In hindsight, it might have been better if there were just one of them, or none of them at all.
At the age of 25, Sandy found the one guy she could live with and married him. On the Big Day, Dave kept feeling like he had a block of ice in his stomach waiting to freeze his insides, melting and drowning him inside out.
It was fucked up, a gay twin watching his lesbian sister marry a man because she was pregnant with a child – but their parents wouldn’t know that. God was also watching, Dave knew, wouldn’t like what he saw, the twin devils corrupting a Christian family.
After the ceremony and the priest’s not-meant-for-them blessings, Sandy broke down in the makeup room. Clutched his shirt so tight he could feel her nails sinking into his skin. Wailed and wailed but quietly, because both of them were born to hide who they really were.
On the day the twins were born, their mother was ecstatic, having given birth to a baby girl and boy – literally, the character for “good” in Chinese. So when Dave and Sandy were wheeled to the nursery bawling, their parents prayed and prayed and thanked the Lord for His gift, devoted Christians they were.
The twins were the epitome of obedience and perfection, the kind of kids that Santa Claus would definitely visit, and he did – the twins always got what they wanted, so long as they told their parents. They learned all the things they were told to and went to Church every Sunday. Never fought, never stole a bite of dinner until the table prayers end. Both were popular at school, academically adept and grew to be good-looking. To their parents, Parents’ Day was the time for being showered with praises for their children’s upbringing, and every time they went back home grinning like Cheshires until the blanket covered their smiles in sleep at night.
Dave thought high school was more challenging, academically and morally. Everybody was fighting for early offers from the universities while hormones raged within them like a beast. Sex was the constant hot topics on everybody’s mental newsfeeds and pictures of couples spread through Facebook like a virus, though there’s a monthly shuffle of who pairs with who.
When it comes to the birds and the bees and where they came from, Dave and Sandy never really bought their father’s joke story that they were picked up from a rubbish dump – Chinese parents seemed to like telling their children that. The twins knew about the birds and the bees all right, the boys at school made sure of that.
That was how it was supposed to be, the birds and the bees, not birds with birds and bees with bees. But Dave didn’t feel that way. He never joined the boys ogling at large-breasted girls or imagining what was happening in the girl’s locker room. His friends mistook it for good manners, and Dave knew it was something else.
Dave didn’t like it one bit. His family wouldn’t take kindly to gays, and God certainly didn’t take kindly to gays. It was a sin, said the Bible – him imagining how soft a guy’s lips would feel and how deep, male voices could make him shiver to his core. He kept going to Church, to see if any of the preaching could somehow cleanse him. He prayed and prayed and he wasn’t sure if God was even listening anymore since nothing had changed.
Dave was sure he didn’t have anybody he could relate to, until he came home to his older-by-twenty-minutes sister frenching another girl on their parents’ bed. Hands all over the bodies. Like she didn’t care what everybody thought, and oh so free.
They were a dysfunctional pair of siblings. Maybe that was what happened, when they shared the same space within their mother. Maybe somehow their sexual orientations got mixed up in the womb, that he had taken hers and she his. But Sandy didn’t seem to think so. Actually, she seemed to like it. Liked the fact that she got to label herself differently. Liked the fact that she could fight for what she believed in. Thought Dave was a pussy for hiding from things. Everything about Sandy rubbed Dave the wrong way, and he wondered if it was because of envy; he could never be like his sister and keep his dignity. And, he could feel God’s gaze burning at the back of his head.
In college, Sandy might as well be advertising herself being lesbian. Seen all over campus with her girlfriend. Public displays of affection.
“It’ll be okay,” she told Dave, ruffling his hair like he was younger than he really was. “So long as Mom and Dad don’t know.”
They didn’t, but the university did. Rumours spread and things got ugly. Students played pranks on Sandy, called her names. Sandy held her head high, but her perseverance only lasted till her girlfriend called it off and shrank away, and soon everybody did.
Sandy couldn’t get women, so she turned to the next best thing. At that period in life Dave would frequently hear his sister drag herself up the doorsteps in the wee hours of morning, and he knew her breath would’ve stunk of alcohol and vomit had it not been for chewing gum. She forced herself to appear straight, a loose woman, slept with a long list of guys who weren’t around to hear the rumours, as if to make up for all the years she’d spent not loving them.
Nothing his sister experienced ever happened to Dave. He kept his desires locked in, like a sedated tiger behind bars, an alternate identity. So people assumed he was straight. Dave could fool them, but he knew he couldn’t fool the eyes of God, who knew he was only going to Church to pretend he hadn’t fallen out of his belief, though Heaven was never for him anyway.
The only consolation he got was that at least he didn’t turn out like his sister, who one day turned up at his apartment and told him she wanted to die.
Thankfully, she had turned out so cowardly that she was afraid of even that.
Bridal make-up smudged and smeared onto Dave’s shirt as Sandy cried. He didn’t say anything, couldn’t. Both of them, under God’s judgment. Dave couldn’t take Sandy’s punishment for his own even if he tried. He could feel the tiger within, sluggish with sleep but crouching, ready to defend against a greater force. God, have mercy.
Mother came knocking. Dave put a jacket on and ushered her away, said Sandy would do her makeup herself.
“God’s blessed me with this perfect family. My perfect angels, all grown up! You should get married son, you should!” He smiled.
Dave followed as his mother strut away to the ballroom proud as a peacock, and acted like the perfect son. Talked about the wedding, gave his mother a drink and had one himself.
Discreetly, Dave peered down at his shirt. Black mascara crossed over his heart like a target. Sipping wine, he waited for God to take aim and strike him down.