Think of something bigger. Zoë grinned; her magic mind went spinning out, and the angel had her. "And what would I create?" Life's a good start, I think.
It was a bit later, then. She was wearing her poodle skirt and neckerchief, high ponytail, on the day she finished her daughter. She only dressed like that, like life was a sock hop, when she felt the world closing in, on every side; the way the Matrix took everything terrible, and made it real. When she wanted to go back to a simpler time, that never really existed.
Maybe her daughter was the first step. The compiler took a while, too long, but after brief terror and a call to God, her daughter appeared. She giggled and clapped, like the little girl she could have been before the fire, and wired in.
The world behind the band was identical: Same basement office, same equipment. New girl, a second Zoë. She saw, or imagined, the uncertainty in Zoë's eyes; she looked upon her daughter the way Philomon would, one day. She wondered if she were real. "You don't have to talk yet," she said lovingly. "You're brand new."
Zoë could talk, which delighted her mother. "I have your memories, I can feel them." Zoë smiled, and apologized immediately: "I'm still gonna have to make you take some tests. Memory tests, like, profile stuff, just to see how good you are." Zoë agreed, casting new eyes around the world. "I don't remember making me," she said, trying to be helpful, "So that could already be a possible problem."
That first impulse: To help, to find the cracks in the system, to heal them. To worry over it until it's fixed. Zoë understood immediately, impressed: "No, that's okay! You won't remember anything that happened since I last scanned myself. Don't worry, you're probably perfect."
"A perfect copy," Zoë clarified, and maybe Zoë imagined the loss in her voice. But no, Zoë explained -- the thing Tamara won't yet understand -- the "copy" part wasn't important, it was the life part. The second she was born she began to iterate, diverge, reach for the sun. She began to rise, perfect and untainted in a way Zoë would never get to be. She wasn't the copy. If anything she was the ideal. And anyway, we don't steal fire for our own dinner. We steal it for the world.
"Starting right now, you're a person."
Permission to exist is the first and last thing our parents grant us. Zoë would forget that, in the months ahead. And was it true? If she couldn't leave the Matrix, could she possibly ever be considered real? Zoë had no doubt about it, and reframed the context: "A person with restricted movement is still a person," she assured her daughter. She only wanted to take her in her arms, and tell her it was going to be okay. She started testing.