She was returning to the world slowly but surely. When she awoke she heard machines. One was peeping like a bird, but it reminded her of something. Then she saw the screen, it was measuring her heart beat, peep-peep, peep-peep and she knew that everything had been mastered, she had come through the operation. She had a clip on her finger to measure her pulse, and there were various attachments, blood transfusions , infusions with liquid and medicines. She heard voices in the background, familiar and saw the outline of her husband asking questions, but she was unable to answer. She had so many questions herself. And then she slipped back into darkness and slept. After some time she awoke feeling better and more in reality. The nurse told her she would be moved back to the ward.
She slept again and awoke to a blade of light cutting into the room from the window. There were no more machines, just infusions and a nurse explaining what the various liquids were for. A cocktail of pain killers, liquid to prevent dehydration: and she rested again.
After three days between sleep and awake she was allowed to leave the bed. The first thing she did was to clean her teeth and on this occasion she saw her reflection in the mirror. The reflection she saw, could this be me or someone resembling me, it was strange. She put her fingers out to touch the glass and a hand came towards her, but it just did not seem it was her hand. She noticed a slight time lapse in the meeting of the two hands. Something was wrong somewhere. She tried again, but could not, the reflection was not hers. She felt weak and the nurse was there to support her and helped her back to the bed.
“You have to be careful the first steps you take” the nurse said “moving too quickly will make you dizzy. Just take things easy.”
“Easier said than done” she thought, but was helped back to her bed.
“The doctor will come and see you this afternoon and will explain how the operation developed.”
In the afternoon the Doctor Smith came to her bed.
“How are you feeling? The operation took longer than we thought.”
“How long, doctor?” she asked
“Seven hours, we only programmed three hours, but we found something we were not expecting. We knew that there was something growing in the lower part of your back and had to enter through the stomach. This was no problem, but what we found was not what we were expecting. It seems that you should have been a twin.”
“Sorry, I don’t understand: a twin?” And she felt very strange.
“It was born with you, but had no chance to develop; just one of those whims of nature. It just remained in your back. Such occurrences happen from time to time.”
“Can you perhaps explain further. What did you actually find?”
“It was just a collection of cells pointing to the existence of a twin. It was perhaps better that it did not develop, it may have become a Siamese twin and then you would have had problems at your birth.”
“What type of cells?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, they were just various skin cells and organic material. The main thing is that the operation was a success, we removed the growth and now you are on the way to recovery. I wish you a restful day. If you continue to recover so well I am sure you can leave us during the coming week.”
She had the feeling that Doctor Smith was not saying all. That evening her husband visited her with her twin boys.
“Twins seem to run in the family” she thought.
“How are you feeling” asked a concerned husband. “What did the doctor say?”
“He said everything was going according to plan and if I continue to feel as well as I am I can be at home next week.”
“Fine” he answered “We are all missing you. Your sister called to say she will stay a few days when you are home again to help with the family and daily work. I will also be at home as I will take a few days holiday and you really do not have to overdo it. You will need a few days to get back to your old self again.”
Her husband left and she decided to settle in for the night. Hospital beds were comfortable but it was not the same as being at home. She decided to freshen up before sleeping and as she was now able to walk around quite independently she made her way over to the hospital bathroom on her own.
She stood again in front of the mirror and looked again. Everything was normal, it was just the strange feeling she had looking at her reflection. She felt it was not hers, but that of another although it was exactly herself. The reflection smiled and she was startled. She had not smiled. She touched the mirror with her hand, and the other hand in the mirror reached out and touched her, but there was a few seconds delay until the two hands united and she felt an impulse go through her hand. The face in the mirror smiled again and disappeared, and then she saw it was her own reflection.
She had a troubled sleep that night, wondering what was wrong. The next morning she knew she had to wash but the walk to the mirror was worrying her. She took her courage in her hands and went to the bathroom. This time it was her own reflection quite clear and strong, although she thought she was seeing double when a second reflection seemed to impose itself on her own.
