Another scene from my work in progress It Chose Three. I was thinking about Ross’s feedback recently. He asked me “Why does Emma not tell people?” after reading the scene where Emma’s basketball friends ask Sophie why Emma isn’t going to play that year.
I thought and thought about it. And then, it slipped to the back of my mind. And then, as I was scooping kitty litter Saturday night, it came to me. The raw truth behind not telling.
Why Didn’t You Tell?
I stared at my History book, but the words just swirled around as my eyes moved over the page. Nothing made it to my mind. I closed my eyes and shook my head. “Just focus,” I told myself through clenched teeth. “You have a quiz tomorrow.”
I opened my eyes and started over on the page, but instead of hearing the words in my mind as I read, Angie’s voice played again. “Emma didn’t tell her team?”
I slumped forward, forehead landing on the book, and growled.
“That’s it.” I got up and headed to Emma’s room.
Emma sat at her wooden desk, bent over the same History book, with the lamp on and tilted at an odd angle. The large block of magnifying glass weighed down the left side of the book as she tried to read through it.
I knew she heard me shuffling on the carpet into her room, but she didn’t look up.
“Should I come back?” I asked, feeling a twinge of guilt for ruining her study time.
“No.” She sat back in her chair, still not looking at me, and reached to turn off the lamp. “I need a break.”
She took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes, a common action for students, but then her fingers moved to massage her temples in small, circular motions. I remembered Danielle telling me she got headaches all the time from reading.
I dug my nails into my palms as heat flashed through me. My chest tightened as my breathing became shallow. Anger.
Anger at seeing my twin so unlike herself.
“Did you need something?” Emma asked, putting her hands down to her lap and studying the magnifying glass.
My frustration grew as she refused to look at me.
“I would just like to know why you aren’t telling everyone what’s going on?”
Emma sighed. “What exactly is going on?”
“About your eyes.”
“Why would I walk around telling everyone about my eyes?”
“Uhg, that’s not what I meant and you know it.”
Emma finally turned slightly to glance at me before she pushed her chair back and stood up. Instead of walking over to me like I had expected, though, she laid down on the floor and began stretching.
“Really?” I complained. “Nothing?”
“I don’t know what you are looking for, or what you mean. I don’t see why it’s anyone’s business what’s going on with me.”
“Okay, you know that’s not what I mean. I’m not asking you to make a billboard on the highway.”
Emma let her left knee go and straightened her leg onto the floor, then brought up her right knee to hug into her chest. All the while, she stared at the ceiling.
“Please, Emma. Talk to me.”
“I’m trying. I just don’t know why you are asking me to blab my business to everyone.”
I began to pace in front of the doorway, out of her way of stretching. “I mean why do the basketball girls keep asking me if you’re going to play. Why did Thomas randomly come to me to ask about you. Why am I the one who has to tell everyone about your eyes?”
Emma moved her right, bent knee over to touch the floor to her left, moving her right arm out and looking over to the right, away from me.
“Emma?” I stomped. “Come on. Stop ignoring me.”
“I’m not ignoring you. I just have no idea how to answer that. How am I supposed to stop people from talking to you?”
“I don’t know.” I flung my hands in the air. “You should have already told your basketball team. I was really surprised when they came to me.”
Emma switched sides, this time turning to look in my direction but still not at me.
“Maybe they think it’s best to ask you.”
I huffed. “Why would they think that?”
Emma managed a shrug.
“Emma!” I plopped down on the floor directly in her line of vision. “I don’t want to be responsible for telling everyone what’s going on with you.”
“I didn’t make you responsible for it.”
Emma sat up, brought her legs straight out in front of her and bent over to touch her feet.
Emma’s forehead sagged down to touch her legs. I knew it wasn’t to prove how flexible she was.
She seemed deflated. Tired.
And I hated it.
“Talk to me,” I pleaded.
Emma shot up and finally looked at me. “I really don’t know what you want from me. I can’t control people. Do you want me to make an announcement tomorrow over the PA and tell everyone to stop talking to you?”
“No, why would you?”
“Do you want me to make a big, long announcement about what’s going on in minute detail?”
A sharpness rose in her voice. The anger I felt was now growing in her.
Good. Let her be angry. It’s about time she showed some sort of emotion about all of this.
“Why are you being so dramatic?”
Emma shifted away from me to keep stretching. “Oh, please forgive me. I can’t be a drama queen. That’s your role.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, look at me. Poor Sophie. My twin’s going blind. Just like my other two sisters. And people are asking me what’s going on,” Emma mocked.
I jumped up, no longer wanting to see the spite flickering in her eyes.
“I am not asking you to pity me.”
“You are asking me to make your suffering stop.”
“I am not suffering.”
Emma shortened. “Could’a fooled me.”
I let my mouth hang open. My anger was being pulled back into me and replaced by the icing feeling of disbelief. “I can’t believe you think I am throwing a pity party for myself.”
Emma rolled her eyes.
“That’s not fair,” I continued.
“Yeah? Well, life’s not fair.”
I felt the wind huff out of me like I had been punched in the gut. “What is your problem?” I yelled.
Emma brought her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around her shins.
I paced again, not knowing what else to do. “Look, forget about Thomas. I guess there’s really no controlling whether or not he asked me or you. But your basketball team. Why did they have to ask me? Why didn’t you tell them when you knew you wouldn’t be on the team?”
Emma rested her forehead on her knees, completely hiding her face from me. I couldn’t remember if I had ever seen her look so small and powerless. All traces of her usual confidence and composed demeanor were gone.
“Because,” she answered in a small voice muffled by her sweatpants.
Her voice knocked my knees out and I mostly fell onto the carpet in front of her.
“Because if I did…” Her voice shook. “Because if I told them I wouldn’t be playing…” She sniffed.
How could she be crying? Emma? Emma never cried. Emma didn’t even cry when she got a concussion at her basketball game. Emma didn’t cry when the dog got lost in the movie. Emma didn’t cry when Dad had to leave for another trip.
Emma didn’t cry.
“If I told my team I wasn’t playing…”
My own tears flowed freely.
I did cry. I cried all the time. I cried during commercials. I cried when Mom gave me a shaw from New York to wear with my formal dress. I cried in the doctor’s office when my twin was diagnosed with Stargartd’s Disease.
“If I admitted I couldn’t play basketball … Then it would be real.”
Emma tightened her grip on her shins and cried into her thighs.
“I didn’t want it to be real…” she continued.
I shifted myself to her side and wrapped my arms around her. I rested my forehead onto her shoulder and cried.