Blood is thicker than water
Jessie and I stand across the room from each other, looking at ourselves. We are mirror images, my twin and I, but each with our own soul, and each with our own personality. ‘You can see a personality but you can’t see a soul,’ Mama used to say, ‘unless of course you look deep into that person’s eyes. Your eyes are the windows to your soul, be careful what lies there’. Today, I see what Jessie cannot hide. I see exactly what she feels. The resentment that she has allowed to fester inside her soul shoots through her sapphire-blue eyes into mine, numbing my brain. I look away, not knowing what to say. I feel so saddened that our relationship has come to this.
I glance uneasily around the large living-room, furnished with so many childhood memories. It seems like yesterday that we were playing with our dolls on the large green carpet and chasing each other round the sofa. I can see our beautiful Mama, sitting in her favourite rocking chair, reading to us, telling us we are her two little raven-haired angels, with dimples like sunshine when we smile. It was always just the three of us, Mama, Jessie and I. And now she’s gone.
Mama died last week after ‘a long illness bravely borne’. That’s what it said in the obituary column. I still think she died of a broken heart. I think her shattered heart never fully healed when she let my father go to follow his dream. Jessie and I were too small to remember and Mama never spoke of him. Ever. I often wondered if Mama had ever looked deeply enough into his eyes, unless of course, she had been blinded by love. But it was something I thought, rather than said. The yearning to know my father grew as I grew, but Mama was silent on the matter and Jessie just seemed to accept that. I never did. ‘Annie, just leave well enough alone’, Jessie would say to me, whenever I asked any questions. ‘Can’t you see you are upsetting Mama?’
I fix my eyes back on Jessie. Serious, dependable Jessie, who never left Mama’s side. Not flighty, like me, the one who took off in search of fame and fortune on Broadway, leaving her to cope with everything. I want to tell her how I nearly came back so many times. How I nearly gave it all up because I felt so alone and missed them so much. Then a chance meeting with him, a talented producer who understood my dream gave me my first big break. I know in my heart that Mama believed this would happen one day. I need to tell Jessie everything I told Mama before she died. It is something that Mama had made peace with in her heart. It is something I hope Jessie is also able to do.
I walk toward the sofa and sit down. ‘Jessie, please come here and sit with me’, I say softly, patting the empty place next to me. I see tears in her eyes as she makes her way over and sits in the chair opposite me. Always on the other side, I think to myself. When are we ever going to be on the same side, looking in the same direction, seeing things the same way?
‘You left us, just like he did,’ Jessie sobs, ‘and now you are going to leave me. I don’t have any other life to go back to, only this one.’ I start to say something, but she bursts out, ‘Don’t you get it? This is it. It’s just us now. Mama is gone and we only have each other. We have no other family. All of a sudden I feel so alone and so scared and I don’t know what to do.’
I am overcome with emotion. I reach out and grab her hands. All the resentment I thought she harboured was actually fear. Fear of being left alone. I pull her towards me and hold her, stroking her long dark hair. I want to tell her that everything will be okay, that I will never leave her, that she can come back and live in Los Angeles with me, that I want us to be a family again. But first I need to tell her something. Something I’m not so sure she will accept easily. I swallow hard. ‘Jessie, before we go any further, there is someone I’d like you to meet’.
I step away, walk to the front door and open it. I motion for him to come in. Jessie stares, opening her mouth but nothing comes out. She knows him already. This tall, slightly greying raven-haired man with sapphire-blue eyes and dimples like sunshine when he smiles.