“How far do you think it goes?”
“It goes on forever.”
“How do you know?”
“I read it.”
He smiled and shifted his feet, his boots digging into the grass. “You’re so smart,” he said.
His sister smiled as well. “I know.”
“I hope I’m as smart as you one day.”
“You are smart. Just in a different way. Some of the stuff you know is awesome.”
“It’s nothing like yours…”
“No. But it’s the other half of mine.”
“Like a puzzle?” he asked, eyebrows darting down a bit.
She nodded her head and moved her hand down near his. “Like two pieces of a puzzle.”
“Like two halves of a circle.”
“Like peas in a pod,” she said with a smirk.
He replied with a grin, “Like twins?”
“Yep,” she answered, stretching her legs a bit. “Like twins. Yin and yang.”
“What’s yin and yang?”
A smile played on her lips. “Us. That’s what.”
He put his hand on top of hers and squeezed. “If the sky is infinite then there must be others out there. Like us.”
“Not like us,” she corrected him quickly. “But there are others. Mother and Father–” Then she stopped as he looked away. His fingers on her hand loosened and then pulled away. She quickly grabbed his hand again. “Don’t think about it.”
“I missed a question this morning.”
“Don’t think about it,” she said again.
“Don’t!” She squeezed his hand harder, her fingernails scraping against his skin.
“She’ll tell Father.” He whimpered and she held tighter. “I wish we could go there.”
He lifted his other hand and pointed at the sky. “There,” he said softly.
“We will. I’ll take you there. One day. When we’re older.”
“I don’t want to get older.”
“We have to grow up. One day. We’ll be adults.”
“I don’t want to. It’s perfect like this. You and me. Always like this.”
“Then we’ll never go there.”
He sighed and sat up. “Let’s do something else. I don’t want to talk about growing up.”
“You never want to talk about growing up,” she accused.
“Because I don’t want to. I don’t want to become an adult. I don’t want–what Father…”
“We won’t. We’ll leave him, and Mother. And we’ll do what we want.”
“I want to do something now.”
“Tag!” he laughed, smacking her shoulder and then taking off running.
“NO FAIR!” she shrieked, stomping one foot. “YOU ARE A CHEATER!” But she took off running after him and soon grabbed his arm. He started chasing her, laughing and enjoying the feel of running, the feel of the earth under his feet. Her dress flapped in the wind, her pigtails flying back.
They ran long and far, knowing it wouldn’t matter where they went. They had all of the world, a meadow stretching on farther than they imagined the world could be. The only thing more infinite, in their minds, was the sky above them. This was all they knew of life, and everything else was from a book. They knew of the world from that, of tall buildings, of fast cars, of bombs, pollution, TV, and stores, but it was somewhere else. It didn’t touch on their lives.
They were also unaware of just how much they did know. Of how different they were from other children their age. As they ran and tackled each other, it never occurred to them that the fact she could take apart and put together a rifle blindfolded, that his ability to recall the exact historical events (names, dates, locations) with a perfect memory, these were not things a normal child could do.
But they were going to find out, at an alarming rate.
They heard their mother screaming their names and immediately both of them stopped in their tracks. Their playtime was over. Their father was home. It was the only reason they were ever called in at this time of the day.
He let out a sob and she reached over, taking his hand. “It will be okay,” she promised. “Maybe she didn’t tell him.”
But they both knew that was unlikely. That their mother most certainly told their father about the missed question. The young boy began to feel more and more nervous as together they walked toward their mother.
“It certainly took you long enough!” she snapped when the twins arrived in front of her. “You are both a complete mess.” She reached over and plucked a blade of grass that was in the young girl’s hair. “At least tidy yourselves up. Your father is home.”
“Yes Mother,” the girl said.
The boy just bowed his head and then winced when his mother coughed. “Y-y-yes, M-M–” he tried and her hand lashed out, grabbing his chin. He whimpered and tried not to squirm.
“You best not do that in front of your father,” she said and the boy nodded. She released him and went into the house.
“I c-c-can’t go in,” he sniffled, reaching up to rub the back of his head.
