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Once a Twin

By @writercat383

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. 

It.

Her. 

Danielle.

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. 

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