I am a desert.
Lila, liquid Lila. Everything is drawn to water; the long-horn cattle in the heat of the day wade in the shallows to cool and chase away the biting flies, the egret, blazingly white, sifting the grasses for oysters, backward-knee deep, the lightning of the vibrant storm. Everything is attracted to water.
I am a desert. No waves, no wake. I am like a leprosy; something to be avoided. Avert your eyes, which is easy to do, when Lila is in the room.
There is always the ‘pretty one’ in twins. Lila.
She was stunned when I wanted to live on my own that 2nd year of college. “You aren’t pledging?” Lila was born to be a sorority girl. I was born to be a desert; dusty, leaden, prosaic. And so I took that studio apartment south of campus and adopted a cat named Cloe who clawed my furniture into submission and peed in my dirty laundry. I tried to be more. The smart girls in Women’s Studies casually discussed the benefits of sleeping nude. It should be so easy when you live alone. Slipping off my floor-length flower infused nightgown, I moved quickly from the light switch to the too-cold sheets. Foreign and uncomfortable in my own skin, should only be this naked in the shower for 10 minutes each morning, pulling the covers under my chin, staring into the semi-darkness. Bang! Bang! Bang! Someone pounding on my door! Sprinting for my nightgown and robe, I closed my naked self in the darkness of my closet, crossing the doors closed, praying and promising God I would never do something so bad ever again. Scrambling into clothes, I put on as many of them as I possibly could, while the pounding subsided. Not my door. The door across the hall. I slept in my jeans, socks, slippers, t-shirt and hoodie. I am a desert. I am a leprosy.
While I sit, wiping stupid tears on the cramped floor of the closet, I click on the light and slide out the 3-doll case with the iconic fashion form on the front. Thumbing the clasp, opening like a favorite book, there we are; Lila on the right, me in the middle, Max on the left. It’s so easy to have twin dolls, just buy two of them. The Lila doll had been hers, abandoned, and relegated to a distant childhood by the woman she is becoming. I brought Lila with me in my purse after Thanksgiving break, making sure that I stayed between her and Max in the case. The problem is that she is just as beautiful and charming as ever. The clothes are part of it. I pull a tattered, brown sock from my cat-peed laundry basket. Perfect sock, it has no mate, lost the other one, don’t know where. Brown and sand horizontal stripes. Lila never wears horizontal stripes, ‘makes you look fat;’ she always knows these fashion things. Using curved bladed scissors from my craft box, I cut arm holes and a neck opening in the sock; ugly dress for Lila. Max does not blink, just gazes serenely in thought. Sigh. Scissors again, her blonde hair tastelessly hacked, sticking out at odd angles. Ugly dress, ugly hair, Max shifts his eyes for just the slightest moment, a flash of derision blows across his face, a wisp of sand across the desert floor and gone. Ultra-fine point permanent markers supply dark circles under Lila’s eyes and wash out her lips. ‘Look, Max, she is ugly, isn’t she?’ He nods agreement, a curl of the lip. Still, I stay between them, just to protect him from her charismatic pull. Max always was so weak. I put the backless, high-fashion silver dress on the Me doll and turn Max’s head to face me before closing the case and slipping it behind my baby-pink dresser, hidden in my magic closet.
© Jilly’s 2016
Based on Writing Prompt #1 "I am like a leprosy." ~John Steinbeck from The Pearl