(My thanks have to go to LissaSue, her editing made this a much easier read. This is a stand alone story, it's a little long but I hope you stick with it, who knows you may even enjoy the read. The idea for this story crept up on me and I'm hoping I did the idea justice. I will let you, the reader be the judge.)
The countdown to end of term was on. I had a few papers to hand in, but nothing I couldn't get finished in an hour or two. The door banged open, and my roommate bounced in, full of his usual enthusiasm, and the rest of the guys waited in the hall, waving banners and cheering. I guess the papers would have to wait until morning; we were off to the basketball game.
It was the fierce rivalry between the colleges that made it more fun. I was already changed and heading for the door when my cell rang. My first thought was to drop it onto my bed and deal with it later, but looking at the front to see who it was stopped all thought of doing any of that. When Mom phones, it was always important. "Hey, Mom, what's up?"
Her silence made me think there was something wrong with the line, but she eventually said, "What's all that noise?"
"Some of the guys have dropped by. We're off to the basketball game," was my reply.
The pause on the line alerted me that she was thinking about what to say next. Mom never thought about what to say, she just came right out and said it. She had been the dominant force in our house ever since I was old enough to realize it. I loved Dad with all my heart, but even he knew that when it came to decisions in the house we all went to Mom.
Don't get me wrong, Dad was no wimp by any stretch of the imagination; if he thought Mom was wrong, he would rein her in. The fireworks that ensued made for good listening, but he always seemed to win those arguments. He had never been a people person; Dad was simply a hands-on kind of guy. You put him in front of an architect's drawing, and he could punch holes in all the weak spots. It was that gift that not only kept him in a job, but earned him a couple of good promotions. How Mom and Dad ever got together sometimes amazed even me, but they do say opposites attract. I just didn't realize the saying also included polar opposites. But as for home, that was simply Mom's domain, and very rarely did he interfere in the day to day running.
"You finish term in a week. Can you get home any earlier?" she asked impatiently.
Knowing Mom, that wasn't a question. It was as close to an order as she could get on the phone. Now I knew something was up because pulling me out of college, even a few days early, was unheard of by her. This was important. I kicked the guys out, telling them I would see them at the game, and sat down so I could talk to her more clearly. "I have two papers that need to be handed in within the week. I can get them done tonight and be on the road mid-morning. Mom, what's going on?"
"Your sister is a hairs breath from being kicked out of college. Come home and help me sort her out." At that, she hung up the phone, leaving me to look at my cell and trying to make sense of half a minute worth of conversation. All thought of attending the game had gone. My coat now hung over the back of my chair as I got stuck into my two papers.
By early-morning, I was already a hundred miles away from campus; digging into the remaining two hundred from home. All thought of eating was put on hold. 'Perhaps that wasn't a good idea,' I thought. It would be amongst the first things Mom would ask as I came through the door.
By two in the afternoon, I was walking in the house and into the kitchen. Mom already had a sandwich and milk ready for me. My first instinct was to ask about Caitlin, but before I could, Mom hit me with a barrage of questions. How was I doing at college? How was my social life? Was I eating ok? Finally, finding a pause in the conversation, I asked, "Mom, what's Caitlin done?"
"According to the dean's report, Caitlin assaulted another student, leaving him with a broken nose and bruised ribs."
"When is she due back?"
"She's here already. She arrived this morning."
Like lightening, I was out of my chair and up the stairs. Not even bothering to knock, I barged into her room. Caitlin was lying face down on the bed, plugged into her iPod, her bare feet in the air, swaying to the music in her head. California sunshine has sure been good to her. The sound of the door hitting the wall made her look up. She smiled and then frowned.
It had been close to five months since I had seen her. Even though we talked on the phone almost every day, seeing my sister in the flesh was always much better. If ever two twins were so different in looks than us, I have yet to find them. Caitlin is a blonde and naturally sucked sun up, turning it into a very healthy brown color. Her blue eyes, and those freckles across her nose, only added to her looks. Those shoulders and cat walk figure of hers always had the guys queuing up to date her. And I won't even mention that ass of hers, which is something that brothers are not supposed to think about when it's attached to a sister.
