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Once a Twin

By @writercat383

“Thanks for the ride,” I say to Holly as she waves, pulling away in her (or is it her parents’?) car after dropping me off back at the funeral home.

I shuffle inside the now-less-crowded building and wipe my chin on my sleeve. I could feel a bit of ice cream lingering there. Maybe even a sprinkle or two. 

My mother sees me as soon as I pass the bowl of mints on the front table.

“There you are,” she says testily in her extremely annoyed/I’m-so-ashamed-of-you-I-can’t-believe-I-call-you-my-daughter voice. 


Where have you been?” she says sharply. I cower, even though I’m taller than she is. It might be better if she was shouting. 

“I just . . . needed some fresh air,” I lie. Mom would not be happy to hear I ran out of my twin’s funeral to get ice cream with a girl I didn’t even know. Now that I think about it, it sounds really, really terrible, and I feel immediately guilty.

Mom glares. “For forty-five minutes? I don’t think so.”

I swallow. “I took a walk.”

Wrong thing to say. “No phone for the week, missy.”

I slump. “Mom! Please!”

“Don’t you ‘Mom, please’ me! I don’t care that you aren’t going to be able to check your Snackchap food or whatever—”

“Snapchat feed,” I mutter under my breath.

“—your life could be much worse! I mean, look what happened to . . . your sis . . .” she pushes past me, her eyes welling with tears. As she rushes out the door, I hear her calling back to me, “What-ever, Samantha! I don’t want to hear it!”

Ooh. Samantha. That hurts. She never calls me Samantha unless she’s really mad. 

But we’re all going through tough times right now. 

I need to cut her some slack. 

Like a good daughter, Danielle says approvingly. 

Right, I think back. Besides, a week without my phone can’t be that bad—I didn’t even have a phone at all until I was thirteen. And I was fine then. Plus, I’m not even going to school this week! It’ll be fine.

That’s the spirit, Danielle encourages. 

“Sam,” my dad says later that night, “You’re going back to school this week.”

“What?” I yelp. “But I thought I had it off! Because . . .” I don’t finish my sentence. They know what I was going to say. 

An awkward silence ensues. 

“Sorry,” I whisper.

No one says anything.

Finally, my mother speaks. 

“So. Sam. We think you should go back to school this week since you are perfectly capable and need to be social in this time of tragedy. So that’s it. Case closed. We’re your parents, and we make the rules.”

I open my mouth, ready to protest, but shut it again as Dad draws a slow breath. 

“You can still do stuff like this,” he says in a monotone voice. “You’re alive. Danielle isn’t. How do you think she would feel about you shirking school and your duties as a young woman when she doesn’t even get those opportunities?

Ooh. Solid argument. 

Actually, I can think of lots of things to retort to that, but that’s not something to be debated. Even I know that. Danielle wants me to pursue her case, I think to myself. No way I’m telling them that, though. They’d never let that happen. 

“Right,” I say instead, in a defeated voice. “I’ll get all my homework in my bag.”

“Good,” Mom says. Dad nods.

I trudge off. After stuffing my sure-to-get-a-D homework into my overfilled backpack, I decide to head upstairs and get started on this case. Since I’m going back to school tomorrow, I’m not going to have all day to work on it. Since I am so not in the mood to talk, I’ll have to check out Danielle’s room for possible clues or leads first. 

I clutch her door handle softly and tug. I turn it. I push it. 

It doesn’t open. I hear the lock tingling inside the knob. I growl. Why is her door locked? She wouldn’t lock it. Danielle never locked her door!

I stomp into my parent’s room and yank open the top drawer of my Dad’s nightstand. But the keys we usually keep there are all gone. Where are they? I wonder, whirling around stupidly. If the door is locked and Danielle didn’t lock it, and all the keys are missing . . .

There must be something important in Danielle’s room. Something Mom and Dad don’t want anyone to see.

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