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Making Things Right


Marlicia Fernandez

Formed identical, yet separate, each unique; yet to all seemingly indistinguishable, one from the other. Sharing a bond from birth so strong it survives despite any attempt to severe or destroy it. It endures all even death; its most powerful nemesis. Not even death can break the tie; it reaches out to protect or to influence from beyond the grave. ~~Conventional Folk Wisdom Regarding Twins

Jess walked along the beach, mist shrouding the jagged boulders that formed the shoreline as the chill penetrated her bones. She pulled her light jacket closer. “Cripes, it’s cold,” she muttered.

“Well, what did you expect to happen once the sun went down?” an amused, voice asked.

Startled, she took an involuntary step back, colliding with a tall, well-built man. “For the love of Mike, don’t sneak up on me like that Pete.” She glared at him through the fine gray moisture, annoyed that his smile was not dimmed one iota by the inclement weather, and neither, apparently, were his spirits.

“Come on Jess, loosen up. Who did you think I was? Some lunatic out for blood?”

She stopped and squatted to empty sand from her shoe, “You are a lunatic,” she retorted. A shudder ran through her and she did not bother addressing the rest of his question. It hit too close to home and he knew it. Sand gone, Jess replaced her shoe and started walking again her back stiff.

Pete’s muffled footfalls closed in on her as he quickened his pace to keep up. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I wasn’t thinking.”

Jess kept walking, her sadness warring with anger. Anger won. “I know; that’s the problem. You never think.”

“That’s not fair and you know it.”

A higher pitch indicated annoyance as the wind whipped his words past her and she smiled grimly at shaking him from his complacency. “Isn’t it? Who are you to talk about fair?” What right did he have to get on with is life after….Jilli couldn’t so why should he?

“You know it wasn’t my fault, Jess. I wasn’t even here. I wish I had been, then maybe none of this would have happened, but it did and no one can do anything to change that. You’ve got to move on. You know that’s what she’d want.”

Placing her hands on her hips, she turned to face him. “ Like you have?” She shook her head, “Go home, Pete. Leave me alone. I’m not Jilli. I’ll never be Jilli. Jilli is gone and I won’t be a substitute, not for you or for anyone else.”

“Is that what you think this is all about? You’ve got some ego. I never realized it before. It’s not becoming.”

She started walking again, toward the lighthouse barely visible on the rocks ahead. Pete fell in beside her and she sighed. “Will you please just go away?”

“Not until you listen to what I have to say.”

They walked in silence until they came to the lighthouse gate. She looked over the picket fence at the small wooden cross marking the spot where Jilli’s body, or what was left of it, had been found. She turned to the man beside her, meeting his gaze beneath the flickering of the revolving tower light. Pain washed over her. “What do you want?”

The weight of his hands on her shoulders made her flinch but he didn’t remove them. “Why do you insist on coming here? For months I couldn’t get you to come near the place and now…”

The pain in his voice touched her heart and the tears came. “I don’t know why, I really don’t. I hate it here ever since they found her, but I can’t seem to stay away.” She turned to face him, brows knitted, mouth set. “How do you know I’ve been coming here.”? She thought back to all the times she’d felt someone’s presence on the empty beach. “You’ve been following me.”

“I was worried about you.” His eyes swept the sea behind the lighthouse before resting on the little marker. “She wouldn’t want you to do this, Jess. You know that. She’d want you to move on.”

She shrugged off his hands and turned away. “You said that before.” Her fingers gripped the little fence. “ What do you know about what she would want? How can you possibly know? You don’t know what you’re asking. She was my sister, my other half,” her breath caught and she hiccupped. “It’s like there’s a big hole inside of me that goes on forever. I thought you would have one too…but I see I was wrong.”

Pete’s hands shot out and grasped her arms and she cried out in fear as he shook her. “Jilli was my wife. I lost everything when she died.” He released her and ran his fingers through windblown hair, accomplishing nothing in the process. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Folding her arms across her chest she stepped back, studying him, “I know. It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have said that. I know how much you loved Jilli.” She watched as his gaze shifted from her to the beach and surrounding highway. Gently he cupped her elbow and began propelling her back the way they came. She tried to break free but he only tightened his grip. “Let me go.”

