Writing Prompt “Twins”
The wrong twin goes on to win the highest reward and accolades at the expense, sweat, and toil of the other.
Word Count: 1,200
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“Why tell me now?” I asked Azax.
“Because you’re a friend, firstly..”
“Do you think I’ll write about it one day to reveal such a blatant deception!”
“You might. But that’s beside the point. What you’ve to understand, man, is that I’ll die with a less heavy heart.”
I looked at the skeleton of a man, once known for his robust health, in bed in front, his hand tightly in mine. There was a plea in his eye that decided the matter in his favour and then he was gone. I put the lifeless hand up to place it beside his still warm body.
As I come out of the hospital a multitude of people was gathering outside along with some celebrities. The President, I’s told, was on his way. My friend was no ordinary man. He was known to the world as Alexander Parker, the Nobel Laureate for Literature in 2020.
Back home I couldn’t keep what Azax had told me earlier out of my mind. In a lot of ways, his life story was similar to another I read, called “The Ant and The Grasshopper” by Maugham. There were these two brothers. One a hard worker; the other the opposite. The former sweated it out like anything to barely make ends meet, while the later loafed around for a hearty laugh when the old woman he’d married sometime earlier, died leaving him a fortune. Hearing the news, the poor brother shook his head to remark: Life’s not fair. Not at all fair.
I was rewinding what Azax had to tell me. They were twins. Siamese twins. if you know what that means. Their mother died at childbirth. To relieve the father, their childless aunt adopted Alex, the elder.
Months rolled into years and the twins grew incredibly fast. Alex was bright and won a scholarship to Harvard. He started making a name and fame by writing. The younger, Azax, was not bad either. He was a handsome, healthy lad, who preferred to chase the village damsels. He was enjoying life with Marium, his wife and son, Aryan, like you see it in movies, when he received a long distant call from Alex asking him for a secret, paid visit to a nameless hotel in a remote corner of Guatemala. Alex even told Azax about the dress he had to wear for this meeting of the long-lost brothers.
Azax was stunned to hear the story Alex had to bare. His latest novel, having recently won the Pulitzer, was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize for Literature for the year, a first in the history of the Nobel Prize. Unfortunately, his days were numbered. Having given a lot of thought to the matter, he finally decided on his brother. He didn’t want the Prize posthumously.
“I don’t think I’ll live to see the day, bro. So if “ Love, Loss, Lifeter” finally makes the cut, I’d like nothing better than for you to go to Sweden to receive the honor..”
“Are you nuts or what? That’s the most preposterous idea I’ve ever heard. You know very well that I don’t know a thing about Literature!”
“I’ve already thought it over, brother. Starting with this place,your dress today, to the interview that will be arranged with the media after the Award. I’ve brought along a three-page note on my major works. Just give it a read-through, that will suffice. Be a bro, man.”
“What about my wife and son?”
“Aryan is too young to remember me and Marium’ll be basking in stacks of cash afterward to really bother. Besides, you can always tell them that it was the last wish of a dying brother..”
That settled the matter. The next hour was spent in enlightening Azax with the master plan. How he was to go back to his family till Alex’ final hour. How Alex would give people the impression that he was still vacationing in the nameless hotel in a far-flung corner. And on the night of the final farewell, after Alex had secretly gone out of the hotel and taken his masterly-crafted leave of the world, how Azax was to come back to the hotel dressed in the other pair of the same suit!
So unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Azax arrived at the hotel exactly two months after the fatal meeting, dressed in the same suit that Alex had gone out in a day earlier. The newspapers were full of nothing but his winnng the Nobel Prize, only after the seventh novel. Azax got to work then. He told Aryan that he would be away for a week and then he would come back as his uncle to claim his late brother’s family. Azax really hoped that Aryan would understand and act smartly for a better life.
He entered the hotel lobby unflinchingly and heaved a sigh of relief when the pretty lady at the Reception threw at him her dazzling smile and said: Sir, please collect your mail and Congrats. It’s a huge honor for us to have you here.
Good, the first hurdle is crossed with little effort.
Azax left for Sweden a couple of days later, in the first week of December. The days in hotel Ritz were spent in hectic preparation. The briefing, the Award Ceremony, the Banquet at the Royal Palace and the Interview with the media.
Next day, the till the handing over of the Prize by the King in a heart-stopping Ceremony, followed by the Dinner at the Royal Palace went off like a dream. The Interview was scheduled at The Ritz not to inconvenience his break-neck schedule. He was leaving for the States the very next day.
“Mr. Alex, Bobby from The New York Times. Congratulations. Would really appreciate it if you could tell us what prompted such a Dickensian classic?”
“I named the character of the girl after Marium. Remember to keep your composure.” Alex’ words came flashing into his mind.
“ Marium, rises from and towers over the utter squalor and poverty she grew up with, to teach me, us about Love, Loss, Life and Laughter…”
Oh, how I miss her, my son and my brother…
“Mr. Alex, one last question. I’m Carrie from The Guardian. There are a lot of autobiographical elements in “Love, Loss and Lifeter”, especially during your early years in Harvard. How could Haiden, the protagonist dump Alicia, the reason behind all his achievements and success, like the way he did?”
“Alicia? Who’s..Oh, Alicia. You are spot on, Mr. What’s your name? Sorry, I didn’t get it because of the murmurings. There is no way Haiden can deny her role in his life..No way!” Here Azax broke into a smile and raising the glass from the table, finished it at a gulp amidst the thundering applause of the gathering.
Life was never going to be the same again as he sat back on his chair and dabbed gently at the beads of sweat on his forehead. A life-size photo of the Nobel Prize along with the whooping Cheque, being handed on to Azax, sorry, Alex shot up on the giant screen in the auditorium at this precise moment.
Good work and a complex plot.
