I haven’t said a single word the entire time she’s been talking. I’ve just been listening . . . processing. I’m looking at my sister . . . my identical twin sister . . . and she’s completely unrecognizable to me in this moment. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m looking at a complete stranger. Like maybe all the opinions I’ve held about her all these years have actually been severe misjudgments.
I look away from her and glance out the window, watching the guys as they work to fill the grave with dirt. I try to imagine how I’d feel if something happened to Sagan. How would I feel if I had to sit by his side and watch him die?
Not once when Honor was grieving Kirk’s death did I ever empathize with that. I didn’t understand that kind of love. We were so much younger then and I honestly thought she was being dramatic.
All these years I’ve hated Utah for not making an effort to be closer to me, and here I am treating my own twin sister the exact same way.
I turn and reach across the seat and pull her to me. As soon as I do, I feel her sigh, like all she’s needed from me was a simple hug. For so long I’ve been resenting my family for not hugging me when maybe they’ve been resenting me for the same thing.
“I’m sorry, Honor.” I sooth my hand over her hair and say the same thing to her that Utah said to me. “I’ll be a better sibling. I promise.”
She lets out a quiet sigh of relief, but she doesn’t let go of me. We hug for a long time, and it makes me wonder why everyone in this family has been so opposed to honesty and hugging for the past several years. It’s actually not so bad. I think we all just got to a point where we were waiting for someone else to initiate it, but no one ever did. Maybe that’s the root of a lot of family issues. It isn’t actually the issues people are hung up about for so long. It’s that no one has the courage to take the first step in talking about the issues.
Honor eventually pulls away from me and flips the visor down. She wipes beneath her eyes with her fingers, clearing away her mascara. She falls back against her seat and reaches over for my hand. She squeezes it. “I’m really sorry about everything I said to you in the last couple of days. About what happened with Utah. I just . . . I think I was angry at you. For never telling me. Why wouldn’t you tell me something like that, Merit? I’m your sister.”
“I don’t know. I was scared. And the more I kept it a secret, the more my fear eventually just turned into resentment. Especially seeing how close you and Utah were. I wanted that, too.”
“We’re both too stubborn for our own good.”
I agree with her. We both inhale the silence while we stare out the window for a while. The guys are still working, but Sagan has pulled off his shirt. I can’t tear my eyes away as he repeatedly bends over and refills the hole. “Is there anything wrong with him? He’s so damn perfect.”
“Meh,” she says. “Too healthy for me. I like ’em a little more fragile.”
“Oh, you can make jokes about it but I can’t?”
She laughs and then her laughter turns into a smile. “He’s really good, Merit,” she says with a sigh. “Be good to him, okay?”
I would if he’d give me the chance. “I’m so glad I was wrong about you two. I don’t know if we would have been able to make up as sisters if you were in love with him.”
She laughs. “Bitch you.”
I smile. God, I’ve missed that.
After a moment, she says, “Do you think he can tell us apart?”
Honor straightens in her seat. Her eyes are full of mischief. “Let’s test him.”
We both start grinning. We climb into the back of the van and start swapping clothes. I pull my hair out of my bun and hand her the hair tie. I smooth my fingers through my hair while she pulls hers up.
“I have to pee,” she says, laughing. “Do you ever notice how being sneaky makes you have to pee?”
“I didn’t until now.”
As soon as our clothes are successfully swapped, we climb back up front, this time with me in the driver’s seat and her in the passenger seat. Right when we get settled, the guys throw their shovels over their shoulders and start heading our way. My heart starts to beat wildly in my chest because now I’m nervous he won’t notice. What would that mean? That everything he said about the first time he saw me was a lie? That he really can’t tell a difference between us? He figured it out pretty quick on the couch the other night.
I’m starting to regret this prank.
Utah reaches the van first. “I’m driving,” he says, motioning for me to get in the backseat. Honor and I climb to the back. I sit in the very backseat and Honor takes one of the middle seats. Sagan is talking to Luck when he climbs inside the van, so he doesn’t even look at either of us. He takes the other middle seat and closes the door, just as Utah cranks the van. Sagan slaps the back of Utah’s seat. “Hurry,” he says, urging Utah on. “I don’t want to be arrested twice for the same thing in one day.”
Sagan falls back against his seat and looks over at Honor with a sweet smile. “You hungry?” He looks back at me and says, “What about you?” He faces forward. “Anyone hungry? I’m starving.”
Honor nods, but she doesn’t say anything. I don’t either. I know we sound alike, but I’m sure if we start talking, it’ll be easier for him to figure it out.
“Let’s go to Taco Bell,” Luck says.
“Honor hates Taco Bell,” Utah says. “Let’s do Arby’s.”
Good thing I’m pretending to be Honor because Taco Bell is my favorite. “Taco Bell sounds good, actually. I don’t mind if we go there.”
Honor turns around and glares at me.
“You know what?” Sagan says, turning in his seat to face Honor. He reaches out to her and grabs her hand. Oh, God. What if he finally decides to kiss me again and I’m not even her? He lifts his other hand and touches Honor’s cheek. “You look really weird in Merit’s clothes.”
“Dammit,” Honor mutters. “We thought we had you.”
He immediately releases Honor’s face and turns around and climbs over the backseat. He sits next to me and wraps an arm around my shoulders. He presses a quick kiss to the side of my head and whispers, “Thank you.”
I look up at him and he’s smiling. I can see in that smile that he’s glad Honor and I are pulling pranks on him. It means we made up, which is what he was hoping for.
“You smell like a dead dog,” I say.
“No, I smell like a hardened criminal.”
“No,” Honor says. “All of you smell like death. Roll down the windows!”
The smell is overwhelming. I pull my shirt up over my mouth and keep my nose covered until we get to Taco Bell.
By the time we get back, it’s after midnight. But despite the time, as soon as we walk in the front door, Honor, Utah, and I all get a group text from our mother. I guess she heard us walking in.
Can one of you please come down here? I hear something.
I look up from my phone and Utah and Honor are both looking at me.
“Whose turn is it?” Utah asks.
Honor shrugs. “Mine, I guess. I haven’t been down in a couple of days.”
“Neither have I,” Utah says.
All three of us head toward the basement. We file down the stairs and our mother is standing on the other side of the room, below the basement window. It looks like she’s been asleep. She’s wearing pajamas and her hair is a mess. “Do you hear that?” she says, stepping toward us, wide-eyed. “I’ve been hearing it off and on all day.”
Utah walks to the window, but he glances at Honor and me. We all try to hide what we’re feeling, but things are different now. After knowing what our father has known all these years, I don’t know that we will ever look at our mother the same way. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. It’s good, actually. I feel more sympathetic toward her right now than I ever have. And there’s zero resentment there, now that I’m fully aware of her situation.
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