“What time do you call this!?” bellowed the voice from room 12B.
“It’s Emmie, I need your help.”
Although it was 2am I knew Rex T Jules would forgive me eventually for disturbing his sleep.
“Who is it?” I heard Rufus L Jules ask, Rex’s slightly fatter, camper brother.
“It’s Emmie, I think she’s drunk,” replied Rex.
“Oh that could be fun.”
“Please, could you just answer the door?” My voice began to sound frustrated.
“Ok,” replied Rex.
The door opened and my eyes filled with tears for the tenth time that night, only this time they were tears of joy. Never had I been so happy to see two people.
“Emmie, come here,” Rex embraced me and I became overwhelmed with happiness.
“You can see me? I‘m alive?” I asked.
“I think so, although you did wake us up at 2am so this could be a dream for all I know,” said Rufus with a sarcastic tone.
I didn’t mind the sarcasm. This was as real as any other day and I was relieved to know that I was still alive.
In the hours since my brother had been killed I had seen my life erased and was starting to wonder if the phone call I put into a close friend has been real or imagined.
Although I knew I was alive, I still had no reason why. Nor was I any closer to understanding why traces of my life had begun to disappear. Nonetheless this was a start. A brief ray of light in the darkness.
Rex and Rufus had always helped me in times of trouble and had been like having two extra brothers; their kind faces always there to help me get through the loss I’d experienced years before. They were almost identical twins, although Rex had a more muscular build from his work as the town’s maintenance man. Rufus also differed in that he had long brown hair that he wore in a ponytail and Rex instead kept his hair short and spiky. Rufus often told him he had too much gel in it and I tended to agree.
As I looked at Rex’s ‘Alabama Jones’ T-shirt he’d gotten from “the greatest rock gig of all time,” as he often put it, despite never actually attending the show, I also realised I was still wearing pink pyjamas with little sheep on them. My long blonde hair was a mess, all frizzy and falling over my eyes. Years ago I’d have felt fine them seeing me dressed like this but I didn’t want to feel like a little girl any more even in front of my honorary brothers.
“Would you like to come in?” asked Rex.
I looked down at my pyjamas and decided it wasn’t worth getting changed now so I walked in.
“So R&R what’s new?” I asked using my affectionate nickname for the pair.
“Nothing much, I’m still living with this muppet,” replied Rufus.
Living with a sibling was nothing unusual, in fact I was something of an outsider for not living with my brother. Typically siblings would move out of their family home at eighteen and live with each other until they met separate partners and got married.
Even then it wasn’t unusual for twins to date another sets of twins, so a family home could contain a brother and sister, who were married to another family of brother and sister (or any other combination of couples you can imagine – apart from dating across the same bloodline, which would be disgusting…).
Twins shared every moment, although for intimate moments they could use an ‘Innocent Blocking Device’ to stop their twin from being scarred for life. These devices allowed twins to keep a small amount of their life private when they needed to and for most people they would share everything else, including living together.
It meant R&R lived in a similarly small apartment to my own but they’d changed their kitchen into a second bedroom for Rufus. Instead of the kitchen they had a stove in the front room and a single frying pan that they used for most of their cooking. Their apartment was bare like my own with two wicker chairs they’d carried five miles offering the only source of comfort.
Seeing the sacrifices the two of them made to live together reminded me of just how foolish it had been for me to not live with my brother. R&R knew if one of them died, then the other would too, so it made sense for them to live together and look out for each other.
“Twins should stick together,” that was the moral message drummed into me at school.
But with Will’s job so far away and my job unable to let me move there really was no other way. Neither one of us wanted to put our life on hold for the other so we went our separate ways, assuming everything would work out.
“So I believe congratulations are in order,” Rex smiled one of his big grins and gave me another hug. Just as warm and full of joy as the last. “Well done on passing your exam, my junior police officer.”
“Go you! How does it feel to be saving the world, one scumbag at a time?” Rufus had to get involved as well.
“I don’t know yet, it’s my first day next week but it feels amazing to have passed,” I replied, unsure if I’d ever get to wear my badge after all.
“Well, I think it’s an excellent achievement, in this world we need more people looking out for the little guy,” replied Rex.
Rufus pointed to Rex’s belly “Well she won’t be looking out for you then fatso!” Rex wasn’t fat but Rufus did like to tease him regardless.
R&R had been this way for as long as I could remember. They joked that Rufus couldn’t wait to meet a good man so he could be free of Rex and Rex a good woman but in reality the two of them were the perfect mixture of family and friendship.
For the next two hours Rufus and Rex talked to me about old times and helped take me away from my troubles. They were comforting in the best possible way, without trying to pry into what had happened. For all they knew, I was drunk and for now I wanted to keep it that way.
As Rufus explained how Rex was getting a bald patch and had better meet a woman soon my phone began to buzz. It was Grace and she was only five minutes away.
“Ok guys, I need to go but before I do I need to ask you a favour,” I looked at them and the mood changed. My drunken act was gone and I knew this next part would have to be deadly serious.
“Oh?” replied Rex.
“If anyone asks about me you need to tell them you haven’t seen me,” my face showed no sign of a smirk, I wanted them to know I wasn’t joking around.
“Oooh do you have the Mafia after you already? That was quick super girl!” Rufus interjected.
“No but I think Will is in trouble and until I know he is safe, then I need to be careful,” I hoped it was enough information to give them without revealing the truth.
“I see,” it was clear from their faces that R&R understood. They knew Will worked for the military and that carried its own risks.
“Well stay here, we can look after you,” said Rex.
“No, I’m sorry but I have to go, Will needs my help and no one else can know that we met today,” I said,
“I understand,” Rex looked at Rufus, who nodded. “We understand.”
“Thanks guys. I want you to know that you helped me today, in ways I can’t fully explain but thank you,” with that I turned around and headed for the door.
“Emmie wait,” Rex followed me down the hall “One more for the road?”
He gave me one last hug. I smiled. I still didn’t feel human again but it was a start.