I am a twin.
In general, twins aren’t all that much different to normal siblings. They’re just expected to share, that’s all. And I mean share everything. For some strange reason, people always make twins share a bedroom. And even natural things, like birthdays, have no individuality. When you’re a twin, you usually just wish that you could have one dayto be all yours. Regrettably, that wouldn’t be possible even if we weren’t twins. We were born on Christmas, hence our names. Carol and Holly. I’m Holly, she’s Carol.
All siblings fight. Since twins are doubly siblings, we have a licence to fight even more. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not an “I hate you” fight, but a cheerful disagreement. Debates are part of our life. Only a sibling will understand what I mean by this. Many people do forget over time, though.
For instance: there was that time, not so long ago, when everyone decided they were sick to death of our arguments. Grandma said we were driving her insane. Dad said there was no peace in the house. Mum said that if we didn’t stop our “bickering” as she called it, she would explode. Our big sister, Isabella, said that she didn’t know a soul in the world who fought more than us, and Elijah just rolled his eyes in a “silly children” way, which is extra annoying, considering he’s only two years older than us. So the whole family, literally everyone was out to get us for our frequent heated conversations that bore no malice whatsoever.
That night we took conference in our room.
‘It’s just ridiculous,’ Carol grumbled. ‘What’s wrong with us talking?’
‘How would they like it if we never talked, or argued, or disagreed? They’d miss it. They would. I’m certain,’ I said.
‘Hey,’ Carol sat up from her slumped position on her bed. I knew the look in her eyes. Always the troublemaker, Carol had a plan. ‘Why don’t we make them see it?’
‘Go on,’ I prompted. ‘Not following.’
‘You never follow.’
‘Do you want to hear or not?’
‘Sorry,’ I said meekly. ‘Continue.’
Carol rolled her eyes. ‘We won’t argue. We won’t speak except in formal tones. We will be model children, just right out of the school books. And then—’
‘Oh,’ I breathed, catching on. ‘They’ll miss it. And they’ll be sorry about it all.’
Carol delivered me a withering look. ‘Who’s making this idea? Or are you going to interrupt it before the heart of my plans?’
‘Course not,’ I said quickly, and she began again.
‘It’s not going to be much fun, so we’ll make up for it by swapping places. All the time. Confuse them. But we’ll be always so perfect that we can’t be blamed. And here’s what we’ll do. With Christmas coming on, this house will be swimming with people. We’re going to make trouble.’
‘I don’t think that’s such a good idea…’ I cautioned.
‘Shush. Do you want them niggling at us?’
‘I have a feeling we’ll be in bigger trouble if we do this,’ I said. ‘And it doesn’t all make sense to me.’
‘Trust me. Have you ever been the thinker?’
‘No, you haven’t.’
‘I beg to differ!’
‘Look, if we’re going to do this thing, we’d better get out of the habit of arguing, don’t you think?’
Carol nodded wisely. ‘True. We’ll start tomorrow. Aunt Tara is arriving from Lithuania at ten o’clock in the morning. We’ll go to the airport with them, and switch places.’
‘You’re the boss,’ I said, and we began to prepare for a day of havoc.
‘Ah! Holly, my dear berry, how are you?’ bubbled Aunt Tara.
‘I’m very well, Auntie,’ Carol replied sweetly.
‘And my Christmas Carol,’ she said, her smile so wide I thought her face would split. ‘How are you?’
‘Much better now your here,’ I said. ‘It’s always so fun when everyone comes.’
‘It certainly is.’
‘And the holidays! It’s great to be off schoolwork,’ Carol laughed.
‘Why, Holly, that’s just a thing Carol would say,’ Aunt Tara said.
‘I am Carol.’
‘But I thought you said—’
‘No, no. I’m Carol. That’s Holly,’ Carol said.
‘Oh. My mistake. Shall we be heading home now?’
We all trundled back from the airport. Carol and I were good as gold. Usually we’d nudge each other and comment on Aunt Tara’s ridiculous outfit. We were as virtuous as cherubim.
‘Aunt, I’ll take your bags up,’ I offered as the car stopped.
‘That’s very sweet of you, Holly,’ she smiled.
‘Really? I was sure—’
‘It does get hard to tell us apart sometimes. I assure you. I’m Holly,’ I said, glancing at Carol to see if I was doing this right.
She smiled slyly. ‘Oh, yes. I’m Carol.’
