I can see a normal sized room in a pleasant enough house. This time I am not part of it; just watching.
A tired looking woman with flaming red hair and freckles across her cheeks sets a tiny baby down in a cot.
“Is Lily finally asleep?” a man standing in the doorway gazing at his wife and daughter whispers.
“I think she’s getting bored of me, it’s your turn next time,” she teases, still talking quietly so as to not wake the sleeping baby.
He walks towards the cot to look at the peaceful infant before pulling his wife close to him and tilting his head down to touch hers as a stray lock of dark hair falls to the side revealing a lightening shaped scar on his forehead. It’s a beautiful scene and I would be glad that for once I am seeing something so lovely if I didn’t know that it will turn before long.
“How about I have her while she’s like this and when she starts crying or smelling bad you can have her,” he jokes good-naturedly. “Besides, she could never get bored of her own mother.”
As he leaves the room the woman turns to her baby. “Even if you do get fed up of me you’re going to have to put up with me every single day Lily, I’ll never leave you, even when you want me to.”
Starting at loud laughter from someone who seems to be visiting, she turns and, with one last glance at Lily, hurries downstairs.
For a few minutes the room is quiet besides from the background noises of a family and friendly chatter from downstairs and my heart, which I can feel even if I haven’t brought it into this vision with me, starts thumping harder in anticipation of the horror about to come. Am I about to witness a cot death? Or is the baby going choke on the mittens she chews in her sleep. Maybe she’ll roll over and be smothered by her blankets. I don’t want to see this but I can’t look away; I have no eyes to close and no body to turn away, no voice to call out and warn the mother and no hands to pick up Lily and make sure she’s ok.
My wondering is halted when I hear the quick, faltering footsteps of a young child clambering up the stairs and padding across the landing right into this room. A young boy looks around, slightly confused, only realising half way into the room that it isn’t what he was looking for. I can tell by his unfamiliarity with the layout that he must be the child of one of the visitors downstairs.
Just as he is about to walk back out, the window swings open, and he strides across the room to close it with that proud look that can often be seen on the faces of children who have remembered how to be grown up and helpful like their parents told them.
My heart clenches, “Don’t!” I want to scream, “Run away!” because I am familiar with how these visions play out; someone always dies and I don’t want it to be either of these children.
Reaching out to close the window he freezes, at first I think he is simply startled at whatever he has seen outside but then there is a brief flash and his arm snap to his sides, his body becoming rigid as a board before falling backwards against the bed. I wish that the bed hadn’t been there, the thump would certainly have roused the suspicion of the adults below.
An arm holding a wand comes through the window followed by a woman cradling something in her other arm. She wears a dark dress and the hood of a black cloak is pulled up, hiding her face from my view. Dark curls spill out from the hood, further obscuring her face, and as she moves towards the cot I realise the bundle cradled in her left arm is, in fact, another baby.
She looks down at the boy and smirks.
“Don’t you worry little boy,” she speaks in a sing song voice. “You’re going to come in quite useful.”
Unable to move or speak only his terrified eyes dart about the room before settling on her and following her towards the cot.
She sets the baby down on the bed next to the boy and leans over to pick up Lily.
As I see them both properly for the first time I realise that the babies are identical. I don’t just mean in the way that most babies look pretty similar but in the way that they are absolutely, completely identical to each other. They must be twins.
Replacing Lily in the cot with the baby that she brought in she turns away and points her wand towards the window.
For a long moment nothing happens and I start to get more and more nervous waiting for something drastic to occur until an old man floats through the widow and, with another flick of the wand, hovers above the bed. He is as rigid and frozen as the little boy. After a moment the woman seems to focus until there is a sudden, bright flash of green light and the man goes limp, falling to the bed, clearly dead.
She turns away from me and I cannot see what she’s doing for a moment as she reaches towards the baby with whom she replaced Lily.
I try to cry out and her head whips around, followed by her wand, pointing straight at me as she watches intently to try and see me.
It was almost as though she had heard me but I knew she couldn’t have. They never do.
Turning back towards the boy she strokes his face gently as he whimpers slightly and I can see the way he is trying to pull himself free of the curse even though he cannot move. She raises her wand above her head, pointing it down at him with a wicked smile and his struggles double, terror invading his eyes for just a second before the same green light hits him and the rigidness leaves but he becomes even more still.
I still can’t see what she does from my position as she leans over Lily’s replacement again before turning around, surveying the scene of death with a quick detached glance, and pulling herself out of the widow, Lily in her arms.
I know that it’s pointless, that I don’t have a mouth, or vocal chords or whatever it is that allows people to speak but I can’t help but try to shout for the infant’s mother as the woman climbs out of the window. Again, she pauses and looks back at me, staring into thin air for a moment before disregarding it and continuing out.
For a long few minutes I stay there. The room is still, it’s only inhabitants being me, a young boy and old man, both dead, and Lily’s twin.
Then the baby heaves a breath into her little lungs and begins to wail.
Still, I cannot leave, even as the mother re-enters, following the sounds of a baby’s cry and gasps at the scene before her, only looking for the shortest of moments before running over to make sure that her daughter is fine.
She just stands and looks down at the crying baby, a blank look on her face.