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We Are Twins
“I swear you guys don’t even look alike,” Bridget said as she looked at us in the mirror at Love Culture. I held up another shirt against me, debating whether it was my style or not. Grace looked at me. I put the shirt down on the bench.
“Twins don’t have to look alike, you know,” said Grace, and she took off the hat that was on her head. I nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, I know that, but you guys take ‘fraternal’ to a whole new level. It’s like you’re not even related; I have to remind myself sometimes that you even are! I mean, look at your eyes. You,” she pointed at me, “have green eyes, and you,” she pointed at Grace, “have brown eyes.” I just stared at her.
“So we don’t have the same eye color; that’s your big argument?” Grace asked while placing some shirts around her arm.
“Not only that. Okay, another example. Your hair. Look at it. Yours,” she turned toward me, “is crazy straight and blonde, while yours,” she turned toward Grace, “is crazy curly and brown,” Bridget finished, looking proud of herself. I gave my clothes to the checkout lady while rustling in my purse to find my wallet. Once I found it, I took out the gift card my grandparents had gotten me for my last birthday. While they are old and wrinkly, they do pay very well.
“Why are we even still on this?” I asked, giving my gift card to the lady. “Grace and I are twins. We just look a little different, that’s all.” Bridget opened her mouth to speak, but Grace cut her off before she could do so.
“Yeah, I’ll admit Ava and I are nothing alike, but that doesn’t mean anything. You don’t look like Bryan.” Grace gave me her clothes as she walked to the left of me.
“Bryan is a boy! And he’s six years older than me!” Bridget walked up to the cashier, handing her some clothes and money.
“So? You two are still siblings,” I said, taking my bag from the cashier’s hand. “You know what? Tomorrow Grace and I will prove to you that we really are twins, and we really did have the same features, okay?” I sighed. After a couple seconds, I opened my mouth again. “Let’s just go home.” I checked my phone. “It’s 6:00; Mom will want us home for dinner.” Grace and Bridget nodded without saying another word.
“Did you guys have fun at the mall today?” Mom asked as she spooned some pasta on each of our plates. Grace and I pulled out our chairs and sat down at the table. Grace spoke first.
“I guess so… but the weirdest thing came up in conversation today. Bridget now has this theory that Ava and I aren’t actually twins because we look too different.” Mom cleared her throat as she sat down herself. “Isn’t that crazy?” Picking up her fork, Mom didn’t say a word.
“Mom… you agree that Bridget’s theory is crazy, right?” I asked, taking a sip of my lemonade.
“Oh, yes, honey. Sorry, it’s been a long day at work,” she said, wiping her brow. The dinner table went quiet.
“Well, um… Grace and I have to go do something now. We have a lot of work to do,” I said, excusing myself from the table.
Getting up from my seat, Mom said, “But it’s summer, and you have over a month left of break. You guys have never started work this early before. Are you feeling okay?” My eyes roamed from side to side.
“Oh, you know, just a… head start on things. You’re the one who always told us procrastination would never help us in life.” I picked up my dishes.
“Yeah, but I never thought you’d listen, Ava! You’ve never listened to anything I’ve said before.”
“Mom, I think I have finally matured. Grace, let’s go!” I grabbed Grace’s arm as she slid across the kitchen floor.
“What was that for?” Grace slapped my chest when we got in the basement. “I do not want to start my summer work now, and I know you don’t either! You never finish any of your work, even when it’s homework due the next day!” I rolled my eyes at her.
“Grace, Grace, Grace,” I said, pacing around the room. “You have so much to learn. Geez, we’re not doing our summer work, just relax.”
“Then why’d you pull me down here, genius?” Ouch.
“Okay, I could have done without the sarcastic remark,” I said, pausing for a second. “You heard Mom back there! She totally avoided the topic of us being twins!”
Furrowing her eyebrows, Grace said, “She told us she just had a long day at work, that’s all. Were you not just there a few minutes ago? She looked so tired.”
“You actually believed her? C’mon, Grace, stay with me here.”
“What, so you think Mom’s lying? About us being twins? I thought we had this whole agreement that we were twins, back when we were with Bridget! Whose side are you on anyway? Are we twins or are we not?” I sighed.
“Grace, I don’t know.” I took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I’m just saying, there’s more to this story than we think. Can we just investigate a little?” Walking next to her, I sat down on the carpet.
