by Eiffi Savette

-Strange – 3 Pages –

A relationship between a friend and two sisters can be wonderful, unless it involves a macabre set of rare and disturbing circumstances.

Kelley was the best friend I had ever known. As I look back on all of the years we spent growing up in Portland, Oregon, I now realize how many things we missed out on experiencing together. Kelley had a twin sister, whose name was Kyley.

The fact is, I never liked her sister and her sister in turn, liked me even less. Such a situation might ordinarily have been merely an inconvenience, had it not been for the fact that they were not ordinary sisters. Kyley and Kelley were conjoined twins.

To make matters even more challenging, Kelley was a victim of nature’s most unsettling and inequitable manifestation of conjoined physiology. She was merely an inconvenient extension, riding out her life on the back of Kyley’s head and neck. All that existed of her was her face, forever enduring a world viewed from behind. As a result, of course, she had never directly gazed upon her host sister, so it was a relief for her to have me around to talk to. I got used to the many challenges of our friendship from an early age.

Since Kelley had no control of Kyley’s body, everything we did together required a sort of spontaneous choreography on my part as to avoid involving Kyley. It was because they shared the same brain, that certain issues, such as alter ego and the subconscious became problematic for them. They were constantly warring over every desire and impulse. In addition, because their minds were an open book to each other, they experienced a distinct inability to possess private, individual thoughts. The quality time Kelley and I enjoyed came primarily when Kyley was heavily preoccupied with a movie, show or game so we had to be as quiet as possible.

One day I had an interesting idea to share with the two of them as well as their family. I proposed a compromise in which Kelley and I would receive time together with Kyley’s full cooperation as Kelley’s body, in return for Kelley’s submission to having a long blonde wig placed over her so Kyley could finally venture out for a brief jaunt in public unencumbered by any unwanted attention.

The idea was not received favorably at first but the more they all thought about it, the more they realized it was a means by which the twins might make progress toward getting along with each other. The first time Kelley’s face was hidden under the wig, I went along with them to the county mall. Kyley was flustered by my presence and Kelley was blinded, disoriented and badly in need of my support. It was very troubling indeed, to see Kyley actually enjoying herself at her sister’s expense. The way she appeared to be lost in a reverie over her freedom to blend into the crowd was worrying me and also worrying her sister.

By the time we left and got back to the car, she was reluctant to remove the wig, but she did, much to Kelley’s relief. Kelley’s skin was flushed, wet and irritated. I had to work my way over almost every part of her face, scratching all her itches and wiping off the sweat before we started home. Not a single remark was uttered over Kyley’s apparent exuberance over her experience as I drove away from the parking lot.

I must admit, there were times I wished I could have killed Kyley’s portion of their brain and liberate my only friend from her prison. It wasn’t as simple as that, though. I knew as well as they did that despite the resentment and intolerance they openly displayed, there was an acknowledgement of a certain love for each other. Their bond was impossibly close, yet maddeningly burdensome. How many times had I tried to make amends with Kyley only to have my effort undermined by Kelley, of all people? Such was their relationship as polar opposites occupying the same space.

There were many outings that followed where either Kelley would be hidden or Kyley would begrudgingly take her turn under the wig. I must admit it was always a rather disconcerting experience when Kelley’s turn would come around and Kyley’s face would be covered. Kelley suddenly appeared to have her head set on a backwards body, which stumbled around unsteadily as she called out directions to it. I’ll never forget the time we all went miniature golfing or when we even tried bowling.

Eventually the wig was no longer tolerable, which among other things in their lives, led to a sea change in attitude regarding their situation. They had been home schooled through twelfth grade on a grant from the state and the time had come for them to decide what to do with their lives together. I tried to convince Kelley to continue on to college, however difficult it might be. For the first time in my life, I saw an unfamiliar distance in her eyes as she conceded to her sister. Kyley then turned about to face me, saying they had both decided the most sensible place for them was in the public eye. They both concluded that there was no reason to deny themselves the money and international fame, which their one in a trillion bodily configuration would inevitably grant them. This was simply their destiny in the world and they have at last made peace with it.

I found myself crying out in silent pain as I twisted the sheets of my bed that night. Tears finally erupted into my pillow, completely soaking it.

As soon as they made themselves accessible to the world, there was no time lost in providing them with every outlet of the public media. You might remember their skyrocketing publicity vehicles. There was the wildly popular documentary in addition to the constant nationally broadcast interviews, entertainment engagements and guest appearances.

I remember reading the scores of widely published articles. There was one in particular, regarding their sexual fantasies and the techniques they both used to achieve orgasm. I knew at that moment they had truly gone too far in allowing themselves to be exploited. How much more remaining dignity were they willing to sacrifice?

