The first time I saw her in the mirror, I was terrified. It’s the stuff of nightmares; seeing a big black shadow hovering above you. I was afraid of her, but her eyes were kind and were just like mine. There was a nip in the air around her, which meant the chill followed me wherever I went, but it wasn’t threatening. The strangest thing was that I was relieved to have her around me. In a crowded place, in the middle of work, in a meeting full of big wigs, I had one burly shadow, with deep hollow eyes, almost swaying midair above me. It felt like she had my back. She rarely said anything but when we were alone, she whispered, right into my mind. There was no sound for the outside world. But there was a whole lot of voices in my head.
He’s ill-treating you. He doesn’t love you, he’s just taking you for granted.
She’s only comes to you when she needs help.
You can do so much better. You deserve better.
You need a whole new set of friends and people in your life.
You should just dump him. He’s no good.
Leave this job, it’s humiliating! How can you stand this crap?
Your family doesn’t understand you, they never did. They only care about themselves.
Her voices were so loud and clear that I started to believe it. I was relieved to have her around, at least someone who understood me; one friend I could always count on. She was me, after all.
And then one day, as I lay in bed, I saw a picture of me and my sister. The picture seemed to come alive. I remembered the time it was taken. We were out with our family for a summer vacation at a hillside. It was the first time I saw a swimming pool. All of 8 years old, I jumped right into it. I was too tiny, too short at that time, but I wasn’t afraid of drowning. My sister was in there, she couldn’t swim, she was holding on to the railing. Something about having her in there was comforting. Something that made me feel like I could jump in the deep end. And that’s the day I realized I could swim, I was a natural swimmer. Years later, I taught my sister how to swim and how to get over her hydrophobia, but fact remains that if it weren’t for her in the pool that day, I would have never known that I could swim. She taught me something that she herself didn’t know.
I felt a tear go down my cheek and ‘her’ voice in my head started again. This time though I wasn’t in the mood to listen. I looked around my dark bedroom and found that I was all alone, I looked at my phone and it had no notifications. I looked back around my room and suddenly I realized how alone I was.
But you always have me. You and me, against the world, remember? she whispered.
This time her voice wasn’t comforting. I looked at her, a black shapeless shadow, floating in the air, with big hollow eyes that looked back at me, with no emotion. It was the first time her presence scared me. It made me feel threatened and it made me feel weak. I went to bed that night, knowing that it was time for her to leave.
The next day I felt her grip on me tighten, her voices were louder, they were drowning my own thoughts, but at least I was having my own thoughts. I could feel my voice come back again. I could hear myself disagree with her. But with that, I could also sense fear. Fear that I was going to be alone again. I knew it was her speaking. And I didn’t have anything to silence her on that front. But I had my ways to drown out her voice.
That night, I went to the pool. It was dark and alone and it was bringing back all those memories of swimming classes with my sister. The ones where I swam like a fish and she struggled to get across, but also the ones where I would see her reach out to my hand, the ones where she got on my back playfully, knowing I was going to help her across.
You think she loved you?
She just used you like everyone else.
She doesn’t love you. She doesn’t need you. She left you the first chance she got.
You don’t need her. You don’t need her memories. You are going to make better ones. Just you and me.
I heard her and looked her in her eyes. She smiled, knowing she had me. She had her hands around my neck, owning me and my mind. I took one big deep breath, shut my eyes, turned and dived into the water. When I opened my eyes from underwater, I saw her furious figure slowly disappear. She couldn’t reach me in here. In here I could only hear my voice and my thoughts. In here, she was powerless and I was only me.
And just like that with one splash, I got rid of her. Because it was time to be me.