Rain on Marble
My utmost conviction was that Terence Marcus Zanetti would always be there for me. It was like an axiom. And then, it brutally shattered.
The fifth of April was rainy. Mum had left the previous night on a business trip overseas, so Terry cooked breakfast instead. He burned the eggs slightly.
"Terry," Dad admonished lightly, "try not to poison us, okay?"
"Dad," I protested, though Terry grinned and did not take it to heart, "be grateful that we are being fed. If either of us had to cook, we would end up with food poisoning."
"I know, Emma," Dad smiled at me, as he adjusted his tie, "It's just that our Terry can do so much better. Usually, he's great in the kitchen."
"Yes, when I'm awake," Terry chuckled, "It's the first day of the holidays, Dad. It's unearthly for me, and even for Ems to be up so early."
Dad pointedly looked at his watch, "It is 10:11."
"You should be leaving," I piped up, "Don't you have a meeting at noon?"
"I know," Dad grimaced while looking down at his pristine pressed clothes, "It's a fairly important one, but the weather… I just hope my clothes don't get too ruined."
Terry and I made similar hums of agreement.
"I have my keys so don't wait up, okay?" Dad reminded as he dug out his umbrella.
Terry and I smiled and waved him off.
"So what are you going to do this rainy day?" I turned to my twin.
"I had planned on sleeping," Terry answered, "but now that I'm awake, I'm going to sort out my room."
I gave Terry the once-over, "Terry, you're going to clean now?"
Terry shrugged, "Might as well get some work done. I can throw out all those awful notes I no longer need and find some stuff which has been missing for ages. Besides, it's pouring. Do you have better ideas?"
"Ever heard of TV? Music?" I asked.
"I'll be listening to CDs while cleaning, Emma. Why don't you do the laundry or something?"
"Do I have to?" I whined like the exceedingly mature eighteen year old I am; one who had just completed her first year of university.
Terry shook his head at me, "You promised Mum you would. Come on, Ems, she's been working so hard lately. Would you rather she returns after a whole week to a messy place?"
I pouted, but started to do the laundry. Might as well, Terry could be awfully like a guilty conscience at times. I flopped onto the sofa when I was done, glued to the television.
"Terry, your cell's ringing," I hollered as it began to vibrate on the coffee table where my feet were propped up.
"Answer it, please," he yelled back, always the polite one.
"Emma here, Terence Zanetti is currently unavailable," I spoke into Terry's sleek silver model.
"Hey Em!" Victor, Terry's best friend greeted, "we're playing football at the usual place at six. You two up for it?"
"Terry will be there," I sighed, "I won't."
"Why not?" Victor prodded, "You can play for a little while, can't you?"
"I don't want to get muddy," I mumbled, "Can you even begin to imagine the amount of bacteria in a miniscule nano square area of soil, Victor?"
"I'm glad I didn't take up Microbiology as one of my subjects, girl," Victor chuckled, "It screwed you up."
"Bye," I huffed, not really angry. Terry and I had the same friends' circle and Victor and I are close too.
"TERRY," I called, "Your darling sister yearns for a glass of water."
A couple of minutes later, a bottle of water landed beside me. "Thanks," I twisted around to see him, "Match at six today."
Terry's face broke out into a vibrant smile. He loved football and was already excited for the June World Cup.
"Great," he enthused, "Are you going to come and watch?"
"I'll get muddy," I sighed.
"I didn't ask you to play, Ems," he said patiently. Who would know my germ paranoia better than my twin?
"And sit on the sides, watching all of you have the time of your lives while seething with jealousy?" I intoned, "I'll pass."
Terry reached over and ruffled my head before going back to his room while I sulked. I was a really great goalkeeper before I injured the nerves in my left hand and leg last year. The doctor had forbidden me to play but I was fine so long as I limited myself to less than thirty minutes in a day. Terry had fractured quite a few bones in the same accident- he was lucky. Bones heal, nerves do not. I was upset when Terry returned to training and it was hard for me to watch him play at first, but I coped. At least one of us could continue playing.
We had pasta for lunch and Terry and I discussed what we would do over the vacation. Terry was going to sign up for the beach clean-up programme while I was still undecided.
"I left food for you in the fridge, Em," Terry told me as he got ready to head out, "Are you sure you don't want to come?"
"Yes," I nodded vehemently, "Have fun, brother dearest."
"See you," he smiled at me and left.
I was on the PC around eight 'o' clock when my cell began to ring. "Yeah, Terry? Did you win?"
"But of course," I smiled at the elation in his voice, "I need new cleats, so Vic and I are going to the mall. Do you want anything?"
"No," I replied, "Thanks, though."
"Bye, then," Terry raised his voice over the rain.