Two other little things that turned out to be major for me and you should consider correcting them. Besides the author intrusion in this sentence – They were twins. Siamese twins. if you know what that means – (They were Siamese twins. is sufficient – give your readers some credit and you don’t need two sentences to say it.) And, you don’t need to say If you know what that means. Then, you never tell us that they were separated, Siamese twins are connected. You also never mention the fact, although we deduce it, that they were identical twins. You just go on with the story telling us the Aunt adopted one of them. It’s kind of hard to adopt one of a Siamese twin without adopting the other.
And one other sentence for us folks you have English as our first language. This sentence is fuzzy for most of us the way you wrote and used it – Alex even told Azax about the dress he had to wear for this meeting of the long-lost brothers. It took me a minute to realize you meant ‘dress’ as in ‘attire’, not dress as in ‘a dress’ such as a woman would wear. Attire is a much better word in this instance. Or even the phrase the manner of dress he should wear which redefines dress for the reader not to be that of feminine apparel.
And, having read your story three times, Who the heck is Aryan? And, how is Azax, going to come back to claim his brother’s family as his uncle, as stated in this sentence? He told Aryan that he would be away for a week and then he would come back as his uncle to claim his late brother’s family. Are we to understand that Aryan is his nephew?
And, finally, So unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Azax arrived at the hotel exactly two months after the fatal meeting, dressed in the same suit that Alex had gone out in a day earlier. While I think I understand what you are saying, this is fuzzy for me. Two months after the fatal meeting, dressed in the same suit … a day earlier. Doesn’t add up, my friend.
That’s all I got, bro. I like what you did, but, as always, you really need to clean this story up. Otherwise, it’s an imaginative story of an identical twin replacing the other. You did, however, follow the prompt faithfully and had the wrong brother get all the glory. For that you get an attaboy.
Thanks for your comments. Any story of mine that goes without you speaking something about it in order to refine me, remains incomplete to my mind. You are a fantastic and first-class critic.
You are spot on as always about ‘I came out’. It is just my luck, you know what I mean? A whole history there. Secondly, I had my doubt about the number of ‘multitude’, but was quite lethargic about it. Let me tell you something in this connection. I know whatever I write will be good enough for the fifth or sixth spot. So why bother in the first place? Let the world think what they want to, I am no great writer vying for the top honors.
Regarding the second point that it is hard to separate Siamese twins, I read an article aeons ago about a case in Taiwan or the Philippines, where the twins had to be separated for their survival and God knows what happened to them finally. I was not aware that they have to stay together as uf glued to one another. So, I decided to take the risk, kind of ‘poetic licence’, you know.
Thirdly, the word ‘dress’ us quite common in this part of the world. We use it quite often to mean unform as in ‘ What’s the problem with your school dress? You don’t seem to have washed it for ages!” or ‘His dress consisted of a sky blue shirt, faded jeans and a tie hanging loose around the neck’.
Fourthly, Aryan is the son of Azax. Now with Alex gone and Azax having taken his place, he can’t come back to his place to claim his family once more as Azax, can he? So he cones back as his uncle, Alex, who is very much alive and kicking to the rest of the world, especially after winning the Nobel Prize.
Finally, as per the plan hatched by Alex, he was to disappear from the world and die far away from the glaring public eye. He couldn’t have died in the hotel, so he had to go out. Azax came back warring the same suit a day later. People couldn’t tell Azax from Alex. And one more than thing, in this context. Azax didn’t wear the SAME suit. The twins shared a pair. You got me?
Come on, man. You can’t be that serious. It is a great honour for me to know that there are people out there willing to read my story twice or thrice. I can’t be that bad then, right mate?
Thanks for your time and patience with me. You have to forget me if there some mistakes happen to be. This is the longest that I have ever written to defend me. Let me thank thee for all your sincerity. Love you till eternity. Having fun as it is a rare commodity. Forgive me if I have crossed decency. Regards.
If I’m reading between the lines here correctly, it seems to me, that while you don’t mind my critiques, you still defend yourself, which is fine. All I’m trying to do is to help get you better in an English as a first language story contest, while you are competing with a handicap. So you don’t end up in 5th or 6th place each time.
So, I sense that I’m spinning my wheels in regard to critiquing your stories since you say things like, ‘I’m too lazy to go back and make it better’ and other comments in the same vein. I merely point out the differences in our common language uses. I do the same for a British friend of mine when he uses words that are not common in American English. Then, he can choose to do whatever he likes with his story. So can you.
In the future, I will endeavor to use my time more wisely, and devote my critiques to story line, plots, structure and flow. Write however you like my friend, I think you like being in 5th or 6th. Otherwise, you would try and do something about it. Maybe I look at it differently. I feel that critiques and the lessons I’ve learned from them are what makes me a better writer, and believe me, I’ve a very long way to go.
I detect a tone of despair, surrender, finality, call it what you will, in the last paragraph of you email, as if you are giving up on me. Please don’t, buddy. Each of your valuable critiques means a lot to me as they, I am sure, do to others.
I may not always listen to you. We may not see eye to eye over a lot of things. But have no doubt in your mind that I take you as a blessing.
I say a lot of things I don’t mean. I seldom listen to others. But the day is not far when I will wake up to the realization that you always have had my best interest in the back of your mind. Things cannot remain the same after that, can they? I’ll also change, and hopefully, change for the better.
Please have patience with me and, in addition to critiquing my story line, plot, structure and flow, PLEASE, never ever hesitate to point out my language most stakes and deficiencies the way only you can.
You occupy a special place in my heart, buddy for no one has ever been so patient with me, ungrudgingly. No one has spent so much time on a two-penny writer like me,
so selflessly, and no one has ever tried to make a better writer of me like the way you have, ever so hopefully.
Thank you for being what you are.
God bless you.
I like your use of the word ‘Validation’. I take it to mean some kind of ‘acceptance’. Once you get to the top, there is no looking back. From there you can only go further up. People become aware of your presence and it is like a while new world opening and warming up to you, your presence in their midst.
I am also intrigued by the revelation that this site is not as young as I thought it to be. The very fact that you had set it up as far back as 2013, speaks volumes about your love of writing, unearthing and encouraging young talents to take to writing far more seriously and so on.
