Michael and I were identical- we both had blonde hair, cut short, and blue eyes. We were always taller than everyone else by a few inches, but not enough to stand out. Michael was a straight A student, captain of the football team, star player on the basketball team and he was loved by everyone. I was different.
This is going to sound insane, so feel free to judge and say that "it's a phase" or something, but I've known from an early age that I was evil. Oh, and I didn't like sports.
On one occasion I destroyed a baking competition by spiking a cake with two scotch bonnets. Everyone was literally crying and blaming each other and I was laughing like an idiot. Michael looked at me with horror all over his face; he knew I did it, of course. Call it twin's intuition, I don't know, but Michael understood me. The difference was that I laughed at other people's misfortunes, Michael considered that a misfortune of mine. I was expelled and my parents decided to send us to Elderridge Academy, a prestigious boarding school designed to help the brilliant (like Michael) succeed and keep the outlaws (like me) in line.
My behaviour hindered my academic performance too, at home, while Michael studied, I set my dad's clock to two hours before real time so he'd panic in the morning and rush out to work despite being early.
Ok, most of this stuff sounds completely average. You're probably thinking "this guy really thinks he's evil? He just plays practical jokes a lot." I understand that, I do, but what really convinced me of my evilness (if that wasn't a word, it is now) was what I thought on the biggest night of my brother's life.
It was Friday morning in the middle of May, the whole school was buzzing. Thanks to Michael, Elderridge Academy had made it into the county finals for the first time in twenty five years.
I was woken by some first years banging on our door. Our dorm was small. Very small. It housed both of us and one other guy but he left after a month in school. (I might have put razor blades in his pillow case and bleach is his shampoo.)
I stumbled to the door, where the kids looked at me like I was their hero. I did look like their hero. They looked at me all big-eyed and hopeful.
"What?" I groaned, they still didn't notice that I was not Michael.
"Uh," one of them started, "Could you sign this football?" They handed me a brand new ball, shiny and glossy. I almost felt bad when I wrote "You're all idiots -Nathan" on it.
I slammed the door and crawled back into bed. Michael looked at me, his face covered in a thin layer of disappointment. "What did you do?" He asked, reluctantly, wiping the sleep out of his eyes.
"I could have done a lot worse," I mumbled. He stared at me until I confessed, "What? I just called them idiots and signed my name." He sighed and I fell asleep. Classes had been cancelled to allow every student and teacher the time to watch the game. Michael was physically shaking. I felt bad for the guy, everyone was relying on him. His future was on the line here, if they won he'd probably get a scholarship.
His phone beeped and I turned to him. A smile two miles long spread across his face. "Jane says good luck," Michael said in his morning voice, "She says she'll watch the game with you, if that's ok."
I immediately said that it was ok. Jane was my closest friend in the school, considering she was my only friend in the school who wasn't my twin brother. She didn't care about my childish pranks and stuff. I think she thought that I had, like ADD or something. I knew that I didn't. I was tested for that.
Two hours later, I woke for the second time in one day. I turned over and saw Michael stretching against the door. He must have been more nervous than our ex-roommate was every single morning when he woke up.
I got dressed in my usual dark jeans and leather jacket and brushed my teeth. The lights in our bathroom didn't turn off properly unless I switched them on three times and off four. Don't ask why, faulty wiring or something, I didn't want to waste electricity.
Michael yelled "Wish me luck," as he slammed the door. I trudged behind him, locking the door with my left hand: a habit I acquired from my "I could be ambidextrous" phase. The teams huddled on their opposite sides of the field. I saw Michael giving a motivational pep-talk to his teammates. With the corner of my eye, I spotted Jane's glossy black hair.
"Nathan?" She said, sounding surprised, "you're on time?"
"Yeah," I muttered, "It's just such a momentous occasion, I couldn't stand to miss it."
"Don't mock it, Nathan," Jane teased, "If he gets a scholarship, you can get a job by pretending to be him." Her emerald, green eyes sparkled as she laughed and her perfectly white teeth showed. I smiled when she smiled, unlike when other people smiled. When other people smiled I had to do something about it.
The whistle blew and a shudder of roaring rattled the bleachers. The teams clapped each other on their backs and rushed into position. A mighty kick and the ball was in play. That's when I stopped paying attention.
Jane analysed every move our team made. She furrowed her brow when she concentrated and bit on her lip when she was anxious. Instead of watching my only brother play the most important game of his life, I watched Jane watch him. And I was never more intrigued.
The half time whistle ushered the players off the field and into the dressing rooms. This gave me a chance to chat with Jane.
