I’m finally seeing them. They’re real. This place is my house: if the government hadn’t taken me, I would’ve grown up here. I don’t have aunts or uncles or grandparents, but I have parents. Do you know how nice it is to meet your dad for the first time? To see your mom, who you’ve never met before? I do, and it’s the best feeling in the world.
As I hug my mother, my father- my family, trying not to cry, I hear a whisper in my ear. Not now, please not now. I can’t help seeing her, though.
She’s behind my shoulder, invisible to all but me. And when she speaks, I’m the only one who can hear her.
“I’m upstairs, come and find me.”
Suddenly I can’t breathe, I can’t think, I can’t feel. Today is not the day for this to happen. This is my day with my parents. I will not let the silhouette ruin the first time I meet my family.
Something, somewhere inside me, whispers that I should be selfish and ignore it. Another part of me begs for my feet to lead me upstairs, thinks that maybe the silhouette is another piece of the puzzle surrounding my family, the one I’ve never known. But most of me just wants to stay here, in my mother’s arms. It’s so nice here… I’ve got to. I’ve got to go. I just need another moment.
There’s a force pulling on me, trying to get me upstairs, screaming for me to move, to go and meet the girl from the dreams. I know she’s close, I can tell. I don’t know how, I just do.
I pull away from my parents and smile at them, causing my mom to burst into tears again. Dad pats my back proudly. “Our little girl is home, Grace,” he tells her. “She’s home.”
I never want to leave this place. I want to stay here forever, even though I know I’m moving to the Advanced complex at the end of the day, and I don’t have forever. I’ve got to go, before I lose my nerve.
“Mom, Dad?” I say cautiously. They grin broadly at each other, and I have to remind myself that they’re not used to being called that. So I say it again, feeling how strange the words are to all of us. “Mom, Dad? I hate to ask, but… can you show me where the bathroom is?” Dad laughs, loudly and heartily.
“Yes, I’ll take you,” he replies, slinging his arm around my shoulder and pulling me up the stairs after him. There’s a hallway at the top of the steps, with a door at the end of it. I start towards it, but he picks me up and spins me in a circle before I can.
“Dad!” I giggle. I can’t help it. Dad grins back at me and sets me down clumsily, knocking me against a dresser that was sticking out from the wall.
“Whoops!” he remarks cheerfully. “But be careful, your mother would be furious if we broke anything.” I nod, examining the pictures arranged on top of it. They’re all of the same baby girl with brown curls of hair and chocolaty eyes. It must be me.
“I’ll leave you alone for a minute,” Dad says. “You’ll be able to find your way back down?” I nod and he leaves. As soon as he’s gone, I pull back the corner of the dresser, because I have no intention of using the room at the end of the hall. I’m also positive that he bumped me into the dresser on purpose. Why?
As soon as there’s enough light behind the object to see, I can tell why. It’s hiding a small door. I know what’s behind it, but I’m still extremely careful as I pull it open.
The instant the door is open, I whisper, “Are you in here? It’s Gabriela,” and stick my head in gently. She is there, curled in the corner, trying to blend in.
And she looks exactly like me.
I can hear my dad walking in the hall. He’s with her, I just know he is. My dad says something to her, and walks away leaving her standing in the hall in front of my door. I can hear the cabinet slowly being pushed, until it stops. The door slowly creaked open, and I back into the corner not knowing who’s there. She whispers, “Are you in here? It’s Gabriela.” I nod and walk to her, pull her inside my room and turn on a small lantern. We stare at each other, “It’s like looking in a mirror,” Gabriela says. I smile and nod as she says, “Do you ever speak? Not to be rude or anything, but I can’t talk too long.”
“Yeah, but it’s ‘frowned upon’ in this house,”
“How are you here? I thought every child born was sent to the Learning Complex.”
“I would like to know myself, but here’s my theory; When we were born my mom tried to hide us both, but you were found and taken away. While she raised me secretly, knowing that she couldn’t hide the fact that I had a sister forever.”
“Well, it’s kind of hard to hide that you’re going to have a kid. So she had to give one of us up…”
“True, but I’m sick of this place and I want to go have friends and figure out what this birthmark on my arm means.”
“You’ve got a birthmark, too?”
“Yeah, it’s on my right arm and it looks like half of a heart, is that what you call them?”
“Show me, quickly,” the girl stammers. “I’ve really got to go soon. They’ll find you if I don’t.”
“Gabriela, are you almost finished in there?” I hear from downstairs. Quickly we both raise our right arms and pull up our sleeves. We both silently gasp as we look at our arms. They are both each opposite sides of a heart- when we put them next to each other, they make a whole.
“Have you been having those dreams with the robots too?” I quickly ask, right before she gets up to leave.
“They’re not just dreams, you know. You’ve been dreaming my life, and I’ve been dreaming yours.” She’s standing up, now close to the door.
“I better go check on her, what’s got her taking so long?” I can clearly hear my dad say from down stairs.
“I’ve got to go, but I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you soon, in the dreams. And, what’s your name? I can’t just keep thinking of you as ‘my twin’,” my sister says with a smile on her face.
“My name’s Gwen, and yours is Gabriela.” She almost opens the door before turning back and walks over to hug me. She’s warm and I wish I could stay that way forever, but before I know it, Gabriela has stopped hugging me and is out the door, pushing the cabinet back in place.
I huddle back in the corner and try to remember what just happened to me, and try to guess what’s going to happen to my twin sister.