Keep on enjoying yourself, Life, mate, for you deserve nothing but the very best. With love and regards.
Last weekend I witnessed the birth of twin puppies. But that’s another story.
Growing up, I knew of six sets of twins. Five were what is called identical. The set that wasn’t was easy to tell apart; she had a long ponytail, he had a crew cut. I had no trouble telling who was who in four of the five. Everyone has at least one unique visible feature. The set I couldn’t tell apart was my own cousins. My uncle claimed he could tell.
Moving right along, this note has two purposes: register, and state that my story (written in the first person – as usual) is not me. I heard it the next day.
by Robt. Emmett ©2018
I parked my ‘53 Ford in front of Schneider’s drug store. Their Hershey Bars were on sale, pounders – fifty cents. I noticed a red, top-down ’56 Caddy convertible parked down the street, with two brown-haired ponytails sitting in the front seat.
As I turned, I bumped into Bobby D. “Hi man am I ever glad to find you. I gotta problem, two chicks. I need someone, you, to keep one busy for a little while.” He winked, grabbed my arm, and hustled me toward the ’56.
“I can’t,” I protested. “I need to get home.”
“Come on, I’ll owe ya. Here take these,” he said slipping two tin foiled squares into my hand, “in case you get lucky. A little protection’s a good thing.”
At his car, I recognized the girl in the middle. I’d met her and then dated her – once.
He pointed at the door hugger, “This is Cassie.” Pointing at the girl in the middle, “And her twin sister, Sissy.” His elbow dug into my ribs, “Carbon copies, eh?”
His so-called Cassie wasn’t the Cassie I almost knew – biblically! I started to correct him; both girls’ eyes shot me that special look. I kept my mouth shut.
Looking at the both of them, I said, “Hi.” I opened the door to help whatever-her-name was out and into the backseat. She started toward the far side, but my hand went around her waist and pulling her to me. “What’s going on?” I whispered.
“Later,” she said.
“Bobbie, where are we going?”
“You know that back road, behind the 14th green at the Country Club?”
Bobbie stopped after crossing the stone bridge.
“You two get out here. I’ll be back ah … later.”
We did and the Caddy headed down the tree-lined road.
I spun her around, “What’s your problem with me? I don’t know you, never seen you, and yet you treat me like the plague.”
“One, you’re a friend of Bobbie’s.”
“Do you want to hear my side of things?”
“Not really, but go ahead.”
“Bobbie and I go to the second grade. He’s more of an acquaintance than a friend. He’s a user of the worst sort. I’m not standing here with you by choice.”
“Bobbie, a user, you don’t know the half of it! And secondly, you’ve screwed my sister. I love her dearly, but she has alley cat morals.”
“I dated her once. Nothing happened – nothing.”
“That’s pure B.S. She’s been in the sack, backseat, whatever, with every person she’s ever dated. So, I know you’re lying.”
“Let’s sit on the bridge’s balustrade while I tell you about me and your sister?” We sat. “Your name is Sissy, Right?” She nodded. “Cassie and I met a coupla time by accident. Then, oh, about ten days ago, on a Tuesday, we went to….”
“That was you?” She interrupted.
“Oh was she pissed off at you. She said….”
“She promised never to mention what we didn’t do. Damn it, stop laughing and tell me what she told ya.”
Sobering a little, “She said that you wound her up like a cheap watch and,” giggling, “didn’t want the time.” She lost it. I slid off the balustrade and walked to the other side of the road, kicked a stone into the creek, and walked back to her.
On an impulse, I took her face in my hands and lightly kissed her on the lips.
She didn’t flinch. “I’m not like her, but I don’t mind a kiss, but that’s where it stops.”
“You want me to tell you the whole story of what happened that Tuesday evening.”
“Yes, I’d like that.”
I told her my side of the embarrassing story.
“You’re the only one that has ever gone that far and then told her no. She was very upset with you. So, why didn’t you?”
“It just didn’t seem right. And it puts a completely different slant on a relationship. It’s like playing cards for fun is one thing, but playing for money is a whole ‘nother thing. Now that I’ve told you my story, do you want to tell me what the hell is going on with you girls and Bobbie?”
She slouched, “Yeah, that’s fair. I … ah, met him at the roller rink. We had a fun time. A couple of dates later he asked me to go steady. I said ‘sure,’ who wouldn’t? He’s good looking, has a car, and he sure isn’t poor. He gave me this….”
She opened the top button of her blouse. The light of the full moon glinted off a ’59 CHS class ring on a gold chain. “And he’s not getting it back either. I really liked him until he got demanding and a little physical. I don’t go for that grabby-hand crap. My sister suggested a way to fix him.”
The Caddy’s engine roared as the car’s headlights come out of the dark. It slid to a stop next to us. “Get in, damn it.”
Sissy and I slid over to the side of the car and plopped into the rear seat. Cassie turned toward and gave us a Cheshire cat grin.
“If it wasn’t for him,” Bobbie said, thumbing at me, “both you bitches would be walking home. Gary, you’re gonna to take them home.”
Sissy leaned to me, “I should have told you sooner that he’d react this way.”
Whispering, “I’ve known him a longer than you. He always acts badly when he doesn’t get his way. You’re lucky he’s outta your life. Sissy, you mind if we drop your sister at home?” She smiled. “Good, you and I can get a Coke or something at the drive-in.” I leaned forward and tapped Bobbie on the shoulder, “Drop Cassie off at her house.”
“You owe me, remember?”
“For what she did, the bitch can walk.”
“So, your word’s not any good?” I settled back next to Sissy.
Bobbie shrugged. “Alright, alright, then we’re even. K?”
“Then drop Sissy and me off downtown.”
Twenty minutes later, we parked at King Leo’s on 16th Avenue West and Superior Street. Sissy ordered a Large Coke, two cheeseburgers, extra pickles, raw onions, and curly fries. I doubled the order.
If she thought the raw onions would stop me from kissing her good night, she was wrong.
She squelched a soft burp, shrugged, “I was hungry.”
