vineri, 30 decembrie 2011

Face Lines and other Intimations of Morality*

It was late afternoon. Some people might call this time of day early evening. It’s always related to the activities one initiates. She thought about waking her sister up when she heard the bedroom door opening and she saw her sister coming out.
Tina and Andrea were twins. Identical twins. They resembled so well that most of the time people couldn’t tell which one was Tina and which one was Andrea. And they always played with people’ minds. That’s what identical twins do; it’s their way of making fun of the world, just like the world made fun of them, creating them identical. Almost.
‘Coffee?’ asked Andrea, happy that Tina finally decided to wake up.
‘Yes, please.’ answered Tina, her voice hoarse.
‘Party hard last night, eh?’
‘So hard I couldn’t tell you what had happened even if I wanted to.’
‘What do you mean? What happened?’
Tine burst into laughter. She shrugged as she moved her head side to side. ‘No idea, I’m telling you. I guess someone slipped something into my wine glass.’
‘What? Like a drug?’ asked Andrea, her eyes wide open.
‘I guess. I can’t really remember anything that happened after I got there. I don’t know. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I have good news for you.’
Andrea stood silent, waiting for Tine to take a sip of the freshly made coffee.
‘You’re back together with James.’ said Tina casually.
‘I don’t think I am. We haven’t been talking since yesterday morning. He’s the biggest arse and I don’t want to see him again. Ever.’
‘Too bad, Andrea, because you were with him last night; no, I was with him, but he doesn’t know that.’
‘And you had sex. I guess. My knickers were not on me this morning and I think I left with James. Not sure, but I think so.’
‘What?’ said Andrea again, almost without actually saying the word.
‘Don’t give me that look, I did it for you. I knew how much you wanted him back and I thought that it would be a pity for an opportunity like the one I had last night to just vanish in the darkness. So, there, you’re back together.’
‘And he believed you were me?’
‘Yup. Hand me a cigarette, would you?’ said Tina, her eyes searching for the cigarette-case. ‘He promised me he will call you today. You know what, thank God he came, I was French-kissing this really boring bloke from south.’
‘And he thought you were me, you say?’
‘Totally, he didn’t have a doubt. I mean he took me from the sofa and started asking me questions with that demanding tone of his. I can’t really stand him, you know. Look what a sister does for her twin, isn’t this nice?’
Andrea didn’t say anything. She stood tall on the stool, her gaze down in her mug.
‘Isn’t it?’ asked Tina, louder.
‘No, not really.’
Tina came round the table and faced her sister. ‘I did it for you, dummy, why the long face?’ Andrea lifted her gaze and the girls looked at each-other; identical hair-cut, identical pyjamas, identical red fringe covering identical pairs of green eyes. Andrea’s eyes widened as she checked her sister face, observing her nostrils movement, her eyeliners, her half-opened mouth.
‘What is it?’ asked Tina, exasperation in her tone.
‘What now?’ asked Tina again, trying to shift away from Andrea’s intimidating look.
‘What are you not telling me, Tina? What are you hiding? It’s all over your face. I can tell you’re hiding something.’
‘I just told you I can’t really remember anything, so if I’m hiding something, I’m hiding it from both of us.’
‘I see...’ answered Andrea irritated. ‘He knows it was you.’
‘James, you stupid slut. James knows it was you.’
Tina stood there, erect, taking in the first insult she had ever heard from her sister. Slut. They weren’t even really two different persons, they were so similar, and feeling each-other’s moods and all that twin stuff; she had called her slut? Her voice turned into a whisper. ‘But how could he know?’
‘I taught him, alright?’
‘I know. I just couldn’t bear the thought that he was never sure who I was.’
‘But it was our pact...’
‘Oh, shut up, sleeping around with James just because you knew that would forever ruin what we had.’
Tina put the mug on the table with a strong hand. Coffee spilled around. She opened her mouth to say something but Andrea was faster. ‘I don’t want to hear it. You and your lame excuses. It’s all lies. And let me tell you why. Because I can see on your face that something had changed.’
‘Oh, really? What had changed, Andrea? Am I not the easy one anymore? I am not the evil twin? Am I not a party animal? What had changed? Am I not exactly how you always say I am; a bit too superficial, a bit too outgoing and easy? Aren’t these your words, sister? I’ve just done what you always tell me it’s in my nature, aren’t you happy you were right, and I’m the bad twin?’
Andrea stormed out without a word, leaving Tina and her late hangover behind. Tina wanted to shout after her, to remind her that she was in her pyjamas, but it was too late.
The phone was ringing for a while now.
‘Are you going to get that?’ asked Tina.
Andrea slowly lifted her head from the tedious work she was doing at her desk. ‘No, please, you take it, it must be for you.’
‘Maybe it’s James.’
‘Exactly, Tina; maybe it’s James, and that would make the phone-call for you. So stop bothering me, I’m working.’
‘Fine.’ by the time Tina reached the phone, the ringing had stopped. ‘Great...’
‘Relax, he will call again. He’s calling like a maniac for the last two weeks.’
The phone started ringing again.
‘Hello?’ answered Tina.
‘Who’s there? Is that Andrea? I’m James.’
‘I bet you are. It’s Tina, Andrea is not home.’ said Tina, scrutinizing her sister’s face for approval. Andrea continued to keep her head buried in books.
‘Good, ’ said James, ‘I wanted to talk to you.’
‘With me? What is it?’
Andrea left her seat and without looking at her sister pressed the speaker button on the machine. It was her right, Tina though.
‘I need you to help me. She won’t talk to me, I left like a hundred voicemails, I went to her office, they told me she’s home sick, I’ve came to your place, no-one answers the door, what is going on? ’
Tina took a deep breath and released it with an imperceptible hum. Andrea was at her desk again, her gaze in books.
‘James, Andre won’t talk to you because we had sex at that party.’
Andrea stopped breathing. Her eyes were blocked on one line and couldn’t focus on reading any longer.
‘You had sex at a party?!?!’ shouted James, the echo of his voice transcending time and space. Andrea lifted her head, searching for her sister’s gaze. Tina frowned.
‘Not me and her, James.’
‘Who then? What is going on Tina?’
It was a pause. The twins spoke without words. Then Tina asked, ‘Were you at that party, James, two weeks ago, on Saturday, were you at the house party at Tim’s?’
‘No, I was not. I called you guys, you didn’t answer and I left a message saying I can’t make it. Why?’
‘Then who the fuck did I slept with, James?’
‘You?!? How on earth should I know?’
Andrea smiled.
‘I’ve got to go. I’ll call you later, I promise, I have to go now. ’ Tina said nothing for a while. Neither did Andrea.
‘It wasn’t him.’
‘I know,’ said Andrea, ‘I got his message.’
‘Then why...?’
‘For my own amusement. And because I was sick and tired of people putting us into the good twin-bad twin categories.’
‘But... That’s not a joke, you fucking hurt people.’
‘I know. It was really fun. Want a coffee?’
‘Yes, please.’ Said Tina, still bemused by her evil twin.

*The title is a line from P. Zoline.

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