My friend, my dear friend Kelley had disappeared from my life to lend credence to the fact that our society was no more humanistic than it was during the heyday of the carnival freak shows at the turn of the 19th century.

Why am I telling you this? If your heart had been broken by such torment, would you not seek consolation?

I turned to education and the social life of college in an attempt to do so. I was at University of the Pacific the year my life began to break apart. It was not a remarkable period due mostly to the fact that I seemed to have absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my future.

To confound matters all the more, my hopes at having a new friend to confide in were dashed to pieces when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma. She opted to return home, leaving me under the pressing weight of a wilting depression. All the while, I never received a single correspondence from Kelley, save for a brief phone call from a hotel room in Las Vegas.

I eventually dropped out of my third semester and settled for a job back in Portland as an account executive at a small marketing firm. The apartment I moved into was substandard at best, but affordable. My meals rotated between frozen dinners and cold cuts. It was during these lonely months that I made the most startling discovery of my life. I began to realize that I too was born with a conjoined twin.

She had been with me all along, never alluding to her presence. It was actually quite a tremendous relief to become aware of her. I also became clear as to why Kelley and I were so close. She somehow must have known that we shared a similar condition. What made my situation different, however, was that there were no physical manifestations external of my body. My twin sister lived internally, as we shared only our brain between us.

Gradually, we began to accept each other’s presence. Realizing I had a covert, conjoined twin all along, living within me and observing my life and thoughts, I could only hope that the two of us could have a better relationship than Kelley had with her sister.

I consulted a number of doctors to confirm my twin’s existence. Not one of them confirmed or accepted what I knew for certain to be the truth. She was inside of me. I could feel her and I needed to let Kelley know about this miracle.

I learned she would be visiting Portland that week with accommodations at the city’s most luxurious hotel. The time had come for me to seek out and reunite with my much, missed friend. I placed a call to the front desk hoping to get in touch with a manager of some sort. Much to my surprise, the arrangements were easily made and I set a time to visit her. I was very eager to tell her how much she and I had in common after all.

It was a day I will never live the end of.

I signed in at the desk and rode a gold gilded elevator up to her penthouse suite on the fifteenth floor. I walked past elaborate oil paintings to the end of an ostentatious hallway. I rang the bell of a massive door composed of what appeared to be solid maple. The door opened to the smiling face of Kyley. After her cold greeting, I heard Kelley’s voice from behind, demanding that her sister turn so she could see me. As soon as Kyley turned, she immediately proceeded to walk Kelley away from me over to a large, plush love seat in front of a giant TV screen. I followed and pulled up a footrest behind the large seat. For the first time in several years, Kelley and I were once again, face to face with each other.

Just ten minutes later, I found myself riding the elevator back down to the lobby. I was feeling confused, betrayed and nauseous with bottomless disappointment. Had it not been for my own twin, I would have felt completely alone in a heartless world.

Kelley was not the same person I once knew. She had become arrogant and tainted much like her sister. The two of them apparently had merged into a single, fused personality. The Kelley I had met was almost a complete stranger. I had hoped the news of my conjoined twin would ease the tensions I felt. It succeeded only in causing me to run out of the suite after a humiliating request from both sisters that I get professional help for my “mental illness”.

In tears, I took the bus back to the apartment. A change inside my brain was taking place as my twin and I seemed to be alternating back and forth for dominance over my mind and body. Our integrity was being compromised as a result of all the sudden emotional duress. All I could manage to do by that evening was to lie curled up in the moldy corner of the bathroom, falling back within myself, becoming lost to my twin. It was as if my entire body had gone asleep on me and was taken over by another mind. By morning, she was the new occupant of my body and I was the secondary observer. Could it have been possible, I thought, that a similar process had taken place within Kelley?

I scarcely had time or energy to process that idea before my consciousness was flooded with the thoughts and feelings of my newly dominating sister as she quickly made her motivations known.

I was alarmed to discover that she was determined to act on an irrational mindset. It was becoming clear to me that she was very far from who I had hoped she would be. She was being guided by my own buried hatred and frustration. It was no use trying to reason with her as I watched us purchase the largest carving knife in the culinary department of the store and then securely tape it against our leg, hidden beneath our slacks. I had no choice but to play accomplice to her plans, falling headlong into the tumult of her insurmountable will.

So here we are, oh dear friend, back in your fancy hotel suite, but this time, I’m afraid we are leaving behind quite a mess for everyone to clean up. I’m very sorry my sister had to watch as I sliced apart your manager and all your lovely new friends. Most of all Kelley, I regret not allowing her to avoid seeing all of my effort to carve your flesh and bone to provide you with one final act of friendship. Does it feel good to finally be forever free of that toxic sister of yours, you two-faced bitch?

The End

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