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Part of Me

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We think we are invincible, that the power to control our destiny is in our hands, entirely. It is only when tragedy occurs that we realize just how much we have to lose, in so many ways…

“I am so afraid to die. Will you sit with me in the end?” she had asked me so long ago, so many years back and I had wondered why she didn’t think of the possibility of outliving me.

I did not know how to go on; did not remember who I was, not like this. Half of me was missing, that had been attached since birth, she took a part of me with her and now I was incomplete, without that certain piece of me; without her. How can I lose a sister and still be complete? How could I just go on like she had never existed? How could I listen to music I’d heard with her and not cry? How could I see the first snowflakes of winter drift by and not remember what if felt like, being five years with her and catching snowflakes on my tongue and tasting its icy coldness? How could I not wake up on Sunday mornings and imagine that the noise below was her doing the laundry as usual and then realize that it was always, always with unerring certainty, someone else? People say your life partner is your better half; she was my better half; my sister. She gave me her life in the end, happily at that. I do not know if I would have done the same in her place.

She was 16 that day. So was I. It was the best day of her life and the worst day of mine. For her, they were the best moments on earth; heaven and everything good. She was beautiful, successful, and graceful. I was ugly, with fat hanging everywhere and greasy hair. I do not think we were identical twins. She had charm and brains, I never excelled, in anything. I was lazy and a slob, she on the other hand, was always organized and had a smile that melted your heart and no mistakes, ever. My whole life was a one, big mistake. I hated her for all she had and all she was, and more because I didn’t and wasn’t, and then some because I was the opposite. Surprisingly, she never lost faith in me. She believed I could do anything I wanted to, so long as it was what I wished for. And for that I loved her, in my own way. She was the only one who could get through to me and even that was rare for I was so deep, in hate for her and hate for myself as well, that I did not hear much.

At fourteen, she had topped in the entire state, was the homecoming nominee; which was unheard of but since she was my sister I suppose that was possible, and the basketball team captain at that too. I, on the other hand, was a drug addict, had dropped out of school and was a runaway. I was never completely sober since then.

I was 16, it was my birthday. I did not remember. Sleeping all day in a bundle of blankets, under the tunnel that smelled of s*** and sweat, the only thing that mattered was drugs and it was hard to remember much else. And now they were scarce, harder to come by. If you had asked me my name then, I do not think I would have been able to remember. My dealer - he was a rat; a race in humans that should not be allowed to live for they corrode you in the worst possible way. He sucked my life energy out of me so I was living but barely. It was my fault partly, but that was a mistake. He did what he did, on purpose. I sold my valuables and he wanted more, I sold my dignity and innocence and he wanted more, I sold my body and he wanted more, much more. I do not know what state of mind I was in, that is my only excuse, a lie to myself. I do no not know how I let go all those years of that bond that I had shared with her, the past and all she had done for me. I was desperate. My body was on fire. I needed drugs to satiate my thirst and to let out that burning desire that engulfed my mind and cancelled out everything else. I needed drugs more then I needed air to breathe. I cannot make you understand what it was like, for sometimes even I forget when it is afternoon and the sun is shining and when dreams blanket you in the sultry winds. I sold her out. I told them where she spent every minute of the day, her car keys and her house keys. I gave him, them, access to everything they needed to destroy her. And I did not get the drugs. For once in nearly two years, I was sober. I remember that fateful night, for it is there every time I close my eyes, hiding behind my lids, terrifying me each time.

I was sober with a blind craziness in my eyes but when I saw her, bleeding, gasping, I had never seen clearer before. It was evident they were her last breaths. My mind was swirling, it saw contrast. Black roads and white footpaths, black shadows and white signboard reflectors, black sky and the white moon; pearly. He face was pale and her dress or what was left o it, black. And in the middle of such emptiness, there was red, her blood; vivid, bright and stark against the contrast. It was horrifying and my stomach lurched, there was so much of it and it was splattered everywhere. Who said there were only black and white areas? I saw red. Red; her blood and my sorrow, red; her sacrifice and my humiliation; red; her pain, my pain and RED; our tears…

And against my tears, I saw her smile. It seemed to take every ounce of her energy to do that. “I did that for you.” she said. How can she know? I thought. I remember thinking, while my whole world was crashing around me and I was caught in that guilt. That same childish guilt when we were kids and I would steal her homework in the morning realizing I hadn’t done it myself and then come school and she would hand another copy of that same piece of homework, smile at me and say, “I did that for you.” How could she know? Know that I would steal it; know what I had planned to do before I did it?

“I am you.” She said, and for a moment placed one hand of mine and one of hers on my heart and my other hand and hers on her heart. And there seemed to be a likeliness, down there in the beating of two hearts. And suddenly she gasped, her body seemed to hang in mid-air, in a moonlit halo and there was a faint glow around her which seemed to pour out, gleaming and sparkling. It was not quite the form of gas and not quite in liquid state, somewhere in between and the silvery moonlight made seem like a trick of light. And then her essence drifted towards me, waiting in front of me and it emanated love. I spread out my arms and hung my head back, my eyes half closed. And her essence surrounded me in its golden halo, like rays of the sun or moonlit beams. It swirled through my hair and down to my toes, stretching in each joint until it was firmly embedded into my soul. This was her last sacrifice for me, a gift. Then I heard her drift back on the lonely path and she looked, if possible, weaker then before. She smiled faintly, yet beautifully and I wish that had been my only memory of her of that night, as she closed her eyes for the last time. I held her hand and watched her soul go up, as beautiful as she had been. Then I waited and sat by her husk till it got cold.

I am sober now. I don’t know how, but I am. I do not need drugs. It is not as if I am recovering from them, it is as if I have never been addicted to them. I do not need drugs. I do not long for them anymore. I excel now, beyond my dreams of what I had wished to do and who I had wanted to be. I design the houses now, like she used to build them. Sometimes people confuse us. When I tell them my name, they ask me what happened to my architecture career. I tell them that was my sister. I can see on their faces how truly sorry they are when they hear that she is no more. I realize that she was much liked, much admired and much loved. It does not make me jealous anymore. It only saddens me. I understand why they love her so much. She was great. Only after she was gone did I realize that my world ended and began with her. Now I have but memories to cling onto and cherish.

The drugs have taken away much of my energy although I am much better now. Still, I am very thin now, something I thought to be impossible in my adolescent years. And if the light is right, my hazel eyes look green, a soft, moss, green. It is the color you see briefly in spring, after the orange has faded from the leaves and before the green deepens more permanently and settles. And if I tilt my face to a certain angle, the hair falls in a particular way, the neck seems oh so graceful and the nose, aristocratic. If you add a little more sparkle to my plain features, it is her face that stares back at me in the mirror; telling me to go on and encouraging me. It is the same face that I see in my dreams and in my nightmares, that for which I reach out for but can never grasp onto and which seems to just slip just through my fingers…

Maybe we are identical, after all?

Word count: 1759





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