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Time to Reflect on the Past...

By Caroline CravenPublished 11 months ago 12 min read
Photo by Photos_frompasttofuture on Unsplash

The mirror showed a reflection that wasn’t my own. I stared at the woman as she raised her champagne flute and winked. Cheers, she mouthed. Our eyes locked and I couldn’t look away.

Happy Birthday Olly,” said my husband Lewis, his face crowding into the mirror alongside mine. He wraps his arm around my shoulder and clinks our glasses together.

“Now hurry up and blow these candles out or we’ll have to call the fire brigade! What does it feel like being so old?”

“Very funny,” I said, swatting his chest. “You’ll be able to tell me next month, when it’s your thirtieth.”

As I lean over the cake in the center of the dining room table, I steal another look in the mirror. It could almost be me. Same dirty blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. Same wide green eyes and lopsided smile. But the scar?

I doubt anyone else would even notice the narrow, raised track running from the hairline down towards the right temple. I trace my fingers across my forehead, but it’s smooth to the touch.

Pushing my hair to one side, I squeeze my eyes shut and blow out all thirty candles. I hear Lewis roar his approval and yell that I should make a wish.

A wish?

I wish she’d leave me alone.


I ignore the mirror and the remains of last night’s dinner as I stumble downstairs and through to the kitchen. Clutching the doorframe, my stomach rolls as I catch the overpowering smell of curry clashing with the metallic odor of stale alcohol.

“Red wine?” Lewis had looked surprised when I’d padded into the dining room carrying another bottle. “Are you sure, Olly? I don’t think it’s a good idea to mix red and white…”

I’d poured myself a generous glass and gulped back half its contents in one go. “It’s my birthday. I’m allowed to celebrate,” I’d slurred.

But of course, he was right. And now my head pounds and I gag at the sight of the toast and black coffee cooling in front of me.

As Lewis steps into the kitchen, I jump, sending the tepid liquid slopping across the counter.

“You, ok?” he asks, planting a gentle kiss on the top of my head. “I was going to ask if you wanted to go to the gym, but I’m guessing it’s a no!”

I shake my head and wince. “Not a chance. It’s all I can do to sit upright let alone pound out the miles on the treadmill.”

Lewis laughs as he grabs his car keys: “I did try to warn you… I’ll see you later babe.”

I close my eyes and lay my head flat on the worksurface as the backdoor slams shut. A couple of minutes later I hear the growl of the engine starting and his car reversing out of the driveway.

When I open my eyes again, the dining room mirror is casting beams of flickering sunlight across the kitchen floor. The mirror. That was the reason I’d got so drunk last night. Well, not the mirror, but rather the reflection I saw in it. I can’t believe she…

… I startle as my phone vibrates, my mum’s number flashing up on the screen. Clicking the reject call button, I send her through to voicemail. I’m too tired and too hungover to think about anything this morning.

But the guilt churns in my stomach, swirling unpleasantly with the leftover champagne and red wine. I know how hard birthdays and holidays are for her. I tap redial and she picks up before it even has chance to ring.

“Hi mum. Are you okay? How’s Dad?” I ask.

There’s a long pause and I can tell she’s trying not to cry: “It doesn’t get any easier, does it? Every year, I think it’ll be better… But it must be even worse for you. They say losing a twin is like losing a limb…”

I let her talk. I never know what to say. Nothing she’ll want to hear anyway. Just as she asks how my birthday dinner went, I hear the distant ring of her front doorbell.

“I’ll have to get that. Your dad is watching the footy on the TV with the volume turned up high. I don’t know why. All he does is argue with the commentators and tell them to shut up. I’ll call you back later,” she said, hanging up.

I’m relieved I don’t have to talk about my sister anymore. My twin sister, Jessica. It’s easy to forget about her most of the time. Suppress all those unwelcome memories. But mum’s right. Birthdays are the hardest.

Sliding off the stool, I trudge upstairs into our bedroom and retrieve a box stashed in the far corner of the wardrobe under a pile of discarded shoes. I can’t remember the last time I opened it.

I reach in and pull out the first photo album, flicking to a page in the middle. I recognize mum’s handwriting. She’s scrawled Christmas 1984 underneath a photo of us wearing identical red fleecy pajamas. Jessica is laughing and holding a stocking stuffed with toys in each hand. I remember I’d started sobbing when she’d said she wasn’t going to give me mine back. Mum had snapped and told me not to be silly as Jessica was only joking, but…

… I turn the page and cringe. Did she really have to dress us in ridiculous matching outfits all the time? Mum had loved it when strangers had stopped her in the street to say how cute we looked. The carbon copies, that’s what she called us. We were mirror image twins, completely identical; but when we stood next to each other, it was like looking at a reflection. My mole was on the left side of my lip; Jessica’s was on her right. I was left-handed. Jessica snatched everything with her right.

