Pale moonlight filtered through the window, and the gauzy white curtains gently moved with the light breeze. Her calloused feet slipped softly against the cold hardwood floor. It was very early morning, and she was the only one awake in the large house. Her rough hands picked at the fabric of her long pale yellow nightgown. If her mother caught her, she would be in trouble. She pressed her ear to the door and rested her hand on the metal doorknob, barely breathing as she listened for any small sound. In the bedroom next to hers, her father was snoring gently. She turned the knob slowly and pulled open the door. Like a ghost, she glided down the hall towards the door at the end. Her small kitten curled up on a table by the stairs. She didn't reach out to pet it as she floated past. She had only one purpose that night.
She reached the dark door, but instead of opening it and going in, she curled up on the floor in front of it. She could almost hear him inside. Playing his guitar or talking on the phone, all the normal activities of a normal teenaged boy. Cold air swept under the door, numbing her body, but her mind didn't notice. Her mind replayed the events of a month ago. The events that led her to this door every night since she had lost him. Him…her twin brother, a handsome boy who received good grades with little effort. How had it all come down to this? What had made up his mind to do what he did that hot August day?
Clare had been hanging out at the mall with her friends until late in the afternoon, eating ice cream and checking out the guys, when she looked at her watch.
"Shoot! I have to go," She told the gaggle of giggling girls, "It's my and Cory's turn to make dinner tonight."
"See you later," Her friends replied hastily as they scanned the ice cream shop for Danny McLean.
Clare left the shop in a hurry and climbed into her VW Bug. In less than ten minutes, she had reached her expansive red brick town house.
"Cory?" She called as she walked through the door and dropped her keys in the dish in the front hall, "Cory, I'm sorry if I'm late, but I'm here now. Are we still going to make spaghetti?"
There was no answer. Clare frowned; surely Cory wasn't so mad at her that he would subject her to the silent treatment. She walked into the kitchen, but Cory wasn't there. The toaster was out of the cupboard, and there were toast crumbs on the counter. Clare knew Cory had eaten toast and eggs for breakfast, but he was the meticulously neat twin; he would have put it back and cleaned up. A note on the refrigerator explained that their mother had gone out for lunch with some friends, and she would be back around five. Clare pulled the note off the fridge and crumpled it. Something weird was happening. She tossed the crumpled ball into the garbage can and made her way upstairs. Cory's door was open and Clare's new mixed CD was blaring from his stereo. She poked her head inside, but Cory wasn't there. A sheaf of notebook paper sat on his pillow. Probably a new song he was working on. Clare sat heavily on the bed and picked up the paper. It was snooping, but she had nothing else to do until Cory came back.
The top of the paper said in Cory's neat handwriting,
I'm sorry I have to do this. I know how much it will hurt you, but I can't stand my own pain anymore. I've let you down and I can't live with that knowledge. I've been letting you down my whole life. I think you're better off without me. I love you so much Clare, I couldn't ask for a better sister. I hope in some way, I was a good brother to you. Don't cry for me too much. It'll be much better now that I'm gone. I'll still be watching over you.
A wave of sickness washed over Clare and a bad tasting lump rose in her throat. She ran to the bathroom, before she made a mess in Cory's room. The door was closed, but Clare slammed it open and flung herself down next to the toilet. After the retching had finished, and she lifted her head, something horrifying met her eyes. Cory lay fully clothed in a bathtub of blood. She was frozen for a moment, before adrenaline kicked in. She had to save him. She wrenched his body up and onto the floor with difficulty and tried CPR. She felt his neck, but there was no pulse. Bloody water puddled around them on the pristine white floor as Clare clutched her twin and sobbed. Minutes passed and the world turned black.
She woke up in her bed. Maybe it was all just a dream, she thought.
But it wasn't. From the moment she fixed her eyes on the Orlando Bloom poster that adorned her ceiling, her life spiraled downward. She stumbled out of bed and groped her way to the bathroom to relieve her bladder. The mess had been cleaned up and Cory had been taken away. Clare sat on the toilet a few extra moments, trying desperately to process the hectic mish-mash of wayward thoughts that scattered throughout her brain. She hadn't yet managed to fully comprehend what had happened.
Downstairs, in the den, her parents sat with a large gathering of friends, relatives, and co-workers. Clare horrified them all by appearing in the doorway, pale-faced, and still clad in the bloodstained tank top and jeans.
"Clare honey," Her mother began, dressed in an impeccably somber black pantsuit, "Why don't you run upstairs and put on something pretty and formal?"
Clare remained in the doorway for a few moments, surveying the crowd of people who didn't even know Cory, before dashing upstairs. She flung herself down on her bed and let loose a flood of tears. The crystal droplets of sadness rolled down her cheeks, creating rivulets in the smears of blood. What had Cory meant when he had written I've let you down…you'd be better off without me" He had always been her best friend and favorite person; her protector and her strength. He was always such a happy person. How had everything turned out this way? How could his twin sister; the person who was supposed to know what he was thinking before he even thought it, miss the signs of what was to come?
She remained in her room that night, and every day after that. Her loving father brought her meals and schoolwork, but she had no taste for nourishment, and less for knowledge. She was nothing without Cory, and she couldn't go on with her normal lifestyle when he was lying in a coffin. Her friends called and sent notes, but she was over them and their trivial notions of 'fun'. Therefore, she slept all day, and spent each night with her head against Cory's door; too afraid to enter his room, too connected to leave. Something deep in her mind told her to get out and start doing things again, but foremost, she thought she would sit there at his door for all eternity, listening for any little sound that would indicate her beloved brother still existed.