The Kismet Kids
In the end, the fence was still there, aged, beaten by weather and secrets, secrets that lived and hid under the guise of family.
It was an optical theodolite charged with the responsibility of defining their property lines, long before the fence was installed, long before the two houses were built, long before the "I do's", the promises and the mortgages; a human eye looked through the instrument intently, considering every negative and positive polarity on top of the fertile ground.
It was the best of times and they would become the best of friends. What could be wrong; what could go wrong when the facade and roof colors were considered, when the grain of the wood cabinets was selected and the square footage was determined to keep them close to their dreams of becoming parents, to shield them from storms, from predators, from their own mortality.
People on the street behind them could hear them, never looking away from the childless couples with disdain, instead they would lean in, cupping their ears, longing to hear more of the laughter, wishing they could be in on the joke, join in on the splashes, the late night sing-a-longs, eventually surrendering to their own slumber totally unaware of the utterly deafening quiet defining diversified love.
If asked, neither couple could say whose idea it was to build an aftermarket gate in the recently installed backyard stockade fence. "Why go all the way around in a wet bathing suit?" One of them asked. Coulda' been, Ted or Tina, Tom or Tara.
And then the blessings came, two due dates were marked on respective calendars, ironically within the same week, one gender reveal party including both sets of families and friends, why go through all that fuss twice? Pink confetti emerged streaming simultaneously from the hand held cannons while the two couples stood side by side, vulnerable in their clothing, seams barely held by an abundance of good fortune, immediately ambushed by hugs and congratulatory words too many to count.
"Two girls!" "Congratulations!" "Best friends to be, like their Mommies and Daddies."
And destiny played its role as it does, born two days apart in the same hospital, the four became six, inseparable, offspring like kin, twinlike, crawling harmoniously in tandem on bent knees diapered; the disposable kind holding a pint or more it would seem, swelling beyond the manufacturer's recommendation before their parents would take notice, never begrudgingly breaking from the grill, or gin rummy or their think tank talks about everything from the universe to the advantages and disadvantages of the minivan, private schools vs. public, Republican vs. Democrat, always agreeing to disagree late into the night under the stars.
Life was grand, so grand that not even the birds or the bees could land without knowing they chose the right place to procreate and so it went for the second generation as one year became two, four parents in real time, observing first steps, training two wheelers, coaching little batters, leading cookie sales, and with a wink a decade had fallen right into the next fast forwarding into S.A.T. studies, cheerleading practices, dolled up dances and bashful first dates, two pretty sweet girls, Sophie and Sonia, always together, joined at the hip, the very best of friends, nicknamed the Kismet Kids they were never coerced, always agreeable even into early adulthood; what God had joined together let no entity part.
"Whosoever said life was fair," quite suddenly slipped from a tongue, mighta' been Tom or Tina or Tara, not Ted, as he had become the first one to leave them, against his own will. "Brugada syndrome," explained the pathologist, "typically undetectable electrical disturbances to the heart, resulting in sudden death," the remaining five endured constant comfort by so many mourners, words too many to count.
"Too soon," "So very sad," "So very sorry for your loss."
The suggestion was made, soon after the settling of tears, of sadness, of bones to take investigative action. Dr. Stevens was his name, DNA was his game, "Sophie, see to it that your DNA is tested to see if you carry the gene. This could be a matter of life and death."
Facts do not lie, neither do the dead; six feet under Ted could not speak or explain as he rolled and rolled over, under the ground far from the scene of the ancient misdeeds. He'd have to leave that task to the living. Ducks in a row, what else could be said to dispute the indisputable, to right the wrong, to cover the tracks that traversed the happy backyards through the custom made gate all those years ago. Never did they consider back then, prompted by a death, the possibility of both offspring, joined at the hip, of course they would trace their genes together, along with their ancestry, highlighting a close blood relative right next door. The technology just wasn't there; back then.
No. In the end, the Kismet Kids, Sophie and Sonia were not just best friends, they were genetically half sisters, both left with a bullet in their hearts shot from the barrel of a lie.