Half-Heartedly

Chapter 17

       "Sorry, but can you say that again?" My brain was refusing to process that last bit of information.

        "Tutto and I are fraternal twins" Leona repeated.

        "You mean, like, you two are related. Like, you were born together." I was saying this more to myself than to anyone else.

        Leona seemed to understand that I needed some time to digest this new piece of information. She nodded slightly, and began to play with Tutto’s fingers, all the time not saying a word.

For the enth time that day, my head felt like it was going to burst. All the questions which I had finally found the answers to were now replaced with even more questions. It was already about two in the morning, and fatigue was slowly taking over my body. Nevertheless, I had to get the questions in my head answered, or there would be no way I could get to sleep.

"Okay," I began, "I'm about to throw a millions questions at you, and I really need them answered."

Leona chuckled a bit, clearly amused by my confusion.

"Why did you never tell me this?" My first question came out like water gushing out of a collapsed dam.

"I never told anybody." Leona said matter-of-factly.

"Well, why?" I blurted, a little embarrassed by the obvious tone of disappointment in my voice.

"I ran away from home." Leona was still fiddling with Tutto’s fingers. She let out a long sigh and sat up straight. I could foresee the beginning of another long, complicated story.

"I was born before Tutto. I was the perfect infant. Crying, beautiful, healthy. In the first few minutes after my birth, I was the pride of my parents. I was the first child of the family, and I brought hope, hope that the second infant waiting to come out would be just as beautiful and healthy as I was. The first few minutes of my life were the most glorious ones I would ever experience.

"Tutto was born a few minutes later. He was just as perfect as I was, and didn't seem to have any health issues until we were both sent for a quick body checkup and they heard a murmur in his chest. I still remember that moment, when I was left alone on the exam table, wailing for someone to hold me, but the adults were too concerned about Tutto’s heart to notice me.

"I grew up hating my twin brother. He was always at the centre of attention. He was the kid who laughs despite what adversities life brings to him. But for me, he was just my normal, healthy brother who steals all the attention from me because there was a tiny problem with his heart."

Leona peered over to look at Tutto’s sleeping face. I noticed a sparkle in her eyes, and only then did I realize she was holding back tears.

"So you just ran away?" I asked quietly, a little guilty that I was making her share her innermost thoughts while knowing how she likes her privacy.

"I ran away when our mother killed herself." Leona answered. "After Tutto had his first attack, my jealousy didn't disappear. Instead, it grew stronger, for my father was devoting every second to my brother, and my mom’s depression, which I selfishly read as jealousy as well, fed my horrible thoughts."

Leona clutched Tutto’s hand tightly. "I wanted my brother to just die." She no longer bothered to hold in her tears, and two shimmering streaks flowed down her pale cheeks.

I hesitantly put a hand gently on her shoulder. It was all I could do to comfort her, knowing how she doesn’t appreciate intimacy. To my surprise, however, she slowly leaned over towards me and rested her forehead against my chest. She started sobbing quietly. I held her small shoulders.

“When Tutto had his second heart attack, Father asked me to go find Mother.” Leona, shoulders trembling slightly, face still hidden in my embrace, continued the story. “I was secretly hoping that this attack would be the end of my brother, until I found my mother on the balcony, her neck twisted at an odd angle, her face purple, her expression horror. It was then that I realized what an evil person I had become. This was death, and I didn’t want this for my brother, no matter how miserable he had made me.”

Leona’s sobbing escalated into an uncontrollable weep. I held her tighter, and she dug deeper into my embrace. Memories of our first encounter with each other on that misty day came crawling back. I realized that I missed her; I missed her a lot. I rested my chin on the crown of her head and drew her even closer. I felt like a jerk, but I knew I wanted her back.

After a long moment, Leona finally picked herself up and dried her tears. Gulping back a choke, she started speaking again.

“I was so ashamed I packed a small bag, hopped on the Greyhound, and ended up at my aunt’s place three hours later. I told her everything, and she listened intently without once interrupting. When I had finished, she told me that it would be alright for me to stay with her for a while until things start settling down. She called my father and explained things for me, saying that she’ll be taking me in for a while. A while became three years, for I never had the courage to go back. The image of my mother’s hanging corpse haunts me even today, and I felt that if I moved back, I would be intruding into the strong bond between Tutto and my father. My aunt was very understanding and told me I could stay as long as I needed. She and my mother had been very close, and having me around was a sort of comfort to her. I took her last name, which is also my mother’s maiden name, and lived on as her daughter, as if my father and Tutto were never part of my life.

