We Were Born Within Eleven Minutes of Each OtherA Story by Barbara Walker
thoughts and feelings about my twin. I just had to write this.
Sue was born eleven minutes before I was born. I can't tell you how often she lorded those eleven minutes over me, when we were growing up. However, as we grew older, the tables were turned. I can lord it over her, I am eleven minutes younger than her. Turn about is fair play, when you are twins, no matter how old!
We were born in the time of black and white television, Red Skelton, Mighty Mouse, The Three Chipmunks and a dress code of dresses, only, for girls at school.
A warm afternoon, when Sue and I were supposed to be taking a nap, is my earliest memory. Instead, we were talking to some kids out our bedroom window. We shared the same room for many years. We used to help each other fall asleep, by tickling each others arms and backs. We always argued about who would go last, the favored spot, as you could just drift off to sleep.
She's always been my twin sister and my best friend. Oh, no one could argue more than us, but we forgave each other just as often.
Though we are twins, we are not identical. We are fraternal twins. I'd always wished we were identical, so that we could trade classes and fool boys. That would have been a blast!
We are opposites. She's a brunette, I grew up blonde, which changed to a very light brown shade. We both have hazel colored eyes. I ended up almost three inches taller than her. She was a girly girl, I was a tomboy. She would be playing with hairstyles, practicing how to fix her hair. I would run a brush through my hair one time and be out the door to play. That's not to say that Sue never played outside. She played hide and seek past dark, during the summer, just as much as I did. However, she played with dolls and the one time a relative (who didn't know me very well) gave me a doll for a present, I shoved it in the back of my closet, never to play with it. I loved playing any type of ball game, Sue loved playing records. I loved riding my bike, Sue loved to watch movies and moon over her favorite actor at that time.
We had a shared nemesis in our little brother. He told on us for everything! When he set the house on fire with a candle, while our Mom was on an errand, we exchanged knowing glances. We were delighted that he would, finally, get his. I thought I would be given a medal, for being the one to put the fire out. I am sure the disbelief in our faces must have been identical, when Mom came home and our brother wasn't even punished!
In elementary school, we were not allowed to be in the same class together. I missed her a lot, but usually got to see her at recess and we walked home together.
When we reached junior high school age, all that practice paid off for Sue. The days she and our older sister had spent balancing books on their heads, while I played in the canyon, gave her poise. Styling her hair was no problem. The only hair problem she had was mine. I was all thumbs with it and would whine and wail to her, "Sue, please fix my hair!" My beloved twin sister did so, 99% of the time. She showed me how to put on make up, too. I would have been lost without her.
I didn't know that there was an unwritten rule for girls upon entering junior high. It goes something like, Thou will wear a bra, whether said bra, is needed or not. I learned that my twin sister believed in this unwritten rule, 100%. Sue developed breasts, not several months, but, several years, before I did. However, when purchasing school clothes prior to seventh grade starting, several bras were included in my packages. Sue must have had a pow-wow with Mom.
I truly, did not need a bra. After I tried one on and felt so uncomfortable in it, I did not want a bra, either.
One day per week, Sue and I had gym class together. I was getting into my gym clothes, in front of my locker, when I heard an audible gasp behind me. I turned to see Sue with her mouth open, pointing at me.
"What?" so loudly, that heads turned in my direction.
"You're not wearing a bra! Where's your bra?"
You'd have thought I just committed a murder.
"No s**t! No, I am not wearing a bra. I do not need a bra, I do not like wearing a bra, so, no bra!"
The disappointment in her eyes was so great, I knew I had failed her greatly.
She turned and walked away.
We grew a bit older and boys were in the picture. We shared a few boys. Oh, not at the same time. Months apart!
We were with two boys the first and only time we were ever arrested. We were fifteen years old.I was with my boyfriend in his car and she was with a boy in his car, when we all went out to the boonies to drink. The last thing I remembered was drinking vodka, straight, as we passed the bottle between the two cars. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in my bed. By this time in our lives, we had our own rooms. Sue's room was at the opposite end of the house from mine. I, desperately, wanted to talk to her, to find out what had happened. How did we get home? Did Mom know we had been drinking? I slowly opened my bedroom door. The coast was clear! I ran to her room. She was asleep. I shook her, saying, "Sue, Sue!"
