More Like Me
I instinctively jump backwards and feel the cold, soft, tile on my naked spine. The water in the shower has suddenly chilled, and with it my mood. Just a peaceful hot shower is all I ask for in this family, and yet someone always has to run the water in another room, disturbing the little peace my angst ridden teen self can find. I wait, pressing against the tile to avoid the cold sting, my youthful womanhood shamed. Raped by a million misaligned squares.
I look down at my bare toes, the coral polish Kim had given me for my birthday remained in fragmented parts upon my toenails. I would have to re-paint them soon. My razor rested next to these little oval balls of flesh, and I realized I had forgotten what exactly I had been doing. A clump of red attached itself to my knee. It looks like blood. Had I cut myself? No. No, cut. Just red. Red that had somehow crept its way under my finger nails, as if I had been painting. But I don't paint. Kim does. Kim does everything I can't. You would think being a twin would be a good thing. That you would always have someone to talk to, to bond with, to grow with. But for my parents it was just an image of what I couldn't be. Why can't you be more like Kim? Kim never talks back to me like you do, Kate. I would rather have Kim around then you. Dad would cower, make a noise with his throat like a dissected frog, and nod. As if mother had been the lab student to his failed experiment as a man. Pathetic. Thank God they are gone for the weekend. The house to myself, and I can't even get a hot shower. The house to myself. Myself. But then who is running the water? Why has my shower gone cold? Did I lock all the doors in the house? What if someone got in?
The water continued to run cold, and my vulnerable state with it. Should I scream? No, I should lock myself in the bathroom. Wait for help. But who? What if he can get in? They. What if it's a “they”? I try not to cry. Not that you could see my tears in the steam. I'll make a run for it. But my clothes. I can't just run out of the house naked. I'm not a very fast runner either, what if they catch me? Kim has always been the athlete, the track star. More than ever, I wished what my parents had all these seventeen years. Kim would know what to do. Why couldn't I be more like Kim? The bathroom continued to fill with silky air despite the cold, as there are no windows. Just a small vent. I could never fit in such a small vent, I'm too much of a beast. How does a twin end up looking so different from their sibling? Kim could fit.
Running for the front door is the best plan. I wrap a towel around my body, armor from the men or many men that I assume prowl my house. My fingers slip back and forth on the door knob. I have to be quick, open the bathroom door, and lunge. Don't look back Kate. Don't do anything but get outside. Mr. Kent is next door, I could run to him. That's it. He would help me. I could put up with his old lecherous stares if it meant getting away from this danger, this situation. I swing the door open. My body moving faster than my eyes could see. And I slip.
Drying off the sweat-like mist hadn't been my main thought. I land on the floor, more battered abuse for my spine. The wind had been knocked out of me, and I try to catch it in my lungs as I lean forward. This is the part where I die. Where the killer gets me. I'm done. I look around, drag myself up, my poor excuse for an armor towel at my poor excuse for feminine feet. My house is empty. There is no killer. No man. No “they”. Just me and my newborn frame. I heard the old familiar spin of my families washer and dryer. I forgot I had been doing laundry, and it must have started using the hot water. I had gotten my clothes dirty and that was also why I was showering. I remembered now. I felt the same chill down my body as before, except this time from standing nude and ashamed of my cowardice. Mom has more towels in her room I could use, I'll grab one of those.
When I enter I finally remember everything, because there on the floor, was everything. My Mom. And my Dad. Mixed together. Dissected like frogs. The family portrait of the three of us stood on the now speckled night stand in a small wooden frame. My parents surrounded me in it, squeezing me and smiling, my mother leaning towards my ear. I could only imagine what she had been saying at that moment.
Why can't you be more like Kate?
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