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You remember when you were five, she used to peck you on the lips whenever you did something good. Like that one time she dropped her doll in the lake and you jumped to retrieve it. She said you were her knight in shining armor. You didn’t bother to tell her the water was barely deep enough to reach your chin.

 

As you grew up, she’d rely on you to scare off stupid boys that were picking on her. She only allowed you to do that. Everybody thought it was cute, then, that her twin brother was so protective of her.

 

At fifteen, though, it starts to occur to you that the two of you aren’t acting like normal siblings would. It glares you right in the face the first time she comes home crying because Max broke up with her.

 

“It’s weird the way you act with your brother,” he’d said.

 

She keeps denying it though. She says that it’s a twin thing, and there’s nothing weird about it. He’s an idiot if he can’t understand that.

 

You don’t point out at the time that this is when she stops kissing you good night before bed.

 

You take her to her prom, because you know it’s important to her, but you act like it’s a chore because how lame is it to take your sister to the prom.

 

It’s also right about the time you start acting like she’s disgusting.

 

She notices, and she yells at you for no reason. You know it’s because she’s too embarrassed to tell you the real reason she’s mad at you. All she ever wanted was your undivided attention. And since you won’t give her what she wants, she’ll try to take it. She’ll argue with you over nothing, nag over homework and girls and videogames.

 

It never used to bother her when you dated other girls. But then again, she used to be at the center of your world, so she probably knew they didn’t matter.

 

It really changes when you meet Sally. It changes everything because for the first time you realize that you can actually be in love with someone who isn’t her . She seems to sense this somehow, and, probably to get back at you, she starts dating your best friend.

 

It’s the worst thing you could think of. Suddenly your best friend comes over to spend time with her , and they’re kissing and playing footsie under the dinner table and it makes you sick. You fight with Sam over her when he calls you out on your Male Code bullshit. Part of you thinks he knows. He’s probably always known because he would never have made a move on her if she hadn’t made it first.

 

They end up breaking up, and it has nothing to do with you (not for lack of trying), because they both realized how wrong they were for each other. You’re glad because hearing her cry over yet another stupid fight every night was kind of making it hard to maintain your careless facade. You don’t have to hold tight onto your blankets to keep yourself from going to her and take her in your arms anymore. You’ve always hated it when she cries.

 

You end up single too when Sally leaves you for university. And even though you’ve been left before, it still hurts you more than you imagined it would. You think you can see panic in her eyes when you tell everyone about your plan of moving out West. She comes up with a bunch of made up excuses but you know she’s secretly pleading for you to stay. And as much as Sally leaving hurts you, you know that leaving her would be so much worse.

 

So you stay.

 

You stay and you see her fall for the new guy in school. You glare at everyone who tells you he’s so much like you, because it feels like they’re implying something. You know he’s a lot like you. You know it because everything he does, you’ve done it before, and it kills you to think that she would fall for stupid schemes like that. She always knew better than that.

 

He picks her up at home to go on dates and you notice she’s dressing up (more like dressing down ) for him, wearing new and shorter skirts, revealing shirts and trashy makeup. She still looks back at you before leaving though, like she wants to see you suffer. You won’t ever let her know.

 

She still argues with you over the littlest thing and it’s the only salvation you can find in the whole situation. You live for those moments she gets in your face, chest heaving, eyes sparkling, and from the corner of your eye you can tell Truman can see it. You send him a look that silently lets him know he’ll never truly have her. She’ll never be his . You can tell he takes it as a challenge.

 

Next thing you know your mom is forcing you to take her to a party in Toronto. Your mom never trusted Truman and you get the feeling that she’s always lurking, just waiting until the moment comes until she’ll have to pick up the pieces.

 

So you drive her and pick up your cousin on the way to the party. She doesn’t know anyone there and when her boyfriend leaves her standing, she latches onto your arm tightly. You grit your teeth and push her away, ignoring the pleading look she throws you in favor of nodding at a cute blonde at the other end of the room. You think it’s fair payback, but it takes all of your strength to tear yourself away from her.

