Illustration: Lauren Liu


Wake up.

Check the clock – it’s 4:30 pm.

Wonder how time passed by so quickly. Remember.

Go to the washroom and wash your face a hundred times until you can see yourself again.

Your eyes hurt. You were staring too far back in time. Look around until your eyes adjust to reality.

Stare into the mirror. This is you. Time runs forward here.

Your name. Your age. Your eyes, your nose, your cheeks, your hair. It is yours.


Are you allowed to hold on to it?

Just for today, you remember. Tomorrow, you will have something new.

This is your life. The others are not.


You will forget how it all looks.

Start a new life.

Meet a new person, leave them behind.

Remember why you are here. Remember where you really belong.

It’s the endless cycle.


On a good morning, you wake up to a warm house.

Your mom asks you why you didn’t do the chores yesterday.

You don’t remember.

You love your mom for a day. She is not your mom the next day.


On a bad morning, you wake up a soldier.

You are given orders to seize the city.

That won’t be your war crime tomorrow.

You watch a bullet pierce the skull of mom from yesterday.

Oh, well.

That is not your mom. This is not your bullet. These are never your problems.


Sometimes, you wake up three years later than you did yesterday.

Sometimes, you wake up a century earlier.

You wonder what it would make it stop.


On an average morning, you end up in the only life you’ve lived multiple times.

You are a woman. 23 years old. The year is always 2183. You have never woken up later than 2183. Every time you go back, something changes.

There is a lot you don’t understand about that life, but you want to keep that life.


That is the life it is all for.


When you kill one day, it is keeping her future secure.

When you watch everything fall down one day, it is so she will survive.

When you die one day, it is keeping her city safe.

You wake up the next day, anyways.

All because she is alive.


It is a bit hypocritical, you suppose.

You are doing this for her. She is you.

But she is only you some of the time. You wonder who she is without you. You wonder who you are without her.

You wonder if everything you have done to yourself is for you, or for her. How much of her is you? That thought disappears quickly. You wonder what you were thinking about.


One day, you wake up as her sister.

It is an odd feeling to watch her body not be yourself. You have never talked to this other version of her – you? – before.

She says that she is losing her mind. She can’t control herself some days. She hates it.


She doesn’t understand.

It is better for her that way.

It is better for you that way.

It has always been for her. Everything you have done is for her. It’s not fair.

You want to be her, too. It is your life, too. She is you, too.

She doesn’t know what she is saying. And truth be told, you don’t know what you are thinking.


She messed up the experiment, she continues to complain.

She didn’t mean for this to happen.

But she doesn’t remember anything before the experiment.


Then you remember what she is talking about. She doesn’t remember. You do.


You realize it.

You have her memories. You are her. You know who you are.

She is not her. She is the experiment.

You tell her.


She hates you.

She says that you are the experiment she must end.

She doesn’t remember anything, but she knows you are the cause of everything that went wrong.

She wrings your neck with her bare hands. She doesn’t care if this is the body of her sister. She will do anything for it to end.

All the experiment wants to do is survive.


But you are different. You care for the people around you. You love and you cry and you fight and you murder for her. You just wanted to keep her alive. All you want to do is survive.


You understand now.

You are also the experiment.


You are a piece of her, and she is a piece of her.

You are both lost. You both exist for her, whether you are living as her or not. 

You are both trying to piece together her life. 


But right now, you’ve made it farther.

Her hands are still around your throat.

You have two choices.

The part of her that is in you doesn’t want her sister to die.

The part of her that is in you makes a choice.

You kill her – you kill the body of your real self – instead.


It is the first thing you have done that is not for her survival.

But in some way, it is the first thing you have done that is for you – a part of her.


As you expected, you do not wake up.


Your sister wakes up with blood on her hands.

She turns herself in.

I must have lost my mind, she says.

She falls asleep in a jail cell.


When she wakes up the next day, she is not herself.

She wakes up as a scientist in 2022.

She burns her lab down. It is her turn to change the future. It is her turn to keep you alive.