As for me, the brown hair and eyes was a present from Dad, and trust me, I've thanked him often. My nose isn't as elegant as Caitlin's either, thanks to a heavy winter when I was eight years old and hitting the side of the garage face first when I lost control of the snow sled. That same accident did something to my sight as well, and from that day on I've had to wear glasses. Caitlin once suggested contacts, but there is no way I'm putting anything that close to my eyes ever again. The side of the garage was personal enough for me. I suppose what saved me from looking like a carbon copy of a geek was my early love for middle distance running. I never finished above middle field, but it sure helped my body definition as I grew into it.
My sister, now shouting at me, brought me out of my reminiscing. "Dammit Matt, isn't a lady able to have some privacy in her own bedroom?"
Walking in and sitting on the edge of her bed I retorted, "Ladies, yes. Sisters, no. What have you been up to?"
"He had it coming Matt. I have witnesses. All this shit is simply paperwork." She had maneuvered the conversation. I wasn't going to get anything else out of her that much was for sure, so I left it at that and lay on Caitlin's bed, watching the ceiling and her feet as they came into view. "How's your school life going?" Caitlin asked, breaking the silence.
We talked for a couple of hours, mostly me, bringing Caitlin up to speed, and her cross examining me about my social life, or rather the lack of it. The comfortable feeling we had around each other returning to our conversation, along with the feeling that we had never left each other's side. I liked that feeling. She was my sister, and when I was at college I missed her more each day.
Suddenly, my stomach growled, reminding me that I had left Mom in the kitchen, and rather abruptly at that. Heading downstairs, I noticed Mom was still sitting at the table. She didn't even look up from the newspaper she was reading. "She's on the skinny side isn't she? Somehow I don't see college life ever agreeing with her," she announced without looking up from her paper.
"I know we've been over this many times, Mom, but Caitlin should have come with me. You know I would have looked after her."
Mom looked up from her paper and snorted a laugh. I had finally got my Mom back, now all I had to endure was her reply. "Son, she's a black belt and you're a geek. Just who would be looking out for who?"
I mocked hurt feelings. Mom even came around the table and hugged me before sitting back down and getting down to business. "Things have changed between you two. I can name the day, but not the why. Can you tell me?"
I shrugged my shoulders, thinking there really wasn't that much to tell. Recounting that morning, I reminded Mom that both she and Dad had gone into town early and then were off to Aunt Margaret's. Caitlin and I had breakfast, and then showered. She had told me she had a problem with her bike the evening before, so I was checking it out, trying to figure out why the chain would twist itself off the back wheel. She came out of the house and sat across from me. Sensing something was wrong; I stopped what I was doing and sat next to her.
Eventually she said. "I love you Matt, but I just can't be anywhere near you anymore."
Mom just sat across from me thinking, her eyes took on a distant look for a moment, eventually saying. "That's all she said?"
Nodding, I went on to tell her that from that morning on, the distance between us grew. It felt like Caitlin would make a point of not even being in the same room as me unless there was someone else there as well. School was even worse. She started to get into more and more fights. Mom knew about most of them, but a couple Caitlin and I managed to keep quiet.
For her part, Mom just sat and listened, there was a faraway look in her eyes, and then she frowned. "I'm going to call your father. He needs to know what's going on."
This was an interesting turn of events. Mom got up and left to make the call from Dads den, closing the door behind her. I went back to my room to watch a DVD. Caitlin came in a few moments after the film started. I gestured to the chair, but she lay across the other side of the bed, assuming the position she was in when I thundered up the stairs and burst into her room earlier. It took a few minutes, but I started to sense her again. "Welcome back." I smiled before returning to the DVD.
Caitlin ignored my comment, but continued to slowly open the link and let it flow again. The link between us was now as strong as ever. Being twins and growing up with it, we both took it for granted that everyone had one. As soon as we realized that they didn't, we made the decision to keep it our secret. Even researching it ourselves when no one was around. Relieved, we now knew we weren't freaks, and that what we called the link was common amongst twins; normally same sex twins. Of course I did get punched when I read that and said she must be a guy in disguise.
