As kids, my sister Cassie and I didn't know we were different. How could we? We spent all of our time in the house. Our parents never let us play outside. They said this was for our own protection. I remember clearly our father outlining all of the horrors of the world beyond our front door. "Vicious animals, dangerous men, deathly illnesses." Everyday brought a new reason why we couldn't venture outside the walls of the house. I realized the truth much later; they were embarrassed of us.
Cassie and I were close, literally and metaphorically. We spent every moment together. I've read that twins are often this way, but we were more than that. We woke up at the same time, closed our eyes for bed at the same time. We would often dream the exact same dream. We read books together (she'd read the left page, I'd read the right). Our parents said we were unnaturally close. This didn't make sense to us at the time.
When we played we would stick two toys together at the head, gummy see-through tape obscuring their faces. We would walk the one headed doll in staccato movements – Cassie moving the left leg, me moving the right. Soon all of our toys were paired up. The stuffed pig was taped to the alligator. The china doll was matched up with the plastic dinosaur. Cassie and I even went so far as to glue our pillows together. "So they'd never be lonely," I told our outraged mother.
Despite our bond, Cassie and I were very different. I was perfectly fine obeying all of our parent's rules, although they were plentiful. Cassie, on the other hand, hated the rules. Even the small ones like brushing our teeth at night would send her into a fit. I liked mother's dresses she would make for me, but Cassie ripped at them with her teeth. Cassie was also non-verbal. It wasn't her fault. She just couldn't get her mouth to move the way the rest of ours did. This didn't mean we couldn't communicate. In fact, Cassie and I spoke constantly. Always in our mind.
Yuck I hate bananas, she'd tell me in the morning as our mother served us breakfast.
Shut up, Cassie. I turned and smile at mother. "Thanks for breakfast!"
Cassie growled under her breath. You're such a suck up. We're prisoners here and you treat them like angels.
They're our parents! Mother could see we were arguing in our head. She never commented on it though. I don't think she wanted to know what was going on between us.
When we were younger, I noticed that Cassie and I didn't look like the kids in the picture books. These kids were alone. But Cassie and I were always together. I asked father about it and he told us we had a condition. "You're sick," he said sternly. "But the doctors can't separate you. It would kill her."
He would like me to die, Cassie whispered in our head.
Of course he wouldn't! He loves you!
But he didn't. I knew this secretly. Our parents didn't do much to hide the fact that they favored me. They viewed Cassie as dead weight. And as we got older, I have to admit that I started to understand their opinion. She was difficult. She was always upset over something. Plus she was the reason I wasn't allowed outside or able to have any friends.
Around the age of 12 our parents started letting us use the computer. It was only supposed to be for our studies, but when were alone we tried to google ourselves. "Twins who share a brain." The first article was about twins who eat each other in the womb. This clearly wasn't relevant. The second was about Siamese twins. We skipped this one because we were from America. Then we got to the third one, which had a picture – two grown women who shared a head. One woman was large and the other was small. It looked a little like Cassie and I. The article called them "conjoined twins." It said that although the women wished they could be separated, the doctors ruled that it was too dangerous.
That's us, I said to Cassie.
Why would anyone want to be separated? she responded.
Maybe so they could look like normal people.
I would much rather be with you than be normal.
I paused before saying, Me too, Cassie.
But that was all before Cassie was killed.
She died of suffocation. We were fourteen. I knew the second she stopped breathing. I could feel a shiver in my entire body as if something was crawling down my nerves. I started screaming. I didn't intend to, but the reaction was involuntary. Maybe it Cassie screaming through me. My mother appeared in our bedroom as if she had already been inside. My father was close behind.
They rushed us…me, to the hospital. It was the first time I felt night air on my face. Any fear about being outside evaporated. It was freedom. I saw men and women of all different races. They crowded around me, staring at me like a wild animal. I didn't care. It was bliss. I even forgot about the corpse of my sister hanging off of me.
No one tried to resuscitate Cassie. Even though I knew she was dead, there was not a single attempt to save her life. The only thing the doctors did was prep me for surgery. Mother and father stroked my hair. They told me they loved me. That soon this would all be over. That the doctors would remove the tumor.
The tumor that was my dead sister.
I woke up some time later with the oddest sensation of weightlessness. My eyes were barely open but I could see my parents asleep on a nearby couch. I was hooked up to a number of machines. I looked over and realized I was alone. The normal feeling of Cassie's body next to mine was gone. I was in a twin sized bed. Logically I knew what happened. Cassie died, and so they removed her from me. But the shock of the lack of her made my heart race. This thing I had secretly wanted, quietly yearned for, was terrifying.
