If my life were a movie, people would leave the theater in tears. (The Tragic Life of Shawn Philips - coming soon to theaters near you!) Not that there's anything inherently wrong with life at this specific point, but there has been a lot of trauma in the past. I was born a twin. And it's only a terrible twist of fate that I'm the only one of us remaining.
My parents started dating on November 19th, 14 years ago. 9 months later, my sister and I came into the world. Now, I'm 13 years old, ending my last year of middle school.
I hate everything about it.
At first glance, you wouldn't have known that Liddy and I were twins. Aside from the whole boy/girl thing, she had straight blonde hair that went down to the small of her back. She also had an upturned nose, and the longest eyelashes you've ever seen. I have short, dark brown hair, a lopsided smile, and the green eyes to her blue. Nothing bugged me more than people telling me they could see the resemblance - it wasn't there.
However, this didn't change our bond. From the moment we were born, we had been inseparable. I cross my bedroom to examine, for the millionth time, this framed photo of us. It's my favorite picture of her, taken on our 7th birthday. The cake has just been placed in front of us, its candle's glowing brightly in the darkened room. Liddy's joy is apparent, hands blurred as they flutter with long-anticipated excitement. The flames make her eyes gleam in a way that's almost ethereal. My face is plastered with a smile, my crooked front teeth showing. I reach up to touch the picture, my fingers running over the glass.
A knock on the door interrupts my reverie. It swings open to reveal my mother. Her face is a mask of tired, and her hair's in it's usual bun, a few stray hairs escaping after her long day.
"Honey," she says, sounding somewhat fragile. "It's time to go to your dad's house. He's downstairs waiting for you." By downstairs, she means he's sitting in his car outside our apartment building. God forbid he ever come upstairs, I might have World War III on my hands. I bend down and grab the duffel that voyages between houses with me.
As i turn to leave, mom says, all choked up like, "Shawn." I stop and turn around. She's standing there, looking at the picture of me and Liddy.
"Mom. Are you ok?" I ask, concerned. She turns to me, eyes welling up with tears, but she blinks them away.
"I'm fine. You better go, you know how he gets." She smiles sadly, because we can both see through her act. It's the same one she puts on every day. Mom's a teacher, so she's used to performing and pretending with 7 year olds. Sometimes that attitude comes home with her, especially when she's feeling sad about Liddy. I guess we all have coping methods, and mom's is to pretend like nothing's wrong. Still, I kiss her cheek and tell her I'll see her on Monday.
I smell dad before I see him. He smokes, so the air around him always reeks of cigarettes. He didn't smoke when I was little, it's another wonderful habit Liddy's death introduced to my family. As I round the corner of the building to the parking lot, he comes into view. He's leaning against the hood of his car. As I watch, he drops a cigarette butt on the ground and grinds it into the asphalt with the toe of his boot. He always wears these clunky, steel toed hiking boots, for reasons I haven't quite cared enough about to figure out. As soon as I'm closer to him, I speak.
"Excuse me sir, I think you dropped something." He looks up, eyes twinkling, feigning indifference.
"Are you sure? Where did I drop it?"
"Under there," I say, gesturing in a nondescript way.
"I'm not sure sir, but I just made you say underwear." And we both burst out laughing like it's the funniest joke in the world. I'm not even sure where we got it from, but we've been saying it to each other for forever. It's our standard greeting, and it never gets old.
"So, son, how's it going?" He asks me.
"Pretty good," I reply. "How 'bout you?"
"Can't complain. Ready to hit the road?" I nod, and he grabs my duffel and tosses it in the trunk.
It's an hour's drive to his house, and we spend it with the radio on and the windows down. It's a gorgeous spring day, the kind that makes you wish it would stay like this forever.
My dad's house is small, but it's got acres of land surrounding it. I always loved coming when I was a kid. Custody had been different, so Liddy and I only saw him once a month. We'd spend hours running around the property, building forts, and playing hide and seek. Now, tag is no fun by myself, so I stay inside and read.
We turn onto the long driveway leading up to Montgomery Estates, the name coined by the people who owned it before dad. He liked it so much, he decided to keep it. It doesn't really suit his boisterous attitude, but he's happy, so who cares?
Dad parks in the driveway and turns off the car. On the way into the house, he asks me what I want for dinner.
"Um, remember that really good takeout place? How about that?" Dad's a lousy cook, so either I burn the house down with my cooking, or we order from the local food joints.
"Sounds great. I'll order our usual." He sets off to do so. I walk my duffel down the hall to my room. It's small and sparcely decorated, but I don't spend a lot of time here.
I'm in the middle of this novel right now, and I'm excited to hear what you guys think of it!