It was uncanny, the resemblance between the twins. From the moment of their birth, they were declared to be identical. In the years that would follow, they would only prove to be carbon copies of one another. The first twin, Olivia, had fiery red hair that stopped at the shoulders, and deep blue eyes that shimmered in light. Being an identical twin, her sister Niamh was exactly the same. The same red hair and same shimmering blue eyes. They were also the same height, not a centimetre in difference. They looked so similar that even their parents could hardly tell them apart. It was truly a remarkable similarity between the twins. Growing up in Derry at the height of the Troubles, their lives had not come easy, but they were inseparable all the same. Where you’d find one sister, her twin would surely be nearby. That was something that continued well into their teenage years. They did everything together. They went to the same school, took the same subjects, read the same books and had the same interests. There was no denying that they were practically the same person. For years their bond seemed unbreakable. But it’s a sadly believed fact that nothing lasts forever. It was in October 1972, both twins at the age of 16, when it all started to go wrong. You see, although the sisters had always been together, there had always been an underlying conflict in their relationship. Olivia was spectacularly intelligent and got outstanding results in every test or exam she ever took part in. She was multitalented and was full of potential. Niamh too was bright and full of talent, but it was Olivia who was always treated as the Golden Girl of the family. Niamh loved her sister but there were times she felt overwhelmingly jealous of how much better her sibling was treated. And it was jealousy that caused her to turn the way she did.
At first, her behaviour only changed slightly. She’d suddenly stopped walking home from school with her sister, which was something they’d done every day for years. She’d started coming home a lot later with no explanation for where she was. Then there was the trouble she was getting into in school. Teachers reported her acting out in class or picking on other students. Despite the amount of times her parents asked her about it, Niamh always failed to explain why her behaviour was changing. What was worse was the new groups of people she started hanging around with. She no longer spoke to her best friends from years ago, and she’d do her best to ignore them whenever they tried to speak to her. Instead, she started hanging around with the more aggressive people in the school, people who also caused trouble in school. Before long, people reported seeing her ditching class with her new friends, spending her time drinking and smoking instead of staying in school. Instead of going to mass on Sundays with her family, she’d be out smoking with her friends. Her family and friends began to see less and less of her, unable to explain why she had changed so much. Not even Olivia, who knew her more than anyone, could get any explanations from her. Her sister, her beloved twin, was a completely different person, a stranger to her.
By December, Niamh O’Kelly was known as a troublemaker. Her more aggressive behaviour was no longer confined to school. Multiple times she was seen doing damage to property or stealing from shops. It was very dangerous activities she was doing, and still, no one could explain what was happening to her. She had once been a very polite, sweet and well-spoken girl, just like her sister, but now she was someone people longed to avoid. Before long, she was in debt. Her bad habits starting to catch up, she started owing money to her new “friends”. Before long, even they abandoned her, not wanting to speak with her until she paid them large amounts of money. After that, she did once again speak to Olivia, her twin. She confessed to her sister why she’d changed so much, she confessed her jealousy of her sibling, that she was simply tired of being treated as the second of the two sisters. Olivia did her best to support her sister, helped her give up the drink and drugs that had led her into addiction. She went as far as giving her money to repay some of her debts. But not even the love of her sister could prevent what was going to happen.
Without all of her debts repaid, the wrong crowd of people Niamh had been hanging around with soon grew restless. Tired of waiting, they decided they wanted to do something about Niamh. And at the height of the Troubles, where anyone could get some sort of weapon if they knew the right people, one of the particularly violent boys of Derry managed to get his hands on a gun. It was early in the morning in late December when it happened. On her way to school, a girl who looked exactly like Niamh walked down the road. She had exactly the same fiery red hair and identical deep blue eyes that shimmered in light. It was this same person who was approached by the boy. The boy, who had heard that Niamh had a twin, but had never seen them standing beside each other, had no idea how similar they looked. He had no idea that two people could look so similar. And not once did he consider that the person he was following was the wrong twin.
When the ambulance came, it was too late to save her. The shot had hit her right through the heart, she died instantly. Through eye witness accounts and police deduction, the truth of the story reached the girl’s family. Olivia O’Kelly had been walking to school that morning when a violent aggressive young boy mistook her for her sister, who had owed him money, and took her life. It was a sad case of mistaken identity. Identical twins were very rare, after all. But there was one fact that only Olivia could know; that she died thinking of her sister.