We were born when I was nine. Or is it that I was born when we were nine? It doesn’t really matter; I picked it up and there we both were.
Mind you, I am not crazy. Neither is she. But my mother used to read to me when I was young, and told me how the characters only lived for as long as I would listen.
Then I saw a film and my thoughts wouldn’t stop. When the screen went out and the lights came on, I would ask, are they all dead?
“Who, the actors?” my mother would ask.
“No…” I’d say, but I was never sure what I meant.
Never sure, anyway, until my ninth birthday, when my mother bought me the vanity kit — a beautiful powder blue set with my own soap box and makeup and a soft-bristled brush.
And the mirror. Our mirror.
As I look at her now I think maybe she is prettier than I am. We are weathered by nearly three decades, and still I think she has fared the best. Her eyes are marked by fewer lines, her hair a little less grey. I think she knows this, by the way she smirks, but I know enough to know she’ll never tell me so.
I walk toward her, she walks toward me, and still we never meet, two halves of the same person inexorably split. We watch each other all the time, though, waiting to see. At night we prop the mirror by the bedside. Once it nearly fell, but I – or she — caught it.
I or she. The question occupies our thoughts nearly all the time now. She or I.
People stare at us on the street. They laugh and make fun and try to break our gaze. They think we’re paranoid, watching for tails and spies, but we are the only spies, she and I. I and she. And now we’re waiting for the other to die.
What if I put the mirror down? we wonder.
What if she puts it down first?
What if I put it down?
What if she…
This is my first post in a series of writing challenges that I’m calling Stolen Identities Week. Check back for a new story each day, and maybe even write one of your own!