Being a twin can be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes, you get along well and you always have a companion. You almost think each other’s thoughts and enjoy doing the same things, playing the same games, reading the same books. Some twins have even been known to develop a secret language – with or without actual words – and can communicate in a world known only to themselves. These are blessed children, indeed.
Then, there’s the other side of the coin. The two children who are actually nothing like each other. They may – or not – look exactly the same, but their characters, likes and dislikes are almost exactly opposite. They hate being in each other’s company, perversely dislike whatever the other likes and are, generally, the bane of their parents’ lives.
Two such children were Althea and Carmen. They were girls, identical in looks but oh so very different as people. They were both pretty and admired as babies but, as they grew, their personalities began to affect their faces. Althea was sweet-natured and kind. Her face was always serene and relaxed, with a slight smile in the corners waiting to burst out. Everyone liked her from the first moment; Carmen said once that she thought Althea bewitched people – literally. Carmen, on the other hand, was jealous. Of everything about Althea. She was jealous of her ability to charm people, She was jealous of the fact that Althea found it easier to learn the piano. She was jealous of the fact that her puppy loved her, whilst Carmen’s ran away into corners to be as far from her as possible. Before long, Carmen’s jealously had twisted her character and her face. People used to find it difficult to tell the girls apart but no longer.
And so it was that Carmen decided to take Althea to the park and let her have a little ‘accident’. At the age of fifteen, she was all too unnaturally aware of the different ways someone could die without it looking deliberate. There was a deep lake in the park and she was grateful for the fact that swimming was something that her sister could not do better than she could.
Their mother was overjoyed when Carmen suggested going to the park for a walk, even though it was already toward evening. Perhaps things were improving, she hoped. It was quite cold, so Carmen persuaded Althea to wear her big, woollen coat. No point in catching a chill. They also decided to take the dogs, although Carmen’s had to be persuaded. They were waved off by their mother and she breathed a hopeful sigh as she turned, closed the door and returned to preparing the evening meal.
Carmen sat on the bench in the growing mist. She wanted to go home. She hated her sister and her stupid dog. She hated her own dog; useless thing liked Althea more than he liked his own mistress. Perhaps that was why he had jumped at her as she had moved to hit Althea over the head with a branch. Perhaps that was why he had run in front of her as she chased Althea along the side of the lake, and why he had, seemingly, tripped her up with his lead.
The pain in her head, where she had hit the corner of the bench arm, didn’t hurt any more and, luckily, she had stopped feeling cold, even though she had left her coat at home.