The neon symbols of four-thirty on my digital alarm clock blurred in and out of focus as I squinted my eyes. Two essays lay by my right hand, scrawled through with blue ink, but nowhere near finished. To be finished, something had to be perfect. I was not perfect.
I swallowed, tracing the pool of orange light that slipped from the clock to the grey wall of my bedroom. The pattern faded in less than half a metre. Faded to nothing, just like the school-day. I could barely remember the classes I had dragged myself to.
I held my hand in one balled hand, confused. It was time to choose, but it felt too soon. How could I keep apart those two people in my head when they had become one in real life? Maybe I could lie to him. Yes, that sounded a good idea.
But I knew it wouldn’t work.
I tossed my phone from hand to hand, the only evidence of this terrible knowledge there, within the database. Knowing he was the same person didn’t seem fair. I wanted both. Not because of the idea of having two...boyfriend, but because I wanted the friendship of each. Whilst Drew had his brutish, gloomy manner that reminded me of my own troubles, Cayden was full of the philosophical side that I could reach if I stretched my mental fingertips ever more inward.
But I didn’t want to separate out the good and the spiteful edge within me.
And, yet, I didn’t deserve either, did I? Even if they didn’t find out what I had done, I had taken up the mantel of a different person.
My head swam. It was too much to think about. My phone buzzed, hopefully a distraction.
I looked to it, simply a warning that my battery was running low. Yeah, that would be right. As I scrolled past the warning message, I stumbled upon my chirpy reply I had text Drew the previous night:
Sure, I’ll see you there!
I had sent Cayden a Poppy-twisted version of the same message. I slunk over to the wall and quickly let my phone charge. Ten minutes and no more. My head hurt.
I had a meeting with him in two places at once. I knew what I wanted: I wanted to go to both. But that wouldn’t happen, unless I invented some crazy way of duplicating myself in the next ten minutes.
As I sat, flicking listlessly through the remainder of notes I had intended to make into my essay, I grumbled to myself.
“What does he intend to do, go to both, to either?” This clash couldn’t be a coincidence or a mistake. I didn’t understand how he thought he was going to be meeting two girls at once.
I still didn’t understand how I was going to
I had to let one of them down. But which? The real friend and enemy or the made-up creature I’d defied before?
Five minutes later, I stormed downstairs, grabbing my discarded coat from the back of the sofa.
“I’m going out, okay, mum?” I called.
“Sure,” came her distant voice from the kitchen. “Be back by seven.”
I slipped on my shoes, feeling the way they unevenly hugged my feet. They wouldn’t have hugged Poppy’s feet in that way. Or would they? I thought I had known this other person I had become, but now she was simply a haze of a part of me.
I squeezed my eyes tight and gripped the door-handle.
Who was I? Time to find out.