The easiest way to tell us apart though was the scar on Jessica’s head. I close my eyes and remember the fury on mum’s face when she caught us roller skating down our steep driveway. Well, Jessica was. I was still clinging to the wall at the top, too terrified to let go.

Scaredy cat! It’s hard to believe you’re the oldest when you’re such a baby,” she’d taunted as she took off at speed. There was no stopping her.

But apparently, I should have tried. That’s what mum shouted when Jessica misjudged the curve and slammed into the brick wall at the bottom of the slope.

“You should have been watching out for your sister, Olivia,” she’d said as we left the accident and emergency department. “Fifteen stitches! She needed fifteen stitches in her head. She’s going to be scarred for life.”

Mum had continued to chastise me as we climbed into the back seat of the car. Jessica had smirked at me from underneath her bandages and pinched the back of my arm. But all I can remember feeling is happy that we finally looked different.


I push the photo albums to one side and collapse into the pillows. My head pounds and I feel sluggish, like I’m fighting off the beginnings of a cold. Had I really seen Jessica in the mirror last night or was it just a trick of my imagination, fueled by too much alcohol? I clamp my eyes shut as I try to recall the evening. But all I can remember is the scar and how real it looked.

I lean forward and reach into the box, pulling out a bulky blue folder. As I bring it closer to me, the flap opens sending a collection of newspaper cuttings fluttering onto the bed. I shuffle them together before smoothing out the one on the top of the pile.

“Mystery of the Missing Twin,” screams the headline. “The search continues for 21-year-old Jessica Duke who disappeared last Friday whilst swimming with her sister off the coast of Felixstowe. Coastguard officers are puzzled that her body has not been found despite…”

I throw the cutting down and shiver. I can’t face reading anymore. It might be nine years since she vanished, but I still can’t shake off the feeling of being watched.

I scurry through the dining room, head down, focused on the kitchen in front of me. I won’t look at it. I won’t. But the more I try to avoid peeking at the mirror, the more my eyes are drawn to it.

I glance up and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s me. My hair looks limp and hangs round my face and my eyes are puffy and swollen. Normally I’d be horrified by my appearance but not today. I giggle as I see how anxious I look in the mirror.

I think I’m ready to try and eat something again when my reflection shimmers in the glass and scowls: “Miss me?” she asks, massaging her scar. I stagger backwards and flatten myself against the doorframe. I can hardly get the words out: “What do you want from me?”

Her lips stretch into a wide smile. “Everything,” she whispers. “I want everything.”

I rush forward, ripping the mirror of the hook and turning it round so all I can see is the frame at the back. “Leave me alone,” I scream. I ram my fingers in my ears to block out the sound of her laughter and race upstairs.

My heart is thumping as I hurl myself underneath the duvet and roll up into a tight ball. Why couldn’t she just stay away. I lie quite still, too terrified to leave the bed.

I hear the back door open and footsteps on the stairs. Is it her? Has Jessica come for me? I feel like I’m going mad.

“Olly? Olly are you ok?” said Lewis, peeling back the bedclothes, his brow furrowed with concern. “I made you a coffee.”

I reach up and take the drink, wrapping my hands around the cup. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel warm again.

“What’s going on Olly?” said Lewis, sitting down next to me on the bed. “I know you’ve got a hangover, but…”

“I keep seeing Jessica…” I break off. “In the mirror downstairs. I saw her last night and again this morning.”

“Well, that’s not too surprising, is it? You were identical twins. A mirror image of one another…”

“But the face I saw had a scar and she talked to me.”

“Olly…” he begins. I watch as my husband fiddles with his wedding ring and rubs his hand through his hair. “I can’t imagine how hard it was for you losing your sister and I know you felt responsible, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t see her reflection.”

“I did. I know I did,” I mutter, swirling the coffee round in the cup.

“You’ve always said birthdays are the worst. Don’t you think a combination of too much wine and memories of your sister just distorted…”

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me,” I sob, feeling the tears slide down my cheeks.

Lewis pulls me into a hug and strokes my hair: “Babe, I think you’re just overtired. Why don’t you call in sick tomorrow? I really think some time off will do you good.”

