There is a tapping. Is there a tree branch against the window? I whisper your name and you stir and mutter about pipes. I drift off and wake up some minutes or hours later. The tapping. It comes at a measured pace. I sit up, and see my reflection.  

Except, my reflection is crouching on the floor beside the mirror, whilst I sit disheveled and wide-eyed in bed. The whites of my eyes meet the blacks of hers. Softly, softly I clamber out of bed and crawl along to meet her. She glances at you in the bed and smiles my smile – she didn’t want to wake you. She beckons, I shake my head. She makes to advance. I hold up my hands. Backing away slowly, my wrists turned backwards, my feet on the cold floor, I find your newspaper by the bed. She needs to know to stay where she is. A deadly pandemic grips us, in every home, in every town. Hundreds die each day. I press my paper up against the glass, pushing my point.  

She scuttles backwards in my crab pose, and brings forth a new paper. Dated next week. My birthday. The death rate slows. The government-imposed restrictions seem to be working. China has rebounded and appears to be flourishing. Pictures of unmasked smiles. I grin at my counterpart, and she beckons again. 

I realise she must have a purpose. She can change the course of the present, bring knowledge from the future to my side of the mirror. Knowing as I do now, I can go to her place and be free of the fear that has pursued me every minute since this stepped from background noise to being a screaming siren on every news broadcast, in all my thoughts. She is offering me this because she has lived this fear already.  

Softly, slowly, I dip my hands into the mirror. It feels cold, but more natural than I had imagined. Like digging into fresh earth, or sand at the beach.  

I wake up to the sunlight blazing through the curtains and a comfortable sense of warmth and well-being. As I come round a little more, I realise I am almost too warm. Much too warm. Next to me, you are hot and dry. Your breathing rattles through you.  

I press my hand to your forehead and you shake with a hacking cough. I stare at my reflection. She stares back, unsmiling. 

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