One: The Bet
Keiron leans forward and presses his nose hard against the reflective glass with his hands held high above his head. I sit on the bed with my feet moving back and forth in the air, my arms tucked under my head and stomach as I watch him, not entirely sure what he is doing. He doesn't say anything as he lulls his head to one side, and I catch a smile crack across his face as he looks in the mirror before tilting his head back towards me and holding out his arms. "Airyn?"
I don't say anything, and I don't move, just look up to watch what looks exactly like myself reaching out towards what looks like him in the mirror, the complete opposite of reality. His eyes, real eyes and my eyes, catch mine a moment, and I can't help but to smile. I know what he was looking in the mirror for now. "Do you think in the world of the mirror, that you're the sick one?" he says with an amused tone. I look up at the mirror again and sit up, watching as the black freckle on my right hip flip to be on the left in the mirror. My brother and I are mirror twins. His freckle is on the left usually, and now it's on the right.
I tilt down over the edge of the bed so that my face is on top of his then and I reach down and cover the dot at his hip before laughing. "Now neither of us is the sick one," I say, and he gives a laugh before pulling me off the bed in a hug and we both just start laughing so much that our mother comes in. She stares at us coldly, and though she's always been a loving mother we're both aware we changed her life entirely when the single woman unexpectedly was thrown two children, one so sick he's almost died just from running too fast.
"Airyn, get off of Keiron! You can't sit on him like that!" she says, giving me a bit of a cruel glare from dark green eyes that causes me shudder and pull away from my brother. She can probably just tell it's me on top from those very freckles of ours. We both scrunch up our noses and pout, his lip lopsided to the left and mine to the right. The same thing actually happens when we smile so it's hard for mother to tell if we're smiling or pouting right now as if we've got some secret codes she just can't break. He doesn't like when she yells at me, and I don't like when she babies him. It's fair, I suppose, but then again I baby him too.
We used to switch clothes and pretend that he was me and I was him so that he could run off, but we're opposites in features so Mom caught on to us just by how I smiled. I'd let him run off to play with my friends that day, and he'd ran so hard and played so much his heart went too fast and he had to stop playing because he just froze up. It was frightening, so I never switched with him again, and Mom hasn't really seemed to take as well to me since.
Keiron used to hate that I could go out and have friends, while our mother was too scared to let him go out and play, so I stayed home until eventually my friends didn't want much to do with me because I'd absolutely demand that we had to play games my brother could play, too. I still have one friend that I call by his last name, Bailey, since for some reason I really don't feel close enough to him to ever call him by his first name. He comes over every Thursday for a few rounds of games, which usually are card games since it doesn't involve any real running around, and Mom doesn't have the money to get videogames.
Bailey got bored a few months back of just the same old card games so we started making bets to do stupid things, like see who would get to do this, and who would have to eat some stupid concoction, things that sometimes the winner can get nothing out of but the loser can. Those sorts of things are common between us.
My mother flashes her pearly white fingers past our faces as if to rub us free of all our secret codes before she leans over, her short brown hair falling in her eyes a little as she lifts a finger with all our secrets on it up into the air. "Now, Airyn, Keiron, your little friend is coming over, and since last time I left on a date, you two decided to destroy the kitchen," by 'you two' she means myself and Bailey since Keiron does no wrong, "I'm not leaving you alone this time! I called a babysitter."
"We're sixteen," Keiron says.
I throw in a "Can you do that?" and he nods.
She crosses her arms over her chest and leans back. "Yes. I can. Your uncle, Baines, is coming over to look after you since I have another date."
"I thought we scared off Brice, though?" we both seem to reply at the same time, casting opposite raised eyebrows at one another before looking back at our mother. "Did he decide to stay?"
mother's lips tighten into a crisp line painted purple before she
starts to tap her sandaled foot against the floor. "I'll have you
not going with Brice. His name is Edgar!"
that's a lot far off from 'Brice'. Is he new?" She nods her
head at us before heading towards the door and yelling that Uncle
Baines should be over any time now. He doesn't show up, but Bailey
does, right on time. Baines is a bit of a drinker from time to time,
and he works nightshifts so he's probably still asleep. Mother used
to forget that all the time when we were little. She'd say she got
a babysitter, but he wouldn't show up except for about ten minutes
before she did, half asleep. My brother and I didn't really mind
being left alone, and mother has always tried to keep up a healthy
social life. She likes to tell us how we snuffed out her social life
for years when we were little since she was too scared to leave us
alone, so she seems to make up for it now that we're old enough we
should be moving out any time now. She got pregnant when she was
sixteen, and she's only thirty-three, but she looks a lot younger
and she gets plenty of attention
when she wants it.
