Every great mind since the fifteenth century has been successfully cloned by a government facility and raised to please the whims of rich Sponsors.
Although raised to be of perfect exactness to their originals, a desire stirs within the clones to find themselves, even at the cost of abandoning their peaceful life for the grit of a war-stricken world outside.
"Ms. Curie, these reports look wonderful," Headmaster states, heavy, violet, shadowed eyes peeking from over the tops of two of my experiment overviews. She smiles, pleased, as she taps the two reports together and stacks them neatly in front of her on the desk.
Her long fingers curl and lock into each other in front of her thin mouth, her elbows set on either side of the reports as if trapping them for herself. "But that isn't why I called for you." She waits, expectantly, her thin eyebrows raised as high as her Botox would allow on her forehead.
Nervously, I tuck a lock of my unruly, dark hair behind my ear. I don't quite understand why everyone calls me Ms. Curie, I mean, I may be the clone of Marie Curie, but Curie is her husband's last name, and I'm only fifteen; far from married.
Headmaster is still focused on me, so I reply honestly, "If not for my reports, I am at a loss of why my presence is required."
"Ah, yes. I'm sure being away from your laboratory is cumbersome, but Ms. Curie, your instructors have brought to my attention your recent inattention and disagreeable behavior during Personal History lectures. As well, you frequent disappearances from your lab has brought alarm. Care to explain why your instructors would be concerned about one of our very best?"
Immediately a spark of anger furls in my chest at my 'babysitters', because really, they don't teach me anything I don't already know. Their only job is to ensure I am continually researching and experimenting, expanding the original Marie Curie's work. It really is no business of theirs to know where I am during my breaks, or whether I decide to spend my breaks out of my lab. As for my behavior during PH lecture, I've found that it has become increasingly more difficult to listen about who I am supposed to be after speaking with Salvador.
"Ms. Curie?" she calls, and I turn my solid gaze to meet her attentive stare.
All signs of my inner turmoil are shielded behind the practiced calm and blank expression fashionably donned by the original Marie. "The time away from my experimentation is irksome and I apologize for focusing solely on my work during Personal History lecture, Headmaster. As for my breaks, I frequent a walk to rejuvenate the neurons and refresh my circulation. Pavlov suggested the light exercise to stimulate my brain and relieve my mild migraines."
It's all lies, and I mentally send an apology to seventeen year old Ivan for using him as an excuse. I'm instantly swept with shame for my betrayal and lies.
"Of course! How could I doubt you, Ms. Curie. You're one of this school's best!" Her pleased smile is enough for me to bury the shame. Her expectations overshadow any doubt, just like Salvador predicted. "Now for your migraines, please report them to the infirmary if they persist."
I nod in agreement. "Thank you, Headmaster, I will. Now if that is all.." I trail off, eyes locked with hers. I hope she doesn't see the rebellion against her perfectly sculpted, cloning prison flashing behind my irises.
She waves a manicured, tanned hand towards her door and I graciously stand up. As I turn the elegant door handle of her door, I linger, frowning briefly at how pale my complexion is in comparison, and wonder if the sun reflects off the sand as I had seen in the original collection of Dali. I remember a tuneless conversation when Salvador had commented that his paintings would have more depth if he could see and feel all that the original Dali had, instead of just expanding from taught knowledge of the original's from PH lecture.
As I walk, I sweep my eyes over the hallways, passing through the cleared areas systematically as if I am on my way to the lab. Straight backed and a blank expression on my face, I remain the famous Marie Curie whom is absorbed in her work at all times, to those that would have passed. I am still her as I walk right past my laboratory, and past Darwin's biological museum. In fact, I am still my original when I walk out of the Sciences and head for the Arts.
My presence here is irrelevant and impertinent to my research, which would be said by the Headmaster if ever she finds out. I'm just glad that cameras are not deemed a necessity for out facility. Teenage clones of famous researchers and artists are apparently not a danger, and for that I am relieved.
My instructors would constantly harbor the belief that my mind should only need to be fulled with chemistry and physics. And although, yes, I've excelled above and beyond their standards for an original, I'm not quite sure I agree with their assumptions.
Wolfgang Mozart is plucking notes from his piano and furiously jotting onto his stacks of sheets when I enter his studio. The array of shiny instruments greet me with their polished skins. It seems as though the room instills its own ambiance with the haphazard musical sheets strewn everywhere. I take careful steps over the scores in my path towards the bobbing ponytail.
I envy the length of his hair, already to the length of his lower back and strung up in a simple ribbon. I urge from petting my own shoulder cropped mass, routinely swapped into a messy bun while working. The sleekness of his hair matches the brass winds and I curse my dull curls. Although my jealousy roars, I still recognize that it is a shame he has to hide his glorious mane under a powdered wig while playing for sponsors.
"Wolf," I whisper gently to stir him from his concerto.
He whips around, having been so focused, he hadn't heard me creep in. "Marie," he calls, a bright smile exploding across his cheeks. "My dear, you must join me," he exuberantly commands, sliding to pat the space on the mahogany bench.
I almost forget that he's only ten years old when he speaks, but then again, age does not seem vital to chemically altered geniuses. I return his excited smile with one as bright as his own as I seat myself onto the warm wood.
"I was just finishing this one up," he explains, quickly swooping his pen over the scores, tacking notes in places he can only see fit. With a flourish, he signs the end of the score with a series of swirls and elaborate lines that don't match with the scores layered on the studio floor.
"Wolf, that isn't your signature," I murmur, not completely aware I am pointing this out for him or for myself.
His smile falters and he blushes, revealing his true innocence. "Well, this isn't something for the sponsors," he answers and coughs to clear his throat. "This isn't something from Mozart."
And I understand. Wolf stares longingly at the score he will not be able to show or play for anyone and my heart lurches at the thought of this boy hiding his true self for the sake of resurrecting the perfect image and sound of an icon for our rich sponsors. I promise to ask him to play for me next time.
Tucking the sheets into a folder, he clears the keys of his mess and claps his hands. "Now, for your lessons," he announces, his familiar warm smile welcoming me to his private world. "Do you remember the scale we practiced yesterday?"
Nodding, I take up the ivories, my fingers skipping and slipping occasionally at the unfamiliar motions, but the tinkling of keys and sound relaxes my mind and allows me a moment to breathe.
As I attempt to copy Wolf's fingers, I can't help the disbelief that I, clone of renowned physicist and chemist, Marie Curie, am seated at a piano and creating music instead of in my laboratory, recreating the thoughts of a woman who died for her discoveries.
For now, I am just Marie, who loves music. Who plays with her best friend on her breaks, and met a boy who questions his original in hopes of being himself. And although the repercussions of this rebellion picks and worries into my existence every day since I first found myself gazing at the piano in Wolf's studio, I continue to play it because I feel like the teenage girl I should be; not the mother, daughter and wife, I will never be.
I am Marie, who doesn't refuse music like her original.