“So, finish telling me about your sister and Bobbie. What did she do to upset him?”
“Cassie did to him what you did to her. She wound his watch, so to speak, and then told him his time was up. He thought she was me. Would you ask him to call me? I’ll explain things to him. He doesn’t deserve it, but then he’ll know we’re through.”
I backed my car into her driveway and parked. “How about roller skating tomorrow night?”
“I’d rather go on Wednesday night,” she replied.
I shrugged and opened my car door, slid out, and Sissy followed. At her door, I said, “Goodnight,” and turned.
She sighed. “Okay, Monday night. What time?”
“I’ll pick you up at a quarter to seven. Okay?”
“I guess.” She slipped behind the screen door, “I’ll be ready.”
– Ԙ –
I have read your humorous story a couple of times. And am I not mixed up between Cassie and Sissy? Both the sisters seem to be equally fun-loving and frivolous to a certain extent, to me. So, who of the two, is the one really naughty? Was it Cassie for getting the gold chain from Bobbie, or was it Sissy for letting Gary kiss her at first lightly?
Whatever it may be, there is no denying your sense of humour and sizzling wit, buddy.
Keep writing. God bless you.
I learned very early that life isn’t fair. More about that in a minute. As soon as I was aware, I learned I was born a twin. Just an ordinary twin, nothing spectacular like an identical twin, or an identical twin that mirrors the other twin. You know, right handed, left handed, hair parted on different sides, etc., etc.
I was shorter, with mousey brown hair, green eyes and crooked teeth. My twin Rod, was taller, with blue eyes, blonde hair that looked as if spun from gold, and a set of teeth that caused dentists to weep at their sheer beauty. I was a bit overweight and managed to maintain that no matter how much I exercised, while my brother could eat like a pig and not gain an ounce.
I had so many zits I looked like I had a strange rash. I ordered industrial strength Clearasil in gallon drums, while his complexion was perfect. I used to lay awake at night with thoughts of getting a red magic marker and spotting up his face while he slept, just so I could hear the satisfying scream the next morning. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I was shy and introverted. He, on the other hand, was outgoing, and if he ever cared to, could audition for the lead role in ‘The Golden Boy’ and get the part. It was nothing for him to double date. Not with another couple, but with two girls at the same time.
In college, I majored in Art with a journalism minor, and was First Chair in the orchestra for violin. He, on the other hand, majored in being the BMOC (Big Man on Campus) and I, as always, was relegated to standing around a lot by the punch bowl hoping no one would notice me.
I had trouble finding a job and he fell into them. He always said, “You’ve got to understand the hard times, Kelly, so you can enjoy the good times.” Meanwhile, Rod, without benefit of a degree, was assistant to the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and was used to fill in on their Chicago TV station for sports news.
I would go home at night to my one bedroom apartment, kick off my shoes, and wonder what I could make in the microwave. Occasionally, I would pick up some Panda Express on my way home and wonder how the rich people were doing.
Television was too depressing, so I sat at my computer and decided to write the Great American Novel. I wrote about life in general, using my powers of observation and created characters with the good and bad attributes of various classmates I had known, and people I worked with. All except one, the main character: he was my older brother, (by three minutes), and was written as is.
The wonderful thing about sending submissions to publishers was the fact they could only judge you by your writing, not by your looks. You were judged by the quality of your work. As it turned out, I could write. In a few short days I received a tentative offer and submitted all the information requested; all formalities of course, so they could send me a check.
Then came the request for a photo, which I obliged, knowing my work would carry me through this bit of unpleasantness. It didn’t. Immediately, the publisher found a flaw in my story that precluded them from publishing it. Or, so he said. Devastated, I spent the next few months in denial, losing my job, and being evicted from my apartment.
I was family, so of course, my brother said I could stay at his place. It was very nice; a two bedroom condo on Lake Shore Drive, looking out over the lake from the 26th floor. I started the rounds of submission again for my story, and once again, struck gold on the second try. This publisher was even more excited than the first and offered an even bigger piece of the pie, with better royalties.
This time I was smart. When it came time for the photo, I sent a picture of my brother. They set up a luncheon in New York City and flew us both in. I was going, of course, as my brother’s agent. All he had to do was smile, shake hands, shmooze with everyone and attend all the events.
Our first interview on CNN was a complete disaster. My brother was no match for the savvy reporter who knew what questions to ask and, more importantly, who to ask. I was relegated to being Quasimodo to my brother’s Don Quixote. As often as I tried to answer the questions, I was ignored, while Rod couldn’t even remember the title of a book about him – ‘Golden Boy’ – and we crashed and burned on national television.
The publisher, understandably distraught on finding out my brother was not, in fact, the real author, threatened to sue if we didn’t return the check post haste, and considered suing us for expenses.
I decided that using my brother’s looks was not the answer, nor could I stay with him. His place was party central and I couldn’t concentrate on my work. Fortunately, my name was still not well known in the publishing industry and I concentrated on resubmitting my work. I knew it was gold, I just had to figure out how to make it work. And that’s what I set out to do.
First, I borrowed on my life insurance, with a personal promise to myself I would repay it, but if I didn’t and I died, I wouldn’t need it anyway. Let the BMOC take care of it. He at least owed that much to me for walking in his shadow all my life. Then I set my well thought out plan into place. It took six months of sweat and tears, starving myself, and seeing professionals to augment what Mother Nature had forgotten.
I set about resubmitting my transcripts and hit pay dirt on the third try. When I received my request for a photo, I sent off the new headshot taken just the day before. The phone call I received three days later asking me to come to New York for a personal visit was accepted and I flew out the next morning.
At the meeting, the publisher introduced me to all the people I would be working with: a new agent, my editor, proof readers, beta readers and so on. It was a wonderful time. I can still recall the publisher’s parting words. “Kelly, it will be a pleasure doing business with you. I see a long and bright future for both of us.”
It’s interesting what magic can happen with a trainer, contacts instead of glasses, dental work, a little cosmetic surgery, and changing my hair color to red, enhancing my green eyes. The best part was knowing that I was the same person I’ve always been, and finally learning and understanding that ‘a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do’.