My brother and I only look like her in the jaw and arms, but we have blue eyes and white-blonde hair and a mess of tan freckles on our faces and shoulders, but every single one is almost exactly matched by the other on the opposite side of the face. That's how mirror twins are. The reason my brother is the sick one is because not only on the outside are we physical reverse one another, on the inside he's reversed too. His organs all point the wrong way, and that happens, but since even his heart is backwards, he gets sick a lot and can't do as much as others.
Keiron gives a wide grin as Bailey holds up a new deck of playing cards he's got and he tosses them down on the table. I sit inbetween Keiron and Bailey, and I snatch up the cards to look at the pictures on them, every one different and depicting all sorts of silly things from fish to firemen. Bailey gives a refreshing snicker and takes them back, waving them in the air like he's trying to get a plane to fly onto the table. "So, what are we bettin' on today, boys?" he says, always referring to us at the same time for much the same reason I don't call him by the first name, he isn't close enough to us to tell us apart.
"Dunno," we both say, rolling our shoulders at the same time. Bailey taps his cheek as if his cheek has the answer inside of it, and he gets a look that makes me believe that his cheek really does have the answer in it.
"Well," he starts before looking around and leaning over, as if he expects our mother to just pop up and scream him out of the house like she's done before, "how about we do something unlike the usual?"
"Oh?" I tilt my head to the side, aware that my brother seems to tilt his head opposite the direction I did. "Yeah? What's that?"
a new girl in school, Honorine, real pretty, you boys seen her?" We
both nod. I didn't really find her all that pretty but whatever
thinking, I'm interested anyways and my brother seems to be as well. "Well, let's make a bet on her. She's new, and she doesn't have any friends. You boys need friends and so do I, so whoever wins gets to play buddy with her and ask her on a date without the other two interfering."
it a little rude to bet on a new girl?" Keiron says, and I nod, but
we both start laughing. We're all for it. Bailey gives a grin since
grinning, and he starts shuffling the deck of cards.
"How about something to make it even more interesting?" I say, leaning over the table a little. My brother regards me before leaning over and clasping a hand on my shoulder that shows he's curious what I'm thinking. "Well, we don't have any other friends, so we're probably all going to meet up if one of us actually gets her, right?" Bailey appears thoughtful and Keiron gives a nod. "So we're going to have to come up with some sort of clause so that we don't interrupt, right?"
what?" Bailey says, obviously agreeing as his thumb strings across
the top of the deck of cards. "We can't exactly say we already
girlfriends. We don't."
"Yeah," Keiron and I both say, but I continue going without him. "True, however, we could say boyfriends. If she thinks the other two are gay, then there just ain't a chance in hell of us getting in one another's way, right?"
"That is…" Bailey seems dumbfounded and Keiron rubs his cheek, mulling over the idea.
"Think you'll lose?"
"Fuck no, I won't," Bailey says, crossing his arms in an indignant manner. "I just ain't willin' to do that."
"So you do think you'll lose!" my brother and I say, laughing. We both know Bailey is as addicted to a bet as we are. He shuffles the deck one more time compulsively before sighing.
"All right, boys, all right, three out of five tries declares the winner officially. Blackjack is the game, typical play, got it?" He tosses down two cards for all three of us and I take a peek at mine. I've got a two and ten. Bailey gives a grin and we all go until we can't go anymore, and Bailey turns up with a total of twenty-one in the end, next game he gets a straight-up blackjack, and third time Keiron wins, fourth time I win, and then Bailey wins again to take the cake, meaning until Bailey gets to seduce the new girl, I'm now dating my brother.
I give a sigh and put my head on my chin, Keiron doing the same with the other hand, and Bailey just busts up into hysterics at the two of us. "Well, exactly how long has this relationship been goin' on boys?" Bailey chides and I grab one of those annoying baskets from the middle of Mom's table and whip it at his head. He grabs it, and continues laughing while Keiron joins in on the laughter even though he didn't get the winning hand either.
"Hell," Keiron says, laughing like he's off in his own world. "Now, honey, don't break that basket, you promised you'd take me on a picnic!" he throws in, batting his eyelashes at me like a girl.
