Phoebe thrust her head into the disaster area her sister called a room. “Mom and Dad are going for ice cream,” she announced. “You wanna come?” Deborah didn’t answer; the teenager undulated away in front of her boombox to whatever band she liked this week, headphones on and yowling away. Phoebe decided not to waste her breath on another shout and ripped the ‘phones of her twin.
Deborah screeched. “Hey! I was listening to that.”
“So was everyone in the neighborhood. Now c’mon, unless you wanna miss out on ice cream.”
The black-haired twin scowled. “Are you going?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Phoebe snorted. “Like, free ice cream!”
“Then I’ll go.” Deborah reached into a pile of decaying cloth matter she called ‘clothes’ and pulled out her sneakers. “I feel like a sundae.”
“Funny, you don’t look like a sundae,” Phoebe giggled. Her and Deborah’s appearances and demeanors were so different people had a hard time believing they were even related, let alone twins. Yet despite those differences, they might as well be Siamese. The sisters had slept in the same bed until their parents declared it was ‘improper’ at their age, whatever the heck that meant. If Deborah wanted to go somewhere, Phoebe would find herself wanting to go there too. Conversely, if Phoebe decided to do something Deborah wanted to do it was well. It was a given they’d be going to the same college and sharing a dorm room; after college, it would be an apartment.
Deborah seemingly ignored Phoebe’s comment and finished beating her laces into submission. She bounced up. “All set. Hey, wanna share a banana split?”
“Sure.” A sudden impulse seized Phoebe and she hugged her twin.
Deborah hugged her back. “I love you too,” she replied happily.
“I was gonna say it,” the blonde protested.
“No you weren’t,” she replied. “But that’s okay. I already knew. Now come on; we’d better get downstairs or Mom and Dad will start giving us those funny looks again.”
Phoebe groaned. “Why do they keep doing that?”
Deborah snorted. “Comes from being old, I bet.”
They were playing patty-cake in the back seat when it happened. A silly, childish game, but Deborah and her always got a kick out of it. They’d make up their own lines every time; sometimes, they would even make sense.
Dad had stopped at a light.
It turned green.
If the oncoming truck had actually been going at a full clip, things would have been worse. But it wasn’t; the driver only sped up in an attempt to beat the light. Dad had been looking the other way and never saw him coming.
The truck didn’t hit them, but his poorly secured load of scrap metal broke free under the strain of stopping short.
It attacked their station wagon.
Some of the load overshot the vehicle, and some landed on its roof.
One heavy and fatally blunt piece, however, didn’t.
Violet shuddered. “Oh my God.”
“If you thought it was bad to watch, try being on the receiving end,” Deb grimaced. The two – three? – of them sat in Phoebe’s living room. Phoebe reclined on her couch, and Violet perched in a nearby chair, facing them. Phoebe had stripped her blouse off; the front part of Deb’s head now stuck out of Phoebe’ s belly.
Violet was trying hard not to think about the fact that her friend, technically, was possessed. “So, when did you know…?” She gestured at Deb.
“After the shock wore off? Right away,” Phoebe shrugged. “Maybe even before. I could feel her inside me. Unfortunately, she hadn’t learned how to manifest herself so everyone I told thought I was crazy.”
“Dear old Ma and Pa stuffed her in a looney bin almost right off,” Deb snarled.
“They were in shock, Deb,” Phoebe admonished. “It was a lot to deal with
“They didn’t even try!”
“Um…guys?” Violet said, raising her hand. “You two do know your situation isn’t as unique as you think?”
Phoebe looked confused. “Huh?”
“She means that pair in Chicago several years back," Deborah told her sister. "Remember them? They were all over the news.”
“The point is,” Violet urged, “Maybe--”
“No!” Phoebe screamed, jerking away from the other woman.
“I agree with her,” Deb said. “Phoebe doesn’t want to take the chance of getting fucked over by the medical establishment and I don’t blame her one bit. It’s not like they haven’t had some royal screw-ups lately. After all, when was the last time you heard of 'The Chicago Conjoined' ?”
“Good point,” Violet winced. She fidgeted. “So…um…Deb…how much ‘you’ can you, um, manifest? If you don’t mind my asking.”
“I’ve managed my entire upper body twice,” Deb admitted. “The first time, we formed a big ‘Y’. Could only manage it for five minutes, though. The second time I took the place of sis’ lower half; that one lasted thirty. Usually I just pop my head or most of it out, since that lasts the longest.”
“I never thought there’d be a time limit,” Violet blinked.
Phoebe nodded. “Yeah, although I don’t feel any strain. In fact, when she manifests through my body I lose all sensation in that area.”
“So, if I touched Deb’s cheek right now you wouldn’t feel it?”
“Can you feel your sister’s body, Deb?”
“Oh yeah. In fact, I’m better at telling her if something’s wrong with her than she is.”
“Are not,” Phoebe declared hotly.
“Really? You mean like the time you didn’t know you have walking pneumonia?”
