The Disappearance of the Other Emily
Age: My age
Subject Last Seen Wearing: My face
Last Person Who Saw Subject: Me
Relationship with Subject: She is me
Suspicious Subjects/Signs: She's gone
Mode of Disappearance: She jumped off our see-saw and ran far, far away
Place of Event: Inside my head
Time of Event: I can't remember
Notes: (Why won't you come back? I miss you.)
I'm Emily. She's Emily, too. We happen to share the same name, letter-for-letter, syllable-for-syllable. But we don't look a lot alike, because I smile while she scowls, and somewhere along the way our faces became stuck like that.
We're opposites, but we're the same.
I was "nice" while the Other Emily was "mean", I was naive while she was jaded, and I was always blissfully oblivious while she was paranoid.
I was always Mommy's porcelain doll and Daddy's darling, while she has always been the ungrateful brat and enfant terrible.
But we're each other's best friends, closer than sisters, for we have a bond even stronger than blood.
The bond of the soul. Nothing else seems to matter.
I was the teacher's pet and everyone's role model, while she preferred to be just a rebellious delinquent.
I still think she's a stronger person than me.
I hide my poison in smiles and false words. She wields brutal honesty and vicious sarcasm like a knife. The cut goes deep. I smother it with honey and lies, and nobody ever notices. We are practiced in the art of fighting back.
It is our routine, our usual retaliation against everything we hate and everything which hates us.
I pat the poor little girl on the back and tell her it's going to be okay. The other Emily hunts down the one who made her cry and makes sure they are sorry. I'm not strong enough by myself, but she is, so she does what I can never do.
"You're horrible," I tell her, smiling widely.
"And you're pathetic," she replies. "That makes us even."
"No," I say. "It makes us horribly pathetic."
And she grins like a madwoman.
We played many games with ourselves, when we were smaller.
I still remember – we used to stand on both sides of a glass and mimic each other's movements perfectly, as if we were mirror images of each other.
It made me feel like Alice, who stepped through the Looking-Glass into the world where everything was in reverse, and perhaps I found myself in reverse too.
But I'm Emily, not Alice. And neither is she.
People were starting to whisper and watch. The people who thought they knew us could not understand our mood swings and our radically different personalities. It made no sense to them, and they were scared. Scared that something was wrong with us.
We're perfectly fine the way we are, I told myself. We're just taking turns.
We just took turns to be Emily, and that was all.
We really loved the see-saw, too, when we were younger. The Other Emily always found it especially fascinating.
The end of a see-saw that's up in the air will have to come down, eventually. That was the way it worked. We have played this see-saw game since childhood, taking turns to go up and delighting in how the world falls beneath us.
But one day she jumped off her end, running away into freedom, leaving me alone.
And I come crashing down into the sand, into reality.
I'm not crying.
There's just sand in my eyes.
It's for your own good, she said. I can't survive much longer in the real world, anyway. You are the façade everyone wants to see – a perfect daughter, a model pupil, a friend who gives only compliments. I can't do that, because I'm opposite for opposite's sake, and we can't just take turns forever. We were one to begin with and there should only be one of us in the end, too.
I can't remember how long I've known her. I can't recall when she vanished. Both happened so quietly that I am utterly terrified, for it feels like she was never even here.
"Why won't you come back?" I cry. "I need you to be here for me when the whole world says no. I need you to support me. I need you to make me strong."
I look into the mirror, and I see her face. My face.
"I need you to be me, when I'm not strong enough. Aren't we both Emily? I'm lonely by myself. Why won't you come back?"
I remember... that I have always liked even numbers. There's something really nice about how they split so perfectly and equally down the middle. They're... balanced.
She had always been more interested in odd numbers, though. She said they stick out more, and when you try to divide an odd number into two there would always be a remainder.
And the remainder of one would survive on its own, untouched by the manipulations of other people.
But she's wrong. Math doesn't work that way, not once we're old enough to learn decimals.
I have been divided by two, and I am the half which remains.
You don't need me as a personality, she said, right before she disappeared. There never was the need for the Other Emily. There should only be one remainder, and that remainder should be you.
But she's wrong, dead wrong, and why doesn't anyone get it?
I am only half.
I am not nearly enough.