There are days I wonder if my mind is an engine or an exhaust. Am I the master of what I think of, or are my ideas the result of the deep thinking I’m only loosely aware of? Of course there’s the possibility that it all depends on my mood too. Oh, or on my sister, whom I shared a womb with, and in the presence of whom I drop the entire mastery because—among all other people in my life—she’s the one who knows my mind the best, dwells into it and resides in there forever, and wrecks it just like she’s doing now.
“Ow . . . Someone, make her stop. At this rate my brain will short-circuit.” I rake a hand through my hair and try to focus.
“Lucy! Pass, pass!”
“Don’t call me Lucy, you stupid curly b-blond head!” Lucy scowls, his face glowing bright red.
Despite being a freshman and the shortest guy on the team, Lucifer—aka Lucy—has the loudest voice and he skids and slides like a pro. He passes the soccer ball to Marsha, who blows at her blond curls for the thousandth time today, and kicks the ball a little too hard that it skids and bounces outside the field, tapping my sister’s sneakers and stopping dead.
“Ugh . . .” We aren’t going anywhere with our soccer practice.
“Captain, you see!” Lucy points at the ball. “I still don’t understand why we have girls on our team,” he mutters.
The four female members wring their arms and glare at him.
But my sister doesn’t bat an eye. Mika doesn’t even acknowledge the situation or try to stop the argument before it starts. She’s sitting on the bench, staring ahead blankly, her mind definitely zeroing on the one thought that’s taking her entire focus, and mine, to think off. My sister has been acting weird recently.
Noticing Mika’s unfamiliar silence, Lucy and the girls stop yelling and stand staring at her as she curls the end of her braid absently. It’s a blue ribbon today.
“She’s been out of it for a while now,” Lucy says in concern.
“Yeah, we can see that, shortie.” Marsha ruffles his blond hair and sticks her tongue out at him.
“I’m not short!” he snaps.
“Mikki!” Marsha’s voice exceeds the normal hearing frequencies to the point that my sister flinches and looks up. “The ball! Kick the ball!”
Mika blinks. “Ah, my bad!” And with a low laugh, she gets up and kicks the ball towards Lucy.
What’s wrong with her?
Yesterday she came home, her eyes red-rimmed, her hair messy, and her face grim. When I asked her what’s wrong, she gave me a terrifying look and went straight to bed. I didn’t follow her or question her about it. When it’s about my sister, I can’t get past her cold eyes or disobey her words. Her words are rules to me. Mika clearly said don’t ask, but I tried to squeeze the words out of Akuni anyway. The latter clammed up and refused to talk; she’s so faithful to her mistress after all. So, she fell asleep all night, and I stayed wide awake. That’s how I let seven goals into my net up till now.
My vision blurs. I blink and try to focus.
“Ian! Look out!”
The ball comes towards me at light speed, then I pass out. And that’s what happens when you’re not paying attention and overthinking. You get hit by a ball straight in the face.
“Oh my God, someone call an ambulance!”
“You stupid blond head, we don’t need an ambulance!”
“Whoops, dude. Sorry, I kicked it too hard!”
“Ian! Let me through, you blockheads!”
I can tell she’s close. The scent of lily she wears all the time is making me giddy. I feel her hand taking mine and squeezing it.
“Ian, honey, open your eyes. Say something!” Mika never calls me honey. She’s crying.
I open my eyes, and her beautiful face gradually becomes clear. There is a steadiness to her, as if all the storms in the world become a whispering breeze if she’s here. Despite being clumsy and sleeping in class, she’s kind and clever, and perhaps that’s what draws people to her. In her soft features lie her fierce independence and a motherliness too, and she was that way from girlhood, confident with the air of a warrior. I love her, we all do. I’m safe now that she’s here.
I touch her pale cheek.
Mika has fallow freckles, like someone had flicked a brush tipped with brown paint across her cheeks, hair a deep shade of crimson, eyes are smoked topazes looking at me pleadingly. Then she smiles.
