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Twenty-one has always been my favorite number. It’s lucky. For instance, I was born on the twenty-first of July twenty-one seconds before my brother, Toby, it’s the number of months that I have been dating my boyfriend, Isaac, and it’s the amount of siblings I have including me. Yup, I’m not kidding. I have twenty brothers and sisters; nine brothers and eleven sisters. Of course my mother did not birth all of us. She only gave birth to me and Toby. You may wonder where they all came from and I will tell you. It all started with Dr. Martin Green. Here let me pass the journal to Toby; he’s much better at explaining things than I am.
Okay, as my sister has said, we are part of a really big family. We found out the day we turned sixteen. I guess I should go back to that day.
I woke up to the sound of rapid knocking on my bedroom door, traffic outside my window, and Teddy’s loud voice.
“Toby! Get up little brother!” she yelled. She only ever woke me up like this if there was an emergency or our birthday. I looked over at the clock; it was too early for me to wake up.
“Teddy, it’s nine in the morning. Let me sleep until eleven, please,” I yelled back and turning my pillow so her voice was muffled.
“You sleep a lot,” Teddy said as she barged in and jumped on me, “Wake up! Wake up! C’mon, it’s our sixteenth birthday. It only comes around once!”
“Alright, alright! I’m up,” I said giving up any hope of sleeping in. She squealed and ran into her room across the hall. I yawned and got out of bed, took a shower, and ate some cereal.
Teddy was already playing her guitar. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great guitarist, she just can’t sing; at all. Every morning for the past twelve years, I had woken up to her horrible screeching. I love her but most of the time I would wish I could get a hold of some chlorophyll and knock her out for a bit like they do in the movies.
Mom and Dad were getting ready for work. They were almost late which was not usual for a pair of high maintenance lawyers who work at one of the largest firms in New York State.
“Claire, is the coffee ready?” Dad asked as he rushed into his room to grab his shoes.
“Yeah, it’s on the table,” she answered while putting earrings in. It was strange that they were even still at the apartment. They were usually gone by six o’clock. Teddy and I hardly see them. “Happy birthday, kids. We’ll go out to eat for dinner,” she yelled as they ran out the door.
“Thanks,” I muttered under my breath. Teddy ran out of her room.
“They left already?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah, Mom actually remembered this year.”
“Oh,” she said disappointedly and she went back into her room.
My mother and father always forgot our birthday. They were usually caught up in some case. Oh, well. You would think after sixteen freaking years of being forgotten, I’d be used to it by then. In my bedroom, it was silent except for an occasional sniffle from my crying. Toby’s room, I could hear him softly playing his piano. He’s really good at it. When we were little, we were listening to Grandma play and he climbed on the bench and started playing one of those Beethoven or Mozart or whatever symphonies. To tell you the truth, I think he was able to read sheet music before he could read. Can you imagine it? A five year old playing what would take months to perfect on the first try? I sure can’t but it’s possible because Toby’s just that awesome.
He can sing too. According to him, I can’t sing but I think I’m pretty pitch perfect; no one ever says anything anyway. I was most calm relaxing in my room, listening to the endless noise of the city and Toby’s piano playing, and watching the traffic outside my window. Playing with my long, curly red hair was making me calm as well. Toby’s hair is long, curly and red too but not as long as mine. His hair goes to his shoulders and mine goes to my wrists. Mom and Dad said that we looked ridiculous but we liked it. Suddenly the music stopped and Toby came into my room.
“You alright?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just thought that they would slow down enough to say ‘Good morning’, you know?”
“Ted, you know them. Work, work, work, and then more work with an important lunch meeting thrown in their somewhere. There’s nothing we can do. Do wanna go grab some Chinese food later for lunch?”
“Okay, thanks Tobes,” I said and got up to hug him.
He smiled and walked back into his room again. My twin brother has always had my back and he was the only one besides Isaac who would comfort me when I was upset. I remember when we were seven, I somehow got plastic wrap around my face and I was suffocating. If Toby had not found me, I would have died. We never told anyone. I will never forget it. There is no one I love more than my brother.
I spent most of my day in my room. Teddy would come in a few times and climb onto my lap and cry. That was all she did lately was cry. It was that know-it-all boyfriend of hers, Isaac. I hated that guy. He would strut around like he was the authority and he would never listen to Teddy. I listen to her and I comfort her because I’m one of the only people who will.
Teddy and I went out to get lunch and we ate in Central Park. That was what we did every year since we were left home alone and unsupervised. We were lucky if Mom and Dad were home on Christmas. I got used to it. We had each other and we were all each other needed.
When we got home, we collapsed on the couch and let the air conditioned air of the apartment consume us. We watched some T.V and the door rattled a few hours later. I looked out the window and it was not nightfall yet. Our parents never came home before dark.
“Happy birthday, twins,” Mom and Dad said handing us each small, blue boxes, “We hope you enjoy it.”
We opened the box and found a five hundred dollar gift card to the music store we go to downtown.
“Wow, thanks!” Teddy said.
“Thank you,” I said. We usually got fifty dollars but they actually put some thought into it this year.
“You’re welcome,” Dad said and then he sighed, “We need to talk.”
Teddy and I looked at each other, wondering what the other had done, then we turned our nervous gaze to our parents.
“Well?” I asked.
“I’m not your father,” he said looking away.
“What?” Teddy asked in disbelief.
“I’m not fertile so your mother got a donor. She was artificially inseminated.”
“Mom, is that true?” I asked turning towards her.
“Yes. I just really wanted a child and I was blessed with two,” she said with a smile.
I was angry. There was a red, hot feeling of blood rushing to my cheeks.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” I asked behind clenched teeth. My fists were balling up too; I hoped that I wouldn’t hit something or someone.
“We did what we thought was best for you,” Dad -- I mean the man who I thought was my dad said.
“You should have told us!” I yelled and then I stomped away to my room with Toby trailing behind me. I slammed my door and sat on my couch and thought. I eventually fell asleep.