Note from Pixie: I wrote this story a while back, and I was conflicted about whether to post it here or not. After all, I have only posted non-fiction so far. And then I thought, it's my website! No rules except my rules! And I have no rules. So here it goes. Read away, my dear readers.
My family is beautiful. It is not perfect, it is not flawless, but it is mine. It is real. That makes it the loveliest thing in the world. Irreplaceable. Or, that’s what I thought.
I am not stupid. I have started noticing the phenomenon.
On the surface, everything seems normal.
Mother would sit beside the long window. She would read her favourite “Thelma” for the millionth time. Look out of the window listlessly. Reminisce about the love of her life, my father, and talk about how life has no meaning anymore now that he isn’t here. Look at me disapprovingly and the food that I make for her. That’s alright. I know she loves me. She just never shows it.
Son cries all the time. I am sure there are cheerful one-year-olds. Son is not one of them. I try to calm him down, but he never does. Not with me. He smiles at his grandma and his dad. Never me. I have always wondered why.
Lastly, there is Husband. He is a wonderful man. I met him on the day of our engagement five years back. I fell in love with him the same day. I was nervous, as I am sure anyone would be in an arranged marriage. My hands were shaking as he put the ring on me. He squeezed my hand and smiled at me gently. I fell in love with that smile. I am still in love with it. Even if I do not get to see it anymore.
You know, families are like that. The pretensions we don with strangers are stripped away. We do not feel the necessity to fake kindness in families. After all, family is forever. You do not leave family.
The phenomenon messes with my head. There were changes, subtle changes in the way they behaved. The other day, I noticed Mother looking at me with pure hatred in her eyes. My heart ached and I was filled with dread. It is not an unfamiliar look. Father looked at me exactly like that once. Then, I discovered the truth. He was an imposter, not my father. He was pretending to be family. I was consumed with rage. How dare he? He must have killed my father to take his place. I knew no one would believe me. Everyone thought he was just disappointed with me because I was a girl. But I knew the truth. My real father loved me. The fake one can’t pretend. Then he died. Accidental death. He had mixed his drinks with Valium. I rejoiced. The imposter was gone.
Today is a special day. I made Mother’s favourite lamb keema. I am sure she will smile today. Maybe, she will appreciate me for being a caring daughter.
Oh, she is not smiling. There is that look of hatred again. No, it is not pure hatred… it is mixed with something else. Is that fear? Why? Oh. The phenomenon. It has happened again. That is not Mother. My eyes are welling up. The pain is almost unbearable. I can’t bear to look at her anymore. I run to my room and sob my heart out. I can hear Son’s cries in the background. I ignore them. I cannot do anything about the cries. Even if I go, he will cry harder. Instead, I cry with him.
His cries have calmed down. The one pretending to be Mother did that. I hate her. I am jealous too. Son likes the imposter more than his own mother. Are all babies so stupid?
Wait. Could he be an imposter too?
I cannot afford to waste my time crying. I cannot let the imposters be. I have to avenge my real family. I don’t think I have the patience to make it look like accidental deaths this time.
Husband has returned. He is screaming “Murderer” at me. I am trying to explain. Honey, they were imposters. They weren’t real. He is not listening to me. He is calling the police. The police wouldn’t understand. I knock the phone out of his hands. I try to kiss him but he pushes me away. He has never pushed me away before. Oh, he isn’t real either. I thrust the knife into his heart too. I do not need any imposters in my house.
I looked in the mirror. I am covered in blood but I feel happy. I avenged my real family. I wasn’t fooled by the phenomenon. I am sure my family is proud of me. I can sleep now. Forever.