I nod my head: “Maybe.”

“Now drink your coffee and then maybe we can chuck on a film and have a lazy afternoon.”

I take a sip of my drink and wince: “Oh yuck! Lewis! You forgot to put any sugar in.”

“What? You’ve never had sugar in your coffee. Your hangover must be bad!”

I listen to my husband laugh as he heads downstairs.


I don’t feel bad skipping work. Lewis was right. Maybe I did just need some time out by myself. I’d left my phone behind and walked for miles along the river path, before finding a bench in the sunshine. There was something quite calming about watching the sail boats drifting by in the water.

I laugh as a family of ducks swim up to me and then glide away when they realize I haven’t got any bread for them.

Leaving the river behind me, I head into the high street and treat myself to a cappuccino and a chocolate brownie from the café in the market square. As I bite into the cake, I see my neighbor Helen pushing a pram and dragging her toddler Jacob behind her along the pavement. I call out and wave to her.

“Oh, you’re talking to me today, are you?” she said, pausing just a few feet away. “I saw you the other night, but you looked right through me.”

“You saw me?” I stammer, feeling confused and shaking my head. “I’m sorry. It’s been a rough week.”

Helen laughs: “That’s okay. You should try having kids. I don’t know if I’m coming or going at times. I’ll catch you later.”

As she walks away, I shiver and realize the sun has disappeared behind the clouds, making it feel quite chilly. Time to get home before it rains.

I unlock the backdoor just as the first drops start to fall. It’s hard to believe it was so sunny and warm this morning. It feels like a completely different day now.

Picking my phone up from the kitchen counter, I see Lewis has sent me a message: “Hope you’re feeling much better babe. I’ll grab a pizza on my way home from work. Love you x.”

I smile and am just about to text him back when I catch sight of the mirror, hanging back on the wall above the fireplace. Lewis must have replaced it after I’d left the house earlier this morning. I freeze when I see my reflection.

“Boo!” said Jessica, cackling as I shrink away from her. “Hope you’ve had a lovely day sis.”

Without thinking, I fling my phone at the mirror, the splintered shards of glass scattering across the wooden floor. I feel the fragments crunch beneath my feet as I flee the dining room. And even though I slammed the bedroom door behind me and I’m hiding underneath the duvet, I can still hear Jessica’s laughter echoing around the house.


It’s going dark when I hear the key turn in the lock. There’s a moment of quiet and then I hear Lewis pounding up the stairs.

“Olly! Olly are you okay?” he shouts, throwing the bedroom door open. “What’s going on? There’s broken glass and blood everywhere downstairs.”

I sigh and continue flicking through the photograph album. What a great picture. We look so cute in the matching fleecy red pajamas.


I look up at his confused face: “Close,” I say, picking at the scar on my head.


About the Creator

Caroline Craven

Scribbler. Dreamer. World class procrastinator.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (9)

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  • Donna Fox (HKB)10 months ago

    This was great Caroline! Apparently great minds think alike, I think I did something similar with this challenge! But I like the direction you went with it! I like the mystery and intrigue you were able to build right from the beginning. You also did a great job with character development, specifically creating Jessica as an antagonist at her introduction. Smart move! Overall it was such a thrilling, creepy and griping story! Well done!

  • L.C. Schäfer10 months ago

    Did she do it?? Did she off her sister?! Where is she now - is she stuck in the mirror? 😮

  • Ahna Lewis11 months ago

    Wow! This kept me hooked from the start! I missed it when you first posted, but so glad I stumbled upon it. Entirely creepy and so well written!

  • Caroline Jane11 months ago

    Enjoyed this! Great story and, as ever, really well written Caroline. 👍

  • Donna Renee11 months ago

    Oh my goshhhhhhh this was so good and so freakin creepy! 😱😱😱. You really nailed the “alternate reality slowly bleeding in” part. I must have missed this one when you posted it! Sorry about that! (Even though I’m probably gonna have nightmares now🤣😁)

  • Charlotte Flores11 months ago

    What a sad and beautiful story. The sentences are completely professionally written. I hope to read more stories from you. If you are interested, please read my story and comment.

  • Jeff Newman11 months ago

    Excellent ending! I love this type of psychological horror. Your characters really came alive! Well done! Your writing flows well and easy to read My submission is also psychological horror. Would love to hear your take on it!

  • Naomi Gold11 months ago

    That ending gave me chills!

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