“This was until last year, when I entered college and moved out from my aunt’s, and found out that Tutto was going to the same college as I was. Fortunately, with our last names being different and us having nothing in common, nobody suspected that we were related, let alone twins. I tried my best to ignore him like everyone else, but I also felt the responsibility to watch out for him, since no one else would know of his heart condition.

“He seemed relatively healthy, compared to when I had last seen him, which was at the time of his second attack. I thought there was no need to worry about him anymore. But then, only a few months into college, I got a phone call from my aunt telling me that our father had died in an accident.

“I thought that my heart was torn to pieces with regret. I cried so hard I couldn’t cry anymore. I was just sitting there, wishing for more tears to wash away my guilt, but in vain.” Leona paused, studying the shape of Tutto’s body beneath the blankets. After a while, she turned to me, and said, “And then you offered me that pack of tissue paper.”

A long breath of realization escaped my mouth. So that was why she had been crying on that foggy day. Leona slowly moved her hands over to mine and cupped them in her palms. “I had never felt kindness from anyone else other than my aunt; therefore, you showing up like that meant a lot to me.” Leona studied my hands. “I wanted to stay with you longer then. I wanted to stay in your embrace forever. But there was someone who needed me more than I needed you.” She let go of my hands. “So I ran away from you, and ended up at my old house, the house in which I had left all the horrible memories.

“I stood at the doorway for what seemed like hours, trying but failing to bring myself to open the door. Finally, I pressed the doorbell. A social worker opened the door and let me in. I explained to her that I was Tutto’s sister and that our aunt was on her way down to take care of everything for my father. I asked her if it was alright for her to leave and give us some privacy. The social worker recognized me in one of the family portraits hanging on the walls. She saw that I was grieving and decided it was best if she left.

“I walked into the living room and found Tutto sitting on a chair, his face hidden behind his hair. I didn’t know exactly how to approach him, so I picked up a chair and sat next to him. He turned his head over to stare at me. His expression wasn’t of grief, but rather confusion, and also a little bit of hope. I guess he was hoping maybe I could bring his father back for him. We just sat there, the two of us, not saying anything, looking at each other, trying to read each other’s minds.

“My aunt arrived later that day and took care of my father’s funeral as well as all the paperwork. Unfortunately, due to work, she could not stay long, and so I took on the responsibility of taking care of Tutto. I finally moved back into my old house, the house which I hadn’t stepped into for three years.”

Leona stopped when she saw the frown on my face.

“But, I never realized you were living with Tutto.” I pointed out, feeling a bit deceived.

“I kept the apartment I was living in before.” Leona explained. “I moved back, but I would still use the apartment when I needed some time away from Tutto.”

I nodded, gesturing for her to continue.

Leona began to play with Tutto’s hand again; the gentleness in both her motion and her eyes, I suddenly noticed, was almost mother-like. “I guess being twins, there was a bond after all. He would never talk to me, but he did pay attention to the things I say and would respond. My most important job was to make sure he was taking his medication. His health did seem to have improved during the years of my absence. He had grown stronger, taller, and he had much more energy than I ever remembered.”

Leona let go of Tutto’s hand suddenly. “And then I found out that he would talk to you.” Leona closed her eyes. “I was glad at first. My brother would actually open up to someone else, and that person was my boyfriend. But the more I observed the two of you on that roof, the more overwhelming the jealous side of me became.” Leona folded her hands into fists. “You’re always so honest when you’re with him. It felt like you two could talk about anything. I wanted you to be like that in front of me too.

“I hated myself for becoming jealous of Tutto again, but I couldn’t stop myself.” Leona hung her head. “When I saw you during Halloween, I knew you were there so that you could help Tutto, so I tried to make you leave with me. When you refused, I went back to my apartment, and I stayed there. I have been staying there for almost a month. I didn’t go back to the house to check on Tutto. I didn’t make sure he was taking his medication. I wanted him to wither away and just leave my life.

“My plan worked, apparently. Tutto hasn’t been taking his medication, nor has he been eating properly. He doesn’t know how to take care of himself. I could see that his health was falling apart fast, and I also noticed that he wasn’t talking to you anymore. Instead of worrying like a normal sister would for her brother, I was glad.

“Until I got that phone call from the hospital this evening. That was when I came to the realization that I was killing my own twin brother.” Leona pounded at her thighs with her fists. “Tutto’s dying, and it’s all my fault.” She had started sobbing again.

I looked at Tutto’s sleeping figure, the fact that he was really dying was finally hitting home for me.

I blinked, and felt the warm tears running slowly down my cheeks.