I began feeling very uneasy around nine. I called Diana and it was nine thirty-two when I heard the call alert. I told Diana I'd call her back.
"Hello?" I chirped into the phone, my mind on the joke Diana had been telling me.
"Emma, can you come to B Hospital, please?" Victor's voice was panicked.
"What happened?" I sobered up instantly.
"Terry's in the ER and they need a family member," Victor was calmer.
"How is he?" I screeched as I threw off my pyjamas and pulled on a pair of jeans.
"Just come over at once, Em, please," I heard something suspiciously like a sob before the line went dead. I didn't bother calling him back. I threw on a hoodie lying around, grabbed some cash, my windcheater and keys before dashing out. I took a taxi to the hospital. The taxi took frustratingly long because of the pouring rain. I was praying it was nothing bad but the feeling in my gut told me otherwise.
"I'm here for Terrence Zanetti," I panted to the nurse at the reception, "I'm his twin."
I raced to where she directed me. Victor and Harry were there, their eyes red. "He needs blood, Emma," Victor looked awful, "You have the same blood type, don't you?" I nodded, "Does Dad know?"
"He's on his way," Harry assured.
"What happened?" I swallowed.
"We were walking outside the mall. Someone lost control of their SUV and crashed into Terry," Victor managed, "The driver's dead, the vehicle's smashed and- and- Terry's bad."
My face crumpled and I willed myself not to cry. "Is a relative here yet?" A brusque voice sounded.
I whirled around to the doctor, "Emma, Terence's twin."
"Come with me."
It was a blur after that. I broke down when I saw Terry unconscious, battered, bruised and sickeningly pale on his hospital bed. Something told me he wasn't going to survive.
"He's going to die, isn't he?" I asked brokenly.
The doctor sighed, "Multiple internal injuries, massive blood loss, broken bones and punctured lungs. It doesn't look good."
"He's going to die," I whimpered as the nurse drew blood from me.
"Shut up, Em," Victor rounded on me, "You've been in accidents before. He'll live."
I was crying freely now. When I went to the reception, Dad was there, frantic. I collapsed on him, "Te-tell M-mum to c-come h-home, Daddy."
My dad patted my head and seated me before going to speak to the doctors. Familiar faces began to come in. Aunt Rose, Colleen, Diana, Karen, Jake, Martin, Cyril, and I couldn't see who else through my tears. Someone was rubbing my back.
I refused to leave the hospital. They managed to keep Terry tethered through the night. Mum's flight landed at 07:08 the next morning. She fainted after seeing Terry. Laine drove me home at ten. I couldn't sleep or eat but I changed and showered. I was back at eleven twenty. I was in a shell, unable to acknowledge anyone around me. Aunt Rose force fed me something in the evening.
"I'm going to stay," I insisted that night.
Mum nodded at me. Dad was doubtful, but he relented.
Terry was bandaged all over, still unconscious. I was at his bedside, his now swollen, grotesque hand in mine. I was numb and unfeeling. It was eleven twenty nine when his hand barely squeezed mine, or maybe it was a phantom sense of pressure; I don't know. I jerked my eyes to his face. Behind the gauze and oxygen mask, I recognised a feeble smile. One brown eye was swollen shut, but the other was on my face. His eye closed and the heart rate monitor went into a flat line.
I was pushed aside as doctors and nurses barged in, trying to jumpstart his heart. Emma, it was goodbye, kept running through my head.
The only thing I remembered of the funeral service was my last ever glimpse of Terry's face before Grandma covered it with a white cloth. The coffin was closed and lowered to the ground. My knees gave way and I sank to the mud I was hitherto so paranoid about. I think Katia was beside me, my parents on my other side. Dad was a wreck. "The last thing I ever told him was to try not to poison us when he cooked for us," Dad shuddered. The white marble of his tombstone was set down.
June 1, 2010
The monsoon keeps the graves clean. I haven't brought flowers, Terry, you've told me more than once that to pluck flowers, and even to put on graves was pointless and not practical. Instead, I've planted a sapling at the foot of your grave. I've been to six beach clean-ups so far. For you. Nothing and nowhere feels like home anymore. I've read and been told it gets easier with time. It'll be the first World Cup without you. Football mania is so high all around but I won't even watch the final. Christmas without you. I don't even want to think of all the birthdays I'll have to go through without you; of life without you.
We have always been fairly close, Terry, but I never realised how much you brightened up my life. You're no longer at the other end of a phone call (the furthest that you've been when you were alive, whenever we needed each other). Rest in peace.
Terrence Marcus Zanetti
29th February 1992-6th April 2010
Soar, the skies have beckoned you
A/N: All names have been changed.