By Debbonnaire Kovacs
Susannah May Farmer looked around the big auditorium for her friends. There was such a large crowd there for the concert that it was hard to see anyone she knew. She spotted Kenya and waved. “Mom! There are the Washingtons. Let’s sit with them.”
The Farmers and the Washingtons took up practically a whole row of seats. Kenya and Susannah sat together. “Isn’t it noisy?” Susannah asked. “I think it sounds like a turkey farm!”
Kenya giggled. “The orchestra’s worse. It sounds like a bunch of cats in pain!” She gave a bounce and waved excitedly at the high stage. “There he is! Look!” The two girls gave thumbs up signals to Kenya’s brother, Morgan, who was adding to the general racket as he tuned his trombone.
Kenya twisted in her seat. “What in the world?”
Susannah turned to see what her friend was looking at. Then she blinked to make sure her eyes were working. Two of the most beautiful girls she had ever seen were walking through the big double doors. They had golden curls, big blue eyes, and no freckles like Susannah had. They didn’t look quite real.
Kenya hissed, “Would you look at that—matching dresses even! All those ruffles and bows. . .” She made a face. “I wouldn’t like dressing like that. They look like dolls.”
“That’s just what I was thinking,” Susannah agreed. “Did you ever see twins who looked so exactly alike? I’m sure even their mom can’t tell them apart!”
They continued to stare as the girls and their parents found seats. Then the lights went down and the noise quieted. A man came out on the stage and announced the beginning of the program.
The twins and their parents sat where Susannah could see them, and she divided her attention between trying to pick out the sound of Morgan’s trombone from the other brass instruments and watching the blonde girls’ profiles. They gazed with matching expressions at the orchestra, clapped with matching politeness, and tapped their matching shoes in perfect rhythm to the music.
Johnny got squirmy, and Susannah held him on her lap and patted him in time to the matching shoes across the aisle until he fell asleep.
After the concert, the Farmers and Washingtons met the Pattersons in the lobby. Aunt Rose said, “Hi, everybody! Wasn’t it great? That Morgan has the makings of a great musician!”
Mrs. Washington beamed. “They couldn’t have played without him!” she teased.
Aunt Rose turned her head. “Olivia! I can’t believe it!” She hurried across the lobby to hug a blonde woman. Susannah couldn’t believe it either. Aunt Rose’s friend was the twins’ mother!
The two women talked excitedly for a minute, then Aunt Rose brought the family across the lobby. “I want you all to meet my friend, Olivia Warner, her husband, Rick, and their daughters, Tina and Tania.”
While everyone shook hands, Susannah was still trying to figure out some slight difference between Tina and Tania, without staring rudely. She smiled politely. “Hi, I’m Susannah. This is Kenya. Her brother, Morgan, played in the concert tonight.”
As they talked, they learned that Tina and Tania had moved into town and would be attending their church and the church school.
“That’s great!” Kenya said happily. “I’m going to church school, too, this year.”
Finally the families made their way to their cars and went home. Susannah lay in bed trying to imagine what it would be like to have a sister so identical that it was as if you had two selves. She didn’t know if she would like it.
The next day, Susannah and Matt got permission to ride their bikes into town to play at the park. When they arrived, they saw their friends gathered around the big sandbox. Mike was cross-legged in one corner with a bucket of water, building a castle with towers and battlements. Kenya was trying to walk on her hands around the edge of the wooden box. Solly was stretched on his stomach, pushing a bulldozer around and making engine noises with his mouth.
Matt ran to join him, taking charge of a dump truck that wasn’t in use.
Susannah thought his dump truck needed a tune up.
“RRRRRRrrrrrrrrRRRRRRrrrr!” A very realistic siren noise startled her. Who was that? Between Solly and Matt was someone else, wearing torn jeans that were covered in sand and dirt and looked as if at some point Mike’s water had splashed them. Two very grubby hands pushed a fire truck through the sand while the puckered up mouth in an equally dirty face continued to make the siren wail. Susannah’s eyes widened as she stared at filthy braids, one half undone, and recognized one of the blonde girls who had been so ruffled and proper at the concert last night.
Mouth opened in astonishment, Susannah looked around the play area again. Under a nearby tree, cross-legged in a clean cotton dress, her hair brushed and shiny, and her nose in a book, was the other twin.
Kenya plopped down from her latest effort at hand-walking and joined her, laughing. “You should see your face! Unbelievable, isn’t it? This one is Tina. That one under the tree is Tania. Go introduce yourself. You two will make great friends.”
Susannah walked over to the tree. Tania looked up and smiled. “Hi.”
“Hi. I’m Susannah, in case you forgot.”
“I remember. Kenya says you like to read too. She says you even write poems.”
Susannah sat down. “Sometimes. You?”
“I write stories. I was afraid to move, but I’m really glad we came here!”
Susannah looked over at Tina. “I am, too, but I think I already owe you an apology.”
“An apology! Why?” Tania looked puzzled.
“Because I judged you and your sister just on what you looked like. I thought you were exactly the same. In fact, I wondered if having a twin would be like having a second self!”
Tania grinned. “You don’t have to apologize. That’s what everybody thinks, especially when Mom dresses us up like matching dolls. We don’t like it, but she does, so we let her do it sometimes. And I guess it can be fun too. We even take each other’s place and tease people a little. But never for long! Tina can’t be ladylike for more than about two minutes, and I’m really bad at being a tomboy!”
The two new friends laughed together.