Friday, December 3, 2010

The Echo

"THE ECHO" - Lou Treleaven

Even before Mum told me, I knew. I'd always known there was something there. It was like an echo, a trace left behind whenever I spoke. A face over my shoulder, a movement in the corner of my eye when I looked in the mirror. An extra stone on the hopscotch.

My twin.

She died just before I was born, Mum said.
I imagined us both packed into that warm sack of life, companions, sisters, cellmates. Were we jostling for space or were our arms wrapped round each other like lovers? Did I cast her off one day, sensing the approaching ferocity of life, knowing there would only be enough nourishment, enough love, for one?

Did I kill her?

"Oh my darling, it wasn't like that." Mum encircled me with her arms and pulled me close so I felt her heartbeat, strong and steady, just like we had done in the womb.

It was me, I thought. I killed her. Killed her, killed her, killed her, said the echo.

It was my birthday a few days later - my thirteenth. A step into the future, to the next part of my life. The end of childhood. With the sense that I was leaving something behind, I determined to enjoy the day for both of us. Identical twins have the same genes, don't they? We were almost the same person. I decided I would give her the day too.  It was the least I could do.

I awoke the morning of my birthday with an odd feeling, a claustrophobic shiver. As I struggled to get out of bed I realised it was not the duvet I was wrestling with.

It was her.

It was as though my sympathy had let her out, like an invitation I had not meant to write. She was pulling and tugging at me, jostling roughly just as I remembered from our days in the warm, pulsing womb. Only this time she was determined to win.

"Happy birthday, darling," Mum smiled, holding out armfuls of presents which she spread on the bed like a feast before me.

We froze, my twin and I, then reached for the presents, both wanting to get there first. For a moment I thought she was going to win.

This time it was much worse, even worse than when we were born. I really had to hurt her, had to show her who was boss. I'd got here once and I wasn't going to lose everything I'd fought for. I could hear her screams, but they were just echoes of what might have been. And echoes die away if you wait long enough.


Violently I ripped open a present, almost tearing the box inside. "A camera! The one I wanted! Thanks, Mum. Thanks for everything." I threw my arms around her, victorious, taking in gulps of air like sobs over her shoulder.

I killed my twin. She won't win. I will always kill her.

And the echo went on inside: kill her, kill her, kill her.

BIO: Lou Treleaven writes speculative fiction for children and adults, and can be found here.  


  1. Now that's chilling. A great treatment of the classic ghost twin story. It reminded me a little of 'The Shuttered Room'. I could imagine this being on Tales of the Unexpected or Hammer House of Horror. It would play well visually.

    'An extra stone on the hopscotch.' Great line that was placed perfectly like the step into the threshold of the main story.

    Loved this Lou and I'm looking forward to reading more from the same mind that created this story.

  2. Lou, that was something else. Underlying violence throughout explodes into the opening of the presents and that chilling last line. Great. More please!

  3. Wow Lou. That was chilling! Can't wait to read more of your work.

  4. Ooh, an innocent premise cloaking a vicious story, Lou. Excellent. Deceptive.

  5. Really fantastic story, Lou. What tremendously chilling writing. Loved it.
    - Ben Hubble

  6. H Lou

    I Echo above comments.

    Really well Done ;-D

  7. well i didn't know that there was any lou treleaven in this world...
    but suddenly a spooky train came and told me and then i visited your page.
    didn't knew about youuu. didn't didn't didn't said my echo.

  8. Lou,
    Keep your story going like this: Mum and daughter get home. Mum phones someone who is close to her and says, "She's still doing it." (Doing what?) Accusing herself of killing her still-born twin. This problem-behavior has been going on for some time. Mum greatly hoped that by now--her daughter's big 13th-- the girl would be over it. That the obsesssion renews a long-term ordeal, affects mum drastically. What can be done? They've tried therapy, specialists, denizens of the occult--everything. All this sets up another ordeal which is the bulk of the story. Daughter in an eliptical way goes out in the world and finds a "twin" and, with some prescience in the face of providence, loses her. This time however the process of loss itsef drags on. Slow is the stricken friend is to leave. Over time--say, time enough for the daughter (our protagonist) to experience, along with reader/viewer, all that she must, in order to let go--finally--of her long dead twin. Have her do this last in a farewell monologue. And have her elucidate her equally long-awaited revelation, that she has come to understand that by talking (all her life) to her absent twin she has actually been speaking only to herself. And this is the part of her that she can now let go.

    I think you have a cinematic piece here.

  9. Replies
    1. Add to my above: That she was angry with herself for surviving and just as
      angry with her twin for leaving. That, torn in half, she remained perpetually furious with her twin for dying; and again, just as much so with herself for being the only one alive. Pause. Imagine her dilemma through life: If she's good, in the sense of compassion toward her sister, then she's bad to herself; she's good-bad. Conversly, she will be bad-good; that is, when "bad" to her sister (in the sense of ignoring her), only then can she be good to herself.

  10. And to that add: that she can now accept that she had a right to live. She has a right to live.