Friendship Coming of Age High School

Jane and Eliza were born into the typical American family. They grew up in the perfect house and parents who loved them both deeply. That didn't stop the twins from wanting what the other had. Jane, a straight A student on the debate team, the pride of her father who was a professor at the University and Eliza, who excelled with the arts and took after her mother when it came to the creative side of things. Their mother owned a local pottery/Coffee shop, where the girls have spent many summers working. 

While Eliza loved to be in the thick of a pottery session with her mother, Jane opted to sit at the front desk and do her summer reading plus some to get ahead. But she envied the relationship her twin had with her mother, the way they laughed and pined over new pieces together. Brainstormed about new things to sell or create. It left her yearning for the same relationship. She loved her father and made him proud but never felt like he truly saw her for who she was. She felt that at any moment she could fail and he would toss her aside for something better. The immense weight of the stress she carried was utterly unbearable and with it being the last summer before her senior year of high school she wanted nothing more than a chance to let go to feel what it was like to be in her sister’s shoes adored by a parent who actually saw her. Before she goes off to the ivy league of her father’s dreams instead of NYU like she had wanted. 

Eliza always watched Jane from the corner of her eye when they were in the shop. Wishing she had the same drive and desire to achieve such academic success as her sister. She knew Jane was currently one the fast track to be their graduating year valedictorian and the way that made her father beam made her undeniably envious. He never looked at her that way, nor did her mother to be honest. Always critiquing her technique’s, always giving her back handed comments about any of the things she created. Sometimes it would get so bad it was hard for Eliza to want to sit at the wheel or pick up a paint brush. She loved days when her mom worked late on administrative work for the shop and she could sit at home and paint without her mother staring over her shoulder with the “I would actually do it this way” comments rolling off her tongue the entire time. She would stash it away in the closet when she heard her mother coming up the stairs trying to hold on to that sliver of pride she felt just a little while longer. She never fully felt free to breathe and create, never free the way Jane was to achieve something without someone holding on to it with a tight grip or taking credit for teaching her a new thing or critiquing it until the beauty washed away until there was nothing left but a waste of paint or clay. All her success was her own, hers to wear and carry with untarnished pride. Eliza wished her mother would leave her be to create on her own and see her and her art as they are and not try to mold them into something they are not, carbon copies of her. But none of them understood, not even Jane. Despite being twins they were not close, they never really gravitated together or towards a common interest. It's not like they fought either, they laughed and hung out but left to do their own things after a couple hours. Their parents had made sure they were individuals from each other. Never dressed them alike or put them in the same activity. But it seemed the more distance they tried to put between the definition of twins the bigger the wedge it actually drove between Jane and Eliza. 

It was a hot July day, the sun had reached the highest point and the sky shimmered as if the heat was actually visible. The twins had been holed up in the shop most of the morning, helping their mother with customers and running the kiln. At lunch, their mother usually sends them how but today she asked them to run an errand for her to pick up supplies in the neighboring town. Reluctantly, they both agreed. Dreading the thought of being stuck in the hot car together. Trying to start things off on the right foot for the hour long drive, Jane makes her and Eliza and iced coffee to take with them. Adding oat milk and lavender to Eliza’s just how she likes it. Calling for her sister as she heads out the back entrance clutching the drinks, keys and wallet in one arm and the keys in the other. The generic chime of the car confirms it's unlocked as Eliza zips passed and climbs into the passenger seat. Jane rolls her eyes, her sister hate’s to drive and is really more of a nuisance than help on these trips. Nonetheless, Jane walks around the car to the driver's side and hands Eliza her iced coffee as she watches a huge smile spread across her face. “Wow thank you Jane! Does it…” before Eliza is cut off by Jane “...Have oat milk and lavender in it? Yes, Eliza, how many times have I made this same drink for you? Honestly, why do I even bother trying to be nice if you are going to constantly ask like it's some sort of test?”. The smile fades from Eliza’s face and she looks down at her coffee playing with the rim of the cup and whispers “I am sorry, thank you for the drink” before taking a sip and turning out the window. 