My other half. My girl mirror image. The girl who knows me like the palm of her hand, and knows me more than I know myself. The one who dwells in people’s minds more than in hers. I don’t want to lose her.
A faint smile creeps to my lips, and the image of my twin sister fades away.
“Wha-What the—? Why is everything so dark?” I’m sure I had opened my eyes, but it’s all dark here. “Dear God! Did I go blind?”
There’s a laughter nearby that I instantly register. Mika.
“God forbid, you idiot! No, you’re not blind. There’s a wet towel against your eyes.” She removes the towel and greets me with a bright smile. “You know, the ball hit you straight in the face.”
I swat her shoulder. “Shut up!” Looking around, I realize that my head is resting in my sister’s lap. Safe. If it wasn’t her, who knows what could have happened to me. “Since when was I passed out?” I ask.
“Just a little while ago.” She threads her fingers in my hair. “And then you fell asleep. I could still sense your waves. Your brain is fuzzing!”
That’s half your fault, Mika.
“I don’t know how it’s my fault.”
I flinch; her telepathy never fails to thrill me.
“But I know the girls wanted to give you a mouth-to-mouth ventilation,” she adds with a smirk.
I curse under my breath. “It’s not like I drowned or anything.”
Mika giggles. “They still can’t understand the fact that the soccer team captain is girlfriend-less. Everybody is eager for a kiss.”
But then she pouts, and her face colors a shade of pink. “You have a whole fan club to yourself; it’s driving me nuts!”
I laugh. “Don’t worry. These girls are no girlfriend material, and they’re all crazy. I think . . . I think I like calm and mindful girls, so the girls on the soccer team are out of question.”
“That sounds reassuring,” she says with a smile. “Although I believe that one day a certain girl on these grounds will grab hold of your heart, you idiot redhead.” Her face contorts into that famous I love my brother and I’ll kill you if you touch him expression, making me laugh.
“You should get yourself a boyfriend too.”
“Yeah, sure,” she mumbles, her face suddenly growing absent.
I stare at her. If my sister can read people’s minds or whatever; including mine; then I can at least try to figure out what she’s thinking. She’s my twin sister after all.
Mika puts a hand to her chest and tightly tugs at her lily necklace.
It hits me hard. She’s thinking about him again, even though he’s gone.
“Hey! Siscon leader! Are you willing to stay napping on your sister’s lap?” Roy, my best friend and the ace striker of our team, balances the ball on his head then scores a goal. He’s been at it for the past hour, and I’m about to get up and kick his ass when an intimidating glare in the back of my mind makes me freeze.
Mika’s on fire.
“He’s not a siscon, you smug face,” she hisses.
I don’t know if he heard her, but Roy cringes.
“Say another word about my brother, and I’ll roast your brain and burn it into dust.”
Roy’s face loses color, and I burst out laughing and sit up, my back to the field.
“Ian.” Mika grabs hold of my arm.
“I’m fine,” I say, but the look in her eyes says that’s not what she wants to say. “What is it?”
“You didn’t sleep at all last night, and that’s pretty much my fault,” she mumbles.
She tightens her grip. “I don’t want you to think about anything. Thinking will not lead you anywhere. Don’t worry about it. And . . .” She looks down. “I’m sorry, I’m not telling you.”
I think, inside my head, I’m begging her to tell me. I free myself of her grip and stand up. “I’m not going to ask you.”
Undoubtedly, that’s a surprise to my sweet sister. She can’t believe that her picky, three-minute younger twin brother isn’t firing her with questions at the moment.
“You sure you don’t want to know?” she asks.
“You’re not telling me even if I ask, so why bother asking.”
She tugs at my sleeve like she used to do when we were kids. “But Ian—”
“This time, I’m going to wait for you to tell me.” I ruffle her hair and walk in the direction of the field. “Even though I will be restless,” I whisper.
“I promise it won’t take long!” she yells behind my back. “And whenever you’re tired you have to tell me, okay?”
As expected of my psychic sister.