I knew Caitlin had found a way to turn hers off a few of years back, but I wasn't going to force the issue. Back then, she had enough to deal with when puberty pulled her body every which way it could. We all thought it a stroke of genius when Mom enrolled her into Karate classes to help burn off at least some of her energy. She was a natural, rising through the belts to black very quickly. But now she walked a very fine line. Caitlin's temper, and the code she had to adhere to as a black belt, could well get her into trouble.
I suppose the long night and the journey back home caught up with me because it wasn't long before I became a bad host and fell asleep. Waking a couple of hours later, I found my sister asleep next to me, her head resting on my chest, her arm across my stomach and one of her legs draped over both of mine. When I stirred, so did she. Without a word, Caitlin got up off the bed and left. I heard her door close a few moments later. Feeling hungry again, I took a walk down to the kitchen, tripping over the suitcase at the bottom of the stairs.
"Oh, good, you're up. Carry my case to the car for me please." Mom waved towards the suitcase.
Caitlin's door opened and she peered over the banister, watching and listening intently to the conversation below her. Still wondering what the heck was going on and my brain coming up blank, I asked, "Mom, what's going on?"
"Your father wants me to go and see him. We have to decide what to do with Caitlin, and a phone call between us simply won't cut it this time."
Mom looked up at my sister who had now rested her arms on the banister, her face growing redder by the second, before looking back at me.
"It's close enough to the end of term not to bother sending either of you back, so you two have a choice; stay here or the cabin. I'll be gone a few days to a week at the most." Mom tossed me a set of keys for the cabin and headed for the door. Seconds later her car started up and she was gone. Caitlin and I stood at the door watching her car disappear down the block. It took me a moment to realize she was holding my hand, and the further Mom's car went down the block, the tighter the pressure she seemed to apply until Mom turned the corner.
"There's something going on here, Caitlin. Mom's never acted like this before."
Her hand slipped from mine and we both ended up back in the kitchen, Caitlin making coffee for us as we sat at the table. It was always the kitchen table that our family gravitated to in times of trouble and joy. If it could speak, that table could tell a tale or two about this family that was for sure.
I guess I took after my dad in many ways; knowing when to keep my mouth shut was one of the traits I had inherited. It was obvious that my sister had something on her mind. The fact that she just stared at her coffee cup until the contents were cold was a major giveaway. As I watched her, those telltale signs about Caitlin came out in her. Her cheeks flushed, even her temples followed suit, and then the redness of her skin descended down her neck before she shook her head. Slowly, her color returned.
Caitlin's eyes misted for a moment before she finally drew a breath. She looked at me and said, "I want to go to the cabin, Matt. I will understand if you don't, but I need to get away from here for a while." I knew she hadn't finished, so I just nodded and waited. Again, she looked at her cold cup of coffee, her hands wrapped tightly around it. She flushed once more before taking a deep breath and looked up at me saying, "I want you to come with me, Matt, but I know if you do, things are going to be said between us. Promise me something, what's said in the cabin stays in the cabin. I need my brother so much right now, but not if it means losing him because I said something stupid."
"You're my sister, Caitlin. Whatever trouble you think you're in, we'll face it together." I put two fingers under her chin and lifted her head. She watched me closely; her eyes now full, ready to tear up. "You hear me, Caitlin?" I asked, still staring at her.
She nodded and we stood up. I stepped in front of her and hugged her. For a second, Caitlin stiffened up and then relaxed into me, softly moaning into my ear. Suddenly, she gasped and pushed away from me, dashing up the stairs telling me she would be ready in thirty minutes. Watching her run up the stairs as though the hounds of Hell were after her, I was greatly amused and confused. Sighing to myself, I hoped against hope that the cabin trip would help her. I could tell she was hurting, and until I could figure it out, all I could do was watch and wait; around Caitlin, that's something foreign for me to do.
