The Feather

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The Feather

Dorothy F., Writer

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“Wake up.”

The girl, annoyed, shifts on the bed and pulls her covers over her head. She feels someone tug on one of her short locks of blonde hair. “Mom, what do you WANT?” She groans, sitting up in bed. She freezes.

Sitting in front of her isn’t her mom, but a perfect copy of herself. Everything about the copy seems to mock her. Its features are an exact copy of her, yet it distinctively is something else, something utterly inhuman. Its face is eerily expressionless, and its eyes have an otherworldly glow. The girl scrambles to her bedpost and screams. It’s mouth curls unnaturally upwards as if it has never smiled before. Amidst her screaming, she can hear the copy laugh hysterically. Her laugh, a sound she hasn’t heard from her own mouth in months.

“Calm down, Karra. It’s just me,” the copy of herself says, tears of laughter streaming out of its eyes. Karra feels deep suspicion curling, like a turmoil, around her heart.

“Who are you? What are you?” Karra asks carefully, her heart pounding.

“Who do you think I am?” the copy says, continuing to giggle. “I’m Karra. There’s nothing for you to be afraid of.”

“You’re not Karra. I’m Karra,” Karra whispers, sweat beading on her brow.

“Oh, look what we have here,” the copy cooed. “Little Karra is afraid. Poor thing. Your face looks paler than it looked when Maya jumped.”

Karra freezes. “What did you just say,” she breathes.

“What was that?” the copy raises its eyebrows at Karra.

“What. Did. You. Say.” Karra says hoarsely. There’s no possible way this thing, whatever it is, could know. Not about Emma.

“Oh, I think you heard me quite clearly,” the corner of the copy’s lips curl upwards. “You know what I find funny? You loved her didn’t you?” It lowers its voice. “But it was all your fault. You’re the reason she jumped.”

“Get OUT!” Karra screams.

The copy ignores her. “Do you remember the noise her body made when it hit the pavement? What a satisfying sound. All of her thin bones cracking at once. Do you remember the blood coming out of her head? I bet that still haunts your dreams,” it giggles.

Karra feels like she’s going to vomit. All the images of Emma’s cold, dead body pour into her head. “Who even are you? What did I do to you and what do you want?” She takes a deep breath. Calm down, Karra, she thinks to herself. Calm down. This is what it wants.

“So you’re not denying it,” the copy starts to laugh again. “She really did jump because of you.”

Karra slowly backs towards the door and puts her clammy palm on the doorknob. “Think you can leave, can you?” the copy begins to move towards Karra like a predator. Karra feels a sudden rush of adrenaline.

“Yes,” Karra breathes. She abruptly turns her head towards the closet, pasting a fake look of horror on her face. The copy, slightly puzzled, cocks its head in the direction of the closet as if it were a dog. Just enough time for Karra to make her escape.

Karra’s hands curl around the doorknob and twists. The door flies silently open, and she sprints as fast as her feet will take her. The hallway seems endless. Behind her, she can hear the quiet and steady footfalls of the copy. After what seems like half an hour, she sees the end of the hall, and then the staircase. She half stumbles around the staircase and slides to a stop at the kitchen. Panting, fumbles for a kitchen knife. Her hand shakes as she holds the point of her knife towards the bottom of the staircase.

“You thought you could escape, couldn’t you?” Karra whirls around, finding herself face to face with the copy of herself. It chuckles, a not at all humoring sound.

“You can’t escape what you did,” it says. “It was all your fault. Everything wrong with her was because of you. You can’t even escape yourself,” it grins, widely gesturing to itself.

Karra loosens her grip on the knife. “You’re right,” she says softly. “I can’t escape what happened. I can’t escape myself. But I can escape things that aren’t real.”

“Everything is real,” it says.

“Not everything,” Karra replies and pierces her knife into its heart.

A look of surprise is frozen on its face. It shudders and then crumples to the ground. Karra drops her knife, crouches down near it, and bursts into tears. She feels like she’s about to throw up. She has never wanted to kill another living thing, even a living thing as cruel as whatever this creature was.

Suddenly, the open wound begins to glow an eerie, blinding silver light. Karra quickly covers her eyes. She feels a slight brush against her shoulder and flinches. Then, she hears a familiar voice.

“It’s only me.”

“EMMA!” Karra squeals and throws her arms around her. She starts to cry. “Emma, I saw this thing,” she whispers. “It was like me, but not me. It told me your death was my fault. It was all my fault.”

“Shut up,” Emma says. “It wasn’t. Not at all. My death was my own fault. I shouldn’t have left.”

Karra looks Emma over. Everything about her seems the same, except for what she’s wearing. Emma typically wore jeans and a t-shirt when she was alive, but instead of her normal outfit, she’s wearing a white dress adorned with silver, glowing feathers.

“Can you come back?” Karra croaks. “Please?”

“No, Karra,” Emma replies. “I can’t come back. Not after I die.” Emma taps her foot on the ground like she always did when she was impatient.

“If you’re here, talking to me right now, then surely you can come back. You mean the world to me. You mean the world to mom and dad. There has to be a way for you to get back, surely if you’re here. We’ll find a way-”

“Karra. I have to leave.”

“What? Why?” Karra looks hurt.

Emma worriedly glances at the kitchen clock. “I can’t tell you why. I just have to leave.” She gives Karra a defeated look. “I love you, Karra. But you have to let me go. You can’t let me just rule over your life. Then, I’d ruin your life, and it’d be my fault, wouldn’t it?” Despite everything, Emma laughs, a glint in her eye.

Karra reluctantly laughs along, and then pauses, worried. “Emma-”

“You have to let me go,” Emma repeats firmly. She looks at the ground, her eyes watering. “Goodbye, Karra.” Before Karra can even blink her eyes, Emma has vanished. Karra screams. She has lost her sister all over again, and she just seconds ago, she was within reach. “EMMA!” Karra shouts.

Suddenly, she jerks awake, and her eyes flash open. She sits up in bed, panting, looking around her, feeling betrayed. Emma isn’t there. It was all a dream, a decoy.

Except, it wasn’t.

On Karra’s night table sits a feather that wasn’t there before. Not just any sort of feather. A silver one that had a soft, warm glow. Karra smiles. “Thank you, Emma,” she murmurs.

“Karra!” She hears her mom shout from downstairs. “Come down. For breakfast.”

Still smiling, Karra puts the feather in her pocket. “I’m coming!” She shouts back.