Now the shock was wearing off, Violet found she was fascinated. “What happens to you when you’re not manifesting, Deb?”
“I’m inside my sister,” she replied. “I feel what she feels and I’m aware what she’s aware of. Beyond that…I really can’t describe it.”
“Do--” Violet got hold of herself. “I’m sorry, I’m being really rude, aren’t I?”
“Actually, it’s nice to be able to talk about it with someone else,” Phoebe dimpled.
“I can see why you’re shy,” Violet sympathized. “But still…I mean, Deb just doesn’t accidentally pop out of you, does she?”
“Well, no,” Phoebe replied, scrunching her shoulders.
“Phoebe, you need to go out more often.” Violet leaned forward. “Look, I’m not even going to pretend to understand what you’re going through, let alone Deb, but you can’t hide away in your apartment forever.”
“You tell her,” Deb cheered.
Phoebe threw her hands in the air. “But what happens if I do meet someone, hope he’s into threesomes? Anyone I want to spend that much of my time with has to know about Deb. Forcing her to remain inside me isn’t fair.”
“Sis, this is your body,” Deb insisted. “I’m just a hitchhiker.”
Phoebe looked down at the concerned face on her stomach. “More like a prisoner.”
“Is that your fault?”
“Whose fault is it then?”
Violet cleared her throat. “Um, before this degenerates into a fight no one wants to win, I have one question. Deb, did you…uhhh…leave a body after the accident?”
“Most of one,” she admitted. “The piece of metal that went through my skull splattered it like a melon dropped out of a thirty-story window.”
Violet thrust the resulting image out of her mind. Quickly. “You two were touching hands when it happened, weren’t you?”
Phoebe frowned. “I think so.”
“Not sure,” Deb admitted.
“Well I bet you were.” Violet leaned forward. “I also bet, that if the police had looked, they would have noticed a disturbing lack of brain tissue.”
“You mean my brains are in my sister?” Deb demanded. “Wouldn’t that have been picked up by now?”
“Ever had an MRI?”
“I stay as far away from hospitals as I can get,” Phoebe replied. “I hate them.”
“I bet they’d pick up a second brain in your chest if you ever do. That means this body is both of yours.”
Deb frowned. “Then how come I’m so limited in the amount of control I have?”
Violet shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because only your brain was absorbed. The point is, both you and Phoebe are right; anyone who Phoebe wants to date on a regular basis, let alone settle down with, has to be willing to accept Deb. At the same time, Phoebe can’t become a shut-in; it’s not fair to either of you.”
Phoebe glared at Violet. “You actually think there’s a guy out there who’d accept us, knowing our secret?”
“I don’t think that would be the problem,” Violet snorted. “Two women for the price of one? Please. The problem is finding a guy who’d be accepting for the right reasons.”
“Again, how do I find him?”
“Go looking, ” she replied mildy. “I can’t guarantee you’ll be successful, but you’re sure as shit not going to find him hiding in your apartment.”
Phoebe bit her lip. “I…”
“Come on, sis,” Deb urged. “Live a little…for me. Please?”
The blonde’s eyes fluttered downwards toward her sister, then across to Violet. “Okay,” she murmured.
“Starting with Jim, tomorrow night,” Violet reminded her.
“That’s James,” Phoebe corrected.
“Someone’s got a crush,” Deb sang.
“I do not,” Phoebe denied hotly, turning a vibrant pink.
Violet stood up. “Well, now that’s settled, anyone up for a movie? We can see what’s on Pay-Per-View.”
Phoebe glanced down at Deb, who glanced back up at her. Something seemed to pass between them; the blond gave Violet a guarded look. “Deborah needs to change positions,” she blurted. “Sis can manifest the longest through areas that involve minimal bone and muscle tissue.”
“It’s both your body,” Violet shrugged, “and your house.
Deb’s face pulled into Phoebe’s stomach. The blonde blushed mildy and took off her bra. Violet opened her mouth to ask, then Phoebe’s right tit ballooned, becoming a head—Deb’s head to be precise. “Breasts are the second-easiest,” she explained matter-of-factly. “I can manifest through one for about eighteen hours.”
“What’s the easiest?” The words blurted out of Violet before she could bite her tongue off.
Deb waggled her eyebrows. “You really want to know?”
“Aw, you’re no fun.”
“Deborah,” Phoebe told her sternly. To Violet, “I need to go put a top on; I’ve got some custom ones I made so I don’t need to parade around half-naked.”
The red-head nodded. “Makes sense. What are you in the mood for?”
“I like comedies and action films. What are you in the mood for, Deb?”
“No gangsta-rap films, please.”
“I’ll wait until you two get back,” Violet said. “We can go over what’s available then.” Phoebe nodded and sprinted off to her bedroom. Violet watched her go and tried very, very hard not to think about what part of Phoebe would be easiest for Deb to ‘pop out’ of.
TO BE CONTINUED
My Sister’s Keeper
By Dr. Mercurious
Part Two: The Beginning
Thirteen Years Ago