I tried to close my eyes and my eyelids refused to budge. They were heavy and unmoving as if a scrap of steel is fixed over my eyeballs. The apparition was sitting across the table with a knife in one hand and a bunch of drying flowers in another.
There was a wilting, stale looking cake lying on the table, with chocolate icing that appeared to me as if brown wax has been poured over the creamy mound. The apparition smiled. My smile. It waved the knife in the air and said. ‘Let’s cut this cake.’ I saw my silver bracelet on its arm. A tiny sparkle caught the light above. The eyes were mine too. The face took a shape right before my eyes, like a swift, deft stroke of an artist’s sketch. It was me I was looking at. Sitting across me, not smiling, not seeing. Just looking. I could feel the goose pimples on my arms. A chill ran through my spine.
‘I am not you.’ I tried to scream and it came from her mouth. I watched my words flowing out from her lips. ‘I am not you’, like someone mocking me. Imitating my voice and my pitch.
I watched, frozen, as she put the drying flowers over the cake and laughed. A jagged laugh. Not mine. ‘Happy belated birthday! It took you so long that the flowers have dried. See?’ It was not my voice anymore. It sounded hollow and strained and masculine in tenor.
To my horror she began to cut the flowers instead of the cake and the wax begin to crumble around the mound, looking like shavings of wood. A slow number had begun to play from somewhere. A guitar. Emanating a jaunty pain. There were many people standing around me now, watching me and gesticulating in my direction, telling some secrets to each other in whispers.
‘I have to go. Listen, I am going.’ I said to her. This time the words came from my lips. She was not there.