We were thirteen. You fell. Hospital walls greeted us. Worry etched onto our faces. A man in a white blouse. Lines on his forehead, bags under his eyes. His voice monotone as he delivered the news. You won’t live another year. Mom and Dad, devastated, clutching my shoulders,
« Is she at risk too ? »
The doctor looked at me briefly. His eyes were as empty as I felt.
« We’ll have to do some tests to make sure. »
A few days with you, sharing the same room, wearing the same gown. Familiarity in the unknown. You turned to me and smiled.
« Just like the old days, uh ? »
We laughed. Our smiles faltered. Our eyes met. No words needed to understand each other. Fear. Despair. Anger. Beneath it all, a sliver of hope. Pandora’s box lying open between us.
Twins. Physically identical. We shared the same womb, same clothes, same bedroom. Only a minute separate our first breath. We were the first hand we’ve ever touched. First heartbeat we’ve ever felt. So close. Yet so far away. Deep inside, our genetic knows. Our blood cannot lie. A+ and O-. Your DNA carries what killed an uncle we have never met, so long ago. A brother Mom only knows stories about. Stories you’ll become too.
Twins. What was the point of us being twins ? I couldn’t save you. Couldn’t even leave with you, blood clean of any disease. I could only stand and watch as you were slowly leaving me, hollowed, broken. Half of my soul I could never get back.
Trinquets and glass shards on the floor. Memories I couldn’t bare to look at. A picture frame thrown at the wall, shattered. Mom and dad were at the hospital with you. I couldn’t go. Couldn’t stand to watch your body slowly decay, day after day. Taste of vomit in my mouth. I was decaying too.
Happy Birthday. Our last together. Flashes, pictures, candles blown. Fourteen. Two cakes. I gave you the strawberries on mine. You used to steal them from me. I tried not to notice how thin your arms looked as you attempted to lift your spoon to your mouth.
« I can do it, Mom, » you insisted when she tried to help you.
Dad snaped a picture, seizing the bliss on your face as the sugar finally hit your tongue. I struggled to keep a smile on when you looked at me. Fourteen. Less days of you remained.
A beeping machine slowing down. Your hand in mine.
« Don’t be scared »
I don’t know which one of us said that.
Mom and Dad, crying, holding on to each other as I held on to you. You fell asleep. I kissed the top of your head, only soft skin under my lips.
« Good night. »
Still holding your hand, now cold in mine.
Quiet, swallowing down the pain threatening to spill over.
No light in the room we once shared together. Cold food on the floor, left untouched.
Slippers softly grazing the wooden floor in the living room. First steps. First breath without you.
The grass tickling my feet. I look up and see your face in the clouds. You blow a kiss my way and dissappear.
Pictures of us on my nightstand. Smiles, healthy looking faces, hair blown in the wind, dimples in our cheeks. Days in the sun. The face in the mirror is the same as it was back then. Just a little older. I talk softly to my reflection and pretend it’s you.
Pictures of us in a box. Moving out of a room that doesn’t fit us anymore. The beds remain. New experiences ahead. Experiences I’ll never live with you.
Two years. I never needed to get those pictures out. I saw you everyday, in my shadow, in every windows. Reminders of you every time I come back home. Family reunion.
« Your sister would look exactly like you if she was still… »
I know. I made sure nobody would ever forget you. I forgot myself instead.
I look in the mirror, take a deep breath. My hands are shaking as I reach for the scissors. I take a handful of hair. Decisive cuts. Brown locks fall on the ground. Tremors in my breath.
« Goodbye sis. »
I let go of you so I can finally be me. Guilt and sorrow knocks at my door but I only let relief in.
I put the scissors back on the bathroom counter and feel your hand in mine. You whisper of love and happiness as you kiss my cheek.
« Farewell »
I smile and, for the first time since you left, I see myself smiling back