 

You regret it the second she pulls you away from the blonde, cheeks streaked with tears, and asks you to leave. When you’ve pulled her aside to get away from the music, she tells you that she caught Truman kissing your cousin and you can’t help yourself. She yells at you for using violence but the sight of the guy’s bloody nose is so satisfying that you can’t make yourself pretend to feel bad. She drags you out and forces you to drive Vicki back to her place before you head back to London, although you really wish you could leave her there. You never liked her anyway.

 

You drop her with your mom and walk away from the tears as fast as you can. You still can’t get away from it completely though because she seeks you out later at night. She curls up in your arms, her back to your chest, and as much as you want to push her off, you’d still rather hold her tighter. You fall asleep surrounded by the scent of her hair.

 

Truman comes back once a week and you slam the door in his face every time. When he calls over the phone, everyone tells him that she isn’t here and you can tell it’s wearing her down. You’re not always there but you know that he follows her to class, begging her to take him back.

 

You corner him in the hallway after the bell rings and he seethes at you. He tells you he knows how you think of her, calls you a pervert. He’s seen the way you look at her, you think she belongs to you, but you know you’ll never have her either, because she’s your sister. You can’t stop your fist from hitting his face once again, he’s just really asking for it. It’s harder to keep up his disgusted expression now with a black eye.

 

After his second beating, he gets the message.

 

It gets back to something resembling normal after that. She’s back to being neurotic and you’re back to pretending that you’re completely unaffected.

 

Graduation comes along and she’s panicking about which college to choose. You’ve only gotten rejection letters until now and you know she will chicken out about leaving the nest on her own. Until it finally comes, the one acceptance letter. You got lucky with Queens, saving your own ass by getting a hockey scholarship. You tell her about the letter the night before the ceremony. She beams up at you, smiling with pride. The next night after dinner, she announces she’s going to Queens.

 

You spend the summer at your grandmother’s lodge, even though you hate it there. Felicia always gave you the stink eye. She was the only one when you were kids that pulled you away from her anytime you’d be getting close, while playing or watching tv. She forced you to take your naps apart. She still looks at you with disdain. She knows you’re not good enough for her . That you’ll end up dragging her down.

 

When you can’t take anymore of it, you try to leave, but she won’t let you. She unpacks your bag all over your bed and yells at you. You grit your teeth when she hits your chest with her fists. You grab her wrists and hold her in place. She won’t listen to you. She never understood why she was grandma’s favourite, or why the old hag hated you so much. You tell her and she shakes her head. She breaks herself free of your grasp and falls forward, hands against your face. You catch sight of the tear falling down her cheek before she turns and rubs her cheek against yours. Her arms snake around your neck and you feel her body tremble as she whispers ‘’don’t go.’’

 

She’s overreacting, you think to yourself. It’s just a few weeks at your grandmother’s stupid lodge. There’s not even cell reception. When she pulls back, though, you can see it in her eyes. The terror. This is the last time things will ever be like this. Then you’ll be off to college, move out of the family home, and with another baby brother on the way, everything will be different. You know she needs you. You ask yourself what she would have done if you’d gone for your backpacking trip through Europe instead of choosing college to be with her. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

 

You stay the whole summer.

 

The week before college, your parents turn the tables on you and announce that they scrapped the whole apartment idea. After thinking it through, they figured that dorms were cheaper than paying rent on an apartment off campus. She hides her disappointment well.

 

You find out during your second week that nobody has a clue that you’re twins. When you bring it up she blushes and shows you her student ID. She’s been using your mother’s maiden name. Who would ever figure out that Derek Venturi and Casey McDonald were related?

 

This opens up a brand new realm of possibilities. When she grabs your hand while you’re walking around campus, you don’t have to look around to make sure nobody’s looking. You don’t have to make up excuses to your roommates about why she spends most nights in your room. She comes to all your games and proudly wears your jersey.

