“So nice to have you back for a while, love.” Jenny’s mum closed the door reluctantly to let her grab some sleep. She hadn’t slept on the overnight train leaving her tired and that special kind of grumpy that teenage girls get with their often perfectly reasonable mothers. Her room was just as she left it six months ago. The same posters of the Smiths and shelves stacked with Stephen King novels.
She didn’t open the old, ugly, and as her Mum always reminded her, antique wardrobe to unpack. Instead she wedged her suitcase in front of its heavy wooden doors. She undid the laces on her Docs just enough to tug them off then crawled onto the bed fully clothed and slept. Her Mum woke her gently a few hours later and gave her a cup of tea in bed.
“Drink that while I run you a bath.”
Jenny hadn’t had a cup of tea for months. In her shared student flat there was never any milk and she had taken to drinking strong, black instant coffee. The tea tasted nice then she relaxed in the bath re-reading her battered old copy of IT. When the water got cold she wrapped a towel around her body and walked back into her bedroom.
“Shit,” she said out loud. In her eagerness to start on the laundry her mum had unpacked the case and it leant empty against the wall. The wardrobe doors now had no barricade. She thinks she hears a faint bang from within and then one door swings open slowly accompanied by a familiar creaking noise. She could slam it shut. She could fill her suitcase with books and prop it up against the door. Instead she decides to blame it on the dodgy catch on the wardrobe door. She reaches calmly in and grabs some jeans and a hoodie from the top shelf. She gently kicks the door closed with her bare feet and quickly gets dressed.
“How are you really getting on at college darling?” her Mum says over dinner.
“I’m getting on fine,” Jenny says defensively.
“You haven’t had any of the …. old trouble.”
“No,” thinks Jenny. “I haven’t seen and conversed with any dead twin sisters since I left this house.” She shakes her head, “I don’t want to talk about this.”
“It’s just that Dr Roberts thought that it might be a bit too much for you to leave home so young”
“Yeah, and Dr Roberts is a senile, patronising old goat.” She doesn’t say this out loud.
When she was young she hadn’t realised how strange it was. She thought it was perfectly natural that her dead twin sister would appear in her bedroom. Of course, this was upsetting for her parents and perhaps that was the reason that Dad had left them. Her twin sister Theresa had no doubt as to why their Dad had left.
“Dad doesn’t want to stay with you because you killed me. He knows that I was the best twin but he ended up with you.” Theresa always seemed to know a little bit more than Jenny but they did have fun together sometimes. Jenny would read aloud from Enid Blyton novels and they would both agree how great it would be to go to a boarding school. However, as Jenny got older she realised that the situation was unusual and at the age of eleven she just wanted to be the same as her friends, she didn’t want to be different. One night she pushed Theresa into the wardrobe and commanded “don’t come out ever again.” So Theresa stayed in the wardrobe but that didn’t stop her communicating with Jenny. She was almost identical to Jenny, almost but not entirely. Theresa would tell the teenage Jenny “this is how you would look if you were actually pretty.”
Jenny watches the TV with her Mum. She is in no rush to go to her room. Theresa is not real, she knows that, but the memories are still vivid. She realises she has been sitting alone all through the 10 o’clock news and wonders where her Mum has gone. She walks upstairs softly and stops when she sees her Mother standing in front of the open wardrobe.
“Theresa love, please leave Jenny alone.”
“I haven’t seen her for six months Mum.” Theresa’s voice is similar to Jenny’s but slightly softer, gentler and more melodic. “I just want to say hello.”