Dad had bought the cabin when we were ten years old. He told us one morning we were all going for a trip. When we pulled up in front of the cabin, Mom loved it, but still asked him why he bought it. Caitlin and I waited for his answer as well. He looked at her and simply said it was an investment in his family's future. An odd answer, but when Mom went to say something, she noticed both of us watching her and clammed up.
As a family, we have come here every opportunity we could, and once Caitlin and I got our licenses, it also meant we could come here whenever we needed space. We split the four hour journey between us, and took diner breaks when we chose to. This was our holiday of sorts, and Caitlin and I chose to treat it as such. If anything, she seemed more at ease now. I know from our link that my sister was more relaxed as the miles to the cabin decreased.
Ever the pragmatist, I stopped at the store on the way in. Caitlin loaded the cart, and we headed for the checkout. She chatted to the checkout girl as I loaded everything into bags, telling her we were going to the cabin for a week's holiday.
"I sure hope you and your husband have a good holiday," the girl said.
Caitlin didn't even flinch. She took her change and, with a smile, said, "Well thank you! We will."
I stood in shock when Caitlin just breezed by me as though nothing had happened. It took me to the end of the store to catch up with her, still with that playful smile on her lips.
"You didn't correct her," I pointed out when I caught up with her.
"No, I didn't," was her only reply.
She didn't even break stride in the car park, the smile still on her face as we loaded up the car. It wasn't until we got out of the car park and headed on the last stretch of our journey that she said anything. "Matt, I want to ask something of you. Please think about it before you answer. It will mean a lot to me if you think a great deal about it before you do."
Now, when you take into consideration that Caitlin took after Mom, and had always been a shoot from the hip type of girl, I knew this had to be some question. Any thought of answering her was put on hold as the cabin came into view. Caitlin took charge of the groceries and told me to put our bags in the day room for now. She made us a drink, and we sat at the kitchen table. I could tell my sister wanted an answer from me.
"Ok, Caitlin. I will agree to think about my answer. On the condition that you understand that once I give you that answer, I don't get any flak from you because it may not be the answer you wanted."
I could see my sister turning all this over in her head before nodding her agreement. She drew a short breath and said, "When the checkout girl looked on us as husband and wife, I was so close to soaking my panties. When she said it, everything that has happened to me these last few years became clear to me." For a moment, her eyes focused on her cup before taking a deep breath. Summoning all her courage, she lifted her eyes to look directly at me, saying, "We are here for a week. I want you to leave your sister at home and treat me as your wife for the time we are at the cabin."
Can anyone spell dumbstruck? Because that was how I felt just then. I could tell by the way Caitlin looked at me that she was very serious about this. She hung on, waiting for my reply, as though I would give my sister an answer to that question right at that moment.
"Caitlin, I would like to ask you a couple of questions before I answer yours. I think that, knowing the question and the implications of that question, you will understand and allow me to at least ask a couple of my own first."
My sister thought about it for a moment and I suspected this wasn't going the way she wanted it to go, but she had started it and had to see this through. Her cheeks reddened slightly before she once more breathed in deep and nodded her head.
"You said earlier 'everything that has happened over the last few years.' I don't understand, Caitlin. What's happened to you that you would want me to agree to this?"
She gripped her cup tighter, her knuckles white. Caitlin's eyes became distant, as though she was recalling moments of her past, looking for that one moment that would define what she had said and why she has behaved as she has for so long. "It hurts too much, Matt, being close to you anymore just rip's parts of my heart out."
Simply looking at her, I could tell she was in turmoil. My sister was desperately close to tears and, short of holding onto her, which I also suspected would send her totally over the emotional edge, there was nothing I could do. Yet so many questions still thundered through my mind, seeking answers.
"This isn't making any sense, Caitlin. We've always been close. I hate to state the obvious, but we are twins."
Caitlin gave a small smile, and shrugged her shoulders expelling air as she did. Almost as though she had resigned herself to admitting to something she was about to say. "I watched you once. You didn't notice, or even hear me come into the shower room. When I realized you were there, all I could do was stand there and look at you. I quickly shut our link down so you wouldn't notice me. My entire being was simply frozen to that spot. I just stood there and stared at you."