 

She comes over to study and she falls asleep in your bed, but you never kiss her. You won’t touch her naked skin because you know once the line is crossed, there can’t be any going back. She always changes in front of you, though. You pretend you’re not watching but you know by the style of her underwear that she wants you to.

 

She gets a temp job at the library and you visit her before heading to practice. The head librarian there knows you by now and keeps telling you what a cute couple you two make.

 

It feels like it should always have been this way.

 

In hindsight, you feel like you should have known it couldn’t last like this. But it felt so good to be just the two of you, you couldn’t bring yourself to think about it ending.

 

There’s this girl you dated sometime after Sally. She was cute and fun. You went on a couple of dates. It was about the time Truman came along and you didn’t realize that you’d been distracted. Until she threw her milkshake on your head.

 

You’d actually sort of forgotten about her, so you’re kinda surprised to recognize her in the quad. Your eyes meet and she seems just as surprised as you are to cross paths here. Her eyes grow bigger and you realize she’s staring at your hand.

 

It’s a wild gamble to hope that just laying low would prevent any blow out to happen. You know this. But you still take the risk.

 

You say nothing to her about the girl you recognized and you say nothing about the fact that she saw you holding hands with your sister.

 

So it really shouldn’t be a surprise when you start getting looks when you come up to her in the library. You brush it off anyways, because she’s more important than what people think of you.

 

Then… come the backhanded comments in the locker room. The incest jokes. It’s easy for you to ignore this. What isn’t is the look on her face when you find her waiting for you on the other side of the locker door. She heard everything.

 

She lets you walk her to her dorm but you can tell something inside of her has closed off. She doesn’t try to grab your hand. When you stop at her door, her body aims towards you, but she retracts at the last minute, deciding to avoid all contact, averting her eyes when she turns away and runs.

 

She doesn’t pick up her phone anymore.

 

Your dad texts you something about “talking” next time you visit for thanksgiving and you think… oh fuck .

 

Somehow it got back to your parents, and it’s annoying how embarrassed you feel at having been caught holding hands , of all things. When the whole family is gathered around the table, it’s silent and awkward. Then when the dishes are washed and the youngest kids are dismissed to their rooms… then it’s just painful.

 

Your father has his disappointed face on. The last time you saw that face, it was when he found out that your D average might keep you from graduating from high school. What hurts the most is when your mother says that she should have listened to Felicia this whole time, because, fucking hell , you’ve been good kids . If they knew half the shit you’ve thought of doing to your sister, they’d disown you on the spot.

 

You try to convince them that nothing happened , things were blown out of proportion, you didn’t do anything. So what if you love her? What if she’s the only damn thing you care about, it’s not like you asked for this to happen. What if this is the truest deepest thing you’ve ever felt in your entire life?

 

Obviously, it wasn’t the right thing to say at all.

 

Now there’s some words thrown about, like “shame”, and “wrong”, or “military school”. You let out the breath you’d been holding when they decide against military school. You’re so relieved you zone out for a second and miss the last thing they say. You realize you should have listened when you turn your head to look at her and she’s sobbing, shaking her head, face hidden behind her arms as she’d curled up on herself on her chair.

 

“We said Casey should go live with Uncle Dennis in New York.”

 

That’s it.

 

You fight it as much as you can, throw tantrums like you haven’t done since you were ten, even fucking throw out all the suitcases the family owns in the garbage. But it still doesn’t change that two days later, they’re sending you back to Kingston, threatening to take away your car and allowance if you won’t.

 

You ask what about her . And apparently they’ve already gotten Uncle Dennis to pull some strings to have her transfer to a good college in New York mid-semester.

 

You feel like a jerk for folding to their demands. You look at her and you think if she would just look at you, if you could see anything in her eyes, asking you to keep fighting, you would. But she doesn’t. Shame is all over her face as she stares at the floor, refusing to meet your eyes.