The trip starts out awkward and quiet as it normally does after Jane is short with Eliza. Their mother has them going to a new supplier and Jane attempts to follow the car’s GPS but it's outdated and missing sections of the map. They hadn’t been able to download the new locations for a few years now and it only occasionally was a problem. Sadly their parent’s also didn't believe in complex smartphones and thought they inhibited one’s ability to create and grow, so they were on their own with their shared flip phone only for emergencies. After an hour both of them began to get more and more anxious about getting to the supplier. The day was going quicker and they were still on a stretch of interstate with no mention of the town they needed to get to. 

Eliza starts fidgeting with her fingers knowing asking Jane if she happened to miss a turn would only annoy her more. Eventually she can not restrain herself any more and takes a deep breath but before she can even get the words out Jane, in a tensed voice and white knuckling the steering wheel whispers behind clenched teeth “Don’t say it Eliza. Please for god sake, don't you dare ask me if I missed the turn or didn't follow the directions correctly. You can see it's still taking us the same way. I don't know where we are and I am sorry not all of us can be as perfect as you but if you think you can do it better than you drive! We all know mom thinks the world of you and that you can do no wrong anyways, so let me just pull over and you take over K? How does that sound?!” Tears well up in Eliza’s eyes and everything blurs “Jane I am sorry, for whatever I did to make you hate me so much and even begin to think they like me better… Dad worships you, he has never looked at me the same way he looks at you. With so much pride and love. And Mom? She hates me and hates that I try to paint and make pottery and always critiques the way I do things. I'd give anything to be in your shoes. ANYTHING to feel what it feels like to be free of the shadows and tongue in cheek comments about everything I make. I mean come on Jane even your coffees are perfect every single time! How is that even possible!” 

Jane drives wide eyed, glancing over in her sister's direction every now and again as she rambles on with the same feelings Jane has been feeling for so long. Eventually Eliza starts to feel the weight lifting off her and in its place a silence only interrupted by the sound of the engine as they drive on. After a while, Jane takes a deep breath just as Eliza had. “I didn't realize you were feeling that way Eliza. I am so sorry I never knew… I never knew you felt the same way I did. I always wanted what you had with our parents. The freedom of not having to perform at the top of the class all the time, to get to play and create and to laugh with our mother. I always envied how you could sit in the back with her for hours making and painting things. I didn't realize just how hard on you she was, how much she was stealing something you enjoyed. I always thought you had it better, I always felt like Dad only saw me because I did well. It never mastered what I liked to learn, it was always what looked good to get into Harvard like he did...” Eliza listened, soaking in every word. She felt a huge weight left off her shoulders and in its place something she had wished for her whole life. Something she felt she had been stripped of inadvertently by her parents' desire to have them be individuals, to not succumb to the twin behavior of other families… She felt like she was getting her sister back. Jane stopped talking and the air went quite again. At almost the same instance they both said I am sorry before filling the car with laughter at the irony of it all. Despite their parents best intentions of trying to create individuals, it was the shortcomings that ultimately made them even more alike. A deep desire to be seen and an even deeper desire for sisterhood. 

August 04, 2022 21:23

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Abigail Rae
04:32 Aug 12, 2022

I loved the grass is greener - nailed that idea perfectly! Especially sisters, it’s such a complex relationship and it felt very authentic. I loved “the sky shimmered as if the heat was actually visible.” I could feel the warmth. I felt sad when they were arguing and I don’t think it was mentioned but Eliza felt like the younger twin. I’m glad the reconciled and I smiled reading about the latte the sister made. Very endearing and glad a lot of experiences are relatable - nicely written!


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Morouje Sherif
22:20 Aug 09, 2022

What a beautiful story. It has a very fragrant feel, and the sisterhood was touching, a very smooth flow. Looking forward to more!


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