Sunday, January 8, 2012


When the writing community I belong to posted "the forces of nature versus nurture" as the topic for this week I knew that I had a special perspective to bring to the table. Growing up as a twin is the only life I've ever known and is full of unique... let's call them "circumstances" that non-twins just can't understand. And eventually all twins go through a phase where they just want to be their own person. This story is about two boys going through that phase. 

January 8th 2012- Aaron Matthew Smith

“I’m scared,” Ted said.

Ned was quiet for a moment before agreeing. “Me too.”

“What if this isn’t what the ad says it is?” Ted said. He picked up the flier that they’d torn out of a comic book three weeks earlier. 

“We already spent a month’s allowance on this,” Ned said. He swallowed audibly. “We have to.”

“But what if it’s a scam?” Ted said as the glass was halfway to Ned’s mouth, causing him to stop. “What if it’s just some psycho thing that someone’s using to poison kids?”

“We Googled it,” Ned assured him. “Didn’t find anything about poisoned kids.”

“That’s the thing. We didn’t find anything.” Ted’s eyes flickered to the glasses that he and his brother held. The greenish-yellow drink that sloshed around inside was more foam than fluid. “It wasn’t on Google, Ned. Google. How do you even do that?”

Ned considered it. “I don’t know.” He sat the glass down. “Read the package again.”

Ted picked up the little paper envelope in which the powder had arrived in the mail that afternoon. It had two identical cartoon beavers on it. It basically looked like any other powdered drink mix packet. 

“’Un-Twin’,” Ted read aloud. “’Kiss that mirror image goodbye! Just one dose and you and your twin are your own people!’”

“How long does it last?” Ned said.

“Doesn’t say.” Ned and Ted stared at the two glasses on the desk. The fizzy yellow-green drink hissed and bubbled like Pop Rocks tossed into a glass of Coke. They were quiet for almost a full minute.

“Do we really want to do this?” Ted said.

“Do we?” Ned replied. 

Together, they said: “Yes.” And they chugged their drinks. The fizz burned on the way down and even though there was barely an inch in each glass it took three or four gulps to chug. Ted and Ned stumbled over each other as they rushed to the full-length mirror attached to the closet door. They stood next to each other and stared at their reflections. They were the same height, with the same blonde hair and the same blue eyes. Identical features.

It took a minute for the changes to start. Ned’s blonde hair got a little darker, not totally brown but too dark to be called blonde anymore, while Ted’s became nearly rust red. His eyes turned green-grey to match, and Ned’s turned auburn brown. 

Ted felt a sudden draft on his ankles and realized that he’d grown half an inch taller. Ned made up for it when he shrunk a half inch. His nose got just a little longer and Ted’s chin pointed out just a little bit. There were a hundred other little tiny things that they couldn’t keep track of since they happened so fast, but a minute later Ned and Ted looked like two completely different people. 

They stared at each other for a moment in the mirror then turned to look at the other face to face. Not only didn’t they look like each other anymore, but neither of them looked like them anymore. 

“How do you feel?” Ted said.

“…pretty much the same. You?”

“Yeah. Pretty much the same.”

“What do we do now?” Ned said after they got done examining their new faces in the mirror.

Ted kept glancing between the mirror and his picture in last year’s yearbook. “I don’t know.”

They were quiet for a moment. 

“Want to play Street Fighter?” Ned said.

“Yeah. I get to be Ken.”

“No way, you’re always Ken. I get to be Ken this time.”

“No way, I’m Ken. You be Chun-Li.”

“Shoot you for it,” Ned said.

“Once, twice, three, shoot!” Ted called. 

They both threw rock.

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