 

The drive back to Kingston is the longest you’ve ever experienced, even though you used to drive five hours to your grandmother’s lodge and that was a real pain. The passenger seat is empty and you honestly cannot remember the last time you’ve driven anywhere without her.

 

You hate your parents. You hate yourself. You hate the fact that she had to be your sister to begin with. You take it out on the steering wheel. You have to stop on the side of the road to scream your heart out. Your chest hurts so bad you have to scramble to open the door in time to throw up on the ground. You feel like crawling out into a field and cry yourself to death, curled up on yourself.

 

For a second you think that she turned you into a drama queen and you let out a chuckle, which turns into a sob and then you’re back to throwing up your lunch.

 

The first couple of weeks are the hardest. She only texts you after a month and the whole time you thought that she’d finally listened and realized how too good for you she is. But she does text you.

 

I miss you , it says. And you’re back to cursing the world at turning your life into this miserable joke. You miss her so much it’s like half of yourself has been ripped out. She keeps texting you every night, and it’s bittersweet, because she’s telling you that she loves you, but she’s all the way over there and you’re here and honestly, you’re losing your shit.

 

She keeps you from driving down on a whim, though. She says it would make things worse. You listen because, well, you always listen to her. You’ll do as she wishes. Because she’s your princess, like in that stupid movie she made you watch that one time.

 

At Christmas, your parents find it in themselves to allow you to visit together, and isn’t it nice how they’ve moved your bedroom down in the basement and now use your old room, standing guard at night to keep you from approaching the vicinity of your sister’s room. She avoids your gaze too, stays far away from you, like she’s trying to prove something.

 

Your littlest sister wakes you up at midnight on Christmas eve, and asks you to help her sneak a peek at her presents. You smile at her and put her up on your shoulders to walk her up the stairs. You put her down and show her how to carefully open the packages so that no one would notice. You find out that your parents still got you thoughtful presents, which surprises you, because with all the drama, you’d really thought that you’d done it and driven them away for good.

 

You watch Marti shuffle through all the presents under the tree and come back with a small box with your name on it. From Casey . You hesitate, knowing that whatever she got you would be the best present you’d get this year, and you kind of want to keep the surprise for the moment she can watch you open it. So you push Marti’s hand away softly and shake your head.

 

She tells you, after observing the nicely wrapped present in her hand, that she always knew you loved each other. She says that the parents could never understand it (you can’t truly blame them), but since she was four years old, she always thought you’d marry her one day. It makes you laugh. She asks you why. You don’t tell her that it’s illegal. You tell her that her older sister is too good for your ass.

 

You didn’t put Casey’s present under the tree. You left it under her pillow when you sneaked Marti back into her bed. She’s the one that wakes you up this time, when you open your eyes, she’s beaming down at you. She’s wearing the necklace you got her, a delicate silver chain with two hearts tangled together. She turns her head towards the stairs, watching until she’s sure that nobody’s coming down, then looks down at you and lowers her face until her lips meet yours. She kisses you softly, the chastest kiss you’ve ever had, and pulls back.

 

She drags you up the stairs and you catch sight of the clock. It’s 7:15. Nobody’s up yet. She sits you down in front of the tree and puts the box you were holding last night in your hands. You open it carefully. You don’t really care about the wrapping, but you want to take your time. Under the paper, there’s a simple black box and you lift up the lid. She got you dog tags. There’s two of them, one with each of your names, with your date and time of birth. You were born twenty minutes apart.

 

You think it’s the perfect gift in a twisted kind of way. You know that this was always what draw you to each other, and it’s the one thing that will always keep you apart. Her fingers reach out for yours and she takes the chain away, pulling it up and over your head, letting the tags dangle on your chest. Her hands linger on your shoulders and she brings her forehead down to rest against yours. You stay this way until you hear footsteps coming from upstairs, then she pulls away and picks up the now empty box and wrapping paper and heads towards the kitchen. You hide the tags underneath your shirt before everyone’s rushing down the stairs to gather around the tree.

