by Kevin Craig
2010 Winner: Young Adult
Lately, people cry whenever they come near me. Whenever I come near them.
My life wasn’t always this way. They used to be indifferent. Before the accident, I sometimes wondered if I even existed at all. Not anymore. Now, all I have to do is walk into a room and someone is bound to burst into tears. Guaranteed.
I don’t really blame them. I haven’t been able to look in a mirror since the 6th of May, myself. I can’t bear to do it.
If you ever want to know what it feels like to make everybody around you miserable for life, just have your identical twin die. Trust me. That’s all you need to do.
It’s only been a short while since Marcus died. If I’m being fair, the wounds are still pretty raw. Mom and Dad crumple whenever they accidentally bump into me in the house. Right or wrong, they’ve been trying to keep their distance. Perhaps the shock of seeing their dead son walking the halls, eating his breakfast at the kitchen counter, spacing out in front of his Xbox is too much for them. Only it’s not their dead son they’re avoiding. It’s me. Marcus dies and all of a sudden I become the walking dead. Now I know there’s such a thing as zombies. That’s me. Carter Colby, Zombie extraordinaire.
It’s like we were both killed when Marcus ran the red light on his way to school that day. In the days leading away from the accident I have come to realize just how people see us. Twins, that is. We are two parts of the same person.
And now one half of the Colby twins is dead. I am half dead by default.
Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Maybe I actually needed Marcus around me to feel complete. I know we were close―weirdly close―but we also didn’t really have all that much in common. The closeness was more of a feeling than an actuality. I’m beginning to feel like we must have fed off each other to survive.
Am I dying? I think that’s one of the questions I’ll ask my psychiatrist during our next meeting. Who knows? It could happen.
What I do know is Marcus was always the go-to guy in our relationship. I took comfort in being the leaner. He was Mister I-Can-Do-Anything-Better-Than-
For the record, if your twin ever dies, be prepared. It’s out of this world freaky when a dead guy looks exactly like you in every way. A lot creepier than you can ever imagine when they actually come back. But, hey, he is my brother. I can’t turn my back on family just because he’s dead. Believe me, though, I thought about it.
The day of the accident started out like most other days. Marcus and I fought at the breakfast table while Marcus kept an eye on our sister Meagan, making sure she was presentable, fed, and ready for school.
With Mom and Dad fighting morning, noon, and night, we were pretty much left alone. Them in a screaming match meant no hassles for us. Marcus was more than happy to take on the parenting duties with Meagan. Like I said, he was the go-to guy. Mr. Together. So, on the morning of the sixth we got ready for school like any other day. While Mom and Dad fought upstairs, we ate and then left the house. Marcus and I headed to Jefferson High and Meagan took off in the other direction for Thornton Elementary.
And then the day changed.
Something about spring makes seventeen-year-old boys crazy. We flip on a dime. Mom and Dad would never let Marcus ride his motorbike to school, and normally Marcus would never even consider disobeying them. But halfway to school that day, Marcus stopped me right there on the sidewalk. He put his arm out in front of me―practically clothes-lined me―to make an announcement.
“Do you feel it, Carter?”
“Not now, Marcus. We’ll be late for school.”
“No. No. Stop. Don’t move. Do you feel it? The air? Today is a day in which we are alive!” His voice lifted near the end. Marcus was a bit too Shakespeare for me. But I learned years ago to put up with his theatrical outbursts. He was a gay stereotype when it came to dramatics. You either indulged him, or the outbursts got more intense.
“I don’t feel it. You’re not making sense and you’re making a scene. Can we just get to school? One more late and I’m in the hot-seat in principal Rainer’s office.”
“That’s because you’re a perennial bad boy, Carter. You should try to be more like your brother. Marcus is such a sweetheart.”
He said this like he was copying one of our teachers. Or Mom. Or Dad. You probably get it by now. Anybody could have made that statement.
“Shut up. I’m not afraid to hit you. And making us late for school isn’t exactly Goody Two Shoes material, Marc.”
At that point, Marcus forcibly turned me back in the direction of home. And it was then I decided to just go with the Marcus flow. Everything―and I do mean everything―would have turned out differently, if only. Had I only insisted we go to school, he probably would have given up and followed me. But I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to follow him instead. It was always easier that way.
“It’s one of those days, Cart. One of those beautiful spring days that feel like summer. I can’t wait any longer. I have to feel the wind in my hair. Well, you know what I mean… through my helmet. The wind in my face. Can you picture it?”
He walked fast, a firm grip on my t-shirt to keep me tagging along beside him.
“Come on. We were almost there. We can go for a ride after school.”
“No, no, my son. We have to seize the moment. Carpe diem and all that. The air is calling to us. Who are we to deny this magic day? Summer in the beginning of May. Cart, this is unheard of.”
We had made it to our driveway and Marcus ran ahead to key in the passcode on the garage door. He quickly turned back. “If Mom or Dad comes out, we’re just here to grab…” he paused there, at a loss. “Cleats! Our cleats are in the garage. We need them for gym. That’s it.”
“And what about when you start the engine and they come running out to find both of us on your bike with helmets on?”
“We’ll coast down the driveway and start it up around the corner. No sweat. You grab the helmets. I got Rosie.”
Marcus called his motorbike Rosie. Rosie was the only girlfriend Marcus would ever have. I knew where I stood in Marcus’s list of favorite people. Rosie was above me. His best friend Mel actually believed herself to be slightly above Rosie in Marcus’s estimation. But she was wrong. The bike was also his best friend. The relationship was that close.
Marcus straddled Rosie and coasted down the driveway while I grabbed the helmets and ran to catch up with him.
The golden child did it again. Marcus never got caught because no one ever believed he could do any wrong. That’s how the Golden Child operates. He had raised downy innocence to an art form and I couldn’t even get mad at him for it.
Around the corner, Marcus started up Rosie and I hopped on the back. I passed him his helmet and rushed to strap mine on before he was able to kick-start Rosie into action.
We were edging into the magical time of almost-lateness, I was too occupied with my watch to even notice he didn’t do up the strap on his helmet. Why would I notice something like that? Who would?
Marcus revved us into action and pulled away from the curb. I wrapped my arms around him and held on tight, knowing he’d be heavy on the throttle for this, his first ride of the spring. The houses on either side of us quickly became a blur of suburban brown.
About this Story
This novel was originally published with Curiosity Quills Publishing. They have since closed their doors. The author has made the novel available on Amazon.