Chapter 1

Alice

Alli rubbed her eyes sleepily, and yawned.

She closed her Physics book in resignation. I'll still fail tomorrow, even if I stayed up late to study, she thought, remembering the Physics quiz she just bombed the other day. Well, she always failed every test in every subject, anyway. I might as well sleep…

She glanced at her reflection, looking at her haggard appearance, and tousled, long black hair. She looked, and felt, extremely tired.

She flicked the switch of her lamplight to off, and collapsed on her bed.

I really do wonder…if I had been born a different person, would things be much better for me? She mused again, closing her eyes. If only I could find out…who knows, maybe I could have been popular like Cecilia, or smart like Stella…

She snuggled under the covers, and soon fell asleep.

Unbeknownst to her, her ring suddenly began to glow, emitting a strange blue aura.

Alli was able to sleep for two minutes without interruption. That is, until she was woken up by the sound of something heavy falling into her bed.

She sat up, grumbling. It was probably one of her books, which had fallen into her bed, having been stacked so carelessly since she was already quite drowsy.

But no, it wasn't one of her books that fell there. Instead, when she looked at the space beside her, she saw her reflection from the surface of a mirror.

She fell back down on the bed, and decided to just put the mirror away when she woke up the next morning. She briefly wondered where the mirror had come from, when she suddenly realized—

Wait a minute! Why are my eyes closed in that mirror?!

She screamed at the same time the girl beside her opened her eyes.

"Alli! Alli! What's wrong?"

She bolted from her room, and ran straight to her father's arms.

"Dad! Mom!" she cried out, shivering. "I-I s-saw this stranger in my room, and she looked like-"

"Calm down," Mr. Silvano ordered, him not looking composed, though. He grabbed the first thing he could reach, which was a broom, and decided to use it for protection.

They all walked cautiously towards Alli's room. Mrs. Silvano gripped her daughter's hand so tightly; it was beginning to form a bruise.

The atmosphere was intense. Slowly, cautiously, Mr. Silvano opened the door.

The room was empty.

"Alli?" Mrs. Silvano said, looking around her. "Where's that person?"

"She was really there," Alli said tearfully.

Mr. Silvano made a quick scan of the room. "No one here," he announced. "No sign of a forced entry, either. He or she probably got away. How did this person look like?"

"She looked exactly like me," Alli replied. "At first I thought I was looking at a mirror, but then…"

Her words trailed off, looking at her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Silvano were as normal as normal people could be. And they certainly were skeptics of the paranormal. So imagine what their reaction would be if their own daughter suddenly tells them of a supernatural phenomenon she just experienced…

It was enough to stop Alli from going any further.

"Um, ah, yes, I realize now that it was just a dream," Alli said, now chuckling. "Must be because of studying too much. Physics really is bad for your health."

Her father looked at her, bemused. "But…"

"Really, dad! All this fuss for a stupid dream…"

"Well…if that is so…"

"We'll be going back to sleep then," Mrs. Silvano said gently. She kissed Alli on the cheek softly, and bid her good night.

Mr. Silvano soon followed suit, giving her the broom for safety. "Sleep well, Alli," he told her anxiously. "We'll leave the door unlocked so you can easily run to us."

"Good night, mom, dad."

Alli stretched, and yawned, still baffled by the incident. She knew that she wasn't dreaming, but how else could she explain having seen another her? She shook her head, now worried that she might be going a bit insane.

Suddenly, someone clamped a hand to her mouth.

She was about to scream again, when a voice spoke behind her.

"Shh," the girl whispered kindly. "Hi. My name is Allisana Silvano, which, if I'm not mistaken, is also your name."

Alli managed a muffled "What?!", and the girl nodded, satisfied.

"I'll take that for a yes," the other Allisana said. "Don't worry, I won't hurt you. I'm not into hurting myself, you know." She laughed at her joke.

Slowly she released Alli. "Sorry, I had to do that. I really wouldn't want mom and dad to see both of us at the same time."

