Hi guys, I’m not dead. I’ve been creating another human. I’m not done yet, but my brain threw this at me during a bout of insomnia last night, possibly a last splash of colour in my mind before parenthood takes away my (in)sanity.
Memories of my childhood – precise ones, that is – are few and far between. There is one, however, clear and cold as day even now. I don’t know why this memory is the one that remains, it wasn’t of any grandiose moment in my small existence. Just something that occurred (“happened” sounds too dramatic) on an ordinary day in my ordinary life.
I was coming in from some outdoor activity that my mother never approved of – sea fishing, or hiking up the mountain for plants, or climbing trees and catching monkeys for soup; I could climb higher than the boys, being smaller and thinner than all of them. There was a general air of festive excitement – it must have been Midsummer – and my mother, seeing me enter the kitchen through the back door, immediately turned off the gas cooker and grabbed my wrist, steering me into her bedroom – the only room with a mirror – and sat me down in front of it.
“Dana!” she shouted, “Come here for a moment.”
My twin, though quieter, was no more obedient than I was, and in the end my mother had to go and fetch her from our room (leaving me with a stern order not to move), where she would be mixing some potion or other from the plants I brought home. She entered our mother’s room reluctantly, face straight but eyes betraying her annoyance at having been interrupted in her experiments.
“Sit,” our mother said, pushing her down on a chair next to mine. Glaring at our reflections, she tutted. “You’d think I’d picked one of you up on the roadside.”
I looked at my reflection, and then at Dana’s, wondering who she meant. Me, gold-skinned and wiry, coarse cropped hair bleached blonde by the sun and the sea? Or Dana, pale and thin, her shoulders stooped from leaning over her work, her hair a brown-ish shade that was almost grey? Neither of us resembled her, with her cascade of auburn curls and eyes that changed colour in the light, and which men and women alike had lost their souls to. I concluded that Mother meant that we didn’t resemble each other enough for her liking. When we were little, she used to boast that even she had trouble telling us apart. Now our respective hobbies had taken their toll. Even our eyes were different, I noticed then – Dana’s were a deep, dark blue, whereas mine were paler, more opaque, and streaked in green, as though coloured by the sea.
It was the first time I’d noticed the difference in our eyes, and a sudden shiver shot down my spine despite the midsummer heat, as I was hit with the impression that we were alone in the middle of the ocean, floating away from each other. I felt her hand close on my own, to comfort me or her I didn’t know, and I squeezed it. Her fingers were colder than mine.