(Lorna)

For the next few days after the last session with Dr. Glarton, I was so wrought with nerves I scarcely dared look at anyone- even Lana- for fear they would know,and see what I was thinking, the terror in my thoughts. What if they knew what Dr. Glarton had told me to do- and worse, what if they knew I was considering doing it? For that was what had terrified me most- I had, and still was, actually wanting to speak to others.394

How could I do it- how could I turn from everything I believed, and betray every value- my precaution I'd taken since a child? How could I betray Lana, who had loved me more than anyone else? And yet, that was precisely the thought that consumed me… I had wept in the office not entirely from fear of the idea itself, but also for fear I would actually do it- actually wanted to…395

I backtracked then, and in the next few days I did all I could to return myself into Lana's good graces. I was more affectionate and attentive, listened and clung to her as I hadn't in weeks… I didn't dare to smile at anyone again, or hardly even look at them. And Lana seemed happy- relieved, and more than glad to have me return to normal.396

But it was not enough. She demanded more of me emotionally in those few days than she had in the weeks I had pulled away… nothing I did seemed enough, she only pulled me to her more tightly. It was as if she were punishing me for my earlier transgressions.397

And despite my efforts, Lana's demands only made it harder for me to break my mind away from my persistent thoughts… time and time again I kept thinking of speaking, remembering Dr. Glarton's arguments for me.398

I think when it really started to get worse was when I saw Evatt as school again. I've never had any classes with him, but I pass him sometimes in the hall. He is really nice-looking, and sometimes I look at him, even when I didn't really want to, or Lana would see. But anyway, I saw Evatt in the hall when I was walking with Lana, and I think that is probably what brought everything to a head.399

I was following him with my eyes, and before I knew it he was looking at me- and I didn't look away. Evatt was looking at me, and to my mutual surprise and pleasure, he lifted his hand in a wave, smiling- at ME.400

Before I could help myself I smiled back, flushing. As he walked on, a hand clamped harshly around my wrist, and I jumped, scared almost senseless. It was Lana… I had forgotten her, somehow forgotten my own sister, my twin. Her face was as immovable as usual, but I knew she was very upset.401

My stomach tightened, and I felt my heart squeeze uncomfortably- but at the same time I felt a startling flash of anger… anger at Lana. Why did she have to be so mad- why couldn't I smile at anyone but her?402

The words of Dr. Glarton came back to me unbidden… "Just because you love her doesn't mean you should continue to allow her to rule you…"403

What that what I was doing- what Lana was doing? Of course it was… but I had always been okay with it, seen it as her right. No- that was a lie. I had not been okay with it- but I had accepted it. 404

What if I had never done so? Would I be a different person now- would I be happier? But mostly- would Lana still love me?

Of course, Lana didn't say anything about my transgression- not until I was alone with her once more, in our bedroom and behind locked doors. It was then that she tore into me, grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me, her face close to mine.405

"What the hell is your problem, Lorna?" she hissed- for Lana never yelled, never raised her voice where others might hear. Always the sound of Lana's whisper had filled me with more fear than the sound of another's shouts…406

But now I felt only a shimmering of residual fear, more habitual and instinctive than anything else… and I felt frustrated. I wanted her to stop yelling at me- not to please her, or from fear, but because I resented it.407

"Do you so want the attention of strangers that you would sacrifice me, sacrifice the bond no one else could ever dream of sharing? Would you throw yourself at a person who would use you and your body, then cast your remains at my feet?" Lana demanded, shaking me slightly as she spoke. Her cheeks were flushed, seeming to glow in her ire. "Would you truly be so blinded, so dazzled by some worthless boy, that you would forget me, your own twin? Yes, you would, I see! Tell me, Lorna, why is it you hold me in such careless regard when I cherish you- love you more than any other object of this world?"408

Her chest was heaving, her limbs trembling as she held me at arms length, her eyes boring into mine. I could not stop myself from shaking slightly… but somehow my voice was soft, steady when I answered. "409

"I didn't wish to hurt you, Lana. I never hurt you intentionally."410

"You hurt me every day, every time you betray me, every time you forget what I am to you, what I've done for you!" Lana hissed. I was breathing shallowly, and my heart leapt as soon as I heard myself reply to her- for I had not planned my words, had not even known I thought them- and yet they spilled forth from me all the same.411