Roy, would you like to title your story?
Nine times out of ten, I’ll go for a character like Kelly. What is wrong with him? He may not have his brother’s looks, comfortable life and luck but he is a hard-working man, man. From a few paragraphs on, my heart was yelling, yearning for him to make it big in Life. And make it big he did by signing the contract at the third attempt. So, between the two brothers, there was no bad guy as such, despite Kelly’s desire to dot his brother’s face.
Your language, as always, is a sheer delight. The story, intriguing. The only thing that I possibly do not like is the title ” The Other”. By thus naming your story, you are shifting the reader’s focus from the main to the minor character, Kelly. “The Other Brother” or “The Other Twin” might have been a more appropriate option. Anyway, as the writer,you do have the right to call your story by any name of your choice, I guess.
Write many more such stories to teach me the art of story-writing. God bless you always.
Rathin, it appears you missed reading the last line or didn’t get it. I shifted the focus because, as you see, Kelly is a woman and not the minor character that you think, and has been from the first day. I’m pretty sure the last line mentions that “a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do.”. I didn’t think I had to telegraph it to each reader by saying, “Did I forget to mention I’m a woman? My bad.”
You have to slow down and smell the roses, my friend. You seem to charge through life in a hurry. That’s OK, but now and then, just kick back and relax.
You have the girls reversed, Cassie was a certifiable nymphomaniac, and Sissy limited herself to kissing. Your confusion most likely stems from the beginning of the story where Bobbie D is going steady with Sissy. But as she doesn’t want to Ah … do the dead, as they say, her sister, Cassie, volunteers to do it for her. Afterward, Cassie explains the switcheroo to Bobbie and he wasn’t happy.
The Inferior Twin by Carrie Zylka
Copyright 2018 (1198 Words)
This wasn’t a little girl. This was something else. It looked like a little girl, talked like a little girl, but it sure as hell wasn’t one.
I recoiled as she reached out a tiny hand towards me. I’d seen monsters before, I’d been fighting them for years but this, this was something else.
Her eyes, blue as a spring day they held me, captivated me. But the longer I looked the more flawed they became, I noticed cracks in the iris like a pane of glass. A normal person would have fallen under the spell.
Luckily, I am not a normal person.
Another figure entered the room. Another tiny person, an exact replica of the girl.
“My sister and I come to play here.” The first one said.
“We like it here.” The second one moved closer to me.
Demon twins? Now that was a twist.
The first glanced at the second and I saw a flicker of annoyance.
That was interesting.
I still wasn’t sure what these two creatures were. Certainly not human. Not vampire. Not werewolf.
Perhaps demon, but two demons working together? Unheard of.
My right hand closed around the dagger in my pocket, my job was to kill the monsters but these two intrigued me.
“Tell me little girls, how came you to be in this place? I know you’re not human, but why are you here?” I asked, narrowing my eyes.
The first one flashed an angry look at the other. “I told you this was a foolish guise.” She turned frosty eyes back to me and I almost took a step backwards.
The second one rolled her eyes. “Yes, because God forbid I get to be like you, you the one who always gets the credit. The credit for everything WE do together.”
The first girl snarled. “That’s because you’re pathetic. A pathetic little mule. You deserve nothing more than to be a slave to one such as I.” Her hands curled into claws, the dagger like fingernails retreating after a moment, leaving perfect little pink fingers.
The second girl’s mouth stretched into a grotesque mimicry of human form, she took three steps towards her sister who turned, ready for battle.
“Enough mule, we’ve been through this before.” The first one spat. “We can resume this discussion after we get what we’ve come for.”
The second girl paused before her face once again became the vestige of an angelic child. “I hate you.”
I stood there, silently watching the exchange, I still wasn’t sure why these two were working together or what they were doing here. But witnessing an argument between two demonic eight year olds was admittedly, fascinating.
I felt as if the temperature had simultaneously dropped, while my core temp spiked as both girls twisted their head, eyes fixed on me.
A veteran in the world of the supernatural, I knew I’d have to battle and ultimately dispatch these two little girls. Taking them on at the same time was a risk, but I was confident in my dagger, aptly named “Demon Slayer”. It wasn’t a terribly unique name, but it was perfectly apt.
“You know what to do.” The first one hissed as the second one launched herself at me.
I braced myself and was bowled over by the force behind the little body. Out of the corner of my eye I watched as the first sister raced for the door and streaked away into the darkness. A large part of me was happy to only deal with them one at a time.
The girl’s hands reformed into claws as she jumped onto my chest, I staggered back against the wall and grabbed each wrist in a hand, cursing myself for not whipping out the dagger and plunging it into her.
She was very strong, too strong for an eight year old child that’s for sure. I wrestled her back and managed to thrust her off me. She swiped out, I flung myself backwards to avoid her and saw stars as my head struck the wall. I rolled to my right and crab scrambled away, trying to put some distance between us.
I brought out the dagger and held it loosely in one hand, she saw it and I saw a flicker of fear dance across her face. “Not a normal human…” She hissed.
“No, and yes. Where did your sister go demon? Why did she leave you here to die alone?” I taunted.
Lips curled back to display now jagged teeth. “She always does.” The thing rasped, having a hard time holding onto the form of the child. “It’s always been this way. She’s gotten to the rank she is at because of me!” It thumped its chest. “It’s me who should be seeking, not here fighting with the likes of you.” Spittle flew from its mouth as it chomped each frustrated word.
“Ahhhhh so she left you here, because you’re the mule?” I said it in the most condescending voice I could muster, hoping the nickname I’d heard before would trigger some sort of emotional response.
To my complete surprise it did. I realized I had struck a nerve, the skin rippled as the anger took hold in the creature. “I AM NOT THE MULE!” It thundered as it crouched, looking more like a transforming gargoyle than a pretty little girl. “That imbecile wouldn’t be half way where she is now if not for me! And what do I get out of it when she takes the credit with the Master? I get beaten for not doing my part better. I am not the mule! I am the winner!” It sprung at me, hellfire in its eyes.