"What do you think?" She said, and I wanted to say that I thought I was in love with her, but that was out of context so I said that it was a good game. I looked at the score and we were winning by four points. Somehow, I thought Michael would pull it off. I didn't worry about him.
"Michael's a great player," I said, "And more importantly, a great guy. If he can't coax a final push out of that army of juvenile orangutans, no one can."
Jane looked at me as if I had just said something profound. I don't know why she was so shocked; I always said stuff like that. Maybe because it was something nice about an actual human being. That was the only logic I came to after thirty seconds of thinking, so I gave up.
"You actually care about him," she cooed, "You love your brother." I looked at her with the same expression I got when I sat a maths exam: utter confusion and denial.
"Well, we share DNA," I said, sarcastically, "If I lose both kidneys, he'd be a good match."
Jane's eyes sparkled and the skin around her temples crinkled. I watched her hands as she fidgeted at her hand bag for a while. The teams bounded back onto the field and the chorus of screaming and heckling, cheers and abuse flooded the bleachers. I followed Jane's eyes, which were fixed on Michael. The referee yelled something inaudible and uninteresting before blowing the whistle and stepping back from the players.
Michael stole the ball and passed it down field to some guy who looked like he could have eaten a year's supply of lard in one sitting. He scored, by some miracle and Elderridge Academy pulled into a steady lead. After countless bone-shuddering fouls, teeth-chattering free-kicks and nail-biting goals, Elderridge Academy won the county final for the first time in twenty five years. Michael was carried off the field but before he was whisked away, he saluted me and I nodded back to him.
I was really proud of him, like Jane said; I did genuinely care about him, but when Jane asked if I wanted to go back to campus to join in the celebrations, something inside of me wouldn't let me say yes.
"Tell Michael I say congrats," I told her as she sunk into the crowd. Her dainty hands rose above a fat guy’s head and fell back into the sea of people. Hours passed and I didn't move.
It was the darkest night I had seen in a long time. No lights shone on the field, and I sat comfortably, alone. My thoughts drifted into each other, I settled into nest with my jacket and carton of cigarettes. I took thirteen puffs in, quickly, and emitted fourteen clouds of smoke, just to be sure. In the distance, two shady figures emerged.
They strolled to the middle of the field and one (male, I assumed) took off his jacket for the other (female, I assumed) to lie on. She followed his gesture and poured herself onto the grass. He nestled in next to her and they watched the stars together. I'm not sure if it was coincidental or down to my praying, but it started pouring rain. They leaped from the ground and started running off the field. A pair of green eyes shimmered in the moonlight and stared right into a pair of blue eyes. Blue eyes very like mine. Blue eyes identical to mine. They looked at each other and through over the beating of the rain against the ground, I heard, in a voice I knew, "I love you, Michael."
Something inside of me collapsed.
I felt like that was it for me; my hopes of ever being good had –like the stars- faded away. I cried what was left of my cold heart out and smoked each and every one of my cigarettes. I gave up smoking for pleasure then; I smoked for the eventual side effects. Because I knew that dying couldn’t hurt nearly as much as heart ache.
I couldn’t live with my cold heart, in a cold world full of cold people and cold love. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I was the only thing between Michael and Jane and their happiness. I knew they should have their “happily ever after”, I knew that it couldn’t exist if I was around. So I searched for my “ever after”.
I was sitting cross-legged on my desk when Michael came back. He didn’t notice me and he crawled into his bed, sighing. He didn’t see me holding a knife as I stood over his sleeping body in the dead of night.
“Do it,” something inside of me whispered, it was the voice that always told me to do bad things, “No one will blame you. He always overshadowed you. I bet your parents don’t even know your name.” I turned to my right and at that point there were three people who looked exactly like me in the room.
“I can’t,” I sobbed under my breath, “He’s my brother.”
“Do it for all the other people in the world who are like us: the other classes of demons.”
“I’m telling you I can’t and I won’t. He’s my brother.”
The personified voice walked over to me and said “It’s easy you just go in four times and out three.” He pushed me towards Michael but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t harm Michael.
Instead, I tried to go to sleep. I counted sheep: four white and three black. Tears ran down my face for hours and until finally, I fell comatose. The demon that lived inside of me sat at the foot of my bed holding a knife in the air. He couldn’t hurt me: he wasn’t real. But I could feel him gnawing at my soul all night.
All I wanted to do was never wake up.
Early, the next morning, before anyone was awake I etched a note to Michael on my desk with the knife. I climbed out of our tiny bedroom window and ran off campus in my pyjamas. I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t know where I would end up. I still don’t know what happened but I don’t wake up anymore.
When Michael woke later that same morning he would read the note that said:
The other classes of demons that live inside of us are the worst of all. Don’t let them get you. I love you.