Abigail strolled through the gardens of her parent’s estate. She loved spring, the trees were filling out with leaves and the flowers were pushing their way through the short grass. Life was returning to the world. At eight, she was old enough to understand the irony of her thoughts on returning life as she approached the reflecting pool that dominated the family plot.
Mother scolded her every time she visited the graves of her ancestors but to Abigail the tiny cemetery behind the gardens was a place of beauty that drew her in a way nowhere else on the property could.
“Hello Grandma Mary,” she said as she passed a headstone. “Happy spring, Great Uncle Ezekiel.”
She felt that it was only proper to greet her family as she passed. Mother said that they looked down on the living from Heaven and Abigail didn’t want them to think she was rude by not saying hello.
Abigail made the rounds of seven generations of her forebears. Each relation, no matter how distant, received a personal greeting. The only grave without a name was a small, unadorned stone that lay flat on the ground. It stood apart from the rest of her relations. The marker was clearly another grave and Abigail wondered if perhaps it was someone unrelated to the others, why else would it be kept apart.
The stone was smooth, not from age, it had been worked to a smooth surface like the other stones but was unmarked by name or date. There was nothing to help her learn who rested beneath the stone. Abigail fought the urge to ask Mother or Father, it was more fun to secretly pour through the genealogies contained in the family bibles and other books in the grand library; she pretended to be a detective trying to solve a mystery.
She had hunted in vain for the last three weeks since she had discovered the nearly invisible stone. It never occurred to her to give up, she was as stubborn as Father.
Abigail’s wanderings brought her to the edge of the circular reflecting pool at the center of the cemetery. Father had said it represented the cycle of life or eternity; Abigail just thought it was pretty. Motion in the water drew her eye. Abigail glanced down thinking that perhaps a bird had landed in the water or perhaps a twig from a tree had disturbed the surface. Nothing moved on the pond. No ripples were evident, only her own reflection with her white dress moving gently in the cool breeze.
Abigail started to turn away and then looked back at the water. Her reflection was there twice. A girlish giggle escaped her lips, she had never seen anything like it. She looked around to make sure that it wasn’t just another person who had snuck up on her but she was alone in the cemetery. Both images were her. Both wore a white dress with knee socks. Both images had the same ribbon adorning a blonde bob. Both images shared dimples and wide blue eyes.
Abigail waved at herself; only the left image waved. She cocked her head in confusion and tried again. Only the left image tilted her head and waved. A small shiver crept up Abigail’s spine and she began to step back. The right image suddenly smiled and waved enthusiastically stopping Abigail’s flight. A faint sound came from the water. It was high pitched. Abigail saw that the right image’s mouth was moving. Was her other reflection trying to talk to her? The girl with her face motioned her to come closer and after a moments hesitation Abigail knelt beside the pool and brought her face close to the water.
“Hi Abigail,” the girl’s faint voice said. It sounded like she was speaking from far away and her voice wavered as if she were speaking from beneath the water. “I’m Gabrielle”.
“Who are you?”
“I’m your sister.”
Abigail sat back in confusion. She was an only child. She had spent her entire life alone on the estate with only her parents and tutors for company. The only time she had visitors her own age was on her birthday for the formal party.
“I don’t have a sister,” Abigail said.
Gabrielle giggled, it wounded like popping bubbles to Abigail.
“Of course you do silly,” Gabrielle said. “I’m your identical twin.”
“You’re a fibber,” Abigail said in her best stern tone. “I’m an only child. Mother would have told me if I had a sister.”
“Mother wanted to protect you. I went away just after we were born. She didn’t want you to miss me I guess.”
“Where did you go? Why haven’t I ever seen you?”
“Oh Abby,” Gabrielle sighed. “You visit me every day. I’m right over there.”
Gabrielle’s arm pointed across the pond toward the spot where the tiny gravestone lay.
“Are you dead?”
“Yeah. But don’t be afraid, we’re sisters and I was just lonely. Mother hid my grave so you wouldn’t know and then feel bad.”
“I’m not afraid,” Abigail said. “I’m eight and am not afraid of ghosts.”
Abigail squared her shoulders and lifted her chin as she spoke evoking a perfect image of her mother in miniature.
“Good. So sister, will you be my friend?”
Abigail nodded vigorously, her blonde hair flying in her reflection.
“I’d love that. I don’t have any friends but now I have a sister.”
“Great,” Gabrielle said and extended her hand toward Abigail. “Shake on it.”
Without thought, Abigail reached to the surface of the water to shake her sister’s hand. Her hand touched the surface and against all logic she felt her sister’s hand clasp her own.
Abigail’s smile stretched almost ear to ear as Gabrielle shook her hand. Her smile faltered when Gabrielle pulled. Abigail tumbled into the water.
She struggled for a moment and then stopped. The two girls embraced, giggling into each others hair. Gabrielle took Abigail’s hand and the twins skipped away. Their images faded from the pool. Silence covered the graveyard once more, only the silent gravestones looked down on Abigail’s body as it floated across the reflecting pool.