The Twins Who Never Met
My face tells a story. Once upon a time, there was a little girl who had an old senile cat that tried to scratch out her eye. That little girl was me. The pitted scar on the right side of my face tells that story. The birthmark in my left eye – a barely noticeable dark brown spot in my iris–tells of a trait that has been passed to me by my great- grandmother. A family history told in genes instead of words. The kohl drawn carefully around my eyes, the mascara spun around each eyelash and my face otherwise lacquered into place says that I am either self-absorbed or self-conscious: take your pick. But there is a large chapter of my life that is untold by my face. There is a prologue about twins, a boy and a girl, whose bond was shortly undone when the boy died, ten days old. That my twin died without me ever having my own mental picture leaves me wondering about his face.
There are pictures of Teddy but I rarely think of them when I think of him. Many of the pictures of Teddy are obscured by snaking tubes and menacing machines, and infants that young are a mere shadow of the person to come, a kind of blurry melted image of the person inside.
Instead, I picture rainbows or teddy bears. When I was little, my mom used to point out a rainbow whenever we passed one and would tell me that it was Teddy coming down to say hello. To this day when I see a rainbow, I think of Teddy and smile. Teddy bears have a simpler connection, by sharing his name. A pair of fancy German teddy bears (which I promptly ruined when I was old enough to reach paint) was given to Teddy and me when we were born and I have kept the rumpled bears with me ever since. I think of one bear as the Sophie-bear and the fluffier one as the Teddy-bear and when I think of Teddy, the image of his bear often comes to mind instead of the image of an infant’s sleeping face.
However, I do think of what he would have looked like if he had lived. Would he have shared the same dark coloring as me or the blonder, freckled coloring of my little brother and older sister? Would his skin have burned, tanned or been apparently unaffected by any level of sunlight, like mine? I wonder if his eyes would have been large and doleful like mine, or if mine are large and doleful only because I lost something so close so soon. I like to think that his features would mirror mine because that would be the proper twin way. I wonder about his face but I know wondering is useless. Teddy will always remain the unfamiliar infant I see in pictures. I almost prefer thinking of him as an invisible presence that comes with rainbows or as that dull-eyed teddy bear than the baby whose eyes I do not know.
My face tells a story, but not the whole story. There are secrets kept in the folds of my skin, beneath my flesh and in my heart. My twinship with Teddy was short but real. I like to think that when I catch my reflection out of the corner of my eye, a little bit of Teddy is there, staring back. I know that Teddy is not sliding down a rainbow, or occupying the body of a toy, but he is a part of me. Maybe I was wrong; maybe when you look into my eyes, you can see a bit of Teddy in me, just as if he had lived you could see a bit of me in Teddy. My face may tell a story that even I do not know. There are pages missing and parts unwritten but it is there, next to the birthmark in my left eye.
Sophie. Teddy died from the effects of a cord prolapse on the day of their due date. Sophie wrote this around the time of her and her twin Teddy’s 21st birthday, for an essay at college, where she is working to become a pediatric nurse.