I am working on this. I would like comments, suggestions, advice. Please be KIND!
|I thought nothing of the knock on the door; however the dog was not so nonchalant. He reacted immediately, launching himself against the door panel, scrambling and barking, warning off the unseen intruder. I grabbed his collar and dragged him into the kitchen. He grinned at me wolfishly, tail wagging.
“Samson stay.” I commanded, lowering my voice to show I was serious.
Dejected, Samson slumped onto the floor. The knocking was becoming a hammering. “Hang on!” I called, sliding the kitchen door closed. Samson whined.
“ Sorry about that, the dog…” suddenly I didn’t know what to say. A uniformed policeman was standing on our doorstep.
“Is this the Gordon residence?” he continued without a pause, seeing me nod. “Are your parents home?”
I felt like he was interrogating me and fought the urge to protest my innocence for whatever heinous crime he might be about to accuse me of. I mentioned towards the staircase.
“I’ll just go get my mum, my dad is at work though.” I replied quietly.
I could hear Samson frantically scratching the kitchen door. Ignoring him I raced upstairs towards my mum’s study. I rushed in without knocking and she glanced at me quizzically from her computer screen.
“What’s the matter Hannah? I’m a bit busy darling.”
“There is a policeman downstairs, he wants to speak to you.”
“God! What has Izzy done now?” my mother snapped exasperatedly.
It annoyed me that she immediately jumped to the conclusion that Isabelle was responsible. Being that she was my twin, I felt compelled to jump to her defence, but now wasn’t the time to start a row, so instead I simply said, “Oh, Izzy wasn’t with him.”
Mum rolled her eyes; she could see though me. She sighed and went downstairs and I tentatively followed. Mum was slightly justified in her comments, Izzy was known for acting first and thinking later. It sometimes got her in trouble and I was concerned for her. I had a bad feeling, before the policeman even spoke. A chill ran through me and I hugged myself tightly for a moment, unnoticed by anyone else.
“ I’m here about your daughter Isabelle Gordon…”
My mum cut him off, “ What has she done this time? Whatever it is I’m sure we can come to some sort of arrangement.” My mum laughed, “After all you know how children can be!” the false cheerfulness and the way she softened her accent, her telephone voice as I called it, irritated me.
The policeman frowned, “Oh no, its not that, she’s not in trouble,” he flustered for a moment, unable to find the words, “She’s had an accident, she’s…I’m so sorry.” The rest of his words were inaudible to me, I saw his lips move but there was no sound.
I looked over at my mother, watched all the colour drain from her face, she swayed as though drunk. I noticed the policeman take her arm and guide her over to the sofa. She sank into it limply and began to cry, it was as though she was collapsing inwardly. I couldn’t move.
The policeman turned to me, “Is there anyone I can call for you? Your father?” he asked softly.
I nodded. “He’s at work. The number is on the fridge.” I replied in a voice that wasn’t my own. Each word was an effort.
He touched my shoulder lightly, and I heard him go towards the kitchen. I remembered too late that the dog was in there. I heard Samson leap at the policeman but it was muted, as though it was happening far away. I knew I should get the dog under control and comfort my mum but I still couldn’t move.
It was only later when my dad came home that I moved. He pulled me to him and I rested my head on his shoulder. By this point my mum had no tears left and she whimpered quietly. My dad guided me towards the sofa and the three of us sat there huddled together. My dad stroked my mother’s hair and she began to cry again.
I couldn’t stand it. “Stop!” I didn’t realise I was screaming, screaming the word over and over. I had no control over my voice. My dad tried to hold me but I pushed him away, going upstairs. Ignoring his pleading eyes, ashen face, and my mother’s tears.
I reached Izzy’s room before I become conscious of where I was going. I stood in the doorway for a moment; everyone needed permission to go in Izzy’s room, even me. It hit me then that she wouldn’t be granting me permission and I felt sick. I collapsed onto her bed. I grasped for her bear, it was squashed into the gap between the bed and the wall. We had been given them when we were born, twin bears for twin girls my dad had said. They were identical, just like we were but Izzy’s was more raggedy than mine, the pink more faded. She had always been more careless than me. I nuzzled the bear close and pressed my face into her pillow. I don’t know how long I stayed like that but I must have fell asleep.
A loud smashing sound awoke me. I gazed up and saw my dad, saw that he was trembling. The floorboards were covered with shards of broken crockery; I noted the handle identifying it as a mug. Strange what you notice.
“For a moment I thought…I thought you were her.” Dad wept. I hugged him until he stopped sobbing, “I’m sorry.” He whispered. I said nothing.
I couldn’t bring myself to go into Izzy’s room after the incident with Dad. I didn’t want to upset him again, it’s the only time I’ve ever seen my dad cry, it has never happened before or since. I stayed in my room mostly as I couldn’t bear going downstairs. Mum wouldn’t look at me; I was a painful reminder of Izzy. Dad busied himself with informing relatives and friends and of course organising the
I wanted to help as I knew Izzy best, I knew her favourite songs, had anecdotes to share, I knew what outfit she’d want to wear, but this wasn’t a party it was a funeral so it didn’t feel right. Dad wanted a traditional catholic affair, it seemed to help him to have something to do so I let him organise it all.
I told myself that it didn’t matter that Izzy would have hated what he was planning, that she would have been mortified to be seen in the dress he had selected and would have yawned through the readings he chose. I shut all these thoughts out.
The funeral took place 2 weeks later. Oddly, it was uncharacteristically sunny. Everyone seemed disappointed as though they expected the clichéd rainstorm that you see in films. I was glad, finally something Izzy would have liked. She hated rain, she always moaned that it made her hair frizz, so mine too I reflected, after all we have identical wavy blonde locks.
Mum came into my room, as I was getting ready. I was putting some mascara on in front of the mirror and she picked up my hairbrush, running it through my hair. I had already brushed it but I didn’t say anything, I just listened as she counted to 100 softly. It was barely audible but I knew she was doing it anyway. It was what we had done as children when she brushed our hair. We wouldn’t let her stop until the count ended, because one of Izzy’s friends at school had told her that was what princesses did. This routine continued for years until we were too old to have our hair styled by our mum.
“Such beautiful hair, your crowning glory.” She finally said.
She hadn’t said that for years and it seemed strange to hear in that moment. I turned towards her, barely recognising the women in front of me. She was so frail, so fragile. I took the brush from her gently and laid it on the table. The skin of her hand felt like paper. She seemed to have aged years in just weeks.
“Time to go.” I replied, wincing as I caught sight of myself in the mirror.
Throughout the funeral I felt numb, I was just going through the motions. People hugged me but I barely felt it, they offered words of condolence but I didn’t hear them. Nothing was real. It was dreamlike, a surreal nightmare that I couldn’t escape. My eyes remained riveted to the coffin on the altar.
Suddenly I felt all eyes in the room on me and I realised that the priest was motioning me into the pulpit. I got to my feet and began to move, it was like I was wearing lead boots. I felt light-headed and sick. My head was pounding and everything looked distorted, the colours to vibrant. I was forced to labour painfully over each breath.
I was vaguely aware that people were speaking. “Oh my god, she’s having a panic attack!” then I blacked out.