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第十七章

  「對不起,可是可以再說一次?」我的大腦已經拒再接受任何資訊了。

  「土豆和我是龍鳳胎。」雷恩娜又說一次。

  「妳是說,就是,們是親戚。那個,們是一起出生的那樣。」我比較是在自言自語。

  雷恩娜好像知道我需要一點時間想一下這一點,因為她點點頭開始玩土豆的手指,不說話。

  那一天不知道第幾次了,我的頭感覺好像快要爆裂。原本終於被破解的謎團又被更多的問題取代。這時已經快要半夜兩點了而我的身體慢慢地被疲倦佔領,然而我一定要把問題解決,不然根本不可能睡覺。

  「好。」我開始,「我要丟給一堆問題了,而且的希望可以回答。」

  雷恩娜咯咯笑了一下,對我的困惑感到好笑。

  「妳為完全沒有跟我說?」我第一個問題像崩塌的水後衝出的水一樣。

  「我都沒跟任何人說過。」雷恩娜理所當然地回答。

  「那麼咧?」我說,對自己聲音裡的失望感到有點不好意思。

  「我離家。」雷恩娜依舊玩著土豆的手指。吐了一口長氣坐直來。我可以預料到又一個長而複雜的故事。

  「我比土豆早出生。我那時是完美的嬰兒,又哭又美好又健康。我出生後的前幾個分鐘中,我是父母親的最大驕傲。我是家裡第一個小孩,也家裡帶來希望,第二個嬰兒也會和我一樣健康可愛的希望。我生命的最初幾分鐘是我一生中最有榮耀的幾分鐘。

  「幾分鐘後,土豆出生。他看起來跟我一樣健康完美,但是在我們被送去健康檢時,醫生在他胸口聽到雜音。我還記得那一刻,我被孤孤單單地放在檢驗台上哭著要人抱我,但是大人們都關心著土豆的病情而遺忘了我。

  「我成長都一直討厭著我的雙胞胎弟弟。他每次都是注意力的焦點。他是大家口中說的儘管生命給他帶來什難題都笑著的男孩。但是對我,他只是我正常健康的弟弟,因一點小小的心臟問題而走我的光榮。」雷恩娜轉頭看土豆睡著的。我注意到的眼睛一閃一閃的才發現在忍著眼淚。「所以就離家了?」我安靜地問,有一點不好意思讓分享隱私,尤其是知道很保守。

  「我離家是我媽媽自殺後。」雷恩娜回答。「土豆第一次病發時,我的嫉妒心沒有消失,反而還增,因我爸爸把所有心思都花在我弟弟身上,還有媽媽的憂鬱被我自私地看成也同樣是嫉妒,所以我邪惡的念頭更泛濫。」

  雷恩娜緊緊地著土豆的手。「我那時希望我弟弟死了算了。」忍不著淚水,讓兩條閃爍的淚痕畫過蒼白的頰。

  我遲疑地把手放在肩膀上,也只知道這樣安慰不愛被親近的。令人驚訝的是,慢慢靠過來把額頭放在我的胸口上。輕輕地啜泣。我握著纖細的身子。

  「土豆第二次病發的時候,我爸叫我去找媽媽。」雷恩娜繼續故事,肩膀顫抖著,還埋在我胸口裡。「我在心裡詛著我弟弟這次就會走,但是看到媽媽在陽台上之後,看到的脖子曲、色發紫、表情悽慘,我才發現我變得多可惡。這就是死亡,而我不想要我的弟弟變成這樣,不管他讓我多痛苦。」

雷恩娜的啜泣變成了控制不了的大哭。我抱更緊,而靠我更近。我第一次那一個朦朧的一天的回憶開始浮現。我逐漸意識到我想念。非常想念。我將下巴頂在的頭上把拉得再近一點。我雖然知道自己是王八但,但是我的很想回到我身邊。

過了一下子,雷恩娜終於坐直來擦乾眼淚。忍著眼淚又開始說話了。

  「我慚愧到打包跳上灰狗巴士,三個小時後到了我的阿姨家。我把一切都和說,也認地聽,都沒有打斷我。我說完時,告訴我說我可以待在那裡到家裡的事情都穩定下來。打電話給我爸爸幫我解釋,說會幫他帶我一陣子。一陣子變成了三年,因我一直不敢回去。我媽媽吊著的屍體還烙印在腦海裡,而我也害怕回家會破壞土豆和爸爸間的聯合。我阿姨非常體貼,讓我待多久都可以。和我媽媽生前很親,可能有我在身邊對也是種安慰。我換成的姓,也是我媽媽的姓氏,繼續以的女兒的身生活,像是土豆和爸爸不是我生命中的一部分了。

