Wordcarpenter Books
Excerpt from Road Sailors
 
Mirror Twins 
  

What's to stop a black bear from coming out of the forest right now? Remy is right. I do need a bear protector. I think of how Remy has absolutely no fear of them, which causes me to remember an expatriate doctor from the States I knew when I worked in Hong Kong who had researched twins and was fascinated by the fact that I had decided to leave my twin brother to live independently overseas. It was from this doctor that I learned about mirror twins. He told me that mirror twins are the closest of all types of identical twins because with mirror twins the egg splits between the ninth and twelfth day of gestation. All identical twins come from the same egg but mirror twins remain as one egg the longest before the egg splits into two identical foetuses. So in effect Remy and I were "one" and "the same" for over a week before we became "two." Any longer than 12 days as the same egg and there is an extremely high risk of being conjoined (or ‘Siamese') twins. He said it wasn't possible for two people to be as close as mirror twins. So even for twins, Remy and I are about as close as twins can be.

I remember very clearly what he said when I asked how one knows if one is a mirror twin. "Usually each twin has opposite characteristics," he replied. "For example one twin will be right-handed and the other left-handed." It was at that moment with these words that I knew for sure that Remy and I are mirror twins. Remy threw the ball with his left hand when we were really young. He's a natural left-hander, but since we're twins he was brought up to be a right-hander like me. It explains why he golfs and bats left. But there are other differences. I have one crown on my head and he has two crowns. His cowlick is on the right side and mine on the left. My left foot is slightly bigger than my right foot, but his right foot is slightly bigger than his left foot. He has a tiny cluster of hair on the underside of his left arm while I have the exact same cluster of hair on the underside of my right arm. He has a persistent zit on his left cheekbone while I have the same persistent little bugger of a zit on my right cheekbone. He's dislocated his left shoulder and I've had surgery from dislocating my right shoulder. He's chipped his front left tooth while I've chipped my front right tooth. But there are more things that make us identical opposites, aspects of our individual person that give it all a certain symmetry. His eye injury was to his left eye while mine was to my right eye. He studied history at university while I studied philosophy. He wants to write a book that will heal the world while I want to write a book that will inform the world. His master's degree is in international business and mine in international relations. He grinds his teeth when he sleeps on the left side while I have worn my teeth down from grinding my teeth on the right. He has lived and worked and traveled in Europe and South America while I have lived and worked and traveled in Asia and Australia. It has just ended up this way. The list is long but there is a unique correlation between us that supports that we are mirror twins, and Remy's complete lack of fear and acceptance of bears is another example of this.

Of course there are the obvious similarities, such as our unusual loping gait. We're exactly the same height and weight, and we have the exact same cadence in our laugh. And we have the same sense of humour and the same taste in women and music. But the most intriguing aspect of being twins is how we will have a dream at night and wake up knowing that the dream was a premonition. If I have a dream with Remy in it and he's in distress, nine times out of ten when I call him the next day he's had a bad night. How does one explain that?

Standing so exposed at the edge of the woods where I can hear wild animals go about their business is foolish without a dog, so I retrace my tracks across the acres of open field. As I walk I feel a nagging guilt at being AWOL from Remy for so long. I feel selfish for taking for granted the magic of being a twin. I begin to wonder if it was my absence that first started Remy on his nomadic life, and perhaps one of the primary causes of the turbulence he has had over the last seven years. It all seems to have begun when I left for the Far East after a fight we had that precipitated my departure from Canada.

When I reach my tent, Remy is sitting outside his camper with a mug of steaming coffee in his hand and his dog at his feet.

"'Morning," I say.

"'Morning," he replies. Same voice, same tone as me. "Coffee? I have some here."

 
Second excerpt
 

We listen to the slow drawl of loons, the arresting squawks of crows and then to the haunting sounds of owls around us. I know that Remy thinks that owls symbolize death, so knowing he's thinking what I'm thinking, we both climb in our rigs without a word and begin our long trek north up the Cassiar Mountain Highway, away from the non-stop stream of eighteen-wheelers and the walls of rock. Remy leads the way to the Yukon, passing through a few Native villages and some large fields where hay has just been harvested. Half and hour into the drive there isn't any more traffic at all, and after a few hours there is nothing around, not even a farm. Only endless evergreen forests encircle us with the occasional river flowing southwest or a waterfall falling on the east side of the highway. I welcome the quietude, which gives me time to think about what it's like being an identical twin. I think about Remy and the way he is now, and how we have both evolved at different speeds during our lives. Remembering my doctor friend in Hong Kong who was so keen on twins, I recall a theory he told me about twins called the Twin Paradox. It's a scientific theory used to refute Einstein's Theory of Relativity, but to me it's quite simple in its basic form. It suggests that if one identical twin remained on earth while the other twin traveled away into space, the twin on earth would be older in years when the traveling twin returned. The life lived "on earth" is lived at a different speed than the life lived off of earth. It helped me explain the differences between Remy and me as mirror twins. When I was at university, Remy left Canada and traveled the world for seven years. It was clear to me that he developed at a different rate. Then when I left for my seven years of travel, he remained in Canada. So now with my return, the theory suggests that we have once again become the same age. Despite our growth being different at times in our development, there is still a peculiar symmetry. Like a double helix thread of genetic markers, we seem to come together at a point of intersection every seven years where we meet and are identical again. It's strange that seven years is a life cycle (one's DNA regenerates completely every seven years), and that it is every seven years that is our time of intersection.

The Twin Paradox may go some way to explain how we have developed at different speeds. It seems to be compatible with what I call ‘the twin dynamic,' the best measure of how we relate. Like Hegel's dialectic, we work together in terms of a thesis, antithesis and synthesis. We feed off each other bouncing ideas back and forth like a tennis match until a point is won and the thesis and antithesis become a synthesis. The result is that we both learn regardless of who wins the point. In this way, Remy is a conduit of truth for me, and I for him. Fourth-generation computer models for artificial intelligence use the same dynamic: twin computers working and feeding off each other to become smarter. One of us takes the South Pole while the other assumes the North Pole position in any given situation in order to achieve this synthesis - this new insight. The serious competition of our early high school days has passed, so the object is now symbiosis. It's easier to work together when each of us takes a south or north position in any given situation because it's less destructive. It's evolution of being in its purest form. By being apart, we have missed this vital aspect and I wonder if it has retarded our collective growth. I wonder if Remy would ever have reached this belief that he is the Pahana. I wonder if he's drifted too far and cannot be brought back from the precipice.

My walkie-talkie rings as we are climbing a steep grade somewhere past Cranberry Junction.

"This is Rainbow Thunderbird. Come in, over."

"This is... This is-"
 

 

 

 
 

 

 


 
 
  

 
 
  

  
 

 

 

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