"I never hurt you intentionally, Lana, nor do I try to bring you guilt or pain. But you do, to me."412

Lana's frame jerked in shock at me words, and she gawked at me, so startled her hands loosened their grip on me. She seemed flabbergasted, aghast that I would even think such a thing. Her mouth opened, and a pain- a panic- shot into her eyes that immediately made me hurt, even as I braced myself. I don't think I knew quite what I was doing or saying, even as I spoke, deliberately defying her.413

"How could you say that?" Lana whispered, the hurt obvious in her voice, her expression. "I love you more than anyone- I love you so that no one else never could understand it."414

"I know you do, Lana," I said slowly, my voice very quiet, but amazingly steady. "I never doubted that you loved me. But you hurt me too. And I think you know that you hurt me, sometimes… but you do it anyway, to get me to do what you want me to."415

Lana stared at me, and I saw that her face was perfectly still even as her eyes flashed a string of strong emotions- anger, hurt, fear, and frantic intensity…416

Her eyes narrowed suddenly, tightening in sudden understanding. She stepped closer to me, and it took all my will power not to look away, step back from her.417

"They've brainwashed you, haven't they, Lorna?" she said, her voice hard. "That fucking therapist- those assholes at school- they've taken you away from me. You let them get to you- you let them reach inside and rip away all that made you special- all that made us special. How could you do that, after all I've done for you, all I've sacrificed?"418

I could hear my heart thudding in my chest, felt my mouth go dry at her tone, the way she was looking at me, her closeness. Never before had I dared to speak to her like this, dared to speak what I was just now recognizing as the truth. It amazed me that I even considered it in my mind, let alone carried it out in my actions, yet here I was, not backing down, not looking away…419

I could not read her thoughts- had no instinctive knowledge of what she wanted, what she was trying to tell me to do or say…. In fact, I realized with surprise, I hadn't for some time now. Whether this was because she had stopped trying, or I had simply stopped being connected to her enough to understand, I didn't know.420

"No, Lana, they didn't," I said carefully, determinedly, still unable to believe that the words were leaving my mouth. "They didn't brainwash me- no one did. I thought- I always thought this. I just never said it. You wouldn't let me say it. You didn't let me speak at all. If anyone brainwashed me…" and here my voice dropped, almost inaudible, as some of my bravado left me. "If anyone brainwashed me, you did."421

"What?" Lana snapped, her voice rising slightly, shriller and less controlled than it usually was when I upset her. "Lorna, what the hell- how- what are you saying? Why would you even want to speak- why, when you have me? We didn't need anyone- we still don't- why are you doing this?" Her voice was growing panicked, and she stopped, visibly controlling herself, composing herself. When she looked up at me again, her voice was low, measured, but her eyes still glowed feverishly.422

"You don't have to do this, Lorna. If you will take back what you just said, I'll forget it- I'll forgive you, and we can go back to us, to normal. Okay?"423

Her body language, the way she held herself, pleaded for me to give in to her, do the safe thing, the easy thing. For a moment I wavered, torn… I loved her, and what I was doing terrified me, for it would mean losing her in some vital way…424

But when would I ever have another chance? How could it truly be okay again after what I'd said? It was only a wish- Lana's wish. For I meant what I had said to her, even if I didn't understand how I had been able to say it.425

"I can't, Lana," I said softly. "I'm sorry… but I can't."426

A silence hung between us for several moments, as my heart continued to overexert itself. The look on Lana's face pierced something soft and delicate in my chest…427

"Why?" she rasped, her voice cracking, as her face trembled, fighting for composure. "Why?"428

I wanted to touch her then, hold her, do something to soften the terrible fear I saw in her eyes… something to take away the guilt gnawing at my stomach. But I couldn't…429

"Because I'm not supposed to… I'm not supposed to be only yours, Lana. You say we need each other only. But someone had to take care of us, earlier- it wasn't you who changed me or fed me or put me to sleep, when I was little. You couldn't- because you were little too. You always said we never needed anyone but each other… but that's not true," I said, my voice almost a whisper. "We needed someone else then or we never would have survived. And- I think- we need others now too…"430

