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Like any other teenager I have to deal with screaming siblings. Unlike other teenagers though, my siblings are dead.
My twin brothers died on January 21st, 2010. Today, they would have been twenty-one. My brothers’ bodies were found in a sandbox three blocks from my house when I was only eleven. They had been missing for a week before their bodies were found. Causes of death: strangulation.
A week after their deaths, I heard screaming at 7:00 AM. I recognized the voices to be my brothers' screaming. I heard their screams at 7:00 AM, the estimated time of their deaths. At first, I thought I had just heard my nightmares when I was awake, my mind creating some sick continuations of a dream into reality. It seemed to make sense to my parents. It was an acceptable answer as to why I was crying at sounds they could not hear.
A week, seven days later, I heard their screaming, again. It was Saturday. It lasted for seven minutes. Their voices came from the basement, a location I had learned was exactly seven feet down from my room. It was at 7:00 AM. I am now wary of the number seven.
I don’t know why seven is Robbie and Richard’s number. I have several theories, but it's all guesswork conjured by my sleep-deprived brain, as I can no longer sleep while they are still haunting me. It might be because they died when they were fourteen, a multiple of seven, or that their bodies were found on November 7th, or, possibly, that they were discovered missing at 7:07 AM, after they had missed the bus. I don’t know why, but it appears that seven is their number.
Before I go on, let me talk about my brothers. Robbie and Richard were mischievous kids. They were always pranking me and the other kids at school. They would have made great actors, or comedians, if they had lived. They were constantly stuck to each other like they had glue painted onto their sides. Because of this, when they first disappeared, nobody was very surprised. We thought since they had both disappeared, that they had just skipped school to prank some poor clueless victim in town. We only started really worrying when they didn’t show up after school ended. Whenever they skipped, they always made it back to the bus in a futile attempt to trick our mother into thinking that they had been at school. My parents were ready to explode out of nervous worry when they didn’t show up for dinner. I called the police when they didn’t come home, as my father was being optimistic and my mother was having a panic attack.
I often wonder, if we hadn’t waited most of the day, then maybe they would have been found alive. My mind then retorts that they were already dead seven minutes after they went missing, much less one day. I don’t know why I “know” this, but I do. I wish I didn’t, but what are you going to do when your mind turns on by itself? You just believe what it tells you.
Today is another “seventh” day, as I like to call them. It's 6:58 AM. In one minute, I will tell my mom that I need another ten minutes to get ready before I have to get on the school bus for Saturday school. (Happens when you are a straight F student.) As always, she’ll let me have my way after a brief twenty-eight second argument, which will end with her storming out of my room. In two minutes, I will have to relive hell.
I always think about what words they are screaming. Their screams don’t sound like regular I-am-being-murdered-screams, but more like a warning scream, if such a scream exists. Was Richard warning Robbie to run for his life, when he himself was dying? Was Robbie telling the psycho to go to Hell? After so many years I don't care what the reason is anymore. I just wish they would shut up.
Three... two... one.
Well the screaming is right on schedule. It is only a faint hum now, but is still too loud for my sanity. I have considered killing myself to end the noise, but, as a Catholic, suicide really isn’t an option for me. Eternal damnation and all...
Wait... It sounds different this time. It’s like a weak whisper. It's Robbie’s voice! I have never been able to tell their voices apart, even when they were alive. I wonder why today is so different? Is he saying seven? Yeah, he’s definitely saying seven. What the heck is that supposed to mean? Out of all the words to tell me... I'm not surprised either.
Ahh, seven minutes have passed. Now time to grab my bag and move out, but before I can escape the doorway, my parents stop me. “Honey you know how we have been short on money,” Mom greets me. No hello, just a, "we are having money problems." This is not going to be good.
“Yeah,” I reply in my nonchalant state.
“We are renting out the room,” my father bluntly states.
This isn’t happening. That room. It’s the twin’s room, as it used to be referred to. It is the last thing that remains of them. My brothers. We can’t be that desperate for money, right? That room is my only hope to find some answers. This is just a sick joke my Mom is pulling. She wouldn’t do this to me.
“I understand it’s hard to accept, but we have to move on. Your father and I have discussed this in great detail. A possible renter is coming later today. He checks out as a nice, responsible man that will be on time with his rent. We are renting out the room, no argument. Your father already cleared it out. Honey, are you ok?” she continues on.
I want to say, “You are effectively annihilating the last memory of Robbie and Richard, which you should be concerned about, and damning me to a life of insanity. In what universe would this be considered okay?” The reason I won’t is that this has been hard on them and I need sane parents so I don't go to foster care. That and I heard them discussing therapists to try and make me sane. Best not push them.
“I’m fine. I’ll be in the twin’s room until the renter comes,” I finally respond. How I was even able to look them in the eyes while I spoke is a mystery to me.
I am now standing in the twins' room thinking: Why? Well, as I reminisce on them, I realize that I can’t say goodbye. I will never say goodbye. If this room is occupied by anyone else other than my brothers, the screaming will stop. I don’t know why it will, just that it will stop. As long as I keep hearing their screaming, they are not fully dead. Their souls will still remain on earth. I will still have brothers. They will not fully die, not if I can help it.
Ding dong. That’s the doorbell. The renter that could destroy what’s left of my brothers’ immortal souls is here. I have to stop this. Maybe I can make the guy find me so terrible that he wouldn’t want to be within fifty feet of me, much less five feet away, in the same house. The guy can find somewhere else to live, my parents can find another way to get more money, I can't have another Robbie or Richard. I head upstairs armed with my half-baked plan.
“Hello, Amy. This is Mike. He’s already agreed to rent the room. Isn’t that great!” Mom coos.
I don’t answer. I can only focus on the seven fingers that remain on Mike’s scarred and damaged hands.