 

She goes back to New York, and you get back to Queens, but this time, she comes to visit. Uncle Dennis got her a car. The first time, she shows up on your doorstep unexpectedly and you’re so surprised to see her you’re frozen in place. She’s the one to break the spell when she smirks up at you, calls you an idiot and kisses you heatedly. You make out on your couch for a while until your stomach growls and you decide to order some thai food. You settle down with your food and a movie, and she falls asleep halfway through, head on your shoulder. You take her to your bed and curl up behind her.

 

The second time, you were waiting for her and you greeted her in your nicest looking button down before showing off the table you’d set up in the candle light. You can tell that she’s touched. She’s such a sap, it’s not even funny. You talk over dinner and you never broach the subject of your parents or your family. She’s excited about finals, and you really don’t get it, but you listen to her. You like the way her eyes light up when she talks about this stuff.

 

The third time, you make love to her. It’s the most complete you’ve ever felt in your life. She’s soft and warm underneath you. She squeaks out those little moans that drive you crazy. Your hands are everywhere, exploring and methodically finding those little spots that make her shiver. You’re drowning in her scent and you can almost feel her climax when she tenses and scrapes her fingernails down your back. You want to do this over and over again.

 

The next time she comes back, though, it’s summer, and she announces that she’s going on a humanitarian trip in South America, as part of her curriculum. You’d kind of thought you’d spend the summer together, so you’re a bit disappointed. But then she lets you touch her and remove her clothing and you get kind of wrapped up.

 

She leaves (you behind). You spend most of your time pining, so you get a job at the local coffee shop to distract yourself. You barely notice the other baristas flirting with you. You get homesick, and Marti keeps texting you frowny faces, so you go back home. With just you there, everybody’s acting normally. Your dad even watches sports with you on tv. When he asks you about a girlfriend, you realize he thinks you’ve moved on. You don’t correct him.

 

Edwin drags you to the mall to help him get a present for his girlfriend and you wonder why he asked you , when you have a history of being seriously bad at this. It’s their monthaversary, he says, and you cringe. It’s such a Casey thing, you can’t stand it. You help him pick out some bath bombs and he seems pleased with it.

 

You have to go back to work after a week and everyone hugs you goodbye. It’s nice to have your family back in this way. You get this content feeling, like everything’s going to be okay, that maybe you can have your cake and eat it too.

 

But hey, that’s not really how it goes, right. You know, deep down, that you can’t really have that. But you let yourself believe it anyway.

 

And then summer is over and Casey comes back. But it’s not like you thought it would be. She met someone . She looks at you expectantly, waiting for you to… what? Jump in happiness? Break out in anger? What are you supposed to say? ‘’No, you can’t leave me?’’ Obviously, there’s something you’re supposed to say or she wouldn’t be looking at you like that. But really, there’s just this big gaping hole which suddenly appeared in your chest and you’re not even sure you’re breathing right now.

 

She sees it on your face and she scrambles to explain. She can’t go on this way, you both know this is wrong and it’s just a question of time before it blows up in your faces. She’s met someone she actually likes , this time, and maybe she has a chance to have something that she’s allowed to have.

 

You want to argue that you can keep going, that it’s not wrong to you and you’ll do anything, everything it takes to make her stay. But you don’t.

 

She deserves this chance and you know it.

 

You let her go.

 

She comes back, though. And it’s harder every time. After yet another deception, she seeks you out and lets you have her (or she has you), and you’re such a sucker. You never say no. The second you see her, you forget if you’re even dating someone right now. Who cares?

 

After graduating, she comes back home. She moves to Toronto and interns in a law firm close to the studio you work at. Somewhere until that point, you gave up on hockey and decided you wanted to become a director. She calls you up for breakfast every week and she asks you about your new life goals and it’s almost too casual for your taste. She even tells you about the guys she dates. It’s like she’s suddenly treating you like… her brother ? Your stomach rebels at the thought.