“Investigate what? What’s there to possibly investigate?” This was going to be a lot harder than I thought.
“Grace, I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m looking for. But I’ll know it when I see it. Please help me?”
“I can’t believe you actually agree with Bridget. You know, I think I’m going to start my summer work now; that was a good idea.” She stood up. “Good luck with disproving something that’s true.” With that, she went up the stairs, opening the doors and slamming them behind her. I exhaled. Standing up and walking toward the storage room door, I thought about what my life was coming to. Just yesterday, I was swimming in the neighbor’s pool and eating ice pops in the sun. And today, I was trying to find out whether or not my twin and I were really twins. I opened the door. Looking around, there were boxes scattered all over the floor and all in the shelves. I couldn’t help but wonder where to start. Logically, I opened the box closest to me. I was in for a long night.
I fished through the box. Picking up one of the pictures, I looked on the back. Mom neatly labeled Grace and Ava: 3 years old. Looking at the picture itself, Grace and I looked exactly the same as we do today: Grace with her curly brown hair and me with my straight blonde hair. I tossed the picture aside. That proved nothing. I reached down and pulled out more pictures.
“Having fun looking at our old pictures?” I jumped. Turning around, I saw Grace standing above me with two glasses of milk in her hand. She handed one to me. I gaped at her.
“Thanks,” I said, taking a sip of the milk. After a few seconds of pure silence, I asked, “So what made you decide to help me?”
“Oh, I’m not helping you,” Grace said, sitting down on the floor next to me, moving some pictures that were in her way. I frowned. “I just got fed up with Mom upstairs.”
“I thought you were going to get a ‘head start’ on your summer work.”
“Nah, once I got upstairs, Mom pulled me to the couch to have some ‘mother-daughter bonding time.’ You know what she made us do?” I turned my head to look at Grace. “She grabbed the game Pretty, Pretty Princess out of the cabinet and forced me to play it with her.” I laughed, not even trying to hide how clearly amused I was.
“I can tell. You still have an earring on your left ear,” I said, falling back on the floor. Annoyed, Grace ripped the earring off and threw it across the room.
“Well anyway… I decided being with you would be a lot less self-sacrificing than playing Pretty, Pretty Princess with Mom. Please don’t make me regret that decision.” Sitting back up, I smiled at her.
“Hey Grace?” I asked with a serious look on my face.
“Who ended up winning the game?” Grace gave me a look.
“NOT IMPORTANT.” I smirked.
“Mom won, didn’t she?” I got the ‘death glare’ with that remark.
“Let’s just say since we’re not four years old anymore, Mom feels she no longer has to let us win. I think she has trouble with excessive pride. And wipe that grin off your face. It’s not funny.” I went back to looking through the box of pictures. I threw some at Grace.
“Look through these,” I said, changing the subject. Grace picked the pile up.
“What do you want me to do with them?” she asked.
“I don’t know, okay? Just…look for something: anything!” She flipped through the pictures.
Stopping at the third picture, Grace opened her mouth to speak. “Aw, look at us. I remember this.” I looked over at the picture Grace was talking about.
“Oh yeah, our fourth birthday, right?” I took the picture from her.
“Yeah, the day when you threw a temper tantrum because Mom let me have more cupcakes than you.” It was my turn to glare. Even back then, it always seemed like Mom favored Grace over me. Grace always sat next to Mom at the movie theater. When it was time to make dinner, Mom always asked Grace what she would like, not me. I never understood why; I just accepted it for what it was.
“That wasn’t fair, okay? You also got to stay up later than me—”
“That’s because Mom likes me more. She even told me that.”
“You remember something she said over ten years ago?” I doubted her claim.
“What can I say? I have a great memory.”
“A little too great,” I said under my breath. Grace wasn’t known to be the most honest person in the world, especially when she wanted to win an argument with me. I handed the picture back to Grace.
“Just keep looking, smart one,” I said. I took more pictures out of the box. Eyeing the remaining pictures, I rubbed my forehead. There had to be two hundred more pictures in there! Frustrated, I continued to look through all of them.
“Hey Ava, look at this,” said Grace. I groaned.
“Grace, I swear, if it’s just another picture of how cute we look, I don’t want to see it. There are so many more pictures to go through, and you’re not helping at all. I’m just about ready to call it a night. I give up. We’re twins.”