The ferocity took me by surprise but the creature was so consumed with the need to lash out it never saw the blade in my hand.
Or maybe it just didn’t care.
Anger can do that, blind you to what’s around you and make you stupid.
I flicked the blade up just in time to catch the creature’s forward momentum. The blade, eager for the kill, took on a force of its own, burying itself deep in the creature’s chest.
Eyes widened as it realized its mistake, black eyes faded back into blue, claws retracted into little pink fingers, lips tightened as they formed a surprised “o”.
The tiny body lost its unnatural weight and I caught it as she went limp.
“Oh no…” She whispered, black blood flecking across her lips.
I didn’t know why, even in death, she chose to remain in this form. This second sister, this inferior twin child costume, but I was glad for it.
I hated the killing, despite it being necessary and sometimes being reminded that death can be sad, reminded me that I had a soul.
She looked up into my eyes as I sat on the floor, cradling her in my arms as one would do an injured child.
“What are you?” She whispered as her little girl voice faded. “What are you?”
I held her dying body in my arms and whispered. “I am the thing that nightmares fear. I am the proof that morning always comes…”
A couple of things though – I think you could have named the two sisters. Secondly, you begin a new paragraph with: A veteran in the …., which should have been a continuation of the previous paragraph.
All in all, a refreshingly fairytale like story with all those inhumane characters. Have fun, writing. All the best.
Thank you for the feedback and very good catch with the broken sentence. I thought about naming the two little girls but couldn’t come up with any names that fit.
Plus I don’t think the narrator would have known the names.
I’m glad you liked the riddle of the narrator. I kept the character as generic as possible in hopes the reader would create a character in their mind!
There was a glitch or two, as in this:
But witnessing an argument between two demonic eight years old was admittedly, fascinating. (Two demonic eight year olds)
I felt as if the temperature had simultaneously dropped, while my core temp spiked as both girls twisted their head, eyes fixed on me and (Where’s the rest of this paragraph?)
Not much else to nit-pick on, but Carrie, oh how I wish the entire story was as well written as the last third or so. I guess you had to set it up, but I think if you tightened it up a little, and captured some of the magic of the last bit, no one could complain about anything. Well done.
Thanks and good catch, I fixed both.
Honestly I had a Halloween story in my head and tried to shove it into the prompt. Trying to make the twins part work didn’t work, I think when I record it for the podcast I’ll remove the twin requirements and make it just two little demons on the hunt for some sort of item.
I enjoyed the Back and forth between the sisters and loved the line about anger blinding us and making us stupid. I was drawn in immediately and easily followed along with the images you drew in our minds- well done!
My suggestion is clear your cache, and depending what browser you are using all temporary files.
I was able to paste it by filling in the name/email form via IE11 just fine.
Something in the story is conflicting with the settings somewhere. But the fact that you can comment normally means WordPress is accepting.
I honestly have no clue!
The drama of it all EH???? 🙂
“AND THE AWARD FOR CONTRIBUTION TO COMMUNITY WORK GOES TO …”
“Bloody hell, this is boring.”
“Doing good things for others is boring?”
“I don’t understand you sometimes.”
“You wouldn’t – you liberal, goody-two-shoes, help-a-granny do-gooder.”
“That wasn’t a compliment.”
“I know. It’s just … I don’t understand how you can hate the world so much.”
“I don’t hate the world. OK, I hate most of it. But man, I do hate this crap.”
“This awards ceremony? What’s wrong with giving recognition to people who’ve made a difference to others?”
“Because it’s so … self-congratulatory. ‘Look at me, I’m a good person.’ Give me a break.”
“But put yourself in the place of the people who’ve been helped. Don’t you think they appreciate it? To know that someone’s reached out and– “
“I don’t care about other people.”
“Well, I know that.”
“Number One. That’s what we were put on the face of this planet for. To look after Number One. There’s only one of me, and that’s the one I’m looking out for.”
“In fact there’s two of you, aren’t there?”
“Well, yes, I suppose you’re right there. But I’m still looking out for myself.”
“You don’t care about me either?”
“Not when you hold me back, no. When I want to catch fire … there you are with your conscience and your good deeds.”
“But I feel a fire. When I do decent things. It’s warming.”
“I’m not talking about a nice glowing fire in the living room. I’m talking about becoming something magnificent, a blazing comet, burning up all before it.”
“If that means gratification, yes. Why not? As I said … Number One.”
“You know, we have some things in common, but essentially we’re different people, aren’t we?”
“You’ve got that right! Same eyes, nose, mouth, hands … same everything. But whereas you’re a boring bastard, I’m just, well, more fun. And I have more fun. And you can go on doing your little favours for people; I’m going to carry on having fun.”
“Saving a life isn’t ‘doing a little favour’!”
“What life did you save? An old woman, 90s, got maybe two or three years left in her. Why risk a life to save a life like that?”
“She was going to die in the blaze. A horrible death. I had to–“
“You didn’t HAVE to do anything! It was just your bleeding heart. And what about mine, eh?”
“Your ‘bleeding heart’?”
“You know what I mean! My heart. My skin. You were taking a risk for both of us.”
“Without asking me! Without consulting me.”
“Well, there wasn’t really time to weigh up what you might think about it, you know?”
“I know. That’s why … I’m taking control.”
“Taking control. I’m fed up of you ruining my fun.”
“You can’t do that!”
“AND NOW, TO PRESENT THE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACT OF BRAVERY …”
“That’s me! I went into the building!”
“I was with you, wasn’t I? I’m always with you.”
“But me no buts. I’m taking this award.”
“Please! Please don’t–“
“That’s enough! Get back. Get back where you belong. In the recesses. Let me handle this.”
“Wait till you hear my speech! Now THIS is going to be fun!”
“AND THE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACT OF BRAVERY GOES TO … JACK SINGLEMAN! WHERE ARE YOU, JACK?”
You shit me!
Well, I’m really sorry. Why can’t you just try a little harder?
