Saturday 21 April 2012

Left - Short Story

I fell asleep on the sofa an hour after my wife went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night, which is always disconcerting. I stood up, noting an ache in my lower back from the uncomfortable position, and set about turning lights off and joining her in bed. They were already off, which sleepily confused me.

I quietly opened the bedroom door and crept in. One advantage of my mobile phone is that just switching the screen on gives me enough light to see where I'm walking without making enough light to wake her up. It wasn't until I was around to my side of the bed that I felt a sudden cold wave of fear and confusion flow down over my skin like ice water.

Next to my wife was someone lying in the bed, quietly sleeping.  I froze, trying to make sense of what I was looking at, and also thinking how quietly I could retrieve the cricket bat from inside the cupboard. I looked over at my wife, who was sleeping heavily, but breathing obviously. I then looked more closely at the figure's face.

I saw my own face lying on the pillow, eyes closed.

I recoiled, horrified and confused. I couldn't make sense of it. I just stood and watched the two in the bed sleep for a while. When he turned over, I could see that he was wearing the same t-shirt that I was wearing.

I walked carefully around to the other side of the bed again, and shook my wife softly. I didn't understand what was happening, but she was always my first port of call when I was upset, or when I needed to talk. She continued to sleep.

I shook her harder. She didn't wake up. I was scared about waking him up, but eventually, I couldn't bear it any more. I shouted her name, and I shook and slapped her to try and wake her up.


Had he drugged her or something? I went back around to my side of the bed and shook him this time. He didn't respond either. Neither of them did. I eventually screamed, but to absolutely no avail.

Not knowing what else to do, I went and sat on the sofa again. I cried out of frustration and confusion before falling asleep.

I woke to the sound of voices. She was in the kitchen while he was getting dressed, and they were discussing their day. It took me a few moments to recognise my own voice, with the slightly unusual quality of hearing it at a remove.

I raced through to the kitchen, and shouted, but she ignored me again. When he walked into the room, he didn't walk through me, but he may as well have. I was pushed easily out of the way when he brushed against me. It felt like I'd been hit by a car, and when I fell against my wife, it was like being hit hard in the opposite direction. I scrambled out of both their ways but continued talking. They couldn't hear me.

I stood up and watched him stood next to me, talking to her. He was exactly my height, my weight, wearing my clothes, speaking with my voice.

After a while, he went to work. I tried to follow, able to get onto the bus, but I lost my nerve when I got to the train station.

Instead, I trudged back to the house, and sat all day. I wasn't hungry. I didn't need the toilet. Nothing like that.

I could interact with household objects, I found. That first day, I wrote messages, but when my wife got home from work, she either didn't see them or didn't read them. The letter was treated as rubbish. The message written with her lipstick on the mirror was perfunctarily wiped off, without so much as any sense of comprehension.

I couldn't communicate with her in any way. When he came back, and they ate, I just sat and watched. When they sat on the sofa and watched television, I sat on a chair and just watched with them. Sometimes, he said the exact thing I was thinking. Watching quizzes, we would often answer the same questions.

One day, I followed him all the way to work. I wandered around the office while he worked at times, but at other times, something was nagging at me that took a long time for me to fully realise.

He was better at it than I was. He was working hard throughout the day, and seeming less distracted than I sometimes felt.

But then he was better at everything than I was. Not by much, but it was enough for me to notice. Better at exercising, better at working, better at listening and taking note of what my wife said. He was a bit neater than I was. A bit fitter. Better at making love.

Or was I just jealous of him, and looking down at myself?

I don't know, but eventually I got used to it. I became his shadow, more or less. I could spy on anyone, and find out information by myself, but I had nobody to share it with. It was so much less effort to allow him to make the decisions.

Sometimes, I sat around her while she went around her day. It felt like I was spending time with her.

Sometimes, it felt real.

One time, when I was stood in the bathroom behind him while he got ready for work, he looked in the mirror, and his eyes shifted from himself to my reflection behind me. He had never done this before. His eyes locked with mine.

And he smiled.

1 comment:

  1. That's a very creepy story, Chris. I'll try not to fall asleep on the sofa tonight!