by Floyd Roots
A tale of love and supernatural melding of the souls of twin sisters, and of the sadness.
Emily lay on her back, her long hair twisted under her body through the muck and cold slime of the late November evening’s hillside. She sobbed and wailed with a gut wrenching pain that she had never known. Rain plummeted hard and gelid against her form as lightning menaced about the heavy skies with streaks of eerie brilliance and ground shaking rolls of thunder. She was numb from the cold winds and sick from exposure; wandering the woods and meadows these past three days, running from herself, her past, and mostly, the horror. Weak from hunger, she ached both inside and out; but all of these things mattered not. The pain was too deep and intense for any one’s understanding.
Actually, no one had ever understood Emily; had really ‘gotten’ her. Apparently, not even God. She had always been the ‘odd man out’. Even her own twin sister Jamie, the one who bore the other half of her soul, could not quite reach her at times. Over and over, these last few days, came that one horrid reoccurring remembrance, like a damned song stuck in her head; that specific moment so long ago as she and Jamie sat on the foot of Emily’s bed discussing their future, and for the thousandth time, the scene played out in her mind like photographs across the storming meadow.
“Ew! You want to be what?”
“A mortician; you know, like an undertaker or something; a person who prepares dead bodies for burial.”
“I KNOW what a mortician is, Auntie, I just can’t believe that you would want to do something so, so disgusting! Ew! Gross!”
‘Auntie’ was Jamie’s special name for her. A childhood nickname that had spawned one evening as the two lie on the carpet, belly down in front of the old Philco TV set, propped up on their elbows watching the Wizard of Oz. Jamie had thought it hilarious that the aunt in the movie had the same name, and so the handle stuck. After that evening, Jamie mostly referred to her as ‘Auntie’ or Auntie Em.
“You mean that you want to touch dead people? How could you do something like that? Dead people all over your hands!”
“It’s not like that at all. It’s more of a scientific thing. I can’t explain it.”
“Yeah, right. Whatever.” Jamie rolled her eyes.
It had taken courage for Emily to get to this point, to tell her sister. She had rehearsed it in front of the mirror over and over.
“I’m going to be a mortician.” “I’m going to be a mortician.” “I’m going to – oh hell, I’ll just blurt it out!”
She knew her sister as no other, and Jamie knew her equally as well. Emily had already foretold in her mind how this conversation would go, word for word, look for look, she actually 'saw' it, and she was right. It was ’deja vu’ to the tenth power, having played out exactly the way she had envisioned. It had always been that way, this extra sensory connection. When they were the smallest of toddlers, it was there. They knew each other’s thoughts; moves and intents, to a most powerful degree, and having nothing to gauge it against, they themselves little understood this force that melded them together into one. Indeed, it bordered on the supernatural; far beyond the usual twin sibling connection.
This unseen power bonded them; nurtured and protected them. It was a blood-like force that coursed through a common vein. So often, one would feel the pain or anguish of the other, even before the injury had occurred. Once, when separated by reason of errand, a ten year old Jamie cried for her mother to quickly leave a gathering of ladies in her front room to come to the rescue of her sister, whom she knew was in peril. Donna, having experienced this type of phenomenon many times before with her girls, left without question, to find the other twin four blocks away, pinned against a tennis court fence by two rouge dogs. Jamie had seen this in her mind's eye and then led her mother to the very spot, without giving any other thought as to where Emily might be. When later questioned as to how, her answer was simple and direct. She just knew.
During another account, Emily suffered quick agony along with deep bruising, when Jamie had fallen from the school slipper slide and broke her arm. Various occurrences both large and small numbered into the thousands over the course of their lives; first from the point of eeriness, to common place, to a form of normality. The two had often been accused of being mind readers, but such wasn’t so. Both girls were sharply attuned to each other’s senses and most times could guess what the other might be thinking, but each one, thankfully, had a lock to the door of her own thoughts.
Actually, the sisters were quite different in a number of ways. While Jamie adored rock music with all of its showmanship and rowdiness, Emily was armored by the classics and old time big band swing. Em had early-on developed a love of the study of biology and science, while Jamie’s interest lie more so with the liberal arts, such as math, rhetoric and geometry. Besides the aforementioned magnetism of the souls, the girls shared many common traits that were almost clone-like. They looked identical. Even Donna could not distinguish them at times. They favored their mother. Both were of slight build, standing 5’2” with long blondish brown hair, being quite lovely. If standing in the same room and looking away, one could not tell who was speaking. They had identical voicing and accent.
The one thing stronger than the metaphysical bond between them, was their undying love and devotion for each other. In their cribs, even before they had learned to express discourse, they had developed their own language and seemed to delight in their ability to communicate in this strange tongue unknown to others. Later in life, they retained certain ‘key’ words of that dialect, and would often slip in and out of it when they were in private conversation. They were inseparable as babes, always together, in sight of each other. Separating them meant certain unpleasantness. As siblings do, they had their disagreements; some of them quite potent, but all through their lives together, there was never a recollection of one saying a bad word against the other. The respect and love was evident in later years when dating came into play. It was simply understood that the other sister’s date was off limits. Boys were always the topic in those years, however neither girl was ever to marry. This was perhaps due in part by the actions of their own mother who, upon losing her young husband to an airplane crash when they were yet infantile, had never remarried or had even shown but a passing interest in the male gender.
