Once a Twin | Teen Ink

Once a Twin

May 22, 2020
By writercat383, Somewhere, Reading A Book In, Pennsylvania
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writercat383, Somewhere, Reading A Book In, Pennsylvania
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Favorite Quote:
Fill the paper with the breathings of your heart.
-William Wordsworth
(For more see my work "Collection of Writing Inspiration: Quotes, Phrases, and Fun Stuff)

Author's note:

By a teen like you, this story is for true crime lovers and who like to feel the heated thrill of a mystery on their necks as they simply hold a book--or in this case, a digital device--in their hands. Prepare to be creeped out as the story progresses, for if you're serious about your enjoyment in the Mystery/Thriller genre . . . you won't regret looking into this murder mystery, where nothing is as it seems.

Three days.

It's been three days since Danielle died. Three whole days and I still don't know how it happened.

The news reports say she committed suicide. But I don't believe it. I know it's not true. Danielle would never do something like that. She's not that kind of person. I told my mom this and she gave me that crap about how that's what everyone says about someone who kills themself. But she doesn't understand. No one does. I don't just think it, I know it. I feel it.

Ever since Danielle and I were little, we would just . . . know things about each other. We'd know when we were hurt. We'd know when we were lost. We'd know when we needed each other. Even if we were three hundred miles away, we knew. And we were never wrong.

I have that feeling now. The feeling that something is off, something is not right. I don't know what it is, exactly; I wish I did . . . but I have a hunch.For one thing, I know Danielle didn't kill herself. I'm not saying she's alive, I know that's not the case. They didn't show photos on the news when they gave the report, since our parents wanted to keep it confidential, and I didn't see her since the day she died, even though our mother was the police officer who found her in the high school's parking lot, lying on the ground. But I know she's not alive. That part is obvious.

But also . . . the school. Of all places, why would she commit suicide in the parking lot of our school? She wouldn't. She wouldn't do it at all. And she didn't. I know she didn't.

Today is her funeral. Since it was a hushed-up story, naturally, everyone has their own theory of "why she did it." Including, of course, everyone at the high school—especially since that's where her body was found. The principal, Ms. Karter, didn't say one word about the incident. There wasn't really a lot to say, since there wasn't a lot told. But word got out, as it usually does. It was picked up from the informative news story by the gossipy students, who quickly started rumors. So many people who knew Danielle once are now acting like she was their best friend. But she wasn't. I know that, and so do they. Danielle had lots of friends, aquaintices, whatever. She made 'em everywhere. School. Movie theater. Park. Grocery store. On the streets. Once, when we were about 12, Mom sent us into the Shop 'n Save by ourselves "to build social skills (like Danielle needed any), and when we were checking out, the cashier dude, (who was actually only about like five years older than we were) gave us an extra dollar. I wanted to keep it (yeah, I know, I'm evil, blame me . . .) but Danielle insisted we give it back. So we trudged back into the shop, waited in line, and gave it back. Oh, and also, she and the dude became pen pals . . . (talk about weird!) She was just naturally social . . . and she always had her eye open for boys. (I was basically the opposite.)

Since Greenwood is a small town, you know pretty much everyone. But Danielle knew everyone, like, knew everyone. I don't know how to explain it. She knew everyone . . . better, I guess. She knew their names, for one thing, which I could never manage. But then again, I was always naturally unsocial—like I've been hinting, the exact opposite of my perfect twin. Just another thing to add to the list of reasons our parents favored Danielle. But anyway, none of those people were Danielle's best friends. She only had one best friend—me.

And everyone knew that. We were the power twins. No one messed with us: the most popular, pretty girl in school . . . and of course, that girl who trailed along beside her, the one who just so happened to look like an uglier version of Danielle.

But now everyone has forgotten that. Or they're pretending that they've forgotten that. Because all of a sudden they were all closer to Danielle than anyone else, all sharing juicy lies about their amazing friendship. It's all for show.

I hate that. Using my dead sister for popularity. I want to scream in their faces, How dare you? Do you think Danielle would want that? And undoubtedly their reply would be, Who are you, again? Danielle's younger sister or something? You look kinda like her.

Yeah, it hurts. Everyone knows my sister. But, as strange and unfair as it is, not everyone knows me.

And now, without my best friend (and twin), what am I going to do? I'm not going to have anyone. Those who know me don't care to remember me. They have their own friends. And I had Danielle.

But now I don't.

It's not like I have my mom. Or my dad. And the rest of my family—um, who cares? Danielle was always the favorite. The gift. I was the box, or some other stupid little trinket that also just happened to come along with the special package. And now, the gift was broken.

And I, the stupid little trinket, am the only one left.

