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The Parasitic Twin

'til death do us part.

By Alexis ChateauPublished 2 years ago 12 min read

I learned to say I and me and mine much later than the average person. In fact, if my sister had her way, I would have died without ever saying it at all.

For as long as she lived, there was no separation between us. We were identical twins, born partially conjoined. The photos my parents had of us attached almost looked like Cecile was clutching onto my hand.

This physical symbol became the metaphor for our existence. We were inseparable, Cecile and I, and our codependence only worsened as we grew older.

It did not help that I had a deformity. When the doctors separated our hands, there was only so much bone and tissue to spare. Our parents had to decide between both twins having a partially functioning hand or one twin having two fully functioning hands while one did not.

I sometimes wonder why they chose to handicap me, but Cecile received the gift of two fully functioning hands and I had the curse of one. From an early age, I was aware of this difference. After all, looking at Cecile, I saw the perfect mirror of myself in all ways but one.

It fed my insecurity and that, in turn, fed my codependence. When Mother and Father felt too bothered to cut my chicken or brush my hair, Cecile did not hesitate to help. She petted and pampered me as though I were her fragile flower.

And so, whatever she asked, I did. How could I deny the one person who seemed to understand and empathize with my pain? When she wanted me to steal an extra cookie from the jar or pinch a $20 bill from Mom's purse, she sent me. And I went. Eager to please.

When I was caught, I took the blame and the spanking. Cecile would pound outside on the door, demanding to be let in. Sometimes, she wailed as though it was her taking the beating. It endeared her to me. She had not just thrown me to the wolves.

"You are my beautiful girl," she would tell me while she brushed out my golden strands at night. "My beautiful darling girl!" It was a line from a movie we had watched some years prior, and for some reason, it had resonated with Cecile.

"I won't let anyone harm you," she told me when we started grade school.

My heart pounded heavily in my chest. I feared what students would say about my deformity. I had already learned that children could be unkind. And that I was more prone to tears than anger.

But, Cecile was true to her word. It was she who now landed in trouble and frequented the principal's office. One misspoken word against me was all it took for her to spring out of her seat with the quickness of a tiger. Then, she would swing punches until someone pulled her free.

My other siblings never defended me half as passionately. I was Cecile's damsel in distress and she was my heroine. I worshipped the very ground she walked on and did not hesitate to do both of our chores or both our homework assignments in thanks.

The summer we turned 10, Cecile suggested that we speak only to each other and only when no one else could see or hear us. It was a delightful curiosity to the family. But when days stretched into weeks and weeks, stretched into months, our parents grew concerned.

Cecile had a far better poker face than I. She would stare blankly into the faces of adults when they spoke to her as though she did not understand. When asked a question, her expression was the same. It unnerved our parents, and so, into therapy we went.

The therapist was equally concerned and confused until a clever trick unearthed the truth. After a month of no progress, he planted a recorder in the room and pretended to take a phone call outside.

Cecile burst into laughter as soon as he was gone and proceeded to tell me that I had done splendidly and she was proud of me. Oh, how she used to praise me. Every small thing deserved her highest praise. And, how I loved it.

I was blushing beautifully when the therapist returned. But, by the following week, he disclosed our secret to our parents.

"There is no delicate way to say this without marring the truth," the doctor said in hushed tones. "Cecile is somewhere between a narcissist and a sociopath. Lilly is her submissive captive. The combination is dangerous. You must start to separate them."

At the time, we had no idea what psychopath or submissive captive meant, but it was enough to offend our parents. They exchanged harsh words with the therapist and pulled us from the room.

But, his recommendation of separation resonated with them. Perhaps, deep down, they saw some truth in his statement. They began the following afternoon by separating us into different bedrooms.

Our eldest brother had long left home for college and the extra bedroom had remained unoccupied. Now, Cecile was moved into it while I remained in my room alone.

The anxiety that crept over me was almost unbearable. Cecile and I had always curled up next to each other in my bed, even though she had her own. What on Earth did they mean by separate rooms?

I was happy when the lights went out and Cecile crept into my room and climbed under the sheets. I put my head on her bosom and fell asleep. The following night, Mom and Dad decided to try locking us in.

When I discovered my door could not open, I sat by the door crying. Cecile was not as peaceful. She banged on the door until the wee hours of the morning when sleep finally claimed her.

By the third night of this, I fell ill. A strange fever took hold of me that the doctors could not explain. After a week of trying everything else, my parents decided to let Cecile back into the room. My fever disappeared and never returned.

We were 17 before we experienced separation again. This time, it was Cecile's idea. She had developed an incredible obsession with a senior at our school and he seemed as enamored with her.

When she thought I had fallen asleep at night, she would crawl out of bed, pull on her shoes and jacket, and steal across the room. Despite being two floors up, she would open the window and climb out.

When she returned, she would lie awake in bed at night with a smile on her face. It was not a happy smile, per se, but rather a self-satisfied one. As though, she achieved a great conquest.

"What do you do when you leave me at night?" I asked her one day at lunch.

She looked up from her sandwich in surprise. "What do you mean?"

Just then, the senior of her midnight dalliance appeared with another senior on his arm. The two looked very much a couple and he did not so much as glance in Cecile's direction.

Cecile stood up calmly and approached the couple. When he loudly announced that he was no longer interested in her and had found someone new, Cecile did not immediately react.

"Excuse me?" she said almost innocently.

This time, the girl spoke. "You and your sister are freaks. Bryce doesn't want anything else to do with you. You're done."

The final words had barely left her mouth when Cecile's fist rammed into it. She kept pummeling her face until Bryce successfully pulled her off, but then she swung a punch and knocked him out too.

