Sept 1st

Summer is almost over, today, I felt the first chill of an early autumn, the summer has almost past me by, wrapped up as I have been in the discovery that she has returned. At first, I saw her own in glimpses, out of the corner of my eye in mirrors, shop windows and once [ perhaps as a joke] she smiled at my from a strangers mirrored sunglasses.

But, as days went on, I saw her more & more frequently , my mirror self, but somehow more finished, more sharply defined than I have ever been. I found myself inviting her presence, loitering in shopping malls, walking slowly past window displays , looking intently into mirrors . I waited for her appearance, but like any distant love object, she was coy, perhaps even distant. I learnt to wait patiently, to expect little and then I would be rewarded, her face staring out at me, smiling, serene, so much more me than I could ever be.

I fantasised about finding an old fashioned hall of mirrors, where I could lose myself in her, where the division between self & not self would finally blur, where perhaps we could fall into each other. I wondered who would leave the attraction; would either of us get left behind?


Oct 24th

A historic date – so I must record it, the changeling visited me today. She found me in bed – since the lost one has come back, my dreams are full of her & I find myself craving sleep & contact with her, so oftentimes, I creep into bed hoping for stolen time, for extra dreams. Deep down, I am convinced that if I can push into my dream sleep deeply enough, somehow I can grab hold of her & pull her to me – to make her more than just a haunting reflection.

So, I sleep a lot.  My being slattern like in bed at some time judged to be inappropriate within the rigid schedule  by which the changeling lives her life, is simply a nod to her world view or more accurately her micro world , [ie the one in which she & I occasionally collide like two unlikely planetary partners  ] view.

She stares down at me, trying, not quite hard enough, to disguise the disgust she feels towards my bleary-eyed, slack faced, fusty smelling self and enquires whether I am ill?

For a moment, I actually consider telling her the truth…………..that I am seeing my dead twin, grown up & somehow more real than myself, that she appears to me on corners of mirrors, glimpsed in department store windows & comes to me like a lover in my sleep.

The words freeze and wither in my mouth “I think I have a small cold”, I am careful to sniff afterwards, the changeling hates illness , involuntarily she takes a step backwards, trying hard to mask her instinctive revulsion of weakness and show her carefully learnt social face of mild concern, even appropriate daughterly anxiety.

“you need to take better care of yourself “ she says, while the unspoken words scream out at me, don’t become ill, don’t become a burden to me mother – I can almost see the speech bubbles floating above her head.

Quickly I agree that I need to get a grip, I sit up straight , shoulders back & smile. I can see her relax, there is no domestic emergency, no role for her here. She can return to her baffling world of money making & corporate hunger or at least her aspirations to this world, her degree seems to be primarily in greed with a minor in acquisition

. We chat a while, scratching about  for common ground and like a frantic hospital visitor I can feel her desperate need to leave  set against her   social desire to be seen to do the right thing. After 30 mins, I release her, yawning hugely, making sure that I show plenty of teeth, gum & tonsils, I say that I am tired and with that, she is off, a leggy greyhound, quick out of the traps.  She looks back as she reaches the door, a quick glance, a smile so brief I could almost believe I have imagined it & she is gone.

I sink back onto my pillows, tempted to fall back into sleep, to wait for her arrival, but instead, with a huge effort I heave myself out of bed & prepare to face what is left of my day.


Nov 5th

Bonfire night, I have always loved fireworks, years ago, when I still had people  interested enough in my life to care, I told someone that when I died to let off fireworks at my grave, I wanted to announce my end not with a  whimper but a bang & maybe even a flash or two. I can’t imagine that anyone is still left who would care enough to even attend my funeral let alone organise a pyrotechnic extravaganza.

I can’t decide if it’s the bonfire smoke or the sudden bangs & flashes, but tonight I felt a real sense of dislocation & panic. I took my regular older lady stroll to the local corner shop -2 white rolls, small piece of cheese, tin of low sugar beans & 2 bananas & of course tossed oh so casually into the basket, a very large bar of Cadburys dairy milk [ like a true addict, the good stuff is wasted on me, my days of nibbling delicately on good Belgium chocolate are long over, I go for quantity & sugar quality these days]. Walking home, I spy her face in a shop window, but feel unexplained fear, for some reason today my mirror image does not comfort me. Today, I notice only the difference between us, her face Is both more & less than mine and today for the first time I begin to question exactly what is going on. None of this is possible, my twin sister died within a few moments of being born. I was the survivor, the one remaining twin, the half left behind.

The changeling is right; I need to get a grip.  Middle aged, unwaged, fat & forgotten, I have started to commit the cardinal sin – letting my imagination have the run of me – how well do I channel my long dead mother? – I have internalised her critical & joyless aphorisms, they leap out & snare me, pulling me back into her world.


About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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