I am Erica.
And I would like to tell you about my sister Elaine.
We are closer than any other twins I know. When she smiles, it’s like I am the completion of that smile, we are two in one. Of course we do the typical twin things like finishing each other’s sentences, but the bond we have is stronger than that. We share most things because we have to, but we share our minds because we want to.
In school I don’t want to sit next to anyone other than Elaine, and I never have. A lot of times, schools try to separate twins because they feel they will distract each other, but we have always done our best work right beside each other. We are the top of our class.
Recently it’s been difficult. We’ve been going to the doctors a lot as a family. Elaine is not well. She’s been drifting off recently in class, and at first I thought it was just fatigue (even though I wondered how, she gets as much sleep as me), but a trip to the doctor last month revealed that there’s a problem. Her brain…it’s not getting enough blood. Her blood pressure is low and sometimes drops dramatically…that’s what’s been causing the fatigue. The doctor used a fancy word for all of this though…hypotension.
Seeing as I was there, the doctor did a check up on me. I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. In fact if anything, Doc said, I’ve become stronger and healthier. I used to be a bit liable to illness. Same as Elaine in fact. That’s another thing we share – constitutions. I guess not now though.
They say I’m the stronger one, but I don’t know. I think Elaine is stronger than me. Even when she feels ill, she smiles that smile that I complete and it feels like nothing has changed. We still laugh and joke about life, school gossip, crushes, who we’ll marry (although we know there’s a lot more thinking to that than just two 14 year-olds wistfully planning their day), and how many kids we’ll have.
I just can’t imagine living my life without her.
But this sickness, this thing, this hypotension…well…this morning…Elaine didn’t get up. I touched the side of her face brushing hair out of her eyes and called her name several times…I even started yelling it…but she wouldn’t get up.
Now we’re in the car rushing to the hospital. Mum is crying. Dad is too. He’s not even trying to hide it. There’s something in their eyes that is tearing my heart into tiny little pieces. There’s a look on their faces…a look of doom…a look of resignation.
I feel anger surge through my limbs. I don’t understand where their lack of faith comes from. Haven’t we already made it through so much as a family? We have beaten the odds on numerous occasions. Elaine and I shouldn’t even have been here, yet here we are!
The rain is pouring down, my head is against the window pane and I can feel the heavy unconscious weight of Elaine beside me. I stroke her face, speaking to her, willing her to wake up and get better. I remind her that it’s our best friend Amma’s birthday party on Saturday, and we need to decide what we’re going to wear; probably something yellow.
My favourite colour is yellow. Elaine’s favourite colour is also yellow. We share so much.
We reach the hospital and everything happens so quickly, it’s all a blur. Apparently Elaine is in a serious condition, critical. All I remember is passing out.
I don’t know what I would do without my sister. She has been there everyday that I have. She has been my rock, my confidant, my laughter, my tears…I have loved her even more than I have loved myself, she knows me like no other can, or ever will…if she dies, I die.
It’s 10.43pm and I can feel Elaine beginning to slip away. I want her to come back. To come back to me. I want to shout, scream, shake her, wake her…but I can’t move…and I can’t speak. I can’t even open my eyes. I feel teardrops running down my cheek.
If she dies, I die. I can’t live without her.
Elaine doesn’t make it.
At 11.52pm she died.
At 11.52pm, I died.
I am Erica.
Elaine was my conjoined twin.