She just moaned.
I repeated, "Sue, Sue," shaking her harder. "What happened"?
"Oh, my God," she exclaimed.
"What? Oh, my God, what, Sue?"
Again, all I got was the, "Oh, my God"!
"What, Sue? Does Mom know we were drinking last night?"
Sue sat up, saying, "Well, since she's the one who brought us home from the police station, I'd say she knows."
"What! What do you mean, police station? What happened? How come I don't remember anything? What happened, Sue?"
"Well, for starters, you passed out. After that, this sheriff's car, out patrolling, found us.
"Oh, s**t is right. Mom is pissed!"
"What happened to the guys? Are they in trouble? God, Sue, tell me everything!"
"Okay, okay. Have you talked to Mom?"
"No, no, as soon as I woke up I came in here. She wasn't in the living room or kitchen."
"Okay. Well, the cop showed up. You were passed out in Mike's car. The cop could see the vodka bottle and smell that we'd been drinking. He said something to the guys about contributing to the delinquency of minors. He told the guys to drive to the sub-station and he'd follow us."
"Did Mike get arrested?"
"I'm coming to that. Hold on! Okay, so we got to the station and the cop told Mike to carry you in and lay you down on the bench. After he laid you down, you threw up all over the bench! The cop rushed over to turn you over, so you wouldn't choke."
"Oh, God, how embarrassing! I can never look at Mike, again!"
"After last night, you probably won't be seeing him ever again. Mom told him off!"
"When did she see and talk to him?"
"When she came to the station to pick us up!"
"Oh, Sue, I don't remember anything! My mind is blank."
"Well, when Mom got there, the cop told her that we would have to see someone at juvenile court next week, but she could take us home. Mom looked at Mike and told him that since he was the one to get you in the condition you were in, he could carry you out to the car. I don't know if they put Mike and Steve in jail or wrote them some kind of ticket."
"Man, oh man, this is bad."
Sue said, "Yeah, and I had to stop Mom from slapping you last night!"
"What? What do you mean?"
"Well, you were still passed out and she was trying to get you in the house and she started slapping your face, like that could get you walking right."
"S**t," was all I could say.
"By the way, we're grounded," Sue announced.
"No, duh," I said.
I walked out of Sue's room. I walked into the dining room, stopping suddenly. At the table, there sat our Mom, our grandmother and our Mom's boyfriend. I tried to walk past them, but Mom said, "You get back here!"
Mom, then began a tirade, that seemed to last for hours. Who did I think I was? How old did I think I was, drinking! What kind of girl goes drinking with a boy, out in the toolies? You won't be seeing Mike, anymore! What was wrong with me? On and on and on.
But all I could think of was getting a chance to call Mike.I needed to ask him a really, really important question. My mind was a blank and all I knew for sure, was that before I passed out, I was still a virgin. I wondered if I still was.
TO BE CONTINUED
I realized that my purse was still in Mike's car. Good, Mom can't get mad at me for calling him to get it back.
I could hear her in the kitchen. I walked in and told her that I needed to call Mike, because my purse was in his car.
She glared at me. "You can get your purse, but I do not want to see him around this house at all!"
"How about if I have him meet me at Sari's (my close friend) house?"
"Don't you dare go anywhere with him. You get your purse and then you get right home, understand?"
"Okay, Mom. And Mom...I'm sorry."
"Yeah, well, you get your purse and get home."
I called Mike. The phone call felt so weird. It was like we hadn't been going together for months and always had something to say to each other. My first thought was that we had had sex and now, he thought I was a tramp. I didn't want to ask that oh, so important question on the phone. I asked him to bring my purse to Sari's house, telling him I would meet him there.
"You're Mom hates me now."
I couldn't deny that, so I didn't say anything.
"Okay, I'll meet you at Sari's." Our stilted conversation came to an end.
An hour an a half later, we were sitting in Mike's car, in front of Sari's house. He did kiss me when I got in the car, so that was a plus. He hugged me, then laughed.