I lay back and moved my head around. It was so strange to be able to move freely. There was no extra body to hinder me. Fleetingly I wondered where her corpse was. Was it lonely? Was I lonely? I lifted my hand hesitantly and felt the flesh that had once connected me to Cassie. In its place was a large scar and raised stitches. All that was left of my sister was empty air.
It didn't feel real. I had only been conscious a few minutes and already panic was setting in. This was a mistake. What happened to Cassie? Where was she? I needed her. Desperately, I whispered, "Cassie? Are you there?"
A minute ticked by. Silence.
Then a massive wave of screams filled my brain. It was Cassie's voice, igniting my mind with a thousand horrified shrieks. My eyes stuck wide open. Cassie's voice began to speak through the screaming, They killed me! They killed me! They killed me!
"Shut up!" I yelled. My parents rose from sleep. I realized I had said this out loud. They came to me, trying to soothe my fears. But all the while Cassie was tormenting me. They murdered me!
I tried not responding to the voice. But it didn't matter. Cassie didn't care if I spoke back. For days she just kept lamenting her death. As the doctors tried to teach me how to stand and walk without Cassie, she made herself known in my head. I pretended to be fine but the voice tore through my sanity. I couldn't sleep. Every time I closed my eyes she'd start up again, It was them. Our filthy parents. They put a pillow over my mouth and killed me.
I didn't tell anyone about the voice. Who would understand? Soon I was cleared to go home by the doctors. My parents made arrangements for me to start attending school. They bought me a wig to cover up the disfiguring scar. The doors were all unlocked now. There was no more hiding. It should have felt like heaven, but instead the voice of my sister haunted my mind. Dead. I'm dead. They killed me.
Months passed with the same agonizing existence. I lost weight. I barely slept. Nothing could bring me any happiness. Cassie was slowly driving me insane. I didn't know if this was my imagination or if Cassie was really alive somewhere in my brain, but one day I'd had enough. I couldn't do it any longer.
They killed me. Our parents murdered me, Cassie was sobbing against my eardrums.
I took a deep breath and said, "Cassie, you have to stop." I put a hand over my mouth in surprise. I hadn't spoken in my brain. Only out loud. I tried again, "Stop it Cassie." Desperately I shoved my fist in my mouth to stop myself from talking. But nothing came out. The ability to speak through my mind had died with my sister.
I crawled into a corner of the bedroom, arms over my head. I started to sob. Waves of horror and sorrow careened across my body. Cassie just kept screaming and screaming. Our parents are filthy monsters. They murdered me so they could have a normal daughter. They smothered me with a pillow. They-
"THEY DIDN'T KILL YOU, I DID!" I shrieked. Cassie's voice suddenly stopped. My tears kept coming. In a whisper, I continued, "I couldn't live like that anymore. I wanted to be normal." I could still feel the weight of the pillow as I shoved it onto Cassie's face. I remembered the moans for help. I could still feel her clawing at my arms.
Then something changed. I felt woozy and looked down at my body. It seemed like I was floating away from it. My being shrank. I felt myself pull out of my arms and legs, up into my torso; finally lodging into the back of my brain. I was a tiny ball of myself hidden somewhere deep. My arm raised slowly. My arm? Her arm?
My voice spoke out loud, but it wasn't me talking. "Finally, you admit it."
Terrified, I tried to call out, What is going on? But it was just in my head. Our head?
"Just because you killed the body doesn't mean we don't still share the brain." My voice came out crackled. "I was waiting for you to do it. I knew you would. You are just like our parents. Filthy, disgusting monsters. But I've always been stronger and smarter than you. You killed the body, but I still control the brain."
Cassie stood up in my body, shaking out my limbs. I desperately tried to control anything but she was right – she was stronger than me. "It's strange being able to talk," she said out loud. "I like it more than I thought I would."
What are you going to do?
"I am going to become you. The prettier one, the one our parents wanted. Then I'll kill them. Maybe I'll staple their skulls together. Remember how they hated when we did that to our toys? And the best part is, I'll still have you, stuck there in the back of our brain." She laughed. "I always said we'd never be separated."
This was seven years ago. Our parents are long dead now. She never went through with her promise to staple their heads together. Instead she used our glued-together pillow to suffocate both at once. I had to watch, completely helpless. It was my hands over their mouths, just like I did to Cassie.
You might wonder why she let me write this. This is supposed to be my confession. One of the ways she can torment me. She allows me to control the body for minutes at a time, giving me a taste of freedom before snatching it back.
I should have known I couldn't ever get rid of her. She is a part of me. And now, I am stuck here. Forever.
I wish I had never murdered my sister. But she sure seems happy that I did.