Later on, during the first winter of their time at the Cottages, Ruth pulls Kathy aside and tells her, excitedly, that Chrissie and Rodney might have spotted a “possible” for Ruth while the two of them were on a short trip to the Norfolk coast. Kathy tells the reader that a “possible” is the slang word for a potential “clone parent” for one of the clones—meaning, in other words, the potential model from which the cloned DNA was originally taken. Kathy says that finding a possible was a much chatted about idea during the time at the Cottages—perhaps because they wished to see what their future lives would be like, even though they did not know exactly how the cloning process worked, and in what way they’d resemble their “clone parent.”
The clones are alone in the world, without pasts or uncertain futures. The idea of a "possible" is exciting because it offers a glimpse at both of these things: the "possible" is both a kind of parent and also offers the clone a glimpse of a vicariously lived life. Of course, even here the clones are acting on legends passed among themselves, as they don't even know whether the cloning process would produce identical likenesses.
Kathy is “skeptical” about this possible idea, however, because Chrissie and Rodney noted that they saw the possible in a glass-fronted office in the Norfolk town—and this office conforms closely to the “dream future” Ruth had been talking about at the Cottages for several weeks. Kathy fills in the story of Ruth’s dream future, telling the reader that, one day, the two of them were on a walk, and Ruth spotted a magazine advertisement frozen on the ground, showing a happy group of people working in a glass-walled office. Ruth noted that that job seemed like a marvelous way to spend one’s life, and Kathy began to notice Ruth describing her dream—taken largely from the imagery of the ad—around the Cottages. Chrissie and Rodney heard Ruth talk about this dream, and so, when the possible was said by the two of them work at a similar office, Kathy wondered whether Chrissie and Rodney weren’t just performing Ruth’s dream for her.
An instance of Ruth’s ideas about her own life, and her desperate willingness to appear more “in the know” than her fellow Hailsham students and Cottage residents. Ruth believes she exists in a world of real sophistication, and that she knows about things about which she never really could be educated. For Ruth, working in an office is the epitome of a “normal” adult lifestyle—it involves relationships with coworkers, a life outside small institutional confines, and a kind of freedom that is alien to the clones. But only Kathy seems to realize that Ruth’s ideas of this “sophistication” are drawn simply from ads—from stylized images of adult life. This is one of the great sadnesses of Ruth’s pride—that it is founded on such a small glimpse of the real world.
Nevertheless, Chrissie, Rodney, Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy decide to take a day-long fieldtrip to Norfolk in order to track down Ruth’s possible. Kathy notes, before they depart, that at that time, Chrissie and Rodney seemed especially interested in the three of them (Tommy, Ruth, and Kathy), because they were from Hailsham, and because they seemed to think that Hailsham students received special treatment, fundamentally different from that given to the other clones. Kathy wonders if Ruth wasn’t trying, during her time at the Cottages, to encourage this idea that Hailsham students somehow had preferred status compared to other Cottagers.
Chrissie and Rodney have their own reasons for wanting to become friends with Ruth, and for wanting to take the trip to Norfolk to search for the possible. For both of them, and for others at the Cottages, Hailsham students possess a certain glamor due to the caring treatment they received while there, and other clones seem to think that the Hailsham clones might continue to get better treatment in the future. Thus, if there is any hope of deferral, or of special treatment for clones, it must originate with Hailsham students—the most special among them. Of course, as it turns out, there are no such special opportunities for Hailsham students, but that others believe there might be points to the way that all communities make up hierarchies based on their sense of the world.