"Mom?! Dad?!"

Alli could now see that this girl really looked exactly like her. The same unruly black hair, the same plain brown eyes, and even the same smile. They were even wearing the same blue shorts and the same oversized t-shirt.

Heck, they even had the same name. This girl, indeed, was her.

"Yeah, mom, dad," Alice replied. "Your parents, and my parents too."

"WHAT?!"

"I am you, and you are me. I think."

Alli was now completely taken aback.

"It baffles me too," the girl continued. "What AM I doing here?" She furrowed her

eyebrows, and began to brood about the present situation.

"W-wait," Alli said, still dazed. "You're me? And I'm you? But how?"

"I have no idea." The girl shrugged. "Geez, solving a Physics problem is easier than this. But, well, in the first place, it really is easy, anyway…"

"Right…" Alli abruptly stopped. "Wait a minute, solving a Physics problem is easy?!"

"I'm sorry," the girl said. "Am I being arrogant? I guess it does sound too egotistical if you hear it come from someone else. But, I know deep inside you're proud of it…"

"Proud of what?"

"Of doing well in school," the girl said modestly.

The expression on Alli's face was priceless.

"You…do…well…in…school…?"

The girl blinked. "Uh…you don't?"

"Oh, I see," Alli said, tying her hair into a neat ponytail. "You're sort of an alter ego of myself."

"That's what I think," the other Allisana said, tying her own hair into an identical ponytail. "That explains why we're the same person, but different people, too. I don't how I got here though."

"So how do I call you?", Alli asked. "Is your nickname Alli, too?"

"No." The girl shook her head. "Most people call me Alice."

"Alice." Alli smiled, relieved that they didn't have the same nickname, so as to avoid confusion. "Well, nice to meet you, Alice."

"You too." Alice shook Alli's hand, grinning. "This is weird, you know, talking to myself. Literally."

"Uh-huh."

"Wait," Alice suddenly gripped Alli's hand, and examined it, "That's a nice ring you have there. Funny, I don't remembering owning anything like it."

"Someone gave it to me," Alli replied, drawing her hand away. "I don't know who gave it, though, because I just found it in my bag yesterday."

"Yesterday was my…your…er, our birthday, right?"

"Yes. None of my classmates noticed, though."

"I'm…I'm sorry…"

"It's okay," Alli said, sighing. "Stella noticed, at least. Anyway, someone just gave me this ring yesterday. It's strange, really. I mean, someone gives me this ring, and then you come along, and—who knows what might come next? Maybe later I'll top the Physics exam-"

"Th—that's it," Alice said slowly.

Alli stared at her. "What's 'it'?"

"Well, you felt so miserable yesterday, because no one noticed your birthday," Alice began.

"So?"

"When I get depressed, sometimes I wish was a different person," Alice explained. "Or, at least, I could see myself as a different person. I suppose you do, too."

Alli nodded, not understanding what Alice was getting at.

"Well…it's possible that this ring is magical," Alice continued. "And, well, it's also possible that…"

"You mean…"

"The ring probably granted your wish."

Mr. Silvano frowned, looking at Alli's closed door.

Yawning, he knocked again on the door, but still got no answer. With his heart furiously pounding on his chest, for he was worried that something had happened to his dear and only daughter, he opened the door hurriedly.

"Alli! Are you okay?!" he yelled, absolutely alarmed.

Two girls looked up at him, both shocked. The weird thing was, both girls looked exactly alike.

What was stranger still, both girls looked like Alli.

"What the-" was all Mr. Silvano was able to blurt out, when—

[SLAM!]

Mr. Silvano blinked. Shaking, he turned the knob once again, only to find out that it was locked.

Inside, Alli collapsed on the floor, panting. To Alice she gasped, "Hide! Now!"

Alice hid herself under the bed, on the same spot she hided in earlier.

Alli opened the door, and her father rushed in.

