"THE ECHO" - Lou Treleaven
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.