Because Miss Goody Two Shoes just has to be so good that she gets in first in everything.
What even by birth?
Yes. Just because you are two minutes older… doesn’t mean you’re the boss.
Oh, goodness, Jan, grow up. Sally winced as Jan blew a raspberry and grimaced with her tongue poked out as far as she could at her older twin. Your stupid reaction is just what I mean.
So you think you’ll get it, don’t you?
Yes, I will and why not? I am perfect for it. I am just what they want…a post graduate in biology with a teaching degree. Why wouldn’t they want me?
I can think of lots of reasons why.
So name them. What are they? Sally jiggled her feet against the table leg. She brushed a hand across her forehead in an exaggerated gesture of irritation. Com’on, spit it out!
First the kids aren’t gonna like you! Today you gotta relate to them. Share their interests. You are one hundred years old plus, and the way you dress, man oh man, Auntie Agatha fresh out of Little Woman. No one goes around covered from wrist to neckline, and wears dresses two inches below the knee. Not any more they don’t!
Well, not many people go out looking as if they’re just forgotten to put clothes on over their underwear, do they? Not unless they are walking the street.
Oh okay bitch. Are you saying I look like a ho? You are, aren’t you?
You said it sweet pea, not me. Sally laughed at her own private joke. I have to get this application off. Do you want to give me some peace now? Why don’t you apply for some jobs of your own, or is there not much call for arts/legal studies majors that dress like street walkers on steroids?
At this comment, Jan rolled off the couch in their shared study and left slamming the door as she went.
Geezus, bitch make an exit, why don’t you? Sally went back to tweaking and editing her CV for her job applications. She wrote the covering letter and addressed the criteria of the job description – editing the letter several times before she was satisfied.
Jan meanwhile was at a bar down the road from their flat in South Yarra. It was an exclusive little place. She often hooked up with different people, allowing her to spend time away from the flat she shared with her sister. Their parents had put a deposit on their flat, on the condition that the twins paid it off and when the time came to sell they would share the proceeds to the degree of which they had contributed to it. Each had to put in an equal amount monthly to the mortgage and if they did not, then at the time of sale, the profits would be shared on a pro rata basis with the $100,000 shared between two. At the present time, Jan had fallen behind Sally in her contribution by about $30,000 over the past two years. Jan liked to have a good time. She went out. Sally on the other hand stayed at home, cooked at home and hung out at home with other bookish studious friends.
Sally often had two jobs as well as studying. She took lunches with her to university and teachers’ college. Jan ate out and when money ran out, she scrounged off friends or “went out for dinner” with a date. Of course, she often had to pay for dinner with favours, but what the heck that also was fun. When Sally tried to draw her back into line and lecture about the morals of some of her activities, they almost came to blows. She also had to borrow money from Sally for two abortions and when Sally who was very pro-life found out, there were tears and an angry scene. Sally had found the receipt for the second termination and had been furious.
I feel as though you have made me party to murder. How could you? You know Mum and Dad would have looked after it. Why weren’t you more careful? Sally tears were running rivers down her cheeks.
For your information, you silly cow, I was drunk when it happened. I’d forgotten until I missed my period. Too late for the morning after pill. At this Sally burst into a fresh flood of tears.
Jan, why can’t you just grow up. The morning after pill is also not ok. Why can’t you just be, just be more responsible.
Jan rolled her eyes. Oh pleeezzee. I guess you are still a virgin, aren’t you? Sally rounded on her in righteous fury.
Yes, and there is nothing wrong with saving yourself for a special person and a special relationship. Unless of course, you are so jaded and callous you just don’t care, do you?
To cut a long story short, Sally got the job she wanted two weeks later. She was leaving Albury for Canberra. After much discussion the twins decided to sell the flat. Sally knew that Jan was incapable of paying the mortgage off alone. She was also not sure she could pay a mortgage on two places. They decided that they would be better off going their separate ways. Jan was still looking for work in Albury-Wodonga. Too many people knew her though and frankly her reputation was not great in the legal field.
Sally had to go to Canberra to start work, so Jan was left with the task of selling the flat.
Jan’s legal expertise came in quite handy in the conveyancing deal. It was when Sally got the check for $75,000 and not the $149,000 she was expecting – having done all the calculations, that the poop literally hit the fan. She phoned Jan and the line sizzled.
Where’s the rest of it?
Oh, I have taken out my expenses and the selling fees. Jan was getting a home manicure, sitting the new townhouse she’d bought with a real estate agent she had hooked up with and who had provided his services for favours and they had liked each other so much they had bought their own place together.
Your expenses? That’s rich. What about the money I’d paid off on the mortgage while you bludged your way through Uni? You can’t do this!
Oh yes, I can. I did. I put up with your bitching attitude for three years. I compensated myself. Take me to court if you want! She put down the phone. Examined her nails and noticed a chip. Darn. Michael would be home soon. She was going to give him some good news. It would mean she wouldn’t have to work for the next nine months plus a year or two afterwards.
When the phone cut out, Sally’s first impulse was to fling it at the wall, but she realised she was much better off. At least she had a cheque for $75,000 and a job. She could buy her own apartment now.
By Christine Pfister
They were been born four minutes apart, so yes, she conceded he was older, and he never let her forget it. The twins possessed a deep bond that became even stronger after their parents were killed in a small plane accident. Living on the beach in their little coastal town, with their grandfather Jed, was just the right therapy after such a tragic loss.
Shawn was strong willed, and self-centered. He was sun-kissed with wild blonde hair, and a muscular frame earned from spending hours surfing. Shania was endlessly captivated watching him, and taking pictures as he conquered wave after wave. She adored him even when he ignored her, or ordered her around.
When Shawn was invited to a big surfing event, the twins decided to do a road trip. As usual, Shania logged him in on the computer, made all the reservations, and filled the tank of their grandfather’s reconditioned convertible.
Shawn was dozing, when the blowout happened. Shania smashed into the curb, and the car flipped over sending Shawn out of his seat belt. His mangled body landed three feet in front of the convertible.
