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The water looked deep and inviting. The current was rapid and strong. I was ready.


Just three more steps and I would not have to put up with the lies anymore. No one would even know. Grandma wouldn’t care, Grandpa is dead in the ground, and Naomi would be thrilled. I would be doing everyone a favor by getting us all out of this big mess. Feeling the wind engulf me in its swift movement, I looked up at the clouds for the last time and prayed that my mother, wherever she may be, would know exactly what I am doing and how much I hate her for what she did.
I dipped my toes into the water and the cold feeling chilled my entire body; it was the perfect temperature to numb me before my whole body was wrapped under its protective blanket. There was nothing left to do but jump. Just as I bent my knees and stretched my arms to fly, I was pulled down by a strong grasp into the dry grass.
“Let me go!” I screamed and thrashed. It was not supposed to happen like this.
“Are you crazy? You were going to jump! Dakota, sit still!”
I let my body go limp and stopped trying to escape his hold on me. He was too strong.
“I wasn’t going to jump,” I lied. “I just needed some fresh air.” Max looked down at me with concern on his face. He was my neighbor and was sixteen years old, one year older than me.
“Sorry Dakota,” he hesitated. “It just looked like you were… never mind. Let me walk you home.”
“No! I mean… you really don’t have to. I live so close and I don’t want you walking in this cold weather.” I needed him to go home so I could finish what I had started.
“Don’t worry about it. I am the one who offered and I really don’t mind this weather.” He was not going to give in.
He took off his jacket and wrapped it around my shoulders. We walked to my house in complete silence, but neither of us felt uncomfortable in the least. Just as I was going to say goodbye, he wiped my bangs from the front of my face and set them behind my ear. I smiled at him then walked inside, leaving him with unanswered questions.
“Dakota Clark!” Grandma came rushing to the door. “I went to wake you up this morning and you were gone! Vanished!” Her face was a bright red. “You know better than that! What if you were seen?”
“It’s my week Grandma. I’m allowed to be seen.” I had thought it all out before I drew up the plans. My scheme wasn’t to expose our secret; it was to make it easier.
Her face relaxed a little bit and her worry lines softened. “Oh… well I am glad you are back. It’s almost time to flip the coin. Naomi has been waiting patiently all week.”
It drives me crazy how Grandma always sympathizes with Naomi. This was the first week that Naomi spent in the locked room for a month and a half and it was my first week of freedom and fresh air in that time. It should be me that Grandma pities.
I reluctantly followed Grandma to the locked room and watched as she set Naomi free. She grabbed a coin from her pocket and smiled at my sister and me.
“I am calling heads,” Naomi announced.
Grandma flipped it. It flew into the air and spun around multiple times before descending back to Grandma’s waiting hand. She peeked at it and smiled at both of us; she loved to keep us eager and curious. Her eyes darted between Naomi and me before finally resting on my hopeful sister.
“It’s heads,” Grandma assured. “Dakota, anything that Naomi needs to know for this week? Anything you did that might be brought up?”
I shook my head no. Grandma clutched my arm and led me into the room.
“See you in a week Dakota,” Grandma uttered. I heard the click of the locking door.
The room wasn’t a torture chamber or anything like that. It had a well- stocked fridge with enough food for the week, a comfortable bed, a dresser full of clothes, books to read, and a bathroom with a shower. The unfortunate part was that my river plan was going to be delayed.
If Naomi and I were not identical twins, I am sure one of us would have been thrown into the river long ago; it most likely would have been me. We would not have been able to switch off being the same person and living the same life. Sadly for Naomi, we both go by my name, Dakota, when it’s our turn out in the world. This is the punishment we get for living in Logems, Mississippi; the only place in the good ‘ole United States where the law prohibits a family from having more than one child. My mother, of course, gave birth to twin girls when she was only eighteen and then ran away with the guy she had been seeing. Grandma and Grandpa took Naomi and me in, but Grandpa died shortly after. Believing she was outsmarting the law, Grandma decided on the coin flip each week to decide who got to be the only child. The other unlucky one spent the week in seclusion until the next coin flip. Letting the river swallow me up would end this torture for me and allow Naomi to live freely every day.
There had to be a way to get out of this room. I had not ceased thinking about the look of that river, the sound of the current, and the feeling of the waves. I could hear it calling me each time I closed my eyes. Suddenly, I heard a high pitched scream, and it took me a while to realize that it was me. I heard Grandma’s voice on the other side of the locked door.
“Dakota! What is going on in there?”
“It hurts so bad!” I screeched. “Get it off me! Get it off me!” Finally, I heard the click of the door. Grandma’s face appeared and before she realized what was happening, I had grabbed the keys, rushed out of the door, and locked it behind me. Free.
The water looked deep and inviting. The current was rapid and strong. I was ready. I looked out across the river and saw Naomi looking back at me. We started walking toward each other, no smiles or words, just understanding in our eyes. We locked hands, bent our knees, stretched our arms to fly, and jumped.
I was numb before I even hit the water.




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