 

She never introduces you to them, the guys she dates. But this one time at Christmas she brings him home, with the fam. They call him Mister Perfect. You hate him. You tell her so when she pushes past you to grab the milk from the fridge. She pauses and considers you for a minute. Then she nods and goes back out into the living room.

 

She never sees him again.

 

One day, you’re turning thirty and you’re miserable. Sure, you’re dating a hot actress and you’re making a name for yourself in the Canadian movie scene, but… it’s not really what you wanted. Everytime you stop to wonder what you really want, your eyes drift towards the picture of the family on your mantelpiece.

 

You don’t remember when you started wearing a glass of whiskey in your hand as a fashion accessory.

 

You never expected a happy ending, but you never expected this . You let the flowery stationery card fall to the floor. Jenny (the hot actress, remember?) picks it up from the floor and squeals in excitement. She always wanted to be a bridesmaid at a wedding, but she never had any sisters. You tell her you’re not going and instead of telling her why, you pick up a fight. You often wonder why she stays with you.

 

In the end, you just can’t stay away. You dress up sharply and drive to the venue. Jenny’s quickly distracted by the decor and you’re left on your own, so when everyone is gathering and looking for their seats, you sneak at the back to look for the dressing rooms. You know you found her room because you hear her rambling frantically on the other side. You can tell that she’s alone and you picture her arguing with the mirror, in the crazy way that she does.

 

You knock and as if she expected someone else, she yells at you to come in. She freezes when she sees you and your jaw drops. She looks gorgeous. Her strapless dress is perfectly adjusted to her curves and her hair is up in a perfect princess bun, only a few loose strands falling on each side of her face. You’ve never seen such a good look on her. Seeing her like this, it makes you realize that she was made for this. She’d always dreamed of the perfect wedding to the perfect guy, wearing the perfect dress. You know you can’t give her that. So you fold.

 

You tell her good luck and she looks at you funny. She was expecting a declaration, you just know , possibly a speech, an impassioned ‘’let’s run away together’’, but you can’t.

 

She wants you to tell her she’s making a mistake. You want to. So badly. But you don’t.

 

You brush your hand down her face and you watch her shiver. Then her mouth is on yours and she’s clinging desperately at you. Her hands are pulling at your hair and they gather around your neck, squeezing, and drift down your chest. That’s when she feels it underneath your shirt.

 

She pulls back and finds the chain behind your collar, pulling it up to reveal the matching dog tags she’d given you that Christmas. You hear her gasp softly.

 

She asks you, begs you to take her out of here, and you grab her shoulders, trying to knock some sense into her. She was always right about this, about you. You don’t stand a chance out in the world. No matter how much you wish you could be the one waiting for her down the aisle, you can never be. You uselessly brush a tear on her cheek before she starts sobbing.

 

It’s not fair, she says. You know .

 

Her now red eyes settle on yours and she brings her arms behind her back and fumbles with her zipper for a minute, then she lets her dress fall at her feet.

 

Her legs are around your waist and your face is in her neck when you get caught and you hear your mother scream. She hides her face in your neck and you gently untangle yourself from her. She whines in protest but she ultimately lets go.

 

Your mom is crying and it’s the first time you really feel bad about this whole thing. For the first time you realize that your mother is watching her children fall in love with each other, and your heart breaks for her. But then the groom makes an appearance in the archway and everything devolves from here. It all happens in a blur and you’re barely aware that she’s put on a robe and she's dragging you along as she argues her way out of the venue. She stops in front of your car and jumps into the passenger seat. The only logical thing for you to do at this point is to get behind the wheel and drive away.

 

You don’t really know where you’re going and you don’t really care. You keep going, and when her head falls on your shoulder, you kiss the crown of her hair.

 

You know you can’t have a happy ending, but really, you’d just much prefer if it never ends.