“Who are you?” she asked not really expecting an answer. The window in the bathroom was open and a faint breeze wafted in. The second reflection moved and it opened its mouth, but no words came, and she thought she could see tears on its face. The nurse walked into the room and the second reflection disappeared.
When she returned to her room in the hospital she demanded to see Doctor Smith.
“I don’t know if he is here at the moment” the nurse answered.
“Then please tell me where I can find him in this hospital, I want to see him at once.”
The nurse looked startled and told her she would see what she could do and then left the ward.
She knew something was strange somewhere and in the afternoon she decided to take a walk around the hospital with the idea of finding the doctor’s room. The nurses had told her it would be of advantage to take a walk. She had already spent a pleasant morning sitting in the gardens of the hospital watching the ducks swimming on the pond. She had taken her mobile with her and had phoned her husband who was pleased to see that she could now move around independently and was no longer tied to her hospital bed. She still had the infusion apparatus with her, but as that was on wheels it was no problem to take with her.
She knew that most of the doctors had their private surgeries on the ground floor so she walked in that direction. A hospital is a maze of corridors and places to get lost, but there were always people she could ask.
A man in a white coat walked passed, perhaps a doctor or a male nurse, you could never find the difference, but she decided to ask him.
“Can you tell me where I can find Dr. Smith’s surgery?” she asked.
“No problem” the young man answered. “Just turn to the right at the bottom of the corridor and it is the first door on the right.”
So she made her way. She found the door, knocked and walked in. Dr. Smith was sitting at his desk reading through some documents.
“Can I help, you seem to have lost your way in the hospital.” He seemed to be slightly nervous.
“I have not lost my way, but have now found it. I think we have something to discuss.” She was annoyed at his comment. It was not likely that she would lose her way when she by chance would walk into her doctor’s surgery.
“And that would be?” he asked
“I want to know the truth about my operation. What did you find. Something is not correct, I am having strange dreams. What was it you removed from my back. It is my body and I have a right to know.”
She was annoyed and angry and would not take any excuses from the doctor.
“Please sit down and I will explain. First of all you may look at these X-ray photos. Do you see the shadow in the middle? This was what we removed.”
She studied the negatives, although she was not medically trained there was no mistaking the back bone and the grey shadow surrounding it.
“We removed a collection of cells as I said, and it seems that you were to be a twin. However, there was something strange in what we removed. It was not all dead tissue.”
“I’m sorry, I just don’t understand” she said.
“The cells were dividing.”
“You mean it was g-g-g-growing” She was feeling very unsure.
“We put the growth onto a culture to see what would happen.”
“You mean you have been experimenting with my twin sister.”
Dr. Smith went red in the face. “I would not call it an experiment, but it was something we had never found before when operating.”
“And so you wanted to find out what would happen. Very nice, and where is it now? I demand that you show me otherwise there might be a few hospital directors that would be interested in the experiments you are performing. I also demand that you remove it from this “culture” immediately.”
“Please come with me” and Dr. Smith walked to the laboratory and she followed him. There in a plastic dish was a mass of cells and they were moving as if a pulse was keeping them alive.
She felt somewhat dizzy, but turned to the doctor. “Remove them at once from this culture and destroy them, this is not in keeping with the ethics of your occupation.”
The doctor was somewhat surprised “We are doing this in the name of medical science” he said.
“Forget your medical science, I have a strong feeling you want to become famous in the medical world at my cost.”
She was so annoyed that she took the culture herself and ran out of the laboratory. Her next step was the toilet where she knew she would not be followed. She looked into the mirror seeing her double once again, but this time clear and strong. The face looked at her, they both touched the mirror with their fingers and the reflection said “Please go ahead, you know what to do, I want to find my peace at last.”
She went to the toilet, threw the culture down and pulled the lever. The culture was washed away breaking into pieces and there was nothing left. She glanced into the mirror as she left and she was sure her reflection said “Thank you.”
She returned home, fully recovered from the operation. Her sister was a great help with the household and with the twins and her husband was glad to have his wife at home again. Within a month she was back to normal and everything felt fine. She was no longer frightened to look into the mirror as since that day in the hospital, she was only looking at her own reflection.