Mary 2.0


By Alisa Oden

October 30, 2020


A few weeks ago, I found something strange in my parent’s attic. A set of those old VHS tapes like from the 90s and stuff. I didn’t think much of them- probably some old recordings of me as a little kid or something- and set them aside to watch later.

Once I was done going through the attic, I carried the tapes to my bedroom along with a VCR I’d taken from my parent’s room. A couple of YouTube tutorials later, I managed to hook up the VCR to my TV. I popped in the first tape, dated 11/10/90, and pressed play. That would’ve been my first birthday. 

The tape opened with a dark room and candlelight. My parents huddled around me, singing happy birthday. Little me was giggling and waving my arms and legs about. I was enjoying the attention. My dad leaned in and blew out the candles, and the lights clicked on. Mom plucked the candles from the cake, beaming at little me. “Who wants cake?” She said.

The tape ended. I reached for a second one marked 1/18/95. My mom and I were at a playground, surrounded by other kids. I was four years old in this one, I think. I was playing with this girl in the snow, and my mom was chatting with some other parents. Then, suddenly I was on the ground and the girl was screaming at the top of her lungs at the blood pouring from my head. The camera dropped into the snow, still rolling, and I saw my dad running towards me yelling. The screen went black. I stared at the TV with confusion. My parents never told me about this.

Slowly, I grabbed a third tape. It didn’t have a date on this one. Just the word Funeral. Nervously, I put it in. As promised, we started with a sea of black. I could hear people in the crowd sniffling and sobbing. An unpleasant thought crossed my mind, but I shoved it down. Why was this being recorded anyway?

Just then, I heard the funeral march start playing. The camera zoomed in on the front, right where the casket was. A few feet away, there’s a deep rectangular hole. The grave. I focused on the table behind the casket, covered with pictures of their dead loved one. I choked. It’s me. Or at least, it’s the girl from the previous tapes. Suddenly, my room seemed a lot smaller. I gasped for breath, my hands frantically batting at the VCR. “Turn off, turn off, turn off,” I mumbled, and the cursed thing finally stopped playing. I sat there for a few minutes, my breaths ragged, my heart beating a mile a minute. I couldn’t feel anything. I was completely and utterly numb because according to this stupid tape, I was dead.

Of course, no I wasn’t. I was right here, living and breathing. So that meant whoever was in those videos was not me. With trembling hands, I put in the next tape. 11/10/97. What should’ve been my seventh birthday. Once again, we opened to a dark room and a chorus of Happy Birthday. When the lights turned on again, I studied my younger self. This time I could tell it was really me based on the old baby pictures I had. 

I’ve always been told I looked really young for my age, but looking at myself happily chomping cake, I realized I was really young. I couldn’t have been more than five years old, and yet it was supposed to be a celebration of my seventh birthday. My whole body went cold. The girl from before? That had to have been my sister. A sister I didn’t know I even had. I rewatched the first tapes a few times, studying her features. We had the same nose and the same bored brown eyes. There was no mistaking our similarities, but there was still something very off about this. We were both named Mary. I must’ve been born right after she died, but why did my parents never tell me?

The unpleasant thought from before drifted back into my mind. If my sister Mary had died, and I, born almost immediately after, had also been named Mary, what did that mean? It might’ve been because of grief, but it didn’t make sense that I would’ve been treated as an only child. They would’ve told me about her. I was sure of it. 

I froze. My parents wanted to pretend I was the only Mary. They wanted to pretend she was still alive, so they made me Mary. Her lovely, perfect replacement. Her little sister. Mary 2.0.