“Ava, Ava, no. Stop it. Just look at this; it’s interesting. If Mom were here right now, she’d be calling you a Debbie Downer. C’mon, you’re the one who started this whole thing, and I’m not letting you leave me here to figure this out by myself.” I looked over at her.
“Yeah, I know, I know. I said I wanted no part in this. Yeah, but just forget that and look,” Grace said, sounding a bit fed up with me. I looked down at the picture sitting in her lap. It was the same one.
“Seriously, Grace. I’m not in the mood to see the same picture. We have a lot of work to do.”
“Would you just stop it? I didn’t show anything to you yet: focus.” Grace thought about what she just said. “Oh geez, I’m turning into you. This is not good.” She shook it off.
“What is it?” I asked a bit impatiently. Tapping my nails on the box in front of me, I looked back over at Grace.
“Okay, look at this.” She turned the picture over. “It says: Grace and Ava on Grace’s fourth birthday.” I took the picture from her. “Why would it just say my name if we were obviously ‘born on the same day?’” she asked, using air quotes.
“Wait, so what are you saying? March 14th isn’t my birthday? It’s only yours? But then when’s my birthday? Grace!” I threw the picture across the room. Sighing, Grace stood up to get it.
“Ava, I don’t know. We’ll figure it out. At least now we know what we’re looking for.”
“I don’t know, our birth certificates, our baby pictures, anything! What do you say? Help me? I need you.” She stuck her hand out next to mine.
“I don’t know; you kind of bailed on me back there.” My stubbornness had always controlled me, even at a young age. It was definitely one of my strongest flaws.
“Fine, Ava. Do whatever you want. You’re such a Negative Nelly right now; I’m so tired of it.” Her hand retreated. I looked down. Tears formed in my eyes. “I’m going to go look through another box. If you’re going to be this pessimistic, then just leave. I don’t care anymore.” Moving to another box, Grace opened it and looked through the contents quickly.
“Well? Are you going to leave or what? You’re just going to get in the way.” She kicked my leg with barely any force exerted. I stood up.
Grabbing my now empty milk glass, I walked out of the storage room, leaving Grace alone. I trudged up the stairs to my room, avoiding Mom in the process. I was not about to get into a game of Pretty, Pretty Princess with her. I wasn’t that desperate and willing. When I had reached my room, I closed the door gently behind me and collapsed backward on my bed. I closed my eyes, feeling the tears stream down my cheeks. I put no effort into trying to stop them from flowing down.
I ran my fingers through my hair as I slowly opened my eyes again. I looked to my right, noticing a picture of Grace and me taken only a week or two ago. The tears came down faster when I saw the smiles plastered on our faces, our arms around each other’s shoulders. I looked away.
Sitting up, I noticed my phone on my nightstand. I reached over to grab it. Once I turned it on, I noticed a new text message from Grace.
Ava, I know you’re mad at me (and comparably I’m mad at you, too) but come down here. I found something really important.
For the second time that night, I groaned. I looked at the top of my phone. It was 9:13. Although I wouldn’t have gone to bed at this time anyway, I would have much rather gone to sleep. Reluctantly, though, I got up and left my room, making my way back down to the basement.
“What is it, Grace?” I asked, wiping my eyes from the remaining tears resting there. “What the heck did you find that’s so important? Grace?”
“In here!” I heard a muffled voice coming from the room across the hall. I walked over to where it came from.
“Grace, really, what is this all about?” Grace shushed me as I walked in. “Don’t tell me to be quiet; I could go right back upstairs—”
“Ava, seriously, stop talking and just come here. Quickly!” I saw Grace sitting down on the couch staring at the television screen.
“What in the world are you watching?” I looked at the screen and saw Mom in a hospital bed.
“Here, I’ll rewind,” said Grace, pulling out the remote and hitting the rewind button.
“Ew, Grace, I don’t want to see Mom giving birth to us! Stop it!” I flinched and looked away from the screen.
“But Ava, it’s important!” I shook my head.
“Is it more important than my sanity? Because I think I’ll lose that once I watch this video.”
“Just watch it; you’re impossible. If it would help, I’ll fast forward it till after the birth, okay?” I nodded, continuing to cover my eyes. “Okay, here. Watch it now.” Looking at the screen, I saw Mom holding one baby in her arms. I was about to speak, but Grace covered my mouth, anticipating my every move. I watched.