And who wants to keep that when they're done with the gift? No one.

I'll be tossed by next week.

I walk into the funeral building, feeling like I'm going to throw up. This will be the first time I've seen Danielle since . . . the day. The last time I saw her, it was the night before. We were watching Cats, her favorite, and singing along with the music. Everything was fine. Everything was normal. 

We went to bed late that night, around 1:30 in the morning, still humming the songs from the musical. It was like any other night. I'd never dreamed that when I'd wake up, my sister would be gone. It wasn't like I'd heard anything in the middle of the night. But I didn't sleep well. I woke up before my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m., rolling myself out of bed and thumping down the stairs. My dad was awake, but he hadn't turned on the news yet. He greeted me with a nod, stirring creamer into his coffee. Undoubtedly my mother was already gone; she usually left just before five so she could stop at Starbucks to waste her money on an overpriced chocolate cappuccino (she never bothered to watch the news). I grabbed some oatmeal and tossed it in the microwave with a little milk, like I usually do. In the living room, I switched on the news.

And I screamed.

My dad stumbled into the living room, in a complete frenzy. His eyes locked onto the screen, growing wide with horror.

On the screen there was a grave-looking reporter standing outside our school, Greenwood High. The large red headline shouted Teen Takes Her Own Life In the Night. "Last night Danielle Barnes committed suicide just outside the town's high school. She was found at 4:56 in the morning by her own mother, a township police officer who was just driving to work. So far we have no evidence or any reasons as to why she would have done such a thing, but we are currently looking farther into the case." Tears clustered in my eyes, beginning to roll down my cheeks. I thought, This isn't true. This can't be true . . . please, it's not true . . .

My father just stood there in shock. For a moment, I thought he was going to drop his overfilled coffee cup, but he was gripping it tightly. Both of his fists were clenched in agony.

"Now let's see what Mrs. Barnes has to say about this terrible tragedy." The screen switched to my mother facing another reporter in a meeting room. Before the reporter could say anything, my mom wailed, "Whyyyyy? Danielle! Why would she—do—I . . ."

The reporter took a breath but released it with a slight touch of frustration as my mom continued with "My girl, my sweet baby girl . . ."

The reporter sucked in a breath quickly and jumped. "Do you have any idea why your daughter would have done something like this?" she asked quickly, her blonde hair bobbing as she stared at my distraught mother, who shook her head wildly, gasping for air as tears spilled down her face. "No! My baby . . . she was the happiest . . . ever . . . she . . . I . . ."

The scene cut abruptly to show the main reporter, shaking his head sadly. "Mrs. Barnes requested that we share no more than that, but we do have a few acquaintances of Danielle Barnes who are willing to come forward and share any thoughts on why this teen would have killed herself."

I was crying uncontrollably by then, wailing at the TV. My dad was still completely frozen with shock, not able to tear his eyes away, although I saw a few droplets forming and beginning to descend down his cheeks.

The news showed a girl from our school, Liv Farley. Liv was one of those people who spied on Danielle and me. Mostly Danielle. I just happened to be there, with Danielle, whenever she was doing the spying. Liv was never very popular, but she was a gossip. I groaned out loud. Anything Liv had to say couldn't be good. That girl will do anything to get attention.

Liv cleared her throat and put on a sad face. Fake tears dripped down her cheeks and I found myself boiling with rage.

"Danielle was my best friend," she sniffed. "I can't believe she did it. I mean, I can." What is she saying? I thought. Where is she going with this? I had a terrible feeling I knew.

"Danielle was such a happy girl on the outside. But I know, on the inside, she was depressed." Liv sighed dramatically. "The pool soul. I would have saved her, if I had known she was going to do this so soon. But even I, her closest BFF, could not have predicted this terrible action. Although I knew, of course, she was going to do it someday . . ." she closed her eyes and wiped her tears with one finger, " . . . I wanted to . . . to believe . . . that she would reconsider . . ." She sighed again, a long, breathy sigh, and fluttered her teary eyes. "Rest in peace, Danielle. I will always be your number one."

I grabbed the remote and turned off the TV with a click. I felt like I was going to vomit.

That's how I feel now, knowing that I'm about to see Danielle's body, all the wonderful life taken from it. And not by her. A tear falls to the ground and I glance up at the bold sign that announces the building we're entering: Walkman Funeral and Cremation Services. I hurry to keep up with my father, who hasn't said scarcely a word since the day it happened. It's like all the life has been taken out of him, too. My mother's already inside; she hurried to be the first to mourn at the side of Danielle's casket.

As soon as we push through the doors, my stomach does a complete flip and I let my father weave through the crowd alone as I rush through the bathroom door. I push open the first stall door with both of my hands and drop my head, vomiting into the toilet.