"Alli, what's going on?!" he sputtered, brandishing another broom in self-defense. "Who—what—where-"

"What do you mean, dad?" Alli said innocently.

"I could have sworn I saw two of you," Mr. Silvano said, bewildered. "Then you slammed the door, and-"

"Slammed the door?" Alli asked, now pretending to be puzzled. "Dad, what are you talking about? You only came now."

"But…I knocked on your door…"

"No, dad," Alli insisted. "You must be sleepwalking again."

"B-b-but…."

Alli yawned. "Oh, come on now, dad. You're the one who's always saying mystic occurrences are all a bunch of nonsense. Don't tell me you honestly believe seeing two of me?"

"I-I guess," Mr. Silvano murmured, now feeling humiliation at her daughter's reproach."

"Now, go get some sleep, dad," Alli said amiably. "Good night."

"Good night."

Alli closed the door, and Mr. Silvano walked away, still perplexed by the incident. That's it!, he thought. I'm never going watch that documentary on cloning again…

Alli exhaled, extremely relieved.

"You can come out now," she called out to Alice.

Alice came out, looking a bit disheveled. She brushed the dust away from her shorts, and said, rather crossly, "Next time, lock the door."

"Right," Alli agreed. "Sorry, I just forgot."

Alice plopped down on the bed. "So…as I was saying…"

"If the ring granted my wish," Alli said thoughtfully, "I can just wish you back, right? Easy as that."

"Yes," Alice said, smiling. "I do need to go home. My parents might get worried. Besides…" She looked up at Alli, twiddling her thumbs nervously.

"What?"

"Um…there's this study session I have with my friend," Alice said sheepishly. "I was sort of looking forward to it."

Alli gawked at her. "You're looking forward to a STUDY SESSION?!"

"Um, yes."

"Okay…"

"So, can you send me back now?"

"Sure."

Alli closed her eyes, concentrating. She put her whole mind to the task at hand, and she took a deep breath.

"Ring on my finger, hear my wish," Allie cried out, waving her hands dramatically. She twirled around the room, seemingly performing some strange ritual.

"Hear me, thou who didst grant the deepest desire of my heart-"

Alice stared at Alli with a look of utter amazement on her face, she looked almost as whimsical as Alli herself. "Alli—I think this is completely unnecessary…"

"Oh, just watch," Alli snapped. "True witches do this all the time."

Alice shook her head. She's watched too much Charmed

"Hear me, oh divine being," Alli resumed. "Hear my wish, for I am longing. I wish-"

Alice's hands shook in apprehension.

"I wish-"

Yes! Alice screamed inside her head.

"I wish-"

Alli paused, then tried again.

"I wish…"

"SAY IT! SAY IT!" Alice almost yelled, but managed to hold herself back. She hissed it instead.

"Um…" Alli hesitated. "Before I wish you back…could you do me a small favor?"

"What?!"

"Could you…" Alli said nervously. "Could you tutor me for my exam tomorrow first?"

"Now do you get it?"

"It's easier than I thought. I never thought I would get it…"

"See?" Alice reassured her. "You're not stupid. Of course you're not, you're me. You just need a tutor, that's all."

"Gee, thanks," Alli said, blushing at Alice's reassurance. "I never really had that confidence in myself. Thanks, really. To think that it only took us-", she glanced at her watch, "—four hours to understand one chapter! I think that's really good!

Alice smiled, proud of her work. "Yeah! That's really good! I mean four hours is-"

Reality sank in.

"…four hours?"

They looked at each other, both bewildered.

"FOUR hours?" Alice repeated incredulously. "Are you sure?"

"We started at two o'clock," Alli said slowly. "And it's already six o'clock…"

"It took us that long?!" Alice said, still upset.

"No, that's not what bothers me," Alli said, looking nervous.

"What else could bother you?!"

Nothing else followed Alice's annoyed statement, save for an apprehensive "Uhurm" from Alli.

Then came a shriek.