"Yeah, well, we see who the bitch is," I sneer at him before crossing my arms over my chest and throwing my head backwards, hurting my neck on the top of the chair a little which couples in with my stubbornness to move now that I've taken the position.
"Only in public!"
"Yeah, only in public," I chime back before sticking out my tongue and he gives me a hit on the shoulder and says that that tongue is his now and I better keep it in his mouth where it belongs. I lean forward in the chair and stick my tongue out at him again. He leans forward so that our faces are really close, and we both stare at each other before he suddenly sticks out his tongue, too, way to close to mine. Since we're both staring into one another's, our own eyes, neither of us really registers to look away because looking away would just be awkward.
Bailey just stares as if this intense moment is occurring between us brothers, and I feel restless all of a sudden so I pull backwards and my brother does the same, and for some reason I feel really dirty but I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything wrong. If I did do something wrong, then I can't really put a finger on whatever it is, but I don't feel like playing anymore games tonight. I tell Bailey so and Keiron nods, and so my brother and I both get up to leave the table without so much as a good-bye to Bailey. Bailey is used to this treatment so he leaves as my brother and I make our way down the hall side by side, something that also makes me uncomfortable for once in my life.
"Where are you going?" we end up asking one another, both stopping and staring at the other one for a moment before answering, "To take a shower." We just continue to stare, and now I feel even more awkward than I did before because apparently both of us are thinking about showering, and it's not like we haven't shared a shower before, but right now feels completely different since when awkward things happen I prefer to stay away from the source of the awkward moment.
He whistles into the air and I roll back and forth on the heels of my feet, both of us not sure what to say. "I'll shower later," we both end up saying, and we both cringe at saying it.
I say, looking up at him, feeling so weird that I really regret
saying that I'd shower later since I feel like there are a billion
bugs making love in my shoulderblades and chest right about now. I take in a deep breath and notice that my breath hitches a bit before forcing a smile, him clearly doing the same.
"This dating thing is just a joke, right?"
"Well you seem weird about it," he says, offering me a rather sweet smile. I look at him out of the corner of my eye before swishing my hand to disregard his statement.
"Forget it, honest. I just don't like the idea of publicly pretending to be dating my brother."
"Well, we could make it look like we accidentally get caught by Honorine," he says, and I look up, nodding.
Keiron smiles, and because he smiles, I smile too and the awkward feeling goes away just as fast as it came. Keiron gives a hearty laugh that just rings sweetly on my ears, and we both share a hug before a knock comes at the door. Keiron and I both answer it to find Uncle Baines standing in the doorway, drooling all over himself. We look at each other and then help him sit down on the couch, and sure enough, about ten minutes later Mom comes back asking about how good we were and Uncle Baines tells her that we were angels sent from heaven above.
We both sneak away to our room to snicker about this only to catch Mom shriek at the top of her lungs that he smells like booze and he better not have given any of us some or she'll beat us all to death. I flop back on my bed and he flops onto his on the other side of the room, both of us laughing at the sounds of the two fighting back and forth.
"I swear, you old fart, I'll rip out your goddamned eyeballs!" Mom lovingly screams at the top of her lungs, and he snaps something back that only half of it can be heard so it's not all that important to listen in on especially since I'm pretty sure I caught the word bikini.
"So, want to form our plan for the new girl?" Keiron says, suddenly drawing my attention from across the room. I sit up and shrug before throwing a blanket over myself, and Keiron climbs out of his bed and joins me in mine after grabbing a blue spiral and sitting down with a pen tucked in his teeth.
He smiles at me again and I smile back as I pull the pen from his teeth, causing him to let out a slight grunt of pain at me tugging on his teeth before we start our task of setting up the runway for a very amusing next couple of days.
After reviewing the plans, I give a laugh and stretch before nuzzling into my pillow, my brother too lazy to have gotten up to climb into his bed right next to me pillow-less, I laugh. "I'm kind of happy I made this bet with the things we've got in store for Bailey after this."
"He's going to be shitting his pants," Keiron agrees before setting his head on my arm. I look down at him and smile before reaching up and snapping off the light, tossing the notebook fluttering to the floor.
"See you in the A.M.," we both tell each other before giving a squeeze to the other's hand and falling asleep right where we lay, fingers laced and alarm clocks not set. Planning can knock things out of a person or two.
A/N: Sorry, to repost, my beta (serialxlain) seemed to have missed a few things I wanted fixed.
Also, I formated it because of sympathy pains for orangeena