"What is so funny?"
"Oh, I was just thinking of the look on the cops face, when he had to clean up your vomit."
"Oh, Mike, I am so embarrassed!"
"Don't worry about it. I'm glad you didn't do it my car! What a mess and I would have had to clean it up, so thanks for waiting." He winked at me, then said, "No more booze for you!"
I knew Mike and all this banter was covering up some serious things going on in his head.
"Mike, are you in trouble? Sue said something about contributing to the delinquency of minors."
The smile disappeared from his face. "Yeah, that. Steve and I both have court dates. It would be worse if we were 21, but still, the law doesn't take kindly to a 19 year old drinking with 15 year old."
"Almost 16," came out of my mouth, before I knew I was going to say it. God, how stupid and lame can I be?
Mike did me the favor of not commenting on those words.
"So, basically, we won't know anything til we go to court."
"Sue and I have to go to juvenile court next week." God, I hope they don't put us in juvenile hall!"
"I seriously doubt they will do that. They will give you a slap on the hand and say, "No, no, bad girls."
I hoped he was right. "Mike, I'm really sorry you have to go to court. Truly."
"Well, it wasn't your fault. Steve and I were being stupid. Everything will be okay."
"Mike, I gotta' ask you something."
"Oh, you look so serious, you're scaring me!" He looked at me for a few seconds and then softly said, "Go ahead. What do you want to ask me?"
"Mike, did we, that is, did you and I, well, did we..."
Mike put his hands on my cheeks and said, "No. The answer is no, we didn't do anything."
I hadn't realized I was holding my breath, until it came out with a big whoosh. "Oh, oh, good!" I smiled, weakly.
"But you wanted to!"
"Yeah, but I knew it was the booze talking. You haven't been telling me, no, all these months, to suddenly change your mind. Besides, I think I would enjoy it more if you were conscious, dummy."
The stupidity of drinking like I did that night, really hit me and hard. Most boys would have taken what I said and run with it. I could have lost my virginity and not even been there for it, with someone I would regret. I realized how lucky I had been to be with Mike, who really did care about me. So lucky.
"Mike, thank you. thank you so much!"
"You know damn well, what. Thank you."
"It's okay. Now, I have something to tell you." He wasn't laughing or joking. Not even a smile.
My stomach felt funny. "OOkay. What is it?"
"My Dad had a long talk with me this morning. You know he was never crazy about the difference in our ages."
I just nodded.
"I won't go into everything he said, but after seriously thinking about it, I agree, he's right. It was stupid of me to be drinking with you. If it had been a girl my own age, well, I wouldn't have these charges against me. Not that I'm blaming you, please understand that. I take full responsibility."
"Oh, like I can't take responsibility for myself, so you have to do for me?" I was sorry the minute I said it. Why do I have to say such immature s**t? I knew what he was saying. I, also, knew he was breaking up with me and it hurt.
Mike gave me a long look, then he stared out the window.
"I'm sorry, Mike. For everything. What I just said, for the drinking and passing out and for any consequences to you." I didn't want Mike's Dad on his case everyday, for dating me. I was the reason he was facing some serious court s**t. I felt like s**t, too.
"I understand, Mike."
"Do you, really?"
I grabbed my purse, gave him a quick kiss and got out of the car. My lips were trembling, but I forced a smile.
Mike started his car, winked at me, then drove off.
It was my twin sister, Sue, who I went to see, immediately. I told her everything that was said and done. Sue hugged me, while I cried. Always there for me.
One summer night, Sue and I were bored. Neither of us had a date, but we wanted to go to the drive-in. Even if our Mom would have lent us the car, we didn't have our licenses, yet. I am not sure which one of us came up with The Plan.
Our drive-in did not charge by the person. They charged by the car. Therefore, no matter how many were in the car, the price was somewhere under four dollars. Our plan was simply to walk to the drive-in and wait for a car that was entering with only two boys in it. Off we went. It didn't take long for us to spot our victims, er, boys.
I let Sue do the talking. She could talk to boys and they really gave her attention.
The two boys readily agreed. You could tell they thought this may be their lucky night.
