They arrive early, two inverted icing finger dips protruding from her chest like someone is trying to get her attention. They fill up gradually, unwieldy balloons: they cause a stir. Everybody notices them: girls, boys, parents, her maths teacher. She starts closing the door when she bathes, covering them with an extra layer of fabric when she dresses.
As she is getting used to them they begin to deflate. They let out a sigh, exhale, sink a little.
She begins to resent them, wishing for something neater, more symmetrical, something more appropriate for sport and then she is diagnosed. Her old friends, the precious, precocious twins, must be separated. One must go, the doctor says. It’s the best thing, he says and she has to disagree. The best thing is climbing a tree with someone you love or having a cuddle with the dog or finding out that the illness isn’t as bad as you feared.
Staring at the doctor, she feels like that person in that story, the one who does not believe that cutting the child in half makes it better for sharing. She wants the child whole, the twins twins.
They are a double act: like French and Saunders before them their fates are entwined. They are not Roy Chubby Brown, not Jim Davidson, not Victoria Wood: they don’t travel around the country from palledium to hippodrome alone. If one goes so must the other. They must be carried off next to each other like uneaten fried eggs on a canteen tray. She will mourn the loss of them both.
It is agreed. She says goodbye to the twins. Counting down from ten, by two she is asleep.