How could this have happened? I flush the toilet and slump against the wall, cradling my head in my hands. A faint whine escapes my lips but I cut it off immediately as Liv Farley enters the room. She tilts her nose down at me suspiciously, then appears to realize who I am.

"Ah. Sam." she sighs dramatically, just like she did on her TV report. "Have you heard?"

I want to scream. Have I HEARD?!

"Oh, of course you did." she clasps her hands together and squats down next to me. She smells like vanilla and lavender, and and some other sour smell like a lemon left to rot. She gives a fluttering, breathy laugh. Why is she LAUGHING? Is she HAPPY my sister died?

I feel another sickening jolt in my stomach. Of course she is. More attention for her. I'll bet this is the most attention she's ever gotten before, and she just wants to soak up the glory as much as possible. Like she cares about Danielle at all! It's not her twin. It's mine. Or am I just Danielle's? Either way, no one cares about me. Then I feel a stab of guilt. Am I making this about me? No . . . no one cares about me or Danielle. Especially Danielle . . . she wouldn't have wanted it to come to this. Ever.

"What do you want, Liv?" I ask in a shaky, angry voice.

"Oh, I'm sorry, hon," she says coldly. "I was just trying to be sympathetic. But I can see that I'm not wanted. See if I care." She stands up and strides toward a stall.

"You're not wanted," I say quietly. "And I know you don't care."

She turns around. "Excuse me?" she whispers dangerously, tilting her head just slightly.

I stand up and tear out of the room, leaving her glaring at my back.

My mother sees me when I reenter the crowd. "Oh, there you are, Sam," she mumbles, her voice heavy with grief, not meeting my gaze. "Mom," I acknowledge, not having anything else to say.

Mom has taken this very differently than Dad. She won't look at anyone directly. She acts like this is the end of her life, too. And I think that's how she feels.

That's how I feel.

She's not herself anymore, like Dad. And neither am I. We've all changed in just three days.

Just three days . . . since it happened . . .

An involuntary spasm racks my limbs and I buckle.

"Are you all right?" she asks, monotone, still not looking at me.

"Yes," I whisper. I straighten myself slowly, afraid I might crumple again. Mom walks away, head down. I swallow.

I make my way through the crowd, to the back of the funeral home. I know what I'm going to see before I see it. I'm expecting it, but I'm not. I know I don't really want to see it, but I force myself forward.




She's lying in her casket, hands folded neatly over her chest. Her eyes are closed and her cheeks are flushed, like she's merely sleeping. A bouquet of colorful flowers lies on the covers that cover the lower portion of her body, and she's surrounded by rosy wallpaper, behind and around her, too many drawings to count. I feel another wave of nausea and I fall to my knees.

It should have been me. It should have been me. It should have been me.

I close my eyes and try to pretend that none of this ever happened, that it was all just a nightmare . . . but when I open them, I'm still staring numbly at the pale ghost of my once-lively twin.

Heat floods through me even though I know I'm ice cold. Danielle never committed suicide, I think. She was murdered.

It's true. I know it.

I narrow my eyes as salty tears squeeze out of them once more. I pull out my detective's notebook. I accept the case. 

When Danielle and I were just seven years old, we caught Mom watching one of her favorite crime shows. We decided to become detectives. Mom laughed when we told her and said, "That's my girls." She's a police officer, and we were going to follow her footsteps.

My dad chuckled too. "They'll grow out of it," he predicted to my mom one evening. And eventually, Danielle did. But not me. I still take pride in solving the cases on those shows before the main characters do, finding the facts and scribbling in my notebook whenever I need to figure something out, holding that childhood dream in my heart. I have this little red leather notebook that Danielle got me for our tenth birthday, and I use it as my "detective's notebook". I carry it everywhere and always take my "cases" in it. Missing your hairbrush? (That was Danielle. It was sitting on her dresser.) Wanting to find out where your date went when he was supposed to escort you to the dance? (Also Danielle. That was a good one. He'd made a pit stop at Dunkin' Donuts.) Need to know what book to read next? (Danielle, again—I turned this one down. She went to the library.)

So, yeah—the only person I ever did this for was Danielle. She's the only one who cared about me enough—no one else knew just how much I was into this whole detective thing. No one like her. There was never anyone like her. She loved me so much. I loved her back. But I never gave her what she deserved from me—I don't think I ever could, even if I tried. I'll never be as good as she was. At anything. At life.

That . . . is wrong. Because now she's dead.

I'm tearing up again. I have to get out of here. I crouch down to Danielle's body. "May the Lord rest your soul," I whisper. "I love you. And I'm going to find out who did this to you if it's the last thing I do."

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