She always said she had another half.
‘The other half’ she called it. I thought it was an excuse or a conceit.
Anything she did as a child that she shouldn’t do, she’d blame on the other half. As her sibling I kind of envied her creativity and that she’d thought of it first. My parents often laughed at her protestations, but just as often they decided the other half was me. But it wasn’t. I’d stamp my feet and complain that she made it all up and then she’d cry and say she didn’t.
‘I don’t like the other half!” she’d argue. “I wish she would go away!”
And usually all these histrionics would somehow manage to make my family forget the original transgression, and she would draw my parents in to comforting her in her made up misery and I’d be alone and resentful.
She never stopped talking about the other half, even as we grew. I thought she should get over it, and give away childish things. She just said I never understood and never saw it, this other half thing. And she might have been right, I thought, but then I didn’t believe there was anything to see.
How convenient, I would think, to have another half to blame for broken relationships, friendship betrayals, work mishaps, everything.
‘No!” she would cry. “It’s terrible, it’s terrible.”
I’d study psychology at university and decide it was all my parent’s fault for cosseting her and indulging this delusion. I felt very smug and above it all, and that compensated for quite a bit.
Then one day I saw it. I saw the other half. We were preparing for a party to celebrate her university graduation, and I came to her as she was dressing to ask some question or another. I don’t recall now why, for all that I can recall is her turning from her dressing table, looking back at me, and another face – like hers but different – looking at me out of the mirror too.
I think I fainted. I know a few moments later she was hovering over me, asking me if I was all right, and I was on the floor.
“I saw it!” I said. “The other half!”
“What did you see?” she hissed, frantic.
“I saw it in the mirror, looking at me.”
“Oh no!” she said. “That means it’s seen you too!”
And so I’d wished for the excuse she had, over the years. And now it had seen me. As my mother always said, be careful what you wish for.
For now, for now, I have the other half too. And I see what she tried to tell me, though I wouldn’t listen.
The other half isn’t helpful, isn’t an excuse, it’s a calamity. The other half is very, very bad.
And now it’s mine too.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2017