And so the girls grew up. Always together, even unto womanhood. Both attended high school in their little town of Forney, and then onto the University of Texas in Dallas. Over the years of study, Jamie pursued a career in building design, earning a degree as an associate architect; while Emily, true to her word, became a mortician attending the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science. Came the time, however, because of their respective careers and travels, they found it necessary to live apart, but only by a few blocks. They contacted each other almost daily by phone, email, or text. Always on each other’s hearts and minds.
Emily’s love for her work in the advanced study of micro-biology, and her connections with those in the funeral related field, led her to design revolutionary products for the industry. Primarily, silicone based embalming fluids. Apart from the university lab, she loved working from her own funeral home and made very good money doing it. She didn’t care for the sales floor, but loved the embalming room. She never tired of the endless hours of working on cases, no matter how challenging or difficult.
Jamie traveled the globe. The years had been good to her. She had dedicated herself to this art of advanced design and mechanical calculations to the point where she excelled at her craft. Her edifices were uniquely beautiful. Over her career she had been featured in many publications of this specific profession and had became well respected world wide. Now the head of her own company, Foster Architects and Associates, her grueling schedule was like fighting a tug of war with a mammoth, and the more that she fought the beast, the contact with her sweet sister became more slight as the years wore on. Now 42, she was starting to tire. The job was getting to her. She needed a rest.
It was a bright November morning in middle Brazil. Although quite beautiful and peaceful , this day seemed so strange for Jamie. She searched her heart for reasoning as to why. Standing on a steel beam of the skeleton of one of her creations, it dawned on her how much she had been missing her twin. For over the span of a year, she had not been in Emily’s sweet presence. During these days, it was like a dam gathering water, this need for her smile, her warmth, her scent, her embraces. It had been far too long. Something must be done. The cell phone reception in Sao Paulo really sucked. She only had two bars, but it was worth a shot.
It had also been a very odd day for Em. The air seemed especially heavy. She was jumpy, nervous, and irritable. She just couldn’t place a finger on it, this feeling of foreboding fear with every passing shadow, every noise. She paused for a moment in time and almost didn’t answer her cell as it lit up, chiming out a line from one of Jamie’s favorite rock songs, indicating that it was her on the other end.
-Love I get so lost, sometimes-
-Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart-
-When I want to run away-
-I drive off in my car-
-But whichever way I go-
-I come back to the place you are-
Emily, being in the middle of closing stitches on a particularly difficult reconstruction, stared at her phone and began to tremble with a sudden fear like she had not felt since her childhood days. She instantly recognized the force, that magnetism which had always been there between the sisters. It quickly arose within as it had never done before, almost as an evil messenger which began speaking to her in horrid tones, alerting her heart of a peril. Communicating that something awful was about to happen with Jamie. She grew numb with terror. Startling herself from her thoughts, she jutted a clumsy arm out and knocked the phone off of its rest, into a pool of blood winding its way down the trough under the body that she was working on.
“Son of a -”
Now her iPhone was a mess which would take a few minutes to clean up and disinfect. Sensing urgency, and with near ungoverned hands, she frantically searched the chemical cabinet for the container of germicide.
"Damn it! Where are you?"
An awful ghastly feeling of panic and deep distress began to envelope her. The pounding of her heart felt like a vice within her chest as she gasp for her breath. It was as if she were being crushed under the weight of a huge falling malevolent curtain.
And then, at that moment in time, she saw it.
"Oh my God!... Jamie!... No!"
In Brazil, Jamie looked down at her phone in surprise, wondering at her sister and where she might be at this moment. She smiled as she thought of the time so long ago, when she and Em were sitting on the foot of her bed. She had secretly known about Emily wanting to be a mortician, having found a bundle of mortuary school related materials on the floor under her chest of drawers. One of her hiding places. Jamie had snooped there, found the missives and read up on her sister’s confidence. This was one secret that she had never told her, but she would someday. Someday soon. She laughed at the memory of taunting Emily after she had finally worked up the nerve to break the news to her.
“Ew! You want to be what?”
Jamie never saw the iron girder as the crane’s brake suddenly snapped and gave way. Yet, back at home, Emily did. She only heard, for a short space, the pretty whistling noise that it made, gaining speed and power as it neared her head.
Jamie’s phone rang with Emily’s ringtone.
-I’ll be seeing you-
-In all the old familiar places-
-That this heart of mine embraces-
-All Day Through-
The last thing that Jamie voiced was
A rush of the sound of rain came back to Emily’s ears. It had let up some, but that didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Over and over again replayed the abhorrent memory of how Jamie had asked her if she would handle the arrangements, should something ever happen to her. Of course, Emile had reluctantly agreed, but it had been an agreement with the devil that she could never live up to. No! In reality she knew that she could never have her sweet sister on a slab in her own house. She had known that from the beginning. No! Never! So she ran, never to return.
Emily lay on her back, her long hair twisted under her body through the muck and cold slime of the late November evening’s hillside. She sobbed and wailed with a gut wrenching pain that she had never known. Rain plummeted hard and gelid against her form as lightning menaced about the heavy skies with streaks of eerie brilliance and ground shaking rolls of thunder. She never heard the strike, or even imagined what had happened. It was too sudden. She simply arose into the light to embrace her awaiting sister.