HER


F I C T I O N


Tahia Afra Jannati


I am Thalia. It’s been a few days since the lockdown has started. I won’t say that I don’t appreciate the solace, I have finally got what I had always wanted — “infinite solitude”. You would think I am having the time of my life. I wish I could. 

I have always been introspective and reticent. I prefer being in my own company. So the lockdown period should have been a blessing. But in just a few weeks, I have grown tired of the very thing I was most accustomed to — myself. I realised that I actually am not an accomplished person, nor am I much skilled or brilliant; a rather self-deprecating realisation. Since the epiphany, I am spiralling down and can’t seem to get out of it. I could go along with this feeling like I normally do whenever I am confronted with an internal dilemma. But not this time, because this time, there seems no escape. And it’s all because of her.

What I am going to describe now can seem implausible or far-fetched, but how can I deny the bare and ugly truth that is staring at me with incredible revulsion? Let me explain how it all started.

It was late at night, I was wide awake like I usually am most nights this lockdown. Ironically, I was tired but somehow sleep-deprived. I decided to at least try and mend my sleep-cycle. So I got out of bed to turn off the lights; I walked to the switchboard; turned the light-switch off; I turned towards my bed, and that is when I first saw her.

A female figure standing still in my room by the window, her hair flowing in the wind and even in the dark, I could tell she was gazing at me. The only door was locked so it was impossible for anyone to get in without me noticing, and no one was present in the room with me before.

I was overcome with utmost terror that I became numb; I couldn’t even scream; couldn’t move; I was staring at her, terrified. I let out an inaudible groan. Then making the matters worse, she started walking towards me. She was halfway across when I finally managed to gather enough strength to reach the switchboard and turn the light on. And then I saw her, and couldn’t quite fathom what or who I was looking at.

What I am about to describe next can seem unbelievable or even false to others, but it’s far from being false. The girl — looked like me; dressed like me; each of her features were almost identical to mine, but somehow she was prettier, leaner, taller, and she had some kind of extra-ordinary grace. But the worst part was something else. She was grinning — not a cheerful grin, but the grin of absolute malice. Her soul-piercing grin and spiteful gaze made her look like an evil.

There I stood, still speechless. Now just a few feet from me, still grinning she spoke.

“What? Are you shocked? Weren’t you expecting me?”

As if the spell cast on me was finally broken, I replied with a shaking voice, “Who are you? Why do you look like me? I don’t understand.”

She let out a little laugh as if mocking me, replied with utter disgust.

“Do you not understand? Do you not see? What a fool! I am you.”

I couldn’t quite process her words. How was it even possible? I was certain that I wasn’t dreaming because it seemed all too real.

Mustering the little strength left in me I said, “No, it can’t be. It’s impossible.”

She grinned even more hearing this, almost ear to ear.

She spoke, “Well, you are not entirely wrong. I am you, but a much better version. I am someone you can never be; you can keep on dreaming, but you will fail eventually. I am successful, a better person with numerous achievements; skilled, popular, creative, and everything you are not. I am Thalia, but the Thalia you can only dream of becoming.”

The puzzle pieces were coming together. But I asked the last question.

“Why are you here? How can you stand in front of me? You were an imagination.”

Leaning towards me, she sneered, “You made it possible. I am here because of you. Your idle imagination, day-dreaming gave birth to me. And now when you have infinite time with your sorry self, I, your idea of the perfect Thalia have finally taken a shape, a form. And I am here to remind you what a failure you are, how you have wasted so many opportunities and so much time dreaming, but not becoming.

I was sobbing by then, I knew what I have done and I knew it was too late, the damage was done. She was here to show me the bitter truth I kept avoiding for the last few years — the realisation of who I had become and who I had wanted to become.

I have always been an over-ambitious person. The idea of the perfect me always hovered over my head, but my efforts of becoming that perfect-self always fell short or were never enough. It saddened me, and so I decided to turn a blind eye and went on with my life. But that night I realised I can run from everything else, but not from myself. My dissatisfactions have finally caught up to me. The last thing I can ever imagine is standing right in front of me, as real as my own existence.

My alternate self is constantly present by my side to remind me of my shortcomings. Only I seem to see her. She is my evil twin, she is always there, observing and judging everything I do, mocking and belittling me for it, laughing at me. But I cannot go on like this, I want to lose this shadow and will do whatever is necessary. I can put an end to this or I can start everything from the beginning. I am just not sure which path to choose. It’s impossible to exist with her.

 

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