1.1 – CASSANDRA: TWO HALVES

cassandra - two halves

the unbelieved prediction ˑ the unforeseen future ˑ the unexpected inevitable

Twins are supposed to get along – it’s one of those immutable rules in the social contract, right next to thou shalt not be inconveniently traumatized and mothers are all divine blessings – but Cassandra’s never quite clicked with hers. They’re two halves of the same whole, sure, but the whole was never particularly wholesome; most of Cassandra’s memories are competitive, jealous, vaguely sneering. In both directions, too. She can’t blame her twin for most of it. Any of it.

The point is – the point is, twins are supposed to get along, and even though she can’t feel the broken ankle she’s walking on, or the burns on her arms, she knows they still need treatment. The ferryman was very clear on that. And this is what she traded for – passage to the last family she has alive, the last family she gives a fuck about, even if the fucks she gives are complicated and all tangled up in a vague sentiment of ‘I hate you less than the rest of them’.

So. She’s standing here, on a street she vaguely recognizes as being in Sandy Hill somewhere, student residences and carved-up ancient houses with battered cars in the driveways and twisted oaks and birches hovering over the highest windows, dancing with the telephone wires, kissing the street lights.

Willow.

                That’s the name she has to remember. The new one. She likes it, she just can’t remember it all the time. Her sister. Her twin. Willow.

Willow lives here.

Funny, she thinks. She’d always meant to reach out, after Willow had left home, after Alex had died, after, after, after. The weeks and the months had slid by. All it had taken was to kill everybody else for her to finally make contact with her sister again.

Joke. Funny.

                She moves towards the stone steps, reaching for the metal banister – but then the door opens before she can get there. And there she is. Her sister.

It takes Willow a moment to recognize her. She’s confused at first, and Cassandra doesn’t blame her. It’s been at least a year, which adults will claim isn’t long at all and to kids like her is still a lifetime. Kids. That isn’t right. She’s turning seventeen in two months and so is Willow.

She looks good. That’s good news. Her hair is past her shoulders, streaked with blue, and the skirt she’s wearing is the kind of thing their mother would have burned, pleated and high-belted on her waist. And Cass knows she’s supposed to be saying something, but she’s been awake for two days, and the fact that she knows she’s supposed to be in pain is almost worse for all that she can’t feel it –

“What are you doing here?” It’s colder than she hoped for. But she can work with that.

“Willow.” Breathing, talking, feels like ice in her mouth. It’s not even cold out. Is it? She can’t really tell that particularly well either. “I, uh…”

“I’m serious. What are you doing here.” The march down the steps is made of suppressed anger, bitterness that Cass can’t blame her twin for. A year. She should have reached out. Said something. Anything. “How did you even know where to find me?”

Cass doesn’t understand what Will can do, not completely, or why, but she knows that she doesn’t have to answer. The information is there in her head, rising to the top like wood chips and scattered debris. But-

But answering out loud matters for other reasons.

“I’m sorry,” she murmurs, and it hurts to say, the pain she couldn’t sell, the humiliation of her own cowardice.

Willow is in front of her now, still taller, still skinnier, but older by more than just a year. But then Will is frowning, concerned –

“Cass, you smell of smoke.”

She starts to laugh. It’s funny, isn’t it? Joke. Queen of overreactions. That’s her. You’d think everything would have gone to shit earlier.

By now, Will has pulled what she needs from her head. The house bursting into flames. The boiler’s pressure rising. Bodies in the ashes. An accident. Maybe.

“I’m sorry,” she says again, but she knows what she’s apologizing for – and what she’s not.

Song: Alteration by Watchdog Reset https://watchdogreset.bandcamp.com/album/attraction

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