  「直到去年我上大學搬出阿姨家,發現土豆和我上同一所大學。幸好我們姓氏不同又完全不像,沒有人發現我們是家人,更別說是雙胞胎。我和大家一樣不去理他,但是又覺得應該負責看好他,因不會有人知道他的心臟問題。

  「他看起來還算健康,比我上一次看到他好很多,那也是他第二次病發的時候。我以我已經不需要擔心他了,可是,上大學沒幾個月後,我收到我阿姨的電話告訴我我爸爸在一場意外中去世了。

  「我的心像是被後悔撕得碎裂。我哭到哭不出來了。我只能坐著祈禱著可以再多一些眼淚洗走我的罪惡感,可是沒有用。」雷恩娜停頓一下,觀察著毯子下的土豆。等了一下子又轉過來看我,說,「然後你跑來給了我一包衛生紙。」

我恍然大悟吐了一口氣。那就是麼她那一天在哭。雷恩娜慢慢握著我的手。「除了我阿姨外,從來沒有人讓我感受到溫馨。所以你的出現對我來說很重要。」雷恩娜看著我的手。「我那時候想和久一點,想要永遠和在一起。但是有一個人比我需要還需要我。」放開我的手。「所以我走了,來到我的舊家,我遺留了所有可怕的回憶的家。

我站在門口可能有好幾個小時,遲疑著開門。最後我終於按了門鈴。一位社會福利工作者讓我進去。我跟解釋說我是土豆的姐姐,而我們的阿姨正在路上要下來幫爸爸處理後事。我問能不能給我們一點隱私。在家裡擺的照片裡認出我,看我正悲痛著,所以決定還是離開最好。

  「我走到客廳裡看到土豆坐在一張椅子上,被頭髮遮著。我不知道怎麼接近他,所以只好搬一張椅子坐在他旁邊。他轉頭看我,表情不是傷痛而是困惑,還帶著一點希望。我想他可能是希望我能把爸爸帶回來。我們坐在那裡,兩個人都不發聲,只是看著彼此,想要讀彼此的心。

「我阿姨來了就幫忙處理爸爸的喪禮和文書。可惜工作關係無法久待,所以我擔起了照顧土豆的責任。我終於搬回三年沒進去的老家。」

雷恩娜看到我皺眉時停了一下。

「可是我都不知道和土豆一起住。」我指出,有種被欺騙的感覺。

  「我把搬進去前住的公寓留著。」雷恩娜解釋,「我雖然搬回去了可是有時候需要離開土豆時還是會回公寓去。」

  我點頭並請繼續講。

  雷恩娜又開始玩土豆的手指。我突然注意到動作的溫柔和眼神的慈祥像是個母親一樣。「我猜可能因我們是雙胞胎,還是有一種聯誼。他不會跟我說話,可是他會聽我說的話並有回應。我最重要的工作就是要確定他有定時吃藥。我不在的那幾年他的健康狀況的改善很多。他變得比較壯、長得比較高,也有比我記得的還有精力。」

  雷恩娜忽然放開土豆的手。「可是之後我發現他會對開口。」雷恩娜閉上眼睛。「我一開始很慶幸。我的弟弟終於會對別人開放了,而且那個人是我的男朋友。可是我越觀察們兩個在屋頂上就越無法克制嫉妒之心。」雷恩娜握拳。「在他面前好誠實,們兩個也好像什都能說。我要在我面前時也能那樣。

  「我恨自己又嫉妒土豆。」雷恩娜低頭。「萬聖節的時候看到,我知道是想幫助土豆,所以我試著拉走。了之後,我就回公寓,並待在那裡。我已經住那裡快要一個月了。我沒有回老家去看土豆。我沒有注意他有沒有吃藥。我只想要他枯萎離開我的人生。

  「我的計劃成功了。土豆都沒有吃藥,也沒有正常吃三餐。我看得出他的健康狀況急速下滑,也注意到他不再跟說話了。但是該擔心的我這個姐姐卻反而很高興。

  「直到今天上我接到醫院的電話。那時我才意識到自己在謀殺自己的雙胞胎弟弟。」雷恩娜捶打自己的大腿。「土豆快死了,這都是我的錯。」又開始哭泣。

  我看著睡著的土豆,終於開始感受到他要死了的悲痛。

  我眨了眨眼,感覺到溫暖的淚水慢慢滑下頰。

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