Needless to say, we were both in the principal's office a few minutes later. The principal, our parents, and the boy's parents yelled furiously at Cecile, but she sat quietly and defiantly.

Our parents were able to settle privately by paying for stitches and one jaw surgery. Cecile was asked to leave the school and I volunteered to leave with her.

I had never quite enjoyed being at school. Children had long learned not to mention my deformities for fear of Cecile, but I saw their guarded looks and heard the whispers. Learning at home was the perfect alternative.

But, while I thrived in homeschool, Cecile had slipped into a quiet detachment. She rarely spoke--even to me and even returned to sleeping in our brother's room. In the wee hours of the morning, I could sometimes hear her retching in the bathroom that sat between both our rooms.

One morning, it was so bad that our mom heard it and came to investigate. It did not take her long to deduce what was afoot. That afternoon, Cecile had an appointment at the doctor's office.

When she returned, she looked pale and worn and would not leave her room. Even more curiously, our parents let her stay there and begged me to leave her alone.

Another week went by before Cecile resurfaced and resumed her lessons. I was ecstatic to see her, but she still looked pale and worn. I petted and pampered her as she had always done for me. But, the old Cecile had not returned.

Then, it was time to take our tests. I passed with flying colors, but Cecile only barely cleared the threshold.

"You usually get better grades than I do!" I exclaimed when I saw the results.

Cecile gave me a sad smile. "Those days are behind us."

Her nonchalance tugged at my heartstrings. "What's wrong, Cecile? Why are you so sad? Is it Bryce?"

At the sound of his name, a fierce hatred crept into her face. "He used me, he humiliated me, he outsmarted me."

That was all Cecile ever said about Bryce. Thereafter, if the subject came up, she pretended not to hear. But, she fell ever further into a deep, dark place where even I couldn't reach her.

It felt as though I had lost a part of myself, and so, in time, I fell into depression with her. Our parents once again called on the old therapist for assistance, but Cecile shared nothing with him.

Then, one morning, Cecile woke up in new spirits. She was singing in the kitchen when I climbed out of bed. Coffee and breakfast were ready for all of us. Mom and Dad were delighted to see her cheerful again.

It seemed that overnight the worst had passed. She resumed classes and fussed over me like she used to. But, I could sense she was not herself.

"Have you ever wondered what it's like to die?" she asked me. "Don't you think it might be peaceful?"

I confessed I had never thought of such a thing. But, now that she had put the idea in my head, it seemed to consume my every thought. If I lost her, would I voluntarily cross into the Great Beyond?

I was still struggling with these questions when she first set an expiration date. "Imagine the power of taking life into your own hands and deciding for yourself that this is the end. That we will not become vessels for men's legacies and biological accidents. That we will not work our lives away to be content with two days to ourselves."

For the first time, I did not share the same outlook my sister did. I was looking forward to adulthood and a life of discovery. I wanted to travel beyond our home, see the world, experience real passion, and build a career. I wanted to fall in love. I wanted a family.

But, I didn't want to do any of those things without my sister. So, when she chose the place and the method, I followed along. In my heart, I mourned the loss of the future I had planned for myself. But, how could I deny her, her dying wish?

Our Pacific Northwest home stood at the edge of a forest. Well-known for bear activity, our parents had always warned us against wandering beyond the first cluster of trees. But, Cecile was sure we would encounter nothing and no one.

It was the early dawn of summer and temperatures had not yet settled into consistent warmth. So, we pulled our coats around each other and took off into the woods.

Cecile walked with the confidence of someone who had trekked this path a thousand times before. Maybe she had. Maybe with Bryce. Finally, she came to a stop at the edge of a cliff. A gentle breeze combed through her hair.

"We will do it together," she said taking my hand and pulling me toward the edge. The loud crash of the ocean below and the sight of the rocks put the pain of panic in my chest.

"I know you're afraid, but it will all be over soon," she said soothingly. She had never looked so radiant and at peace and it stilled the tremor in my hands.

She released me then and took a step to the right, so she could stretch her arms out fully on both sides. "Okay, Lilly. We'll do it together after three."

Now that the moment was upon me, the panic returned. I began to feel as though I might faint. Overhead, I heard the loud call of an owl and looked up. How majestic it seemed, circling ahead, looking for prey.


I felt the rush of air you might feel when something passes you quickly. When I looked to my right, Cecile was no longer there. During her fall, the wind had spun her, perhaps mercifully, so she could face me instead of her impending doom.

Was that regret I saw as one arm stretched out to me? And then, in a moment, it was done.

The burden of grief was immediate. It weighed heavily on me, almost pulling me toward her. Why had I not stopped her? How had I even allowed things to get this far? Was she truly gone? What would I tell my parents? What would I tell the police?

For months, what I told everyone was the truth. Thankfully, Cecile had left her own breadcrumbs behind. In her handwritten diary, she had spelled out her plans on page after page.

Her final entry read:

When I think of the trouble that lies ahead for Lilly, it brings me grief. She is a sweet and fragile soul and the world does not deserve her. Who will take after her when I'm gone?

Is it not better to take her with me? My dear, sweet Lilly. My beautiful girl. My beautiful darling girl. May we find peace in the Great Beyond and continue our journey side-by-side.

Every so often, a recurring nightmare comes to haunt me. I think I wake in the darkness and there is Cecile at the foot of my bed, arm outstretched toward me like the day we were born and the day she died.

"My beautiful darling girl," she always says. "Why did you not come with me?"

"Because I'm not ready to die, Cecile," I tell her. "But one day, I will see you in the Great Beyond."


About the Creator

Alexis Chateau

I like cats, camping and FJ Cruisers. Follow my adventures at

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