We hopped in and they paid the attendant. So far, so good. We parked, got the speaker into the car, when exactly at the same time, each boy put an arm around our shoulders. This was already getting too close for comfort.
The movie started and I said, "Sue, come to the bathroom with me."
One of the boys made a crack about girls always going potty in pairs. We fake laughed and got out of the car. As we walked toward the restroom, Sue spat out, "Jerks!"
We then proceeded to walk around the lot, visiting with friends from school. We spent anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour visiting inside their cars.
The movie came to an end, while Sue and I were up at the snack bar. When we came out, we couldn't see anyone that we knew still there.
"Crap, how are we going to get home?" said Sue.
Now, I don't know what I was thinking nor what Sue was thinking to believe my idea was a good one, but I said, "Let's just call Mom."
The thought that it was late and dark entered my consciousness regarding having to walk home. The thought that our Mom was sound asleep at one o'clock in the morning, not so much. Added to that, was the fact she didn't know we were at the drive-in.
With the confidence only the stupid can have, I went to the pay phone and dialed home. Quite a lot of rings went by, before I heard Mom's groggy, "Hello?"
"Mom, it's me. Can you come pick up Sue and me?"
"What? Where are you! It's one o'clock in the morning!"
By the tone of her voice, this wasn't going well at all.
"We're at the drive-in."
"Well, how did you get there?"
"Well, you can just get home the same damn way!" She slammed the phone down.
"As I hung up, Sue asked, "What did she say?"
"Uh, no. We have to walk."
I sure was glad I had my twin sister to share the dark with me.
Eventually, we did grow up. We married within six months of each other. We were pregnant with our sons almost at the same time. She was three months ahead of me.
She had her son, when she and her husband lived about an hour an a half from me. After I had my son, who was six weeks early and only weighed five and one-half pounds, I wanted to visit her.
My husband and I drove up to their place. Now, my son was so tiny, I could wrap him in a blanket and carry him in such a way, that it looked like it was just a blanket. When Sue came out of the house when we drove up, I was holding the blanket in that way. She looked disappointed, saying, "I thought you were going to bring the baby?"
I said,"No, we decided not to."
As we entered the house, I whipped open the blanket, saying, "Oh here."
"Oh, my gosh! He's so tiny! It didn't look like there was anything in the blanket!"
As she got her three month old out of the crib, all I could do was stare. He had been a full term baby. Now, add on three months growth, hearty growth. Then, there was his head! It was enormous.
"Sue, it looks like if you sat him down, he would tip over from the weight of his head!"
She replied, "Yeah, and look at the schnoze on your son's face! We both laughed. I would never have said that to my other sister, but twins, at least, these twins, could.
And I am happy to report that her son grew into his head and my son grew into his nose.
There was a period of time when both of our families were struggling financially. We shared a place to save on rent. We were so broke, we had no money for the laundry mat. Every few days, you would find Sue and I getting more blisters, as we hand scrubbed clothes and diapers and hung them on the line.
We always gather together for holidays. There is so much conversation and laughter. Dinners cooked and enjoyed.
When I experienced many health problems, she was there for me. Once, when I was so weak, I couldn't fathom the idea of calling around to find the type of doctor I needed, she was the one to speak for me. She drove me to the appointment and helped me walk into the office. When I was in the hospital, on a limited diet, she brought delicious homemade food that I could eat.
We can go weeks without talking on the phone, then pick up, like it was only yesterday. Did I tell you my twin sister has a beautiful smile? My twin sister is such a part of me.
And now, the unthinkable has happened. My beloved twin sister, who I love, fiercely, has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I am devastated.
Our Mom passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of fifty-five. We saw what she went through. It is terrifying.
I cannot stand to think of my Sue having to face this. I so wish I could take it away. Beat it up, like I would any kid who messed with her when we were little. I can't stand it.The tears won't stop.
What am I going to do without my twin?
© 2012 Barbara Walker
San Diego, CA
AboutI am retired from the Postal Service. I find I write poetry to help myself through difficult times and I have written many poems in response to the chronic pain I've been living with for 20 years. I .. more..
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