The space of time between my memories was so substantial, I had forgotten the feeling of there being any other life in this house.

I no longer remembered the feeling of movement, the sight of change, the touch of emotion that had once been my life.

And perhaps that was my greatest mistake, because it hindered me from discerning who I was.

*   *   *

Following those vacant, immeasurable years, it was a surprise to me to once more feel the beat of footsteps echoing, the sound of breathing, the anticipated laughter.

I felt everything as if for the first time, for I had still omitted that time so long ago when it had last been a reality. Right to the tingling thrill of having new people move in, everything was pleasurably incredulous once more.

But the greatest shock was her.

With her short-cropped caramel hair and simple cerulean eyes,  the bent back of a reader and the wispy hands of a pianist, she stared so innocently, but her gaze seemed to pierce past as if it were going right through me.

All at once, I saw something in her. Something that I wanted. What could it be? I could not tell. Like a drowning creature that reaches in vain for the sunlight above, I could not grasp the thing that called to me, or even the knowledge of what it was.

The first course of action that came to my then-flimsy mind was to become her. Perhaps in imitation, I might find what it was I searched for, and be able to obtain it.

The aimless longing grew like a flower turned to the sun inside of me, until it was so great it came bursting out through my leathery and calloused hands, stretching the fingers long and narrow. It spouted from my eyes, dying what was once brown blue. It coursed through my body, making my strong limbs thinner and thinner to an elegant slimness, making my skin the colour of the inside of an apple. It fizzed through my hair, turning flaxen curls brown and straight.

And there, in an instant, I looked like her.

But I felt no spark of realisation. No thrill of understanding. I was still a drowning creature reaching for sunlight. I still did not know what I wanted. I still did not have what I wanted.

Perhaps look like her was not enough. Perhaps I needed to do more. To behave like her too, would surely allow me to ascertain what I wanted.

For weeks I was happy living in her shadow. I read books with her. I played piano with her. When she shouted out in joy, I added my voice to the chorus. Every moment she spent in that room, in reach of my gaze, I was there with her, copying her every movement. I grew better and better at the idolisation that had become my life and purpose, though I was little closer to my goal of recognising and obtaining the mysterious value I longed for.

Then one day, she came in with her mouth pressed in a thin, solid, pink diamond and a hand cowering over a long, wet orange scar over one cheek. After she had set down her books, she came right up close to me. An eager slave to curiosity, I stepped as far as I could go, right up to her, only a hands length away. I stared at the scar a moment while she paused, before realising I knew what to do  to clean the cut. Quickly I spun round and ran back to the cupboard, from which I retrieved a clean cloth. Heading back to where I had stood, I saw that she had had the same idea and now faced my with her own gleaming rag. Holding the cloth to my face, I demonstrated on my own cheek how to clean the cut. She followed my movements so quickly and obediently it was as if we were moving at the same time.

From that day on, it seemed to me, though we never spoke, that she had become better friends with me. She spent more and more time with me, burying herself in books, the two of us reading together. Even long after the first cut had become a bruise, then a scar, then disappeared, she came back with more, often darker and longer, and in different places.

I also noted that the manner in which she shouted had changed. Instead of scattering noise in all directions, her cries because vicious and pleading and pointed.

Once, at the beginning of the end, she cried for reasons I did not know. Weakened in spirit at this sight, I crumpled to the floor and sobbed with her.

Then one day, like the reversal of the first time I had seen her, she packed her every belonging. Then she  came up to me, raised her finger and let her hand brush mine. There was a queer look in her eye, like some screaming thing that was about to escape it’s prison. Then she was gone, walking away without so much as a backward glance.

*   *   *

I should tell you that the girl I once tried to imitate has long since run away from this house. I do not think of her without thinking of the great wrongs that I committed.

I remembered myself seeing many other people outside of my prison of glass. Remembered seeing what they had that I needed to be myself. Remembered imitating them in a desperate wish to obtain the hidden treasure and unconsciously save myself. Remembered watching them leave. Remembered remembering.

I also knew what it was I had wanted. But I felt that unconsciously, I had realised long ago, and simultaneously realised that she no longer had it either.

Freedom. Freedom to be happy. Freedom to escape.

I stared dully at the cruel and degenerative glass that had distorted my view of the horrible realities of my world.

And then, with a reminiscent sigh, I laid my hand against the inside of the hard, cold surface of the mirror that had separated us.