Shania awoke in the hospital, and realized Shawn was gone. She suffered a concussion, but beyond that she had lost feeling in her legs. The doctors performed test after test, but could find no medical reason for her paralysis.
The days passed and Shania’s body became stronger, but her heart remained broken. She awoke early one morning to see a tall, thin, boy, dragging a surfboard down to the beach. She knew this boy didn’t have a clue what he was doing, because he was dragging the board fin down in the sand. She noticed that he looked to be just about her age, skin pink from the sun, and black hair slicked back from the salt water.
After a week of observing him drag the surfboard fin down past her on the sandy path to the street, she couldn’t contain herself. She yelled out to him to turn the board over. Will heard the girl yelling at him from a wheelchair on her deck, and understood what she was saying about turning the board over.
Will came out to the beach late in the season, because he didn’t want anyone watching when he started his own private surf lessons. He felt embarrassed when he realized she was right.
Will was at the beach every day for weeks, and was finally getting the hang of the water. He was becoming stronger, more confident, and knew this was the perfect cure for all the years he sat on the sidelines.
One day Shania asked her grandfather if he would carry her down to the ocean. She missed her beach. She sat for a long time, and then noticed the boy walking toward her carrying his surfboard at his side. Will approached her, and introduced himself. At first she didn’t speak, but after a few minutes he forced her into a conversation. She noticed the big scar in the middle of his chest, and wondered what happened.
Every day after surfing, Will would stop for a few minutes, and speak to Shania before he went home. He realized he was compelled to know more about this beautiful damaged girl.
One day after surfing, he noticed Shania wasn’t on the beach so he went up to the house and knocked on the door. Jed told him Shania was doing her physical therapy in the other room.
Will related he was from a few states over, with no ocean, and a new desire to learn to surf. He had been sick his entire life, but his surgery made it possible to do all the things he only used to dream about.
He also told Jed that he met a boy while he was in the hospital, and explained how the boy shared his passion for surfing, and they talked for hours about this little coastal town, and this very beach.
Will became obsessed with coming here, and sensed that if he could conquer the waves he would truly be worthy of the new chance he was given.
Jed told Will about the twins accident, and said he knew in his heart once Shania forgave herself for Shawn’s death she would walk again, but he just didn’t know if she could, or ever would.
Will was surfing a few days later, when an approaching storm brought the biggest waves he had ever surfed. He was headed back to the beach when he hit the biggest wave he had ever encountered. He went down hard crashing into the surf. His board kicked out, and instantaneously hit him in the back of the head.
Shania screamed when she saw him go down. She knew she had to do something fast. She rocked back and forth in her beach chair, and pushed herself up to stand. She took a step, stumbled, fell, stumbled again, and now half crawling, half walking, made it to deck of the beach house. She screamed for her grandfather, and before she could get to the door, he was in front of her. He was beaming at her, but Shania was hysterical, and pointing to the ocean where Will fell.
Jed ran past her, and headed to the beach where he saw Will lying face down in the water. He pulled him to the sand, and turned him over. Shania made it back to the beach, and sank to her knees as Jed started CPR. After a few tense moments, Will opened his eyes, and coughed up half the ocean.
Shania crumbled with relief. The three of them leaned on each other as they walked back to the beach house. Will was still bleeding, and his head was throbbing, but he had a feeling that this was probably the best day of surfing he had ever experienced. His beautiful Shania had probably saved his life, and now she was miraculously walking.
Suddenly he was struck with the realization of why he came to be on this beach. His heart fluttered and tears stung his eyes as he realized the truth. The conversation with Jed cemented what he already knew. He was never told who the heart donor was, but somehow he knew where it came from. He was supposed to meet Shania, and fall in love. He was also meant to bring both of them back into the world of the living.
Shawn smiled as he sat on his board out past the breakwater. He watched as the three of made their way back up to his beloved beach house. He realized he had been selfish all these years, being content for Shania to live her life in his shadow. He reached up and placed his palm on the middle of his chest. He could feel the imprint of the scar that was left after his heart was harvested to save Will.
Shawn smiled as he looked out to the ocean, and noticed the waves getting higher. The only thought he had now was catching that last big wave as he swam his board out past the pier into the mist.
The characters of Shane, Shawn and Will is nicely portrayed. Please keep writing. Good luck with your story.
Interesting note, I have a good friend who is the world’s longest living heart transplant recipient that was a world class athlete. You can google him if you like. His name is Simon Keith, and after his transplant was drafted into a professional soccer club. So, for anyone who would doubt your character being able to surf with a transplanted heart, I can vouch for him.
However, your story is all tell. You need more show. A lot more show. If I’m wrong, tell me, but I sense you are new at this writing thing. Still, the story is still fairly well done. I also think the addition of dialogue would perk up the story and eliminate a lot of the tell. Dialogue can really ‘tell’ so much without seeming like a narration by a bystander, and provides ‘show’.
Here’s what you wrote:
One day after surfing, he noticed Shania wasn’t on the beach so he went up to the house and knocked on the door. Jed told him Shania was doing her physical therapy in the other room.
Check this out:
After surfing one afternoon, Will went to the beach house and knocked on the door. Jed opened the door. “Hi, Will, everything good?”
“Hi, I … umm,was wondering why Shania wasn’t on the beach today.”
“She’s doing therapy right now.”
Just an example, but I think it conveys much more, IMHO than the dry, narrative of the ‘tell’ sentence. I think it adds a little
sense of Will’s wanting to know more about Shania and her well being.
Just trying to help, and hope you don’t think this is intrusive, but when I was a new writer I welcomed this sort of critique because it made me a better writer. You can ignore it is you like, and you can do what you wish with my advice. But I think you really, really want to write and write well.
Ok my lovely and oh so very talented writers!!
It’s time to read the stories and vote for your top 5!
Remember you MUST vote for your story ton qualify, you can’t vote for yourself, and you may not vote more than once.
Just waiting on Robert and Fred to vote!
And the new prompt is up!!
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