Twin Sighting

Then she realizes it is not man. It never has been man. The one whose gaze she has been seeking all this time, alert to it feeling its way up her spine, it is not one or another. It is only a gaze, an entity all its own taking on some kind of psychic presence in her orbit. It moves from eye to eye, brain to brain, sketching her into background or foreground depending on preference, on mood, on the light slanting across the edge of day.
 
The outsideness of it she never questions. She simply submits to it, as if only that exists: submission to the forever slipping away line of sight. Her form, laugh, posture, texture all move about like a bit player, an extra only. Just a hash-mark on the canvas, one of the legion, a soldier of oil drawn into nameless formation alongside interchangeable others down a mountainside waiting for the slaughter. She is one. She is all of them.
 
It is never a man at all, is it? The origin of the gaze, it never really is him placing her, taking her measure. No, it is not living tissue with intention, not even an actual eye in an actual skull.
 
Instead, it is the piece of her she left behind. The missing Y, the twin who was next in the queue and swam out against its will in the next tide, out into the sea, out to be lost to Marianas trench. Later, eons later, geyser force, thrust (again, unwillingly!) a briny and brimstone singed speck of what she lost back to the surface. Now this He (or, rather, her) watches, watches.
 
Not to take her measure, no. Not to judge or even manipulate. These are the assumptions of the simple mind. He (or is it She?) only comes to covet. For corporal life? Yes, for the depth of the bend, the unchained laugh, even – yes, even this – the pain. Deep in the bones, the age and accumulating disease, the sorrow – yes. He would take all of it. Give everything. His universal access, the boundless roaming, for one minute in her skin.
 
This twin, a houri, thunders in astride some winged steed made of nothing but smoke and the dried rinds of tangerines left on the riverbank. She loved him before she knew love but was gone before he ever knew her at all. Now she begins to wonder. Now, the dawning awareness.
 
The he is her He, and he is only just everything she traded for life. Is she wrong? Is it possible he is not the one who came after her? They lose their beginnings and endings, out there in the nothing of not-life. Maybe he was shed before? Did he, in fact, precede her by a fortnight, out into the gnashing maw of the world? Did he roll out the crimson carpet? Did he bury the landmines in his wake, just for her, just for spite?
 
Jealous thing, this unborn brother. No wonder he stares with such assessing frost. He hovers like an odor yet he refuses to resolve into view. Would that be his undoing? To let her see him? She dares to believe he can be undone, that she has some agency in the situation, but perhaps she is fooling herself (as is He). Surely, surely, no one would instill such power in a creature as weak and foolish as she. That would be a muck-up on a cosmic scale. She has no managerial skills, no executive privilege, no armaments (that she knows of).
 
He fears something. This much is slowly becoming clear. She can’t imagine what. How could it be? His everything, the whole of the skies, the diamond planet, all of Davy Jones’ locker and the soft thighs of the unclaimed farmer spinning wool in the wooden room by a window streaked with oil and light, all of this at his fingertips, and he stands there watching her? Is this the best he can do?
 
So finally, she turns on Him (who is her and who is surely there, even if only seeing but not seen) and speaks:
 
In this world you choose to crave this erratic pulse, this weak will, this drifting imagination and coarse flesh? You have nothing to constrain your wanderings – not body and its hungers, not child and the chains of toil, not the need and the clutching, relentless thirst of the ones to whom you belong. You are neither bound by gravity not checked by time. Yet still, ghost, gaze, you linger here in the doorway of my unremarkable boudoir?
 
And then he speaks in her voice from her own throat:
 
What shall we trade? One crumb each from the other plate?
 
They both consider.
 
The night is long.
 

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