2013 Totem Head Story Contest Winner.
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Paper's Left Side
Paper's Right Side
2013 Contest Winner

Written By:   Samantha Friskey, 15 years old, Bowie, Maryland.

So there I was, placing flowers on a tombstone to celebrate a life I regrettably ended. My twin brother, Asher, stood behind me, gripping his own set of flowers. I stretched out from my crouched position next to the grave and stood next to Asher. Feeling it was his turn, Asher put his red roses on another grave.

When he was done, he turned to me, in his funeral black, and asked, "Are you okay, Vanessa?"

I eyed him. "Should I be okay?"

"Ness," Asher sighed, reaching out for me.

I flinched away. "I’m not in the mood," I snapped. "I don’t want to be snuggled and comforted. I want to feel sad. I want to feel guilty. I want to feel like the horrible person I am."

"You’ve been doing that for the past three days," Asher sighed. "I’m worried about you. You can’t hate yourself forever."

"Don’t be silly," I scolded him. "There’s nothing to worry about. Everyone goes through mourning differently. Sorry I can’t be as heartless as you and forget in less than half a week."

"I’m not heartless," Asher defended himself. "As you said, ‘Everyone goes through mourning differently.’ I don’t like to show how I’m feeling, I guess." Asher swirled his foot around a long blade of grass anxiously.

"Stop that," I corrected him. Nervously, I thumbed a piece of my dark black hair behind my ear. "Why are you always so childish? Behave yourself."

"It’s not like Mom and Dad are here to correct us." Asher shrugged his shoulders and put his hands in his pants pockets.

I looked at him, tears brimming in my eyes. "Don’t remind me."

"Sorry," he apologized. Asher looked at the ground, ashamed he made me cry. He could never handle emotions well. He always hid his emotions, and he always hid his face when he saw someone else’s. Asher started to swirl his foot around the blade of grass yet again.

"Asher!" I screamed. "Stop it!"

"I’m sorry!"

"I wish Mom and Dad were here, Asher," I hollered. "I wish they could holler at you. I wish they could make you behave. It’s obvious I can’t control you. You’re acting like an animal."

"No one else is here," Asher argued. "Who cares if I kick my foot around a piece of grass?"

"I do, Asher. I do! Mom and Dad can’t be here now, but wouldn’t they want you to respect a graveyard?"

"You’re so moody when you feel guilty," Asher sighed.

"Of course, you don’t feel guilt," I growled. "I forgot who I’m talking to. You don’t care about anything, do you?"

Asher said nothing. I put my hand to my head, feeling my brains pulsate. Asher and I always bickered, ever since we were toddlers fighting and crying for the same toy. The fighting today, however, left a sour, bad taste in my mouth. I hoped that after this incident, we could pick up the shambles of our lives and become the people we always had the potential to be. Instead, we were fighting—not any better than toddlers.

"Do you think there is an afterlife?" I whispered, my hand still resting on my head. "Do you think something happens?"

"I say, worry about it when we need to worry about it," Asher said casually. "Soon enough, something might happen to us. Then we’ll know what really happens. But until then, I think it’s pointless to say ‘What if?’ When it happens, it will happen." Asher shrugged his shoulders again, sending his dark hair flying around his head.

I pointed to the tombstones, annoyed, and asked, "Don’t you think this is the appropriate time to wonder?"

Asher bit his lip and fell silent. Not wanting to fight anymore, I fell silent too. I lowered myself to the graves and sat before them. Seeing a weed near one of the stones, I plucked it out with two of my fingers.

"I don’t want to yell and scream," Asher told me, pacing behind me. "It’s not what we should do in a time like this."

"It’s my fault… all of it. The fighting today… and even the accident," I whisper. A rush of wind flowed through the graveyard, sending my whisper away.

"It’s my fault, too," Asher told me.

"I was driving, Asher," I breathed.

"I shouldn’t have let you drive. I shouldn’t have let me drive, either. Both of us were drunk. We shouldn’t have even had drinks in the first place."

"We shouldn’t have," I sighed. I twirled the weed between my fingers. "Stop the story there. We both know how it ended." I dropped the weed and motioned towards the graves.

"Do you think Mom and Dad hate us?" Asher questioned, his voice shaking.

"No," I answered. "They could never hate us."

Asher breathed out, relief filling his face. "Even after what we did? We ruined their lives."

"I don’t think ‘ruin’ is a strong enough word," I said.

Asher kept pacing behind me. I turned around to watch him stride back and forth. His long, black hair flapped in the wind, hiding his red face and hot, salty tears.

"Asher," I called. I stretched my hand out to him. "Sit down with me. Come here."

Asher shook his head, continuing to pace. "Don’t look at me. I don’t want you to see me cry."

"We’re twins, Ash," I told him. "I’ve seen you do everything before, because we do everything together. So if you continue to strut around and cry, I’ll just get up and cry in a march with you."

Asher smirked at my threat. He stopped pacing. With a small amount of hesitance, Asher sat down next to me. I leaned my head on his shoulder.

"I’m afraid," he admitted.

"I’m terrified."

"I wish we didn’t drink…"

"I do, too, Ash. I do, too," I consoled him.

"Do you think everyone will forgive us?" Asher asked, his voice raw and breaking.

"I hope they forgive us," I sighed. "What I hope more, though, is that they won’t forget us."

Asher intertwined my fingers with his. With a reassuring squeeze, he told me, "They won’t forget."

"I hope not," I said, looking at my brother’s tombstone next to my own.

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