by Margaux Marie Quilingan

I open my eyes to see my room drowning in a light blue glow. I reach out for my phone to check the time. 

5:38 A.M. 

I put my phone down beside me and stare at the ceiling. I relish the silence and the few minutes before my alarm goes off. 

“You know, it wouldn’t hurt to start the day earlier than usual.” I hear a voice say from the direction of my bedroom door. I tilt my head and see her leaning against the door frame. 

As always, she is already dressed up; her favorite floral sundress embracing her frail body, her lips chapped, cheeks pink, and hair braided to the side. I look down at her feet and notice that she’s barefoot. Again. 

“I know.” I say out loud as I close my eyes. I massage my temples as I hear her hum questioningly, the image of her hands on her hips flashing on my mind. “So,” She starts and I inhale. “Can I go out today?” She asks, sounding so hopeful and lively. 

“No.” I state blankly, my eyes still closed and my ears ringing. “Why not?” She follows up. I open my eyes to stare at the ceiling. “Because I said so.” I reply. “Why so?” She probes again. 

“Because you always say that, but end up just staying at home.” I blurt out sternly. A second of silence passes. “It’s too early for this. Let’s… not today. Please.” I add, almost sounding like a plea. 

Then, silence. 

The room suddenly feels warmer. I open my eyes and see sunlight peeking through my sheer curtains, softly lighting up my room. I look at the bedroom door. Closed. She is gone. 

I sigh. 

The alarm goes off. 

6:00 A.M. 

It is Tuesday, and everything was just the way it was. 

I got up from my bed eventually and got dressed. I thought about eating breakfast, since I “started the day earlier than usual,” so I did. Peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich, which was her favorite. I only grew fond of it recently. 

On the way to work, I decided to ride the bus. I just moved into town last month, and I still was not familiar with the area. I sat down behind the bus driver, a habit I picked up just last week. 

I reached my workplace and saw the surprise of my co-workers at my early arrival. Well, that’s new. They told me, genuine smiles plastered on their faces. I decided to smile back for a change. I sat down on my desk and immediately went to work. 

Around lunchtime, Mary came by and started a conversation. She wanted to know if I was doing alright, as I was not able to go to work for a couple of days. I said I was okay. She asked if we could catch up over dinner later. I muttered, “Of course,” and

suggested we do it at my place. Mary was taken aback at my suggestion, but she excitedly agreed. 

For a moment, she just looked at me. I reckoned she was thinking, Well, that’s new. 

5:47 P.M. 

I unlock the front door and quietly enter, as if not to disturb someone. I remove my shoes and place them neatly on the rack. I welcome Mary and she walks in. I close the door and tell her that she can leave her shoes on the rack, her jacket and bag on the couch in the living room. I offer her a glass of water, and she accepts. 

I walk to the small kitchen area, and she follows. I take note of her wandering eyes, probably looking for something that could tell her more about me. I hand her the glass and tell her that I will just change clothes. Mary just smiles. 

I walk to my bedroom, open the door, and there she is. Again. 

“Who’s that?” She asks, arms crossed in front of her chest. She is still in her favorite floral sundress. Barefoot. 

I sigh and walk towards my closet. “She’s just a friend.” I mutter, my voice low and barely audible. I change into a worn-out shirt and some shorts. 

“Can I meet her?” She exclaims enthusiastically. I ignore her as I put my used clothes in the laundry basket. I sigh deeply and tell her as I avoid making eye contact, “You can’t.” She groans, insisting, “Why not?” I head towards the door and reply, “You just can’t.” 

“You never let me out or meet your friends! That’s bullshit!” She shouts as I walk out and shut the door. I take a deep breath in and out and walk towards the living room. I glance at my wristwatch. 

6:00 P.M. 

I see Mary in the living room looking at the picture frames that are hung on the wall. She turns around at the sound of my footsteps and asks, “You have a sister?” 

I sigh and put on the most genuine smile I can muster. “Yes.” She nods at my reply and goes back to looking at the pictures. “She kinda looks like you.” 

“She’s my twin, actually.” I tell her as I walk to where she is standing. I look at the photo that she is looking at: a photo of us in front of our old house, our heads together and our faces distorted from laughing. I smile at the memory. 

“Oh, that must be nice!” Mary looks at me, eyes wide and a little sparkly. She seems genuinely interested. I feel bad. “Where’s she now?” She continues, asking the question that I was afraid would come up sooner or later. 

I look at the photo again and feel my heart ache. The same ache that it has been having since last month. I look at my twin in the photo, with her messy braid and favorite floral sundress on. She was barefoot in the photo. 

“She died a month ago. Car accident.”