our descent into adolescence. The James thing. All culminating in that horror moment on that rock face. Followed by my Final Ostracism. I had lost everything. My Chloe. My home, my family, my object of lust. School was less than the nothing it had been to me before. Even my precious words had failed me, for no soothings from my Miss Emily could approximate the terror of my current position. All that I had in me was my newfound power as a priestess of Vodou, a life-giver to the dead, but obviously, I could share my new gift with no one. What’s more, this ability reconfirmed to me more fully my status as a freak among humans. Thus the natural course of my life seemed painfully clear — I was being hauled away into my alone space, population One, where only the Gods could hound me. Their voices told me: best to make the most of it. Best to disappear completely, with no fanfare, no mention, no trace.


And that’s where Chloe fit in.

I was going to turn Chloe into me.

She would take my place in every aspect of the world. At school, with James, everywhere. It was the ultimate identity theft, and I was stealing my own. Chloe would become Anna, and Anna would become… nobody.