The first thing I see when I open my eyes is my other self in a sleeping bag on the floor. I throw my pillow at its head. It groans.
‘What are you doing here?’ I hiss.
‘Barbados got boring.’ It sits up, blinking furiously. ‘I wanted to come home.’ It’s cut its hair shorter than I usually do, and its skin is darker; but still, it is unmistakably me. If any of my housemates wander in they will freak.
‘This is my home,’ I say.
‘Yes. And as I am you, it is my home also.’ I retrieve the pillow and stuff it back under my head, feeling defeated. I wonder if I could pass my other self off as my long-lost twin.
It hands me a fresh mug of tea that apparently originated from nowhere.
‘You cannot be here,’ I say, sitting up to take a sip. ‘It is impossible for you to be here.’
‘Oh, I know. If it helps I have an idea.’
‘An idea?’ The tea tastes weird, but I know it’ll get offended if I say so, so I just put it on the floor and lie back down.
‘To get us back together.’
I cover my face with my hands. ‘Please. Not another one.’
It sounds offended. ‘Why not?’
‘Because I still have nightmares about your last light bulb moment.’
‘Yes, well, in hindsight simultaneous electrocution was not the best idea I have ever had. But this one’s good, I promise.’ The sleeping bag rustles.
‘Alright. What is it?’
When it doesn’t reply I drop my fingers from my face. It’s looking at me in a way I really hope I have never looked at anyone else. I didn’t know I could be so unnerving.
I try to sit up again but my muscles won’t respond. I look back at its face; that distorted parody of my own; and I start to wonder how well I really know myself.
‘What did you do?’ I ask, voice slurring a little. It holds up the tea.
‘If one of us dies,’ it replies, ‘then our problems are solved.’
I’m oddly calm.
Control of my body slips quickly from my grasp, like grains of sand being pulled from my fingertips by the wind. I’m hot on one side and cold on the other. I shake with tremors I can’t stop. Everything’s getting brighter, fading into white.
It leans over me, sadness etched onto the lines around its mouth.
‘I’m sorry,’ it says.
I force my mouth to obey me. ‘But y-’