CVII | Somehow Not

I must be wrong.

She’s a different person.

A sister?
A cousin?
A twin?

Either way,
I relax.

It’s not her.

My body sinks
into the cushions

of the couch.

This person is the wrong size
(too healthy).

Her skin is the wrong colour
(too pink).

Her eyes are the wrong grey
(too dark).

I shake my head
to clear it.

The boyish attire she wears
is the same.

Her hair is scruffy and short—
it’s the same.

Even her smile

is the same.


She sits
on the couch

from me.

Playing with her fingers.


Wary. Shy. Hesitant.


She tilts her head.


Her smile is apologetic.



Do you remember me?


I shake my head.

My throat is clouding
with pain.

I can’t reply

unless I want to scream.

She takes a deep breath
and lets it out.

Her apologetic smile widens.

It’s weird
with her dark eyes.


I’m Tamara.
You liked to call me

We were friends in secondary school.


I laugh.

I laugh
because I can’t scream.

The plain nurse
is standing

just inside the door

looking all tense,
waiting for me to do

something wrong.

It’s a trap.

I know it’s a trap
and I want to tell her I know it.

But I can’t
because then

I won’t know why

they brought this


to see me.

They’ll have an excuse
(whatever it is)

to get rid of me
or Tammie.

So I laugh instead.

The fake Tammie
exchanges troubled looks

with the plain nurse.

She only shrugs
in response.

Keep going.

When I can breathe again,
I smile at the fake Tammie.

There’s relief in her eyes.

She stops
with her fingers.

And I can’t stand it anymore.

You’re not Tammie!

I point in the direction
of the main hall.

Tammie’s in there,
waiting for me.

Her apologetic smile falters.
Her dark eyes flutter.

She’s taken aback.

Again, she looks
at the plain nurse
for help.

Her eyes shake.


I’m the real Tammie, Fifi.

We were friends
in secondary school,

We were very close,
we did…lots of things together.

I said something insensitive

and you…

Well, I got hurt.


I narrow my eyes.

I hid Tammie in a cupboard
and almost killed her.

Who are you?

She bites her lower lip.



I know.


Is that what
the doctor told you
to tell me?

She opens her mouth
but words don’t come out,

so she smiles

apologetic smile.

I lean back
on the couch.

Tap my heels on the linoleum.

Rock myself
back and forth.

That’s what I told her first,
you know that?

She tilts her head.

What a coincidence
that you’re here

telling me what I already know.


It’s the truth.


Her dark eyes
dilate with fear.

I see it

in her posture.

She’s scared of me.
She wants to run away.


isn’t scared of me.

It was only back then,

when I was scary,
          that she made this expression.

She isn’t scared now.

She likes me back


We were friends.

But you were sick
so I always had to

take care of you.

It became a job.
I got tired of it

I told you that day
and you snapped.

I was unconscious for 72 hours.
I saw you one last time after that.


The doctor
doesn’t know this.

I’ve only just

learnt about it

From Tammie.

How can this girl
who’s not Tammie…

How does she


She smiles again—
that apologetic smile.

it looks exactly right

with these dark eyes.

Like the Tammie
from my memories.




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