The email was probably the strangest birthday present I'd ever received.
Claudette Maud. I didn't recognise that name. Not one bit. Her words seemed friendly and kind, so she must be a family friend.
Hi Megan. Happy birthday! 15 is a big number! Too bad Hannah isn't there to share it with you. Give Trisha my love. xxx
I frowned as soon as I'd finished reading. She obviously knew my mum. She knew my date of birth. But....Hannah was a name she didn't know.
"Mum?" I called as I reached the bottom of the staircase.
"Meg, I'm meant to be leaving to help Sarah-"
"Who's Claudette?" I said quickly, knowing mum would be too stubborn to reply if I left it any longer.
My mum looked at me strangely, the frowned and laughed.
"Never say that name again, Megan. I'm not in the mood for games. See you after work."
Her disappearance and her cold, sarcastic laugh had made me shiver a little. I wasn't used to mum acting like that. But I was still curious. On the brink of asking dad, when I remembered he was at a friend's. I wasn't going to be able to leave this until the morning.
Hi Claudette. Thank you for the birthday wishes. Do you know my mum? Who is Hannah?
I felt butterflies in my stomach after sending the message, as if I shouldn't have done it. Of course I shouldn't, she was a stranger. But I wanted to know. Luckily, it didn't take long for a response.
Megan, stop playing games. Tell Trisha to stop ignoring me. I'm not going to answer any more stupid questions.
I sighed at the suddenly harsh reply. Then again, she was an adult, and I'm sure my mum ignoring her was going to make her mad. I guess it was something to sleep on.
"Dad?" I asked as my dad straightened the mirror on the wall.
"Hey, Meg, does that look straight to you?"
"Yeah, yeah, Dad, who's Claudette? Claudette-"
"Maud?" Dad spun to face me, sounding shocked. "I'm surprised Mum mentioned her."
"She....didn't. I got an email from her on my birthday," I responded, wondering whether it was the best thing to do.
"Well, I guess that's nice. Just don't tell Mum."
"I already did. She got mad," I said honestly. "Claudette mentioned Mum ignoring her. And a girl called Hannah?"
Dad looked around the room, obviously struggling with how to continue the conversation.
"Claudette was our doctor when you were a baby."
"Okay...." I began. "But who's Hannah?"
"Hannah was your twin sister. You were...conjoined. Claudette believed you would both survive but other doctors said it would be hard, and be best to save only...one," he answered, looking slightly guilty and depressed.
"Ohh...." I said, realizing why Mum would have been annoyed or upset about this.
"But why is Claudette contacting us now?"
"She was a strange doctor. Told us things after we made the decision to save you. She wasn't nice about it, so we changed doctors when you were three months."
In my bedroom, I began to slowly feel betrayal. My parents never once told me about this. I was sat with my laptop discovering things about myself from a stranger over email. Yet somehow, it was oddly satisfying knowing I could get the answers I wanted from someone other than my stubborn parents.
What did you say to my parents about Hannah?
I typed bravely, sending before I had the chance to change my mind. The reply came in seconds, almost unrealistic timing.
That Hannah would be a part of you. Conjoined twins are connected. No matter how you try and separate them, both will always live.
I was confused by her words and didn't feel like responding for a while. It was all overwhelming, even if it seemed like a small thing to happen ages ago.
I walked downstairs slowly only to hear my parents argue. It really wasn't an uncommon thing. However, the argument twisted.
"I think we should visit Claudette. She's in the town," Dad started with a confident tone.
"No. She's evil."
"She's contacting our daughter. She could be scaring her. We need to tell her to stop. In person."
There was a long silence and even without seeing, I could tell they were looking at each other. Slowly, Dad's expression must've turned her around.
I continued downstairs and when I reached the bottom, I piped up.
"What's going on?"
"We're going out. Not for long," Dad stated. "Don't worry, Meg. And don't reply to any more of those emails."
I nodded, deciding against the idea of mentioning Claudette. As the door slammed shut, I retreated to my room.
The dark wasn't all that intimidating. I wasn't afraid of it. The chill in the air, however, was slightly unsettling.
I frowned at the computer screen and felt my gut twisting, wanting to reply. Hesitation couldn't control me for long.
What do you mean?
She's on the street.
I gulped and felt suddenly vulnerable and insecure. I wished my parents were home. I didn't want to reply.
She's outside the house.
I tried closing the email but it didn't work. My eyes were fixed to rapidly appearing letters, forming sentences almost sickening to read from a fully grown woman.
She's in the garden.
Instinct told me to look out my bedroom window, and I did, into a dim, overgrown garden. Nothing.
She's outside the window.
I shut the laptop and tried to convince myself the words weren't true. Because I mean, they couldn't be. Claudette shouldn't even be contacting me. She should be meeting my parents....
I approached the window and reached out to pull it shut. My arm felt weak as I reached out, and a sudden pain shot through me as my head was forced to face down.
A horrific, identical version of myself was staring right through me with an icy cold glare. Her features were darker, creases exaggerated and bones thinner. The most terrifying part was her fingernails were digging through my skin and pulling my arm down.
I pulled back with so much force I fell backwards. Skin was scraped off of my wrist. An ugly reflection followed my movement into my bedroom. I tried to struggle backwards before hitting my head on the wall, but the pain wasn't my main concern.
"Now," a croaky, fragile, yet haunting voice rang out from the girl's lips.
She pulled out something sharp with her deformed hands.
"Which side do you want to be on?"
Realization kicked me and I jumped for the door, only to land on my arm and just limit myself more. The girl walked towards me with a devilish smile and a needle in hand, no doubt there'd be thread in the other. She'd exposed her side where a long fresh cut was made. I remembered it, similar to mine. Except my parents claimed it was a birthmark.
My heart skipped. I had no chance. And soon, I felt her fingernails climbing my arm and a needle insert my skin. My pain didn't match the amount of blood, though I could feel it seeping through my fingers. And the whole time I had to stare at a creepy grinning face.
I must have passed out, but waking up was much worse. Her face was inches from mine staring at me. The more I pulled away, the more it hurt. Her eyes shot through me like daggers. The blood pool created notified me that I was slowly bleeding. Most likely to my death. The pain backed up that statement. I mean, what could you expect when you'd just been sewn together with yourself?
Trisha entered the Café first, not knowing what to expect of the woman she once knew. She was drawn to a delicately stern figure, hunched in the corner of the Café with a large, old fashioned laptop. Her bright eyes and evil smirk outshined her incredibly dark face and features. She had a look on her face that would make anyone's stomach tie knots.
"I told you she'd come back."