“Mrs. Roberts, I’m afraid your other twin girl didn’t make it through the C-section.” My mouth dropped. I could see the tears forming in Mom’s eyes.
“Wait,” I said, fighting Grace’s tight grasp on my mouth. “There are two of us here! We’re both here! We’re twins!”
“Ava, seriously, just watch and shut your mouth before I shut it for you.” She looked to the side of her. I saw the duct tape sitting on the table. I stopped talking.
“Oh, poor, sweet, little Grace Mackenzie: losing her twin sister,” Mom said through the tape. Grace Mackenzie. I looked at Grace. She smiled sympathetically at me and firmly took the remote in her hand, turning the TV off.
I tried my best to comprehend the situation, but the best I could come up with was, “Who am I?” There was a pause before Grace spoke.
“There was more to that video, you know.” She avoided my question. “I didn’t want to show you, though. It showed Mom filling out the adoption forms… for another girl.”
“…So I’m just… a replacement? For a dead baby?” I could barely speak. I felt Grace’s hand on my leg. I didn’t even try to brush it off.
“Don’t think of it like that. You are not a replacement.”
“Then what would you call it, huh? Oh, Mom’s second baby died. She filled out adoption forms for another one and pretended that everything was okay even when it wasn’t! What else would you call that? I’d say that’s a replacement!” I jumped off the couch and started pacing around the room, holding in my tears. Grace walked over to me.
“It’s okay to cry, you know. It gets your emotions out. I find that when I’m really upset, crying helps me figure myself out. It’s not a baby thing to do, and it’s definitely not a sign that you’re weak. It’s a sign that you’re strong. You’re strong enough to let go of your feelings and let them control you for a little while. You’ll be in control again soon. Don’t worry.” She put her hand on my shoulder.
“What do we do now? I shouldn’t even be here; I don’t belong,” I said, closing my eyes to avoid the pain of seeing my ‘sister.’ It was all making sense now: why Mom always put Grace before me, why Grace and I looked nothing alike, everything.
“Yes, you do,” Grace said, pulling me into a hug. “You definitely belong here.”
“Well, for one: Mom adopted you. You are her child, and you are my sister, even if we aren’t blood related.”
“Yeah, but I don’t care about any of that. I care about where we go from here. I wish we never even proved that we’re not twins. Life was better before.” I escaped her grasp and walked back over to the couch.
“Let’s just not tell Mom that we know. Let’s not even tell anybody that we’re not twins.”
“Pretend like nothing ever happened?” She shrugged.
“Why not? Like you said, life was so much better when we didn’t know.”
“But we can’t un-know everything that we just found out tonight! We can’t pretend this all never happened!”
“True… But in the past, we’ve always acted like twins, so why can’t we still act like that?” she asked, tucking her hair behind her ears.
“Um… maybe because all of that was a lie before, and we just found out the truth!” I said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“Well, I still know one good thing that came out of all this.”
“And what would that be?”
“We’re now going to be a lot closer than before. Yes, we can’t un-live this day, but I think that’s a good thing,” she said. I rolled my eyes.
“Easy for you to say. You didn’t just find out that you were adopted.” Grace nodded, understanding. She looked down at her watch.
“Hey, it’s only 10:03. We have all night; Mom probably went to bed. Want to hang down here for a little while?” she asked. My gaze switched to her face. She smiled hopefully. After a little while, a grin warmed on my face as well.
“…Okay.” Grace hugged me, evidently happy with my decision. We both got up, leaving the past behind us to stay trapped in that room forever. Grace was right. Nothing changed. Nothing is different. We’re still sisters.
“Hey, do you want to play Pretty, Pretty Princess?” I nudged her side. She laughed.
“Fine, fine. I’ll race you!” I chased her up the stairs.
“No fair! You got a head start!” A laugh erupted out of my mouth and erased all the tears I had shed earlier that night. While Grace and I took the pieces out of the box, I played with her curly mess of hair. We’re not perfect, no. We’re far from it. I took the tiara out from the box and placed it on top of Grace’s head. It was too small. Through all of this, though, I have found Grace will always be my ‘pretty, pretty princess,’ even if the crown doesn’t fit perfectly.