It wasn’t long before the door opened againt letting the comforting and horrifying smells out. They mingled together and I couldn’t help but clamp my eyes shut and focus on my breathing. I didn’t really hear them approaching. I mean I did, but it didn’t register.
The boys had to be no older than nine or ten. I jumped when one of them spoke. “Fried chicken with mashed potatoes and buttered corn.”. The other boy spoke softly, “And I brought you a brownie with ice cold milk.”
They sounded alike. The tone of their voice only off a little but I could hear the tiny differences. Identical twins I imagined. I don’t recall what I saw before I had retched early in the day. Now it was too dark to make out the details clearly but I tried. I could see the minute differences in their cheeks. I must have looked too long and too hard. The first boy pushed his plate into my hands. “I’m Rider. That’s Laker and we are twins.”
I grinned at him. “I know. I was seeing if I could find the differences.”
“Mom and Dad are the one only ones who can tell us apart.”. Rider said.
Laker giggled. “But sometimes we trick them too.”
I laughed. “I bet I could tell you apart if it were dayligt and I had a good look at you both.”
Laker shook his head. “No way.”
I picked up the fried chicken and took a bit. It was cruchy and juices ran down my chin which I caught with my other hand before it fell to my hoodie. “So what do you like to do?”. I asked to distract them from me.
Rider laughed as sat down next to me. “We like to listen to Mom’s stories about all the animals she hunt.”
Laker sat down on the other side of me with the brownies in his hand. I reached over and grabbed one before he reflexivly jerked them away say, “Dinner first.”
I grinned. “Not in my house.”. Why save the best part for last? That was my motto. Life was short. As long as you ate the rest of it. And there really was no fear I wouldn’t eat. Even if it was fried chicken, box mashed potatoes and canned corn with marginrine. And yes I knew that from the way they tasted. I could do it all from scratch – except maybe growing the corn and potoates and butchering the chicken. I don’t think I’d want to go that from scratch. I wasn’t a farmer – I was a hunter though, so. I sighed at my thought. I could do it if I needed to.
My question was forgotten as Laker asked. “How come we never saw you before now?”
I shrugged. “You’ll have to ask your mother about that.”
“She’s your mom too.”. Rider added, his voice was hot with anger.
“She gave birth to me. But she didn’t raise me. I didn’t really have parents like you do. The community I was in raised me. They paid for my clothes, my food, gave me everything I needed.”
“You didn’t get any hugs?” Rider asked.
“I got them on occasion when I was really in need. Dorian would hug me and Margo too, but no I didn’t get a lot of hugs growing up.”
“What about bed time stories and good night kisses?”
“None of those either.” I said.
Laker frowned. “That sounds so sad. Did anyone sing you to sleep? Or feed you soup when you were sick?”
I shook my head. “I told you I didn’t have parents like you did.”
“But you were with your dad weren’t you?”. Laker asked.
“No. I just found out who my dad was just a few months ago.”
Rider set the plate of brownies on top of my empty plate. I must have been hungrier than I thought. “We always thought you had the best life. You were away from this. All the hunting and loneliness up here in the mountains. New York City has to be great.”
“Mom talks about me?”
Both of them said together, “All the time.”.
Laker continued, “Mom tells us all about your grades, how you are a straight A student, the top of your class. Whenever we get a bad grade she always mentions you.”
The door opened again and I could smell the cigaraette smoke and the patuchuli oil the air. “Boys, it’s time for bed. Leave Nox alone now. He has to get up early in the morning. That bear isn’t going to wait.”
Both of them jumped from the rock and spared me a hug. It surprised me but I hugged them back tighter and I felt the tears falling. Fuck if they weren’t good kids. And if they hadn’t changed my perception of. things I don’t know what would.
The boys scurried inside and my mother stood in the open door for a while before she spoke. “Nox, you should come inside too. It’s going to be cold tonight.”
I shook my head. “I’ll be alright. Thank you.”
She stayed there for a long time letting the light from the house stream across the rock I sat on. I didn’t move, didn’t look back at her. The door closed and I was alone in the darkness again – alone with my own thoughts and in my life. I wasn’t sure I wanted that anymore – maybe…