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Day Twenty Seven - The Girl In The Snow



I don’t know about you, but I always find moving house an extremely stressful time. The packing, the unpacking, the boxes, finding the end of the roll of tape. Saying goodbye to old memories, good and bad.

I’d grown up in this house, and although it wasn’t me moving out, it was my mum, I still found the whole process stressful. I just wanted to unwind at the end of the day with a nice glass of whiskey.

I let the better of my nostalgia settle in as I flipped through the memories in my head. As I reminisced, I remembered about the hatbox in my mum’s room. I went upstairs and started to fumble around inside the wardrobe. And that was when I found it.

An old photo, creased at the corners. It depicted a little girl standing in the snow. Brown eyes, blonde hair. A pink knitted bobble hat, ski trousers and gloves, both in matching pink to the hat. I flipped it over and checked the date on the back. November 14, 1996. So me, when I was four.

Except…

The kid didn’t look quite like me.

The photo was old and grainy, it had that Kodak time worn vintage look, so it was hard to tell for sure. But the eyes were a little too close together. The smile was too toothy.

So, a friend? But it was definitely my clothes. The black and pink spotted coat, the woolly hat my mum used to knit every winter...And the kid so closely resembled me…wouldn’t I remember having a friend that looked like she could be my twin sister?

And why isn’t it with the other family photos?

I’d found it in Mum’s wardrobe. She had several photo albums, all populated with childhood photos. Documenting the most insignificant events, from baking cookies to football games.

So why wasn’t this photo with the rest? Why was it hiding on the top shelf of my mum’s wardrobe, tucked under a hatbox?

I headed downstairs to the living room, grabbed the photo album labelled 1995-1998. Paged through it until I got to a good, clear photo of myself at four.

Then I pulled the photo from my pocket and compared the two. It wasn’t a great comparison. My head was straight, and hers was tilted to the side; she was wearing a hat, I wasn’t. Still--the difference was unmistakable. Her grin was wider, toothier. Her skin was paler. Her eyes were closer together. Yet, the differences were subtle. To anyone but me, they’d probably look like the same person.

“What are you doing?”

I turned to see my mum, standing in the doorway, carrying a large box.

I hesitated, wondering if I should bring it up to her. She had enough on her mind, with my step dad passing away and the big move.

“I found this photo. Who is that?”

She set the box down and walked over.

“That’s you! When you were four or five.” She smiled. “Aww, how sweet. Look at you.”

“But it doesn’t…” I hesitated again, knowing I would sound crazy. “It doesn’t, um, look exactly like me, does it?”

“Yeah, you were a goofy-looking kid.” She laughed. “You’ve gotten far prettier since then though.”

“No, I mean, that photo doesn’t look like I did when I was a kid. Look, see.” I held up the photo of the girl in the snow side-by-side with the photo of me in the kitchen.

“I think they look identical,” she said.

“No, they don’t.”

“Maybe it’s the hat. Hey, can you help me upstairs? There’s a lot of stuff up there.”

“Sure. I’ll be there in a second.”

She smiled at me and turned away. I listened to her bare footsteps recede on the carpet. Then I snapped the photo album shut and put it back.

I tucked the photo in my pocket.

I walked back into my mum’s room and opened the wardrobe. There were more. When I took down the hatbox to search under it, the top came off, revealing an entire trove of photographs. I picked up a few of them--and my heart dropped.

A kid hunched over a birthday cake with four candles, smiling. Me. Except… not me. The same toothy grin, the same too close together brown eyes. A kid standing in the front garden, pointing to a frog. My front garden. Again, not me.

And then there was a photo that made my heart stop.

A photo of my bed. I still remembered those covers, pink and plastered with unicorns and rainbows. The pink lampshade on my bedside table, the butterfly night light in the corner of the room. But there, sitting on the bed--

Not one little girl. Two.

“Ali?” my mom’s voice came from down the hall.

I stared at the photo, frozen. Me… sitting next to a little girl that looked almost exactly like me. A twin? A sister? I had no memory of this kid. All my life, I’d believed I was an only child.

“Ali!”

The stack of photos was a few inches thick. They say a picture can paint a thousand words, and yet there had to be a thousand photos here, and I had no words. There was no way I could go through them all. I slipped several in my pocket, replaced the hatbox, and then headed down the hall.

“Coming, Mum!”

I started up the landing--And my phone began to ring.

The theme to Legend of Zelda played its tune. I stopped a few feet from the room my mum was in and slipped the phone out of my pocket.

Caller ID: Adam. My husband.

“Yeah?”

“Can you get me a drink, too?”

“Uh, sure,” I said. “What do you want me to pick up on the way back? The usual whiskey?”

“On the way back?”

“Yeah. On the way back from my mum’s. I’ll be here another hour or two, but--”

“You’re at your mum’s?” he asked. His voice suddenly soft, confused.

“Yeah, why?”

“I don’t understand. I just let you inside the house,” he said. “You’re down in the kitchen. Making us drinks. …Aren’t you?”


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