Author: Kris Quin PM
A special connection exists between twins - a bond that transcends the physical. In rural Cajun Alabama, such bonds are the work of witchcraft.Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Supernatural - Words: 1,305 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 4 - Published: 12-27-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2983159
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It was the way they looked at each other. Hungry, like they might eat one another up, sharp little teeth working to process tender flesh and bits of tendon. So they might be inside each other for forever, because anything short of that wouldn't be enough.
Ever since they were brought home from the hospital Mama knew it. She knew better than anyone else why the twins would cry and scream like the hand of God was upon them until she put them together, nestled soft baby-flesh bodies 'neath pink cotton blankets. But she wouldn't sell the second crib and tried every night to separate them, even though she knew.
The twins were seldom apart. Never apart, actually, I can't recall a time where just one of them was learning to walk or playing in the dirt. They would cling to one another, spindling fingers gripping tattered, dirty clothes. Always leaning, tugging, murmuring in some elfish tone they learned to comprehend only from each other. And as they grew, their sameness grew with it so eerie that Mama didn't want them sleeping in the room beside her. No one understood her aversion to them, to the twins' pale, silent and questioning gaze. But she knew.
So I helped move their stuff down the rickety hall to my old room, which I often heard them pass, padding with childhood excitement and breathless giggles, at that hazy line between very late at night and very early in the morning. I was supposed to look after them mostly, 'cause Paw worked in town and Mama found things to keep her too occupied to watch Michael and Thomas. I played with them for a while, in the lush Alabama summer between grades, but their secret games had little room for a third player. They would clamber over moss and kudzu hills, pick bouquets of clover and daffodil, and mash their petals to paint each other's faces. I might catch a pale arm under the porch darting for a stone, or the wild cry of pretend-play. But Michael never left Thomas' side and Tom never left Mike's.
It seemed like they were all each other needed. For childish pleasures. To survive. The thought of separation was impossible - they were one entity borne of two bodies.
"They're smaller than they should be," Paw said through his newspaper and Mama was silent on the matter. The twins stopped coming in for lunch a month ago, preferring to dance in the nearby trees in the rain, in Alabama's wet winter.
"Let the Lord take them, then," she'd say after dark fell and the twins didn't come home. At first their absence had been met with reprimand but they just stared at Paw like they didn't understand. He threatened to beat the heathen out of them, brandished his belt, and they went skittering back out into the rain through wails, trembling in each other's arms.
Mama stopped taking them to church when they asked too many questions about the bleeding man on the cross. "That's your savior, so you better sit still and pray." And she smacked their little white hands for pointing. They never did sit still, always fidgeting in their starched Sunday clothes and staring toward the panes of stained glass with a kind of awe and desire. Michael would cry during the sermon and clutch his head; Thomas would wrap his arms around him and kiss away his tears and the salty sweat gathered on his temples. Mama said that wasn't acceptable, but I wished I had someone as loving as that.
Once schooling age hit they wouldn't go. The other Cajuns didn't object - lots of kids didn't go to school - and Mama pretended not to care when they disappeared all day in the woods and swamp. I would come home from my classes and, not knowing where the laughter was coming from, often venture out to make sure the twins were fine. One day, I supposed they knew of my distant platonic affection, they put flowers in my hair and kissed my cheeks like they did themselves. Their feral eyes grew less wild and I thought that Mama might be wrong about them, but Thomas sank his little razor teeth into my forearm when I bent to kiss Michael back. They started to cry, like I'd done some injury to them, as I hurried back to the house holding my bleeding arm.
When they chose to come home at night, they never slept. They remained a tangle of limbs and orb-like eyes, of raw emotion and energy no matter where they went or what hour presented itself. Thomas was fiercer, Michael emotional, like two sides of a single personality. I wondered if they could be blended like paints, and the thought didn't seem so out of place when juxtaposed by their odd whisperings, of what little imagery I could construct by pressing my ear against the thin walls separating our rooms. I could not comprehend the passion they had for one another and their dependence seemed to grow even stronger with the melting of baby fat and lengthening of limbs and long, matted brown hair. They were brothers, twins, a single essence. Lovers, demonic and angelic. Dependent on the most fundamental of levels.
But when their eighth summer approached, Michael became bedridden with a persistent fever. Thomas did not leave his side and, despite Mama's constant protests, held Mike's thin, shivering frame to his own narrow chest, all the while casting glares at me, Paw, Mama and the Reverend like it was somehow our fault. Their frailty increased. I brought cool towels and dinners to the twins, hoping they would come 'round. Hoping Michael would get better and, more impossibly, that Thomas would take a break and pull himself from Mike's twig-like arms.
The Reverend said Michael didn't have much fight left in him, that the Typhoid drugs were causing his stomach pain and not eating was more dangerous than the fever. He slept through the news, even through Thomas launching himself at the Reverend and Mama, screaming and clawing at them. I suspected Tom only wanted his peace with Michael, untainted by the Godliness of Mama's white linens and the Reverend's touch. I stayed with them a while, as long as Thomas would allow, and sang to them the lyrics they taught us in school. About birds and rolling rivers and lilting grasses. Michael smiled delicately and Tom nestled himself into a position he could watch and kiss at Mike's expressions.
They lasted longer than expected. Thomas seemed always holding on by threads, like the hems on their pants, as Michael was slowly dragged with him. I wondered faintly if maybe they'd forged a bond, some magic between them, to share their golden rope of life. Michael would press his forehead to Tom's and he'd let out a little whimper, and Mike would grow sicker as Thomas gained a little of his stamina. Their skin faded and their eyes hollowed, glassy and flat.
We didn't have enough money to afford two coffins. They were both small enough that, when their arms were twined delicately around one another in their rickety casket, Thomas and Michael fit with ease. Mama laughed at that, saying how they always wanted to be together and now they could.
I suppose, Mama was right about them in a way. They were unnatural, maybe a little unholy. But they were beautiful and it was God's cruel hand who tore them apart in conception, separating what was meant to be one. I hope they shared their last breath with a kiss.