THE INHERITANCE OF BEING by Cora Lockhart
My mother was just a girl when the Twins Sisters slammed into Cape Perpetua’s rocky coast. I read this in her journal, which only by coincidence I found at the asylum. A credible story should have few coincidences. It should begin in the middle though I prefer the end, which may or may not have something to due with my declining health. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I do this sometimes. It’s part of my condition. There are many parts to my condition, though I’ve forgotten many of them. At fifty-seven, my memories are full of holes, and I can’t blame all of this on age. I suffer from a type of memory loss that has left gaps in my mind. An hour. A week. And once, an entire year disappeared from my recollection as if someone had just reached in and took it as easily as pulling a book from a shelf. But the brain is designed to preserve the most painful memories, I believe. There are two that haunt me daily.
One is a sound. There are noises a person can get used to over time: screams, moans, mumbling, buckles tinkling against the iron bed frame, the echo of laughter up and down a disinfected corridor, silver trays chiming against the floor like a church bell and the hum of running water so cold there is no air in the room. But the sound of a crying baby is relentless. I hear it on the bus. I hear it in the elevator of the Guardian where I now live. I even hear it in my sleep.
The other is the memory of my twin sister, Nix, who disappeared over thirty years ago from the asylum where we were institutionalized and with great remorse, I don’t know what became of her. My heart grows weaker everyday; time is running out. I must find my sister and beg her to forgive me for stealing her only love. I wish I could say it was unintentional. But there I go jumping ahead again. Let me start once more at the beginning.
My name is Lux Madigan and sometimes I take things that don’t belong to me. But even this is not the beginning.
My sister and I were not normal twins. This was easy to see as soon as we were born, a photograph and its negative. I came out first like a blast of angelic light with glowing blond hair and white skin, my eyes so transparently blue they feared I was blind. It was said that I lit the way for Nix who appeared moments later with the same pale skin and light eyes but with a head of hair so thick and black it caused commotion among the staff at St. Jerome’s Home for Orphaned Children for months afterward, especially since our mother claimed to have contact with the dead. Because she would not name our father, it was believed that Una Madigan had been impregnated by an inexplicable force, one that due to our bizarre appearances was feared to be malevolent. She was held responsible for the curse of twins that haunted the city of Cape Perpetua in the years to follow. How would people have reacted if they’d known that biologically Nix and I belonged to Father Donovan? There I go again getting ahead of myself.
The day my sister disappeared. Yes. I should start there. October 13th, 1969. Cape Perpetua’s Asylum for the Insane. It was a day that for Nix and I marked our beginning but also our end; a birthday that I refused to celebrate again without her. So much time has passed since then, but the events of that day still find me as if they too cling to the same impervious hope that one day my twin will return.
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Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author
1) I collect old photographs of people I don't know.
2) My parents were carnies.
3) My grandmother and I once designed stage clothes for drag queens.
4) I once worked for the NYSE as a photographer on the trading floor.
5) I love moths.
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