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  • Writer's pictureNick Janicki

Hoppy Endings: Twin Speak

A short story inspired by the beer name and label of Pipeworks Brewing Co.'s DIPA, Twin Speak.

Twin Speak

Tweak. My sister and I created that name for it while growing up. It lasted through adulthood. Creating a screwy word like that seemed to make it a tad better. It made us feel like anyone else. While we never talked about why we stuck with it, I know she would feel the same as I do if she were still around today. And maybe she is, in a sense.

It will have been a year since Jade died as of next month. Time hasn’t made it any easier, but I try to carry on in the ways I’m able to. I pretend I’m happy, like I can somehow adapt like how the rest of society seems to do. They put death behind them and move on, but it ever really gone, or is it simply out of sight? They bury it just deep enough so one doesn’t think about it when they step over the grave while passing by.

No one—at least no one I know—has what my sister and I had. It’s most certainly a twin thing, but from the countless articles I’ve read as of late (and the ones long before she passed, for that matter) I can’t seem to find another trace of this phenomenon in existence. I have been deep down the unsearchable corners of the Internet as well and still seem to come up short of any notable explanations. I don’t like the term supernatural, but there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate categorization for it. So, I will continue to call it the tweak—tweaking—as Jade and I had done not long ago.

She was silent immediately after her death, like a disconnected phone line due to a sudden power outage where even reassuring beeps on the other end of the line ceased to exist. Mid-conversation and boom, nothing. This had happened a few other times throughout our lives, typically moments when we thought we were alone only to have one of us be confronted by a stealthy friend or family member. On those occasions, our wavelengths were also reduced to nothing. We tried kept it secret like that. Looking back, there wasn’t really a reason for keeping it from someone like Mom or Dad. I suppose just having each other always seemed to be enough for us. That doesn’t suffice anymore, though, and it’s far too late to tell anyone. If I were to speak my truth they would call it grief, maybe even denial.

The first time I heard Jade again since her passing was two weeks ago. It came through like radio static, but I was certain it was her. I had been lying in bed trying my damndest to drift off to no avail. (Her and I had had goodnight chats nearly every night since we first discovered our tweak, so the withdrawal from losing those continues to this day). The moment my mind began to travel places beyond my bedroom, I heard the static. Soft yet sharp waves came and went, but buried within those sounds was Jade, words inaudible for the most part besides the final one: “Loraine,” my name. Clear as day.

Tweaking cannot be described with one of the five senses. Again, that sounds supernatural, and maybe it is, but I like to perceive it more like the way a written message is received and processed in one’s mind. There is a certain tone that gets subconsciously associated with the person who served as scribe to that message. It’s not a voice, but rather this indescribable attribution that only gets more confusing as one tries to decipher it. With that, telling you I had heard my name (or Jade’s voice) would be inaccurate. It was just there.

I chalked it up to poor sleep—a year of poor sleep, actually. I carried on with my life for the next week, as I had for the better part of a year with much effort. It’s what Jade would have wanted me to do and the same would be true if the tables were reversed. While I remain certain of that, I also have reason to believe she is trying to communicate with me. It’s the only logical conclusion I can make after the tweak returned the following week. Like before, the message came to me at night, just as I was falling asleep. It was clearer that time, though, like someone turned the frequency dial a tad to improve the quality. With marginal improvement, I was able to make out a few more words. Still ripped apart by silent static, her message read, “You . . . Loraine.” Clearer still, but a lot missing.

This sent my mind spiraling. It was not that I had received a second message, nor the increased clarity of the words. It was the impossibly similar timing of when the first and second message arrived that made it all so curious. The exact moment, just before bed, as Jade and I had always remembered to do. It was her, all right.

Of course, we never talked about what we would do if one of us were to pass. We figured we would do that together, too, as we had done most everything else in life. And for what reason would we assume ourselves capable of communicating with each other in the afterlife? This is unprecedented, even for us. I have no choice but to proceed without knowledge of her intentions, accepting each word as it comes through like a blank page awaiting ink.

“You are loved, Loraine.”

“You need to move on, Loraine.”

“You don’t have to worry about me, Loraine.”

To help pass the time while awaiting her next message, I often attempt to finish the sentence for her. It keeps me calm and hopeful that all is well with her in a place unseen to the naked eye. She is safe, young and healthy again. The thought is even enough to put my eyes to rest after all these months of restlessness.

So, I lie in bed tonight as well, heart warm and mind still, imagining my sister in a better place. Whatever she has to say, I will be there to hear her out. I will be there as her other half in birth, holding down the world here as she works within a much different world. I will be waiting for our twin speak—our tweak.

I’m nearly asleep now, drifting off the way I did during our better days.

“You . . .” The word is clear, early static quick to fade as it’s received.

“. . . Are . . .” The second word is just as in focus, yet the message continues to come through differently, as if flipped to a different frequency.

“. . . Next . . .” This word sends my heart racing. I am hoping for more, any more to alter the meaning of the message at its core. Like the second word, this one comes through as foreign, a station I’m not used to.

“ . . . Loraine.” The message ends as abruptly as it began. I’m no longer waiting on another word; when the radio waves die down, they do not come back.

I’m lying in bed with my eyes peeled open, staring into the dark night, debating the likelihood that these messages have not been coming from my sister at all.

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