Gaslight

By Jess Charle

I’ve been away for only a few weeks, but the life that once was mine is gone.

This is my house. That’s my family in the photographs. There’s the creaky stair. The small dent in the wall from a stray soccer ball. The brass doorknobs I replaced the old ones with. The pink carpet I hate. The brown hair of my wife. The scent of almonds I know so well drifting from her skin.

The horror in her face as she rolled over and saw me will haunt me forever. The cops came and I tried to explain to them that it’s my home. That that woman is my wife. That those girls are mine. That that man, the one with my hair, my teeth, he’s the one who should be arrested. The intruder. The imposter.

My youngest calls him daddy and I feel rage boiling inside me, rising up like a hot current. They’d recognize me if he hadn’t mutilated me. They’d remember me if he hadn’t taken a razor to my face, morphing me into a monster. They’d know my voice if he hadn’t ripped out my tongue.

I regret not telling my wife about him. You’re suppose to tell your spouse everything but I was ashamed. When my phone rang and I saw it was the sanitarium, I ignored it. I didn’t listen to the voicemail until I was alone, I didn’t know I was in danger until he was already behind me. As a stabbing pain entered my neck, I heard the nurse explain that my twin brother had escaped.

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