His sister reached over and grabbed his wrist before it touched his hair. “Calm down. Take in a deep breath. You’ll be all right. And I’ll bring you some dinner tonight. If it–if it gets that bad…” She took his hands and held them tightly. “But it won’t get that bad.”
“I c-c-can’t!” He broke down and began sobbing.
She quickly put her arms around him, both in a gesture to reassure him but also to stifle the sound of his cries. They were too close to the house. “It won’t be bad. It won’t be bad.”
He clung to her for a moment until finally he was able to stop the tears. He pulled back and wiped his eyes off. “Your d-d-dress is sp-spotted now,” he stammered.
“I’ll tell them we went too close to the pond,” she replied and he smiled.
“You d-d-don’t n-n-need to do th-that. Then y-y-you’ll g-g-get in trouble, f-f-f-for a wet dress.”
“Then we won’t go in till the spots are dried,” she said with a rather nasty grin.
He gasped and shook his head. “No! We are already late. Mother is going to come get us if we stay out another minute–“
And indeed, the front door was opening. The girl arranged her hair to cover the damp spot and then took her brother’s hand. “Let’s go,” she said confidently and took him inside. They saw their father with his arms folded and a scowl on his face. The young boy gulped, knowing the scowl was because of him.
“Come into the living room,” he said. “Your mother and I need to talk.”
The twins exchanged looks and were immediately worried that this was going to be worse than either of them expected.
“Is everything okay, Father?” the young girl asked smoothly as she and her brother settled into their seats.
“Something has happened,” he answered as he took his own seat. “There was a data problem at the lab and things did not turn out very well. Unfortunately that resulted in…” He hesitated for a split-second, and his wife seized the conversation.
“Your father was fired,” she said and her husband winced. “I have quit. We are moving.”
The twins remained silent at that. They knew what it meant to move, but surely that was not what their mother meant. Obviously their parents were waiting for some sort of response, so the young girl said, “Why can’t you find a new job somewhere nearby?”
“It isn’t as easy as that,” their father said darkly. “I have specific requirements, as does your mother, for what sort of job we take. You should be aware of that by now. I am surprised by you.” His tone was clear: he thought she had said something dumb. She just kept her chin up, keeping her face impassive. If she let her father know that he might have hurt her, then she would be in real trouble.
“I simply meant why you did not work for yourself, perhaps on a computer. I know a lot of what you do is theoretical and research, so I simply don’t understand–“
“There is a lot you don’t understand!” Her mother snarled and once again, she kept her face impassive though her brother winced very slightly. “Stop talking as if you know things you don’t. You’re really trying my patience today, young lady.”
“Where… are we… moving… to?” the young boy asked carefully, trying his best not to stutter in front of his father.
“Another country,” was the reply from his father. “A city. You will be attending public school. Though I expect you to quickly graduate. Both of you may not act it sometimes or seem it when you open your mouths, but I know you are certainly more intelligent than–than those sorts of children.” The message was clear. Once enrolled in public school, they had to do their best to skip grades and graduate.
“Yes Father,” they both said.
“Go on outside, your mother and I need to talk some more…”
They knew what was going to happen–there was going to be arguing, most likely, and a lot of back and forth. It meant their parents would be distracted for a long time so they both immediately went towards the pond. It was very deep and they were not permitted near it, but they always invariably went to it any chance they could.
“I don’t want to go,” the young boy moaned. “Public school? Th-that means other kids.”
“Stupid children,” she said, sneering a bit. “Don’t worry about them, twin. It’s not as if we will be around them much. We are smart. We’ll quickly rise above everyone and graduate in the blink of an eye.”
“You sound excited about it,” he murmured.
“A little competition never hurt anyone, and proving I am smarter than them–that we are smarter than them–will make Mother and Father pleased. Right now all we have is each other. We’re both smart, so we both look stupid. But if we’re around stupid people, Mother and Father will see how smart we are.”
“Then they won’t be as mad at us,” he whispered. “But what if you skip a grade and I don’t?”
She reached down and took his hand. “We will be together.”