‘I see.’ Clearly she didn’t. She was looking rather confused. I would have felt guilty if this wasn’t so much fun.
Mum got out of the car. Saying something about fruit mince pies she led Aunt Tara to the kitchen.
We exchanged a look.
‘Phase one complete. One very confused aunt.’ Carol crowed. ‘And this afternoon, when the Hollenbecks turn up, there’s what, fifteen of them—’
‘Well, there might as well be fifteen.’
‘But there’s not.’
‘They make enough noise for fifteen—’
‘Ssh! Someone might hear us. We’re angels, remember?’
Our plan was working. Even our own live-in family was getting muddled with our name switches. And with the fact we weren’t even speaking to each other. Not a word of argument did they hear. No one could fault us. We were cordial. Take Christmas lunch for example. We were sitting on the same large office chair, because with fifteen people eating Christmas lunch, we were a chair short, leaving us squashed on the same seat. That was despite the fact it was our birthday, though that had been rather forgotten.
‘Carol, would you pass me the cranberry sauce, please,’ Carol said primly.
‘Of course, Holly.’ I passed the dish.
‘Thank you, Holly,’ she returned. Isabella gave us a confused look.
‘Your most welcome, Holly.’
Isabella rolled her eyes.
Even when things came down even to the last scorched almond, which I in fact, had taken first, we didn’t argue, though by some method, Carol ended up eating it.
‘I believe that was my almond, Carol,’ Carol said.
I opened my mouth to protest, and quickly handed her the nut. ‘You are, of course, right.’
‘But if it means so much, you must eat it.’
‘No, no, I insist.’
‘Thank you.’ Our manner was cold and formal. About as perfect as a schoolwork book child.
By the end of lunch, Mum had had enough. ‘Did you two have a fight?’ she looked at us hard.
We both assumed blank looks that made us even more indistinguishable. ‘No. We haven’t been fighting. I thought you would have noticed,’ Carol said.
‘We thought that’s what you wanted,’ I chipped in.
‘Well, stop being silly. It’s Christmas. Just get along. That’s all I was asking,’ she said. ‘Or I’ll make you do the dishes.’
Now if sharing a birthday is bad, and having your birthday forgotten almost every year with the hubbub of Christmas, then there’s one wondrous upside. Mum always remembers enough to keep us totally excluded from the mountain of dishes that result after lunch.
We exchanged a glance, and said simultaneously, ‘Anything.’
We really should have stopped our game then and there, but having too much fun with the name swaps, we decided to keep going through present time.
All was going well. We actually got to choose our presents, considering that we swapped names when it suited us, so Carol ended up with both the gifts from Mum and Dad, but I had two more in number than her.
Until the jewellery stand.
Aunt Tara has to be the richest person our family has ever had in the family tree. But she is no hand at buying presents. This year, however, she’d blown us away. She’d bought a jewellery stand and labelled it for me. Carol’s present was a large assortment of scrapbooking stuff. She neverscrapbooks. Neither do I. But we both wear jewellery. This one was not going to me without a fight.
Carol unwrapped it first. ‘Oh, Auntie Tara, it’s lovely.’
I glimpsed the tag. ‘Hey, I’m Holly. That’s for me!’
‘Stop being jealous, Carol. That is so mine. See? Holly. I am Holly. It’s for Holly.’
‘You most certainly are not,’ I cried.
‘Get a DNA test if you don’t believe me,’ Carol replied.
‘Okay. I don’t mind sharing things. Birthdays, chairs, bedrooms, whatever. But I’m not sharing names. It was fun until now but not anymore. I am Holly!’
Carol looked horrified. ‘We can share it if that’s such a problem, Carol.’
‘All right, you two. Who is Holly?’ By the look on Mum’s face, I could tell she wasn’t going to wait until one of us gave in.
‘I am!’ we both said.
‘No. You’re not both Holly. Small arguments are okay. But this? Sharing names? You’re being ridiculous.’
Carol sulkily yielded, and I felt bad immediately. So now it has Carol’s jewellery on it, while sitting on my side of the bookshelf. Not exactly fair, but we’re satisfied. As for the scrapbooking stuff, Carol’s a lot more interested in it now.
We don’t argue as much as we used to. I think we have more things to agree about now. Like the fact that we should leave Christmas presents to the rightful owner.
I must say, though, it was fun getting mistaken all over the place.