The temperature between the upstairs and downstairs room was significantly different. As Ellis stepped off the top step and into the hallway, goosebumps began to spread across his pale skin. He neared his and Eden’s new room and was shocked to find the door wide open. He poked his head into the room and found it empty. Eden was nowhere to be seen.
CLINK CLINK CLINK
Ellis turned back into the hallway and followed the metallic clanging downstairs. In the living room he found the pale front door open and saw Eden standing outside looking at the wind chimes. Once Ellis reached the door he stopped. Eden just stood there, listening to the wind chimes and watching them sway in the breeze.
After a second, Ellis shifted his weight and the boards beneath him groaned. The noise seemed to be the loudest thing in the world, and Eden turned and looked over his shoulder at his brother. Their green eyes met each other’s and they seemed to stand there in silence for minutes. Eden looked away first and turned his attention back to the swaying metal bars. Standing there awkwardly, Ellis tried to spur up conversation.
“Remember when we were younger, and grandma told us that if you listen hard enough,” Ellis stated creeping closer, “You can hear the dead whispering? We would sit for hours waiting to hear grandpa tell us a story from the other side,or see if Aunt Jenny remembered what happened to her.”
Eden turned to his brother and then walked back inside and up the stairs. A door closing was heard throughout the house and the walls shook slightly. Ellis’ mind began to race about what was going on, for all he knew, Eden didn’t remember him or thought this is all a dream. Or maybe Eden was still emotional about their mom. Whatever it was that Eden was going through, Ellis silently hoped he would get over it soon. He needed his brother back, he needed his best friend back.
For the rest of the evening, Ellis wondered room to room doing chores. He would dust the bookshelves in the living room and then stock them with books, and when he was done, he would stand and turn to see Eden watching him from the doorway. His eyes focused on Ellis and the only sign that he was breathing was his chest rising and falling.
Ellis found it to be creepy and tried to continue with his evening chores, but every few minutes he would get a weird feeling in his gut. Like all of his insides squishing together in fear, and when he looked up, Eden would be there, watching. Never talking, never taking his eyes off of him, and then he would walk off. Ellis tried to catch up with him to ask what he was doing, but Eden would seem to disappear. Like an illusion. Eden was like smoke and mirrors, never truly there.
As Ellis walked the kitchen trash out to the garbage bin in the front yard, the cold night air made him shiver. Tossing the heavy black sack into the green bin, Ellis once again felt his stomach turn. He turned and looked up to the diamond shaped window. There Eden stood watching, but he looked different. His bandages were off, and in the dim light, Ellis couldn’t really make out his scarred and disfigured face, but he could tell he was no longer his true twin.
Ellis’ heart was desperately attempting to break out of his chest. Tears ran down his cheeks and his head spun with dozens of voices screaming inside. Why did this happen? Is Eden going to be okay? Who did this to us? What will I do without mom? Why do I get to be safe and sound while my brother is in surgery and my mom lays in the morgue? What do I do?
The hospital seemed to be background noise to Ellis’ internal fight with himself. His dad sat next to him silently sobbing into Grandma Judith’s shoulder. A strong man was now broken. His wife dead and his son forever scarred. Seeing his dad like this made Ellis feel more comfortable about his own tears. A man is not held high by not showing emotion, but by actually letting the flood gates swing open every once in awhile.
Eden and his mom had been out in town for the night when they were heading home. Just as they were turning into the driveway, a drunk driver t-boned the car, killing Mrs. Silos instantly and sending Eden’s head through the window. The car caught fire and Eden was burned from the shoulders up. Doctors told Ellis and his dad that Eden could have some plastic surgery in a few months, but he would need to wear bandages until his skin healed. Ellis hadn’t seen his brother since before the accident but always had nightmares about what he would look like. They would never be able to pull the twin switch prank on anyone ever again, or neglect to tell their children about one another until after one of them died.
As Ellis laid down in his makeshift bed on the floor of his new room, he watched Eden’s chest rise and fall as he slept. A million thoughts crossed his mind and he fell asleep as one continuously popped up above the rest. How can he be his twin if he is not the same? Not the same Eden on the outside or the inside. How was he Eden at all?