by Dorothy Lie
My parents always reminded my twin sister, Dominique and me, “You guys are two parts of a whole, one completes the other.”
One day, as my sister and I were arguing, she turned to me and said in her tiny 5-year-old voice, “You know I’m right, I was born one minute before you, so I’m one minute smarter than you.” I was baffled. She continued, “Also, when I die, you will die one minute after me.”
As children, I was always told that my twin was my other half, therefore Dominique’s theory made sense to me; after all, half of a person cannot survive without the other half.
Therefore, I constantly kept this 5-year-old’s reasoning in my mind and played even more carefully around Dominique, cautious not to cause any fatal injuries, for it could lead to an unfortunate “end” for the both of us.
Although Dominique was the older twin, if only by a minute, she never failed to fulfill her big sister responsibility of being the more compassionate half.
It was one of those dreaded moments in every kid’s childhood: we were on our way to our annual checkup.
As a young child, I despised doctor’s appointments because although there were some moments which were enjoyable, like getting to wear those cool, gigantic headphones to play the hearing game, and learning about how much I grew and how good my vision was at the time, doctor’s appointments always ended with a shot.
“Its just a pinch” the nurse said, as she walked into the room.
“Liar.” I thought, sulking deeper into my chair while making every effort to hide my arms.
“Who’s first?” she asked.
“I’ll go” said Dominique, making a brave face as she walked over to the exam table.
Although secretly she probably was just as scared as I was, she smiled as the lady cleaned her arm and counted to three.
After I threw my customary pre-shot tantrum (and still ended up getting the shot), Dominique turned to me and said, “You know, that lady put the needle in twice for me, I guess she missed or something; it really hurt. But I knew that if I flinched you’d freak out even more.” Placed in the same situations, we responded in completely different ways.
Growing up, Dominique and I always wore the same exact outfits, sporting the exact same hairstyles. It was always made clear that we were twins because we looked alike, therefore people started assuming that because we looked relatively the same and dressed the same, we must act exactly alike, and that we were interested in the exact same things.
Not only did my mother dress us the same, she also enrolled us in the same activities, whether it be private piano lessons, Chinese classes, or even swim classes. This meant that no matter where we went, there would always be at least one tutor or teacher who would constantly compare one twin with the other.
Although we had equal treatment in every way possible, we varied in competence and interest in certain tasks.
In spite of the fact that it has been many years since my sister and I have been dressed alike by my mother (in fact, we dress and look nothing alike now), people still fall into the false perception that Dominique and I have the same personality, abilities and interests. Others who have come to know my sister and me more personally soon realize that although our names kind of sound similar, our characters and the way we approach certain situations do not resemble each other at all; in fact, they find that the complete opposite is true.
For example, when meeting us for the first time, many find that Dominique seems more friendly, due to the fact that she smiles more and is naturally a welcoming person; whereas, when they meet me, they find that I tend to have a more reserved countenance and am more sarcastic. When we eat, many people notice that Dominique slowly eats tiny portions of food and saves the rest for later while I finish my plate and ask for seconds before she even finishes. I may even eat that portion of food that she saved for later.
They find that Dominique laughs at silly things, and in turn I laugh at Dominique.
Now that I’m older and know it’s no certainty that I’ll die one minute after my twin, I probably would wish I could if she were to perish. Because although we are two separate, distinct individuals, we remain two parts of a whole.