The Heavenly Twins
by Arash Farzaneh
The doctor was astounded; they arrived simultaneously, hand in hand, with a silent grin on each face. The nurse was surprised not to hear the piercing first cry of the newborns and thought at first that they were stillborns, nothing but dead fetuses.
The doctor told the recent mother that she had twins. She just nodded, with beads of sweat dripping from her face, and fainted.
They were baptized as John and Eric, but those were not their real names; their true identities they revealed to no one.
From the onset they were regarded as unusual children, children not pertaining to this world. It was not solely due to the fact that they looked identical, that they had come from the same egg; they were also exactly alike in each and every aspect.
There appeared to be an uncanny and otherworldly means of communication between the two from the day they were born. They never cried; they moved as if one was the mirror image of the other. Each expression, be it of joy or pain was immediately reflected on the other’s face, and they almost never lost sight of each other. Both ate the same food, slept and awoke at the exact same time. People thought they were Siamese twins, not Siamese in the sense of conjoined physical body parts, yet as a strange spiritual connection and contortion of two separate beings.
Their father, a taxi driver by profession and not known for his philosophical prowess, described them one day as the equivalent of an egg: one was the egg white, the other the yoke. However when asked who was which, he looked dumbfounded. In fact, their own parents could not distinguish one from the other and the father commented half jokingly, half in earnest that they should be given the same name because there was no use in pretending that they actually had two kids.
When they went to school, hand in hand, the same way they had embarked onto this world, with identical lunch boxes in their backpacks, all the other students immediately disliked them.
At first, the children would rub their eyes incredulously, as some had never seen nor heard of twins before; a little girl ran off and hid behind a tree. But the Two strolled along the recreation area into the school building and looked relaxed, carefree, and irresistibly confident in the bright summer light.
Once, their teacher accused them of cheating. It was in Grade Four after a biology exam and he summoned both of them to see him after class. He pretended to be angry and scolded the two kids, who stared at him, coldly and without blinking. The teacher started sweating and explained that such conduct would not be allowed, that their parents would be contacted and other academic consequences would ensue; they listened to every word, albeit in immobile fashion.
When they walked out, the teacher felt relieved, and for some odd reason he had been afraid of his two pupils. Once again he looked at their tests scratching his balding head. They both had attained perfect scores, but he thought they had cheated since both tests were identical to a speck. How could that be?
When he gave the class another test two months later, he made sure that they were seated apart. Astonishingly, the same thing occurred. The teacher was perplexed and felt ashamed to have made an unjust accusation.
At night, the twins would sleep side by side, their heads comfortably nestled on the soft cushions and dreaming. This was the only time of the day that their inner lives differed. Although their experiences of daily events had matched to a hair, their nightly wanderings in the realm of sleep offered some slight variations. At times, one of them would enter the other’s dreams and take him by the hand and lead him to his own nocturnal universe.
Their father decided to keep one of them (it did not matter which one) to take over the business when he was older, and the other should continue studying. However, they both adamantly rejected the idea and wanted to remain together. Reluctantly, their father gave up on his future plans and yielded to his strong-willed sons.
“They drive me nuts,” he confessed to his wife, who would sit at the table silently and stare into empty space.
One fateful day, they all got into the car to drive to a nearby town to shop for supplies. The two children sat in the back, father and mother in the front. The mood in the car was tense; that day had been marked once again with the heavy weight of anger and discord. Their father hardly talked on their trip but sent fiery glances in the direction of his wife.
The children who were in their own world did, however, take note of the strange but recurrent behavior of their parents. Nonetheless, they consoled themselves that these two earthly clowns could not and indeed were not their actual progenitors, and they found great comfort and solace in each other’s thoughts.
Suddenly, a swerving car crashed into theirs; there was a large din; the taxi-driver lost control of the vehicle, which crashed into an unyielding stone wall. Both husband and wife were killed instantly.
One of the boys, the one who had been baptized as Eric, was still breathing, and he turned immediately to see how his brother fared. The other as well was still alive, although he did not move and had his eyes closed. Eric did not need to ask, but felt that his brother had drifted off and was not accessible to him any more. He cried bitter tears for the first time in his life and all of a sudden felt immeasurably alone.
His brother had fallen into a coma, the doctor explained. Eric sat beside his bed day and night trying to communicate with him to no avail. His brother was connected to a breathing machine, and he heard the constant beeping of a screen monitor that showed his rather slow pulse and heart rate.
Eric could not stay awake much longer and fell into a deep sleep. Then his brother appeared to him. He told him that he was in great pain and needed help.
How can I help you?
You need to do me a favor and unplug my heart.
But the doctor said you may wake up one day.
The dream version of his brother shook his head with a sad, stern, pain-ridden face. That won’t happen.
You want me to end your life then?
Yes, you see, I am trapped; this machine and my damaged body have trapped me inside. My soul is not as free as it used to be. We cannot remain in contact like this. I need my freedom. I need my soul to roam. Once I am dead to this planet of Earth, I may soar the skies again, the way it used to be. Do you remember?
No, I don’t.
You see, I am closer to death. I can see more things now, everything is so much clearer now. Let me go and we shall join hands again and go to all these beautiful places beyond imagination. I want to show you.
Eric woke up with a start. There lay his brother as before, breathing slowly but on a regular rate, his heart beating at the speed of a slow metronome. On his brother’s face there was the look of pain and suffering.
With a swift move, Eric unplugged the machine. Everything came to a halt; the breathing grew more and more infrequent, turned into a gasp and stopped completely.
Then his brother suddenly opened his eyes, smiled. His entire body was immersed in translucent light. He stretched out his hand, which Eric took with gladness. And then both, as one, left the blindingly white room the same way they had entered it: hand in hand.
Copyright © 2007 by Arash Farzaneh