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Once a Twin

By @writercat383

I know where to start: I need facts. Facts and interviews. I need to retrace Danielle’s steps. 

I know I have to talk to the people who saw Danielle last, which would be . . . um, me. And before that, I guess my parents, and the kids at school . . . so, the whole school. Great. This won’t be an easy task. 

I’ll start with family, although I know I’m not going to get very far with that. I know I know nothing, no reason why Danielle would kill herself. But I’ve already checked that off the list. 

I write in my notebook:

WHO KILLED DANIELLE??

1. NOT DANIELLE

2. SOMEONE AT SCHOOL? SOMEONE WHO DIDN’T LIKE HER OR SOMETHING??

I consider taking that off too. It sounds so stupid. But I’ll leave it, just for now. I’ll cross it off later when I get a lead. 

I can’t talk to either of my parents now, so I might as well head outside.

I dodge mournful crowds of people, watching for anyone I know. Half the people here I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I know I have, though–I just don’t remember. I never could. But Danielle always did.

I push the thought out of my mind and burst out of the stifling building and into the open air. I inhale and immediately feel guilty. Danielle will never take a breath again. I should have known this was going to happen. We always knew when the other twin was in trouble . . . but now . . . it’s too late . . . and Danielle is gone. It’s all my fault . . .

I plop down on the memorial bench around the building. I look around at the colorful trees, the bright sun, as the fresh autumn breeze whips my dirty blonde hair in wild tangly patterns, so it looks like it’s dancing in the wind. 

I turn to my left and almost jump a foot in the air, noticing just now there’s another girl sitting on the end of the bench. She glances up at me, startled. She has hazel eyes and dark brown hair, with flushed pink cheeks covered in freckles. “Yes?” she says.

“I–sorry,” I say awkwardly. “I didn’t . . . see . . . you there . . .”

To my surprise, she smiles. “Most people don’t. I’m very sorry about your sister. I lost mine too.”

I blink. “Thanks.” Who is this girl? And why is she being so nice to me? It’s like she knows who I am! I mean, obviously she does. But I don’t know her. 

I probably do, actually. I just can’t remember.

“Do you go to Greenwood High?” I ask politely, since she’s still looking st me. 

“Yeah,” she says. “I know you do. Do you know who I am?”

I feel my face grow hot and I can tell I’m blushing deeply. “Um . . . I think I’ve . . . seen you around before,” I say weakly.

She raises her eyebrows, then shrugs and lets on her loose, easy smile once more. “That’s all right. I’ve been going there since, um, middle school–” her teeth flash white *glint* “–but no one knows me. I’m not very memorable.”

Really? I think I’ll remember you.

“I’m Holly, Holly Black,” she says, tilting her head a bit, as though she’s studying me. “I’m sorry if I’m bothering you. I know you’re going through a lot right now.”

“No,” I say. “I think this is just what I need. I know what you mean about the friend thing, by the way. No one knows me. Until you.”

What am I saying? I don’t need her to be my best friend or pity me or anything! Or . . . do I? I don’t know. I’m going to be too busy for a friend for a while, anyway. She’d never get to see me. 

What am I even thinking? Holly being my friend is not even a possibility. I don’t need to worry about it–no one in their right mind would want to be friends with me.

I leap up. “I’ve gotta go.”

She stands up, too. “Why? You just said talking was what you needed.”

I feel my face grow hot again and turn my head. “I . . .”

She gives a sympathetic half-smile. “Look. I get it. You need a break from life. Want to go get ice cream or something and then head back here before the funeral is over? I bet your parents will never know you’re missing.”

It’s tempting. I almost say yes. I want to, and I know it. “I turn back to her but still don’t look her in the eyes; instead, I focus on some spot vaguely some six feet to her left. “What about your parents?”

She shrugs, like it’s nothing, but I can see I’ve touched a nerve. “My parents don’t give a d*mn about where I am. They’re not even here.”

I study my feet for a second, in my once-white Vans that are now covered in Sharpie drawings done by Danielle and me three months ago (we did hers to match). I really shouldn’t go. But Holly is right, as much as I hate to admit it: I need a break from life.

“All right . . . I’ll come. But I’m not making this a daily thing.”

Holly grins, her white teeth flashing once more. “Sure, sure. Let’s go.”

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