I remember the first day I met you. Third graders have a tendency to label everybody; I was the twin who wore blue, Iris was the twin who wore pink, and you were the boy with the light red casts on his left leg and right arm.
Third grade was the year we met. Fourth grade was when I fell in love with you. Fifth grade was when you stole Iris’s heart, and if there’s a god, I’m sure it would know when she stole yours.
In sixth grade, Iris confessed her love to you, as did you yours to her. By the seventh, you were bound to each other.
You, Ray, never knew how much I loved you, and you never would know. But Iris—the bitch—knew everything. Close though we were, I never spoke a word, but I’m certain that she knew.
I’m sorry, Iris, I would say, I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. The way I killed her would change each time in this hopeless and recurring fantasy.
No, I would always stop myself, I can’t put mine and Ray’s happy ending at risk, too. I must find a way to take her happiness for myself.
The night after the incident, I called you myself, and told you to meet me in a quiet little park that had either been forgotten or yet to be discovered by the locals.
“Iris,” you said, taking the seat beside me, “what’s wrong?”
I burst into tears and grabbed you by the waist. “Ray,” I said, and was interrupted by a fit of real crying, “Ira is gone.”
On Friday nights, Iris and I would often stay up late together. Our parents would go to bed at the same moderate time they always did—ten or ten-thirty. That gave us time to talk, and to do things that we wouldn’t normally do.
“Ira,” she said, “why is there a fire in the fireplace? It’s almost June.”
I smiled. “No matter how warm it is outside, I’m sure that you can’t roast marshmallows on the air.” God dammit. I had run this through my head forty different times, and even now it came out saccharine. Iris didn’t seem to notice.
“O-Okay,” she said. “Where are the marshmallows?”
“I’ll go get them,” and I did.
A bag of marshmallows, two pairs of metal prongs, and a single pair of gloves.
“Why do we need gloves?” said Iris. “The prongs don’t have a metal handle.”
I nodded. “Yes, but if you were to accidentally touch the metal, you could get burnt. I figure it’s just safer.”
I let her enjoy just one marshmallow before it happened. I myself enjoyed none at all, as the very first I handled caught fire. “Ah!” As I recoiled, I nearly threw the prongs into the air--at least, that’s how it would have looked--along with the burnt and burning marshmallow.
Iris Michaels died of a throat puncture. Two, actually. As she fixated on the ball of fire flew over our heads—frightened for the wrong reason—I looked only for an opportunity..
I once read that an effective way to kill someone sans screaming is to cut the throat skin in front of the throat, as it makes shouting difficult. As risky as it is to try such things for the first time in a final performance, I did, and it worked beautifully. I dragged her to the tiled kitchen—where the now cooling marshmallow had landed safely—before she could make any mess on the carpet. In just a few minutes, she was dead. I wrapped her in some newspapers and carried her to the still breathing fire.
Cremation usually occurs at a temperature of eleven to eighteen hundred degrees Fahrenheit. That’s what the book said, anyway. The common hearth generally reaches ten hundred. She burned for a good while, and when the burning was done I broke up her bones and what was left of the logs with my mother’s mallet, which she had used for years and would use for years to come. I placed the remains into a Walmart bag walked calmly to the lake a few hundred feet behind our house.
I’m sorry, Iris, I thought as I sprinkled the ashes over the water, taking care not to get any on my clothes, but this the closest thing you’ll get to a proper funeral for a little while now. I scattered the bone fragments around the lake, and they sank to the dark bottom easily.
Back at the house, I cleaned up the blood. Luminol would detect it without a problem, but for that to work someone would have to decide to use Luminol, and if everything worked according to plan that would never happen.
I had managed to avoid getting any blood on my own clothing, so I simply took it off and put it in the hamper. I took a shower and fell asleep in the room which once belonged to both of us.
“Iris? Iris, wake up!”
I stretched. “What?”
“Do you know where Ira is?”
Ira was the blue twin, Iris was the pink.
In the night, I had put on a pair of Iris’s pink pajamas, and slept in her pink-sheeted bed. I always liked pink better anyway.
“N-No… she went to bed before I did, right in her bed.”
You held me close as I wept for my “missing” sister, Ira.
The search wore on. In the first week was panic; in the second, mourning; and finally, in the third, a funeral.
“Oh, Ray,” I wept into your shoulders, “what do I have now?”
You held me to your chest and kissed me on the head.
And that was the first time that you said you loved me.
We were happy without “Ira”. Our first time was at seventeen. At nineteen, I asked you to marry me, and at twenty, we finally were.
We are thirty-five now, a couple bound by the purest love imaginable. I am pregnant with our fourth child.
Lying in the dark on a bed that we made together, I say “Ray… I couldn’t be happier.”
You turn to the side and kiss lightly on the cheek. “I couldn’t either.”
I let the silence be for a moment, then say “I love you.” You kiss me again. “This happiness that we have... that we’ve shared with each other, and with our children... it’s something I never want to jeopardize, something I never want to ruin for anything.”
“Of course not,” you say.
“Ray... I love you so much.” In one swift motion, I roll myself onto your body so that I can look into your eyes. “So much love ends unhappily; divorce, impurity... isn’t that a shame, Ray?”
You are silent, but still smiling.
“I’ve been happy with you for twenty-three years, and as of this very moment, everything is perfect... It would be unfair of me to ask for another blissful second.” I put my hand undo the top button of my nightgown.
“Iris,” you say, “we already--” You cut yourself short when you see the long and thin scissors I had been concealing between my breasts.
“Ray,” I say, “I know it seems wrong, but if I didn’t do this, who knows what might happen? If it ends now, our love can go on forever and ever. Isn’t it wonderful?”
I wrap you in the sheets to keep the blood from reaching the mattress. The kids are fast asleep, and there are logs in the fireplace.
I can’t say that I planned for it to end this way, but I can’t say I’m surprised, either. Most of the houses we looked at didn’t have a nice, traditional fireplace like this one, or a drainage lake nearby. I unwrap you in front of the hearth and take a final look at your bloodied face.
That face. I remember, just last week... discussing poor, deceased Iris with you. Does he know? The slight falter of your voice, the sparkle in your eyes. Yes, I thought, you know.
No matter how it happened, I think to myself as the lighter flickers, this is where we are now, Ray.