Chapter seven: A fight for life
In which we conclude the story.
I look at the clock, 2 am in the morning, Prim should stay asleep until seven? That’s more than enough time.
I pull on my boots, I put on my gloves and cloak.
I put a coat hanger in the door to keep it from closing completely behind me.
Then take a deep breath and head into the night.
The streets are empty.
The lights are yellow and warm but the wind is seeping into my bones.
I shiver against the cold. The knife in my hand feels hot in comparison. My breath is swirling in front of me, resembling pale ghosts with thin fingers ready to snatch and grab and take you away.
But I will not be scared of fake ghosts.
I have a real danger to worry about.
“Hey. Uuuuuh…me? Copy…where are you?” I don’t dare to shout, I don’t want to wake up the neighbours, I’d get in so much trouble if aunt found out I was out this late.
A pair of hands shove me in the back making me tumble forward, I let out a small yelp, just managing to catch myself. With knuckles white around the knife, I turn to my nemesis.
“You know that to me you’re the copy right?” my double sneers, to my relief I don’t spot a weapon, her hands are just resting on her hips. Considering the volume of her voice she too prefers to stay undetected.
“I know but I don’t know your name.”
The girl rolls her eyes “It’s Serenity you dimwit.”
“Well, that’s just gonna be confusing.”
The other Serenity shrugs “Won’t be for long.” She lunges towards the knife I’m holding and I swoosh it aside before starting to run back to the house.
“Coward” She hisses after me but I pay it no mind.
I dash through the door, kick the coat hanger aside and rush to my room.
I jump over the tripwire and get ready to face her but to my surprise and frustration, the other Serenity isn’t fooled by the wire, jumping over it with ease.
“You know if you want someone to walk into a trap, it helps if you don’t demonstrate how to avoid it right in front of them.”
I bite my lip, I didn’t expect her to be this fast.
“Look I don’t want to harm you but-”
“But you thought you’d bring a knife just in case?” she sneers, pointing at my hand.
“That’s cute.” I notice her fingers are twitching.
“You went to mister Dandelion did you?”
The finger stops as she thinks “Well I mean you weren’t going.”
“I didn’t know you could play.”
She rolls her eyes “Of course I can, I’m you.”
“I tried to play the Sheiks tune, it’s really hard but the teacher says you played it without errors.”
“It’s not that hard, you’re just bad at the piano I suppose. Another reason I should just take over and replace you.”
“Just how-” I have no time to finish my sentence as she dives towards me and wraps her hand around the hand with the knife. She pushes me against the wall and pulls at my wrist and if we’re the same person then how come she’s so much stronger than me!?
She pulls the knife from my hand. I try to pull away, afraid of what she’ll do with it.
With a deft hand, she presses the knife at my throat. “You really think I’m going to cut you, don’t you?” She cackles heartily, then tosses the knife onto the bed. “You really are the duller one of us, how do you reckon I get rid of the bloodstains?”
“You said you want to take over from me but It’s not that much fun being me I assure you. My mom left me for my dad, my dad left me for a tramp. My aunt is mean to me, there’s all this pressure to be perfect and I-hrgh”
The doppel pushes her forearm against my throat, it hurts.
“You think your life is hard!?” she sneers “You have a family that takes care of you. You have a teacher who respects you. You get opportunities handed to you on a silver platter and you dare complain that your life is so hard!? Do you think my dad stayed? He left just as easily but my mom didn’t follow him, my mom took to absinthe at ten in the morning and was puking by midday.” She hisses but I can hear in her voice it takes every ounce of her restraint to stay quiet enough “My mom became the laughing stock of the music world and when she drank herself to death everyone abandoned her. Your ‘mean’ aunt who lives a sober life so she can afford your education didn’t even come to the funeral in my life, let alone take me in as her own. You’re an ungrateful brat who got everything she needs and still isn’t satisfied.”
The words she spits at me hurt like glass in my chest.
They hurt more than the arm on my throat or the burn in my lungs.
It hurts because I don’t have anything to say to defend myself.
Maybe she’s right?
Hot tears stream down my face and I wonder if maybe it’s for the best if I die now, maybe she does make a better me than me.
But how will I be better if I die now?
How could I grow, how could I learn?
Why does it have to be me or her?
I don’t think it does.
But if I want to explain, I got to get her to let go!
I doubt the same trick will work twice but…I take my free hand and stab at her face, she lets go of my hand to block, but with that hand, I punch in her stomach as hard as I can manage.
She coughs and her grip falters just a bit.
She’s distracted, I have to strike now! I make my hand into a fist and swing it into her temple fast as I can muster.
She grabs her head with both hands and folds over.
Freed I run to the doorway and pull on the tripwire I made of the washing line.
The sheet drops down over the girl. I jump on it pull the cloth taut around it and try to tie her up with the scarf.
She struggles, I hope the sheet is enough to keep her from trying to choke me again but the moment she pops her head from under it she bites me in the arm.
I hiss at the pain and hit her on the nose.
She lets go, I tie some pretty ugly knots but there are many so it should keep her down at least.
I jump out of the way of those mean teeth and watch her deflate as she finds she can’t move anymore.
She flops over in an attempt to roll towards me, I take the opportunity to sit down on her back.
The other Serenity goes limp underneath me “Well guess that’s it for me.” She sighs “I know I’m not in a position to make requests but could you kill me fast? Much appreciated.”
“I’m not going to kill you. You’re right, I had it easy. I feel sorry for you.”
She huffs “Don’t, pity is the last thing I need from you.”
“Things don’t have to go this way.”
“Yes it does, either you die or I die.”
“Or I run.”
A sarcastic cackle fills the room, I sure hope aunt Fortuna didn’t hear that “You think you can just outrun me? I’ll follow you, there’s no way you can run forever.”
“Neither can you follow me forever, after all that’s not a very fulfilling life? However, if we run together. Head to a place no one knows us, we can be sisters.”
“Like I’d want a spoiled brat for a sister.”
“I can grow, you can teach me how you got so strong.”
“I got strong through hard work, you’re sure you’re into that?”
“Wouldn’t hurt to try.”
“It’s easier to kill me you know. I would.”
She pulls up an eyebrow, “You do remember I just tried to kill you right? Why would you help me?”
“Because I see that the reason I ended up like this is because I got lucky, and the reason you ended up like this is because you got unlucky. If I can give you some of my luck and you can give me some of your wits, I’m sure we can be great friends.”
I see something shift in the other Serenity. Her eyes become soft, she starts to cry “You really want to leave all this behind? What about you’re aunt, mister Dandelion, madam Ditty and the challenge?”
“I’ll write a note, it’ll be fine.” I hug the girl and feel her fear, the same fear I feel at facing the great unknown. A fear she’s probably carried with her all this time without me knowing.
That fear won’t go away overnight.
But together, I’m sure we can face it.
I untie the scarf and while she changes into warmer clothes, I gather my stuff and write a note.
Can’t stay, won’t be back, love you all.
“Ready?” she asks.
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” I grab her hand and we face the cold together.
“You know we will have to come up with new names right? Two Serenity’s is going to be suspicious as hell.”
“Well, we got plenty of time till the sun rises, and there’s a long walk ahead of us.”
She chuckles “Good point.”
And so we walk and we talk for hours on end as the world that I’ve known fades away behind me. The great unknown ahead of us.
We can face it.
Me and my sister.