"I'M GOING TO BE LATE FOR SCHOOL AGAIN!"

Alli ran to their classroom, checking her watch as she whizzed by.

I missed only fifteen minutes of English class…hopefully, I didn't miss much…maybe Ma'am Lara just gave them an assignment and didn't discuss anything…

She rushed towards the classroom, and threw open the door.

"SURPRISE!"

Alli really was surprised. She stood at the doorway, a dumbfounded look on her face.

All four of her friends, Stella, Cathryn, Regina and Marian were all at the classroom, beaming at her. Marian held a cake in her hands—chocolate cake, her favorite—and the on it was written the words, "Happy birthday Alli! From all of us."

Stella ran over to her, and hugged her, her short black hair bouncing as she laughed.

"But it was my birthday yesterday, not today," Alli stammered nervously.

"We know," Cathryn replied. "We were supposed to throw this surprise party yesterday, after classes, but Marian's brother ate all the cake." She eyed Marian suspiciously, and said, "Are you sure your brother was the one who ate the cake? You're such a glutton that I wouldn't be surprised if you did finish the cake and everything…"

"I did not!" Marian screamed indignantly, almost dropping the cake. "Well…I did get some…"

"Typical…"

"It was only one bite!"

"Stop it now, will you?" Regina mediated. She smiled at Alli and said, "Good thing Ma'am dismissed your class early. We had a bit more time to organize. We first planned to surprise you in third period, since all of us don't have classes then, but this is really much better, don't you think?"

"Thank you…thank you…" Alli said softly, tears coming to her eyes. She was really touched. "Thank you everyone!"

Marian eagerly began serving the cake, and Alli helped herself to a big piece.

"What did you do in English, by the way?" Alli asked Stella curiously. "Why did ma'am dismiss you early?"

"Oh…she just assigned us our roles for a skit," Stella replied, pausing from her eating. "She assigned us partners. I got Reinabelle, and we're supposed to present this fight scene between two really obnoxious ladies."

Regina giggled. "It suits her, but why did ma'am choose you?" The rest agreed, for Reinabelle was a really bossy girl whom no one in their class liked.

Stella just shrugged. "Neil's your partner," she told Alli, then grinned. "How lucky…"

The others smiled when Alli blushed, for they all knew that Alli liked Neil.

"And I hear you're supposed to do a romantic scene," Cathryn said teasingly. "Ooh…"

"Stop it," Alli said, reddening further. "Someone might hear you. Besides, Cecilia should be his partner, not me…"

"But-"

Their conversation was abruptly stopped, when someone suddenly came in. They looked up, fearing the worst, but it was only their rather eccentric History teacher, Mr. Alvie Moran, who came in.

"Hey! Cake!" he said cheerfully, rushing over to them, his short black hair looking more disorderly than usual. "Whose birthday is it?"

"It was Alli's birthday yesterday, sir," Stella answered politely. "Would you like some cake, Sir Al?"

"Oh, yes, it was Allisana's birthday yesterday! Of course!" Sir Al said, jumping up and down excitedly. "Yey! Cake! Birthdays! Fun, fun, fun! I like birthdays!"

They all laughed. Sir Al was a bit weird, but he was lots of fun. He was actually one of Alli's favorite teachers, and having him in the mini-party made everything just perfect.

She fingered her ring again, thinking that maybe the ring was responsible for this blissful day, in contrast to yesterday's depressing one. This must be the happiest day of my life…she thought, grinning.

"Have you studied for the Physics test?" Stella suddenly asked her. "Cathryn said the test was hard…"

Alli groaned. Or maybe not…

Outside, the young man was again silently watching Alli, eyeing the ring on her finger intently.

He sighed, seeing her caress the ring as she laughed about something one of her friends said.

He paused for a moment at the door, hesitating. He ran a hand over his light brown hair, still undecided on what he had to do.

Finally, he made up his mind, and walked away from the door.

Someday, Alli, he thought sadly. Someday…