“What...what are you talking about Bea?” I asked uncertainly.
“My name isn’t Beatrice.” She replied, “It’s Svetlana. Svetlana Abromovich.”
“What? Is this some kind of prank? It’s not funny.” I insisted, my voice rising in pitch.
“I tried to live with it. It was amazing being the lead...thank you. It was the greatest gift anyone had given me, even if it was stolen.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, my confusion frustrating me.
“I killed Vera. I knew that you would take the blame and that I would be the next Giselle.”
“What about the DNA? The prints?”
“Do you remember that night we went clubbing? When I brushed your hair I had enough stuck in the brush to plant on the scene. That glass of water? I had Alain take your prints from it and 3D-print a glove matching them.”
“Is that even possible?” I asked incredulously.
“His PhD is in forensics. He was doing it as part of a project. When I took the glove from him he thought it was just to show it to you. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Bea...” I started, shaking my head, “If you’re trying to make me feel better, it’s not working. I was covered in blood when I woke up, and I was in the security footage. I did it, and this ridiculous explanation is only stressing me out.”
“When you were in hospital you told me where your spare key was. It was too bad you didn’t realize I made a copy. It was too easy for me to borrow some of your clothes and then leave you that something to think about. Almost a shame that you didn’t even try to cover it up.”
“Bea, you’re scaring me. Stop this.” I managed, feeling my anxiousness growing.
“I told you.” She said, with her striking blue eyes glittering, “My name is Svetlana. I’m your half-sister. And...your mother.”
She looked at the ground in disgust.
“I know this is going to be hard to believe. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is. Our father...was a horrible man. I was young, too young...the night he went too far. He hurt me in a way that I wish nobody ever had to deal with. I ran away, but I couldn’t get an abortion without parental consent. I had you in secret, and Daniel took me in. We spent a year together, trying to raise you. I knew I was being a burden on him, but I still wasn’t old enough to be your legal guardian. I...I had to send you to my parents. Daniel was angry with me for that. He had loved you like you were his own daughter, and he ended what we had because of what I did. I changed my name, my look and became someone else. I did the only thing I knew how to do, because of the ballet lessons my aunt paid for, and I became a dancer. It was hard. It was so, so hard, and I was finally so close to what I wanted...when I met you, here, in the ballet.”
I had dropped to a sitting position on the ground, my head in my hands. I was trying to convince myself this was all some kind of elaborate lie, but I knew Bea...Svetlana wouldn’t do anything like that.
Actually, would she?
“Please, tell me you’re lying. Please.” I whispered, my hands shaking.
“I was being selfish.” She continued, “I’m so sorry...but I was so tired of having things taken from me. My childhood, my love, and then my dream...I’m getting too old for the ballet, Katarina. This was my last chance to be the prima ballerina. And then...and then I found out you were Giselle...I did it all before I even knew what I was doing. I looked enough like you in the dark to convince any witnesses that I was you. It was too easy.”
“I...I thought we were friends.” I croaked, trembling.
“I’m telling you all this by choice, Katarina. I had already succeeded in pinning the blame on you. There was absolutely nothing to even remotely put suspicion on me. But...I realized that I was doing to you what was done to me. I was stealing your life from you. And...I can’t wish that pain on anyone...especially not my daughter. I had my chance to live. I had my week as a leading lady. I loved and was loved, had friends and the chance to be a mother again...Now it’s your turn.”
There were tears running down her face. I felt myself being torn from the inside out.
“That’s the favour I want from you, Katarina.” She said, wiping at her face, “Live. Love. Laugh. Have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and play with them all every day. Let go of the pride and ambition that ruined your mother, and spend each day to the fullest.”
She took a few steps backward and, before I could process what was happening, she had shut her eyes and let herself fall.
I screamed and ran towards the edge, but she was long gone. I spotted her sweater hanging off of a branch and felt my throat tighten like a drawstring.