Jane and Jen

We are Janus.  We came into the world together, two faces one mind.  I am she, and she is me.  Our parents call us Jane and Jen, but they never know who they’re talking to.  Jane and Jen born in June.  We toy with them.  We have played this game for as long as we can remember.  We tried it first when we realised that they could not tell which of us was Jane and which Jen.  Now, even they call us Janus.

School is a torment we endure.  We are quiet in class, while tortured thoughts strobe across our lambent blue eyes, shuttered by  raven lashes.  We sit together at lunch, words rarely depart our lips.  The differents shun us, sidle suspiciously past.  We see them, eyeing us distrustfully, twitching books away, clutching bags protectively to their chests, forcing themselves to look and smile.  We know they mock us in our absence, the cruel ditty has followed us from the beginning.  At least now, in our 15th year, there are no stones punctuating the verse.

 “Jane and Jen born in June,  

Sing with me, come share my tune,

Turn away, don’t meet their eyes,

Their curse will spread, you’re sure to die.

Eyes so blue and hearts so black,

Beware, beware!  Watch your back!

No words they speak, no words they need,

With thoughts alone, evil they seed.

Of your suspicions, give no clue,

They think as one, but walk as two.”

We think we are long past caring, have embraced the destiny cast across our stooped shoulders.  And then we see him, standing Adonis-like silhouetted in the doorway.  The sun shatters off his yellow-gold locks, sprinkling shimmering specks across the ceiling.  Our eyes follow the inverted pyramid from his broad swimmer’s shoulders to his thin muscular waist, backlit so seductively.  As one we gasp, drawing breath and awakening to a new disconcerting sensation.  Is this what hope feels like?  Do we dare to allow ourselves this indulgence?

He turns to face us, looks us each in the eyes.  We are shocked, caught off guard.  The vice in our chests tightens as we fall helplessly into the boundless depths of his hazel eyes.

“Hi! I’m Marcus.  I’m … well, I’m new here.”  He thrusts a tanned arm, long artist’s fingers extended, confidently towards us.  It lands indiscriminately between us, forcing us to make the decision.  This tiny pebble, cast guilelessly, is the catalyst to the crumbling of our carefully constructed fortress.

“Hi! I’m Jen, and this is my twin sister, Jane.”  We breathe deeply together for the last time.  The spell that has shackled us, held us captive for so long, breaks.  We are free.

©Asha Rajan

(I tied for equal first with Rowan at Textwall for her post Daguerrotype — you should check out her post, and all the other Yeah Write entries!)

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8 thoughts on “Jane and Jen

    1. I hope so too, Kalpana! I suspect, though, that it was a bittersweet mix for them. Relief at being separate identities at last, tinged with a sense of loss. Thank you for your very generous comments!

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  1. This is such a fabulous telling – a modern myth and yet also so believable in its psychology. I was just listening to a story about twins on the radio this past Monday. I would almost swear you heard it too, as this almost perfectly describes one of the sets of twins they interviewed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t tell you how happy your comment makes me! Thanks so very much. Twins must find that push and pull so hard – at once wanting an independent identity and wanting to be defined as a part of a unique relationship. What was the radio programme (I might try to find the transcript), if you don’t mind my asking?

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