Here’s another piece for the #300DaysofFlashWriting challenge, where participants write for ten minutes only on a prompt posted online by my friend Shekina on her blog and social channels. This was written from the Day 24 prompt, ‘The sea’.
If you’re wondering whether this was influenced by John Banville’s The Sea, perhaps it was, somewhat unconsciously!
The Other Us
When we were little and on holiday in Blackpool, Dad told us that every single person in the world had another version of themselves who lived beneath the sea.
“And just think,” he said, “there’s more sea than land. Think of how much room they’ve got down there.”
That wasn’t what got our attention, though.
“So there’s another set of twins under the sea?” Laila asked. “Who look exactly like each other, and exactly like us?”
“Sure,” Dad said. “Like a set of quadruplets.”
“And do they like all the same things as us?” I asked, thinking of strawberry ice pops, kittens, seashells, sky blue.
“Not exactly. They’re just like you, but they’ve grown up in a different place, see? So they’ve come across different things to you and your sister.”
“Like crabs and fish?” Laila asked. Her expression mirrored my own feelings: bewilderment and an edge of disgust. We hated eating fish.
“Sure. They probably only eat fish.”
“But maybe they still like collecting shells. Will they come out of the sea to see us?” I asked.
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Then a man leading some donkeys came past us, and we forgot all about the twins under the sea.
Well, Laila did, anyway.
Later, when we were at university, we stopped being the same. Clothes, hair colour, music, lipstick, food – Laila became different in every way.
“Am I just a triplet now?” I said, half-jokingly.
“You don’t still believe that rubbish Dad used to tell us, do you?”
“It’s a nice idea.”
“A ridiculous one. There aren’t any people under the sea. We’re all on our own. Don’t you see? Even we’re not exactly the same. We’re different people.”
I never knew what it was that she was looking for, but one day shortly after graduation, she announced she was moving to London.
“What’s in London?” I asked jealously.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ll tell you when I get there.”
She didn’t. She left us behind, me and the other twins, our hearts breaking.
I looked for her in Blackpool once. It was a silly idea. But I thought maybe I’d see her standing on the sand, looking for us in the sea.
© 2021 Dipika Mummery