He shook his head and kept walking. “We’re being watched, from the rise above the road.” She turned her head. “ No; don’t look back, keep moving.”

Something in his tone made her comply without a backward glance, her heart beating faster as he continued to explain. “Each night I’ve followed you here it’s been the same, always someone watching.” When they reached their cars he turned to face her. “You know they haven’t caught the person responsible for what happened to Jilli. He’s still out there, Jess and I don’t want you coming out her alone, especially not at night.”

“You’re scaring me. Why would he come back here? It’s been six months.”

“Seven. I don’t know why, I’m not even sure it’s him, but someone has been following you and I don’t want you taking any foolish chances.”

Jess turned to open the car door and then faced him, “All right I won’t take…” She gasped and dropped her keys.

“Jess, what is it?” She heard Pete’s voice as if from very far a way.

“Jess,” the voice was soft, sweet and very sad.

“Jilli?” Dizziness threatened as her overloaded mind tried to come to terms with what she saw. “Jilli?” she repeated.

“Help me, Jess.”

“How?” Jilli’s image shimmered and began to fade. “Jilli, how?”


Pete’s concerned voice brought her back to reality, but she couldn’t speak. Her world swam in and out of focus.


A sharp sting on her cheek cleared her vision. Pete stood before her eyes wide with concern. He reached out and touched her arm.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know what else to do. You were hysterical.”

Her hand went to her face. “Did you see her?”

“See who?”

“Jilli. “ Jess pointed to a spot just beyond Pete’s shoulder. “She stood right there, looking at me, asking me for help. Didn’t you hear her?”

Pete picked up Jess’s keys from where they fell in the sand. “Get in and push over,” he said. “I’ll drive you home and I’ll stay with you until you fall asleep.”

She slid in as requested, “But your car…”

Pete shut the door and started the engine. “I’ll take a taxi in the morning. Put your seatbelt on.”

They were pulling into her apartment’s parking lot when she realized what was happening. “You can’t stay with me. You have to go home.”

Pete got out of the car, stepped to the other side, opened the door and helped her out. “But I am staying. I’m worried about what happened out there tonight. Tomorrow we’ll call the police and give them a full report.” He put the key in the lock and entered the darkened apartment before her, switching on the lights as he did so. “Close the door,” he said.

Reaching for the baseball bat Jess kept by the door, Pete continued through the rooms. “Ok, you can turn in now. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Whether I want you to or not?”

A determined and somewhat grim smile told her more than mere words what she wanted to know. “All right, I’ll get some blankets and a pillow for you. There are clean extra towels in the bathroom if you want to shower before you leave tomorrow.”

He sat on the easy chair as she prepared the couch for him. “Thanks Jess, and good night.”

“Good night Pete,” she said as she started down the hall. She called to him from her room. “I suppose you want me to keep the windows closed?”

“I think that would be wise under the circumstances.”

Jess climbed into bed, grumbling to herself. “Under what circumstances, the fact that he thinks someone was following me?” She remembered her sister’s appearance on the beach and her words. Words she’d heard in her head, the way she’d done when Jilli was still alive. I was hysterical. It never happened. But she found herself shivering and despite his arrogance, glad of Pete’s presence but a few feet away.

***** *****

Twenty minutes later, the apartment was silent. Pete padded down the hallway and checked on Jess. He was glad to see she slept peacefully. He wished he could do the same. He returned to the living room and switched on a table lamp. A magazine lay on the table and he reached for it knocking down a framed photograph that had faced the other direction. He picked it up and breathed in sharply. It was a picture of his wedding, his and Jilli’s. She was beautiful in her white satin gown and next to her, just as beautiful, stood Jess…a deep sadness in her eyes that he only noticed much later.

How long had it taken him to realize he’d chosen the wrong twin? He’d dated both. Jilli was all dazzle and sparkle, Jess a soft glow. How long had it taken before he knew? Pete put the photograph on the table and continued to look at it. They’d tried to make things work, might even have done so if… He shifted his gaze to the hall. Thinking about what might have been was a waste of time. Jilli was gone. Nothing could change that, but the future could be different. He’d made one mistake. He didn’t intend to make another.

© Marlicia Fernandez Revision 1 March 14, 2006 (WC 1780)

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