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"Just one wish, young lady. Tell me what you desire the most this moment in time. Do not think." He dictated gravely. Jemima could not believe it. At last, she will have her wish for once. She grinned,"I want to be Lydia. She has everything. Make me be Lydia."
He took a moment, then said,"your wish is granted. Same would be reversed, if only, you realise the moment when…." Jemima was not listening anymore as the rest of his words faded away. Her wish will soon be a reality, that was all that mattered. Then she won't have to live with this family that seem not to care what she wants. Jemima went to sleep.
It was a quiet, still night. Lydia laid flat on her stomach, under her bed. Her heart was racing fast, sweat pouring down her face profusely. Her hands were shaky, cold and clamy. She could not stop trembling from fear. This is a nightmare, she thought. The last two nights have been the same.
She was confused as to why she was trembling in fear and hiding under the bed. The whole scene seemed out of her control. Then the window beside her bed creaked open slowly with a dark head sticking in. She could not see the face from where she hid under the bed. The figure's breathing was heavy, loud and harsh in the quiet room. "Little Lydia," he whispered. "Where are you girl? Hiding from me? Don't make me come looking for you."
Tears streamed down her face. Lydia covered her mouth with her hands to stop any sound from escaping. He must not know she is here. She waited, then no heavy breathing sound again.
"Lydia, time for school!" She woke with a start and bumped her head against the bed. Lydia did not remember falling asleep under her bed. She came out from under the bed and dressed for school.
In class, Lydia could not help staring at Jemima all day. What was she thinking? Jemima is a cute, pretty girl. Well dressed and very intelligent. The teachers commended her and everyone loved her. She seemed happy all the time. She had all she ever needed.
When the school bell rang, Jemima jumped up and ran out of the class. "Woohoo! I love my life!" She screamed as she ran past Lydia. Lydia dragged her feet, not in a hurry to returned to her home of nightmares. Then she had a light bulb moment and her mind was made up. She knew what she had to do to banish the nightmare away. How could Lydia live like this and pretend at school that all was well? Why would she envy Lydia when she had a good life?
At 9pm, her mother popped into her room. "Young girl, put off your lamp. Time for bed."
"Yes mom. Good night."
"Good night my flower. Love you."
Lydia forced herself to stay awake even though her eyes were heavy. When it was 12 midnight, very sure your mother would be asleep, she tiptoed into the kitchen and grabbed a bowl of tomato and pepper paste in the kitchen. Her mother will forgive her in the morning for what she would do with the paste. She pushed the bowl under the bed gently so the paste would not spill on the rug and slid in with it. She fell asleep waiting for the nightmare man.
The window creaked and Lydia woke up suddenly, hearing the heavy breathing sound. "Little Lydia, where are you? Enough of this game". Lydia took a deep breath, slid out a little from under the bed and drew the bowl close to her. "I am right here you monstrous, bad man!" Lydia shrieked loudly and poured the tomato paste on the dark head. The man screamed from the pain of the paste getting into his eyes and nose as he toppled and fell over to the ground.
The whole neighborhood woke up. Lydia's mother came rushing into her room. The mystery man was Mr. Samuel staying two houses away from Lydia's house! The police came, asked questions and commended Lydia for being a brave girl. Her mother was so proud of her. She tucked Lydia in beside her and they both slept together for the remaining hours before morning.
In class, while the teacher was writing on the board, Jemima turned and looked at Lydia sitting behind her who also looked up at almost the same time. They both smiled at each other. "Thank you", Lydia mouthed. Jemima nodded and turned to face her book. It felt good to be herself again.
Jemima knew she had foolishly and ignorantly believed Lydia's life was far better than hers. She realised how she was well loved and taken care of. When she resolved to help Lydia overcome her nightmare and fear, that was the moment when she knew her life was far better and still hers alone. There was nothing to be gained trying to be someone else.
After school, Jemima ran to meet her mum at the parking lot and hugged her tightly. "Oh mummy, I missed you so much!"