ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


"Twin Speak," by Joachim Frank

I have this one sister, name is Hope; we're identical twins.  Sometimes we, like, switch.  I become Hope, she becomes Priscilla.  Then I say to Hope, "Priscilla, how you doing?" and she goes like, "Fine, Hope, I'm doing fine," and we both, like, crack up.  We look alike, we always hang out together, we even have the same genes, so what difference does it make if we switch?  Nobody can tell, and sometimes I think it would be nice if I couldn't tell either.  The difference is tiny; except for me, actually, it's always been huge.  What I mean is Hope has a mole quarter-sized on her shoulder, and I have this scar on my left thigh. The scar is from ripping my skin on a rusty nail when I was playing hide and seek.  That was, like, a really long time ago, when I got the tetanus shot afterwards in the hospital and everybody was super nice to me.  There was this other girl in my room who'd stepped on glass while swimming in the river, and her foot was all torn up, so my own thing wasn't such a big deal. 

The mole of my sister is from I don't know what.  Mother used to stroke it while I looked on, kind of mad.  She still does it.  The mole is brownish and velvety like a real blind mole – like the animal, I mean.  I once thought about getting sandpaper and, like, wait for a warm summer night, when my sister tosses her blanket off during her sleep.  It's so unfair.  Always when we are away from each other I get in trouble somehow.  That afternoon playing hide-and-seek with the neighbors' kids, without Hope, ended in a mess.  There was blood all over and I fainted from looking at my own blood and when I came to I was in the emergency room, she sitting by my bed, and I know her mole is perfect as always under her sweater.  She smiled at me and I'm sure she wanted to tell me everything's OK but I remember thinking how dare she smile like that!

We used to stand side by side and look at ourselves in the mirror, she on the left and me on the right.  We have pictures showing us like that, hands on each other's shoulders.  In those pictures, she's on the right, I'm on the left, but I only know this because I remember where I was standing when a picture was taken.  Sometimes I look at one of those pictures and then I don't know which one is me because the picture doesn't show her mole and it doesn't show my scar either.  And then I look at the faces on the picture for a long time because I think it's got to show if you have a mole and the mole is always there and you can depend on your mother stroking it every night.  And if I look at myself alone in the mirror, like when I want to see if my breasts pop up at the right places and if my sweater looks OK, that sort of thing, and then I think men are so crazy about legs in the movies, so what about that scar!  And then I go, like, if they had to choose between a girl with a mole on her shoulder and a girl that looks just like her but has an ugly scar on her leg, wouldn't they choose the one with the mole that is soft to the touch like velvet?  I totally would do that if I were a man.  Because my scar is ugly; the skin has become taut and flat and it feels like a trampoline.  I always thought about elves when I was a little girl -- well, not that little, because I had to get the scar first -- I thought about those elves, that they, like, would come at night and, like, use my scar as a trampoline when I sleep on my back.  Even the tooth fairy would come and give it a try, ha-ha!

And then, standing there in front of the mirror, not even looking at the scar, just, like, knowing it's there, yucky as it is, I wished I was born a hundred years ago, when women wore long bathing suits going down to almost their knees.  So I'm thinking, like, all that worry has got to show somewhere; it's my mole-less scar personality, and my sister, the lucky one, she has the scar-less mole personality.  Because she knows that someday, somebody else is going to stroke her shoulder and say nice things to her.  Even when she talks to me she wears this solid belief on her face that everything is going to be all right.  Like you could almost call it confidence.  Because she has something to look forward to.  Her breasts are a bit smaller though, this week, but perhaps that depends on the way you sleep. 

She sleeps on her stomach. It's like natural if you think you want to show your best thing off, which is her mole.  I sleep on my back and in the morning I always wake up earlier which is when I came up with the idea of the sandpaper.  I read somewhere doctors use sandpaper to remove moles but then, of course, they use disinfectants and all that hocus-pocus they get paid for.  She might decide one day she really wants to have a clean shoulder and then she would be grateful to me.  When a man touched her there she would say, Would you believe I once had a mole there, really ugly and brown, and my sister removed it while I was asleep?  But if I do something wrong, like use the wrong grade -- sandpaper comes in a zillion grades -- then she'd get a scar like the one I have on my leg.  So in the worst case, that would make us even, except it's still a worse deal to have it on your leg because that's where men's hands go a lot.  Not that I care for men's hands on my legs, but in case there is someone I love -- just in case, get it? -- I don't want him, like, to not go there because it feels yucky, if you know what I mean.

Except for this business with the mole, I love my sister a lot; we really have a way together.  Like, often we don't even have to say a word.  We sit there in different corners of the room and read, and then, suddenly, we both get up at the same time to pee or to get something to eat.  It's right there, under our fingernails, like two clocks ticking. 


Joachim Frank is a German-born scientist and writer living in New York City. He took writing classes with William Kennedy, Steven Millhauser, Eugene Garber, and Jayne Ann Philipps. He has published a number of short stories and prose poems in, among other magazines, Eclectica, Offcourse, Fiction Fix, Hamilton Stone Review, Conium Review, Bartleby Snopes, Red Ochre Lit, Black&White, theeels, Infiniti's Kitchen, StepAway Magazine, Textobj, and Rivet Journal. His website with links to all publications is  

These are his works in Offcourse: 

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