This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!
Ravi . . .
Kairavini . . .
Ravi, please wake up.
In the boys’ dormitory there was a stirring in one of the beds. What is it? came the sleepy reply.
I can’t sleep, Ravi.
Nereida, there was a heavy mental sigh. What is it this time?
I had a dream about mother again. In the girls’ dormitory, Nereida was curled up on top of her bed, hands wrapped around her knees, hugging them to her narrow chest.
Mother’s gone, Nereida. She’s been gone for a long time.
Our sister’s gone too, but not the same way.
What do you mean sister? We never had a sister.
Yes we did. Mother died giving birth to her.
How do you know that? Kairavini was wide awake now.
Nereida gave the mental equivalent of a shrug. I don’t know, I just do.
Do you remember anything about mother? he asked, mental voice softening.
Not really. Just feelings, mostly.
I remember her telling us to never forget. That we’d always have each other. I think that was right before she died.
I wish I could remember, Nereida said wistfully. I asked a nurse today about talking to someone in your head and she didn’t know what I was talking about.
Why would you do that? a trace of fear leaked through the annoyance filling their link.
I was curious. I think we’re the only ones who can talk this way. Do you think there’s something wrong with us?
No, I don’t. Maybe it’s because we’re brother and sister.
I think it’s because we’re twins. Nobody else is twins. There was a hint of smug satisfaction in her mental tone.
Nereida, we really should go back to sleep now . . .
I heard Sior didn’t make it through his tespiro. They’re going to be sweeping him out of his room for weeks.
I didn’t know he was earth.
Yes, common as dirt, she said with a mental grin.
Kairavini groaned at the bad pun, both mentally and physically. Neither of them had liked Sior much. Go back to sleep, Nereida.
Good night brother. She sent a wave of love down their mental link.
Good night sister.
Though he could sense when his sister finally fell asleep, sleep was a long time coming for Kairavini. He lay in his narrow bed in the dormitory and stared up at the ceiling. A sister . . . He had no doubt about Nereida being right about that, that there had been a sister, but he had to wonder at her cryptic comment about her being gone but not in the same way.
As far as he knew, no other siblings were able to speak as they could, mind to mind. In fact, most of the other boys did not know if they had siblings and couldn’t recognize them if they did. That was Nereida’s gift.
They hadn’t told anyone about it, of course, but she was able to sense family links. She knew who was related to whom, even though keeping family ties was forbidden. The only time they saw each other was during lessons and the exercise periods, and even then they had to pretend ignorance of their bond or else they’d be punished. They’d learned that lesson all too well by the time they were five. Now they were twice that and secrecy had become second nature.