I swallowed hard, trying not to look at Lana without letting myself drown in her eyes.431

"I-I want people besides you. I need other people… I want to talk to them. I-I want to love them."432

"You can't," Lana whispered, her face stricken, and she blinked rapidly, her eyes glossy with emerging tears of panic. "You can't love anyone else- you're not supposed to. We're twins, Lorna, you can't-"433

"Why not?" I asked her, my voice sharper than I had intended. "Why can't I, Lana? Why can everybody love who they want to except me?"434

Lana blinked rapidly, her lips tightening… for the first time since I could remember, she looked away from me.435

"If- if you love anyone else," she began shakily, her voice barely audible, "then- you won't have enough love left for me."436

Tears slipped down her cheeks, and she didn't bother to wipe them away. My chest twisted painfully, and I couldn't stop myself from reaching out and wiping them from her cheeks. She closed her eyes, a sob escaping her, and her shoulders slumped. I touched her hair gently, pushing it back from her face.437

"I'll always love you, Lana," I said quietly. " Nothing you do could make me stop. Nothing you've ever done has. If anything, I'll only love you more… if you let me go." I hesitated, hating what I was about to say, feeling guilty even before I saw Lana's reaction.438

"I'll love you more,Lana… because I won't be afraid of you, or resent you. I'll be- I can love you more- because you won't be suffocating me- kind of- forcing me to love you."439

Lana seemed unable to speak; she just stood there, so close to me, and yet so remote, her whole body trembling, her face on the verge of splintering apart.440

I watched her, trembling myself, and in that moment I felt further from her than I had ever before. But I also felt a fierce aching love for her I could hardly bear.441

"Lorna," she managed to choke out, her voice raw, distorted. "I told you, I've always told you, I would never let you go. I'll- I'd- I'd rather kill you than lose you like this. I would rather kill myself."442

"If you feel that way," I breathed, "if you really value your life so little- then maybe- maybe you would- be happier."443

I couldn't continue, couldn't make myself elaborate on the cruel thought I hadn't mean to think, let alone say aloud. I knew how it had affected Lana, as her eyes filled with fresh pain; she doubled over, as if I had stabbed her in the heart. Tears flowed down her cheeks. I could not remember when I had last seen Lana cry- and never had I been the one to hurt her so deeply.444

"How- how can you do this?" she wept, her shoulders shaking violently. "How could you betray me…"445

I took a deep breath, fighting back my own urge to cry. I couldn't stop trembling, my legs would barely hold me up. I think I was starting to go into shock.446

"I-I'm- I'm not trying to betray you, Lana," I told her, as I tried to remember Dr. Glarton's words to me, bring them back in mind. "I'm trying to- to be free…"447

She was still crying, too harshly and angrily to answer. She slid to the floor, her head hanging so her hair covered most of her face.448

I watched her for a few moments, just trying to remain standing, keep breathing, keep from hyperventilating or letting my heart explode. Finally I squatted beside her, slowly putting her hair back from her face. She glared up at me, her face mottled and shiny with tears, lips shaking. Cautiously I leaned forward, kissing her cheek and tasting the salt of her tears on my lips.449

"I love you, Lana… I'm sorry."450

I straightened, stood, my legs weak and rubbery beneath me. I think it was even harder for me to turn away from her then, leave her crying on the floor and walk out the door, then it had been to say all I had just said to her.451

But I did it. Somehow I turned from her and walked away.452

My mind was swirling in a hundred directions, every emotion I had tried for years to repress now coming over me at once. I could barely make my legs keep going, keep moving down the hall.453

They were there, as I'd thought… our parents, both of them, and our sister too. Our father had probably just come in a few minutes ago, for the clock above the kitchen read 5:15. Our mother was stirring something at the stove, and our father was just sitting at the table as Katelyn emptied the dishwasher. It was quiet, but comfortable for them, I could tell. This was something I had never been part of… but watching them, I felt a lump in my throat, a pang of powerful desire.454

I opened my mouth, meaning to clear my throat, do something to announce my presence… but no sound emerged. For a few seconds I panicked- but suddenly the dryness constricting my throat was gone, and the word had escaped my lips before I could think further. Just one word- that was all it took to change everything.455

"Hi," I whispered.456

The end