Chlo grasps my hand in hers, but it seems like giant, determined hands have set their minds to pulling us apart. We are practically the same person- they can’t just rip us apart! Can they not tell we have feelings too? We are also people, fragments of ones anyway. But to them, we are unimportant, just two out of millions, out of forty-six in our cell. We have the same wavy brown hair that we’ve been growing out past our shoulders. We both have the same emerald green eyes with little specks of gold. We both are the same height, on the taller side. We knew this was coming, but not so soon. I don’t want a new twin- I want Chlo, only Chlo. I can’t imagine having anyone else as the other half of me. We don’t know anything different, anyone else. We don’t need to- we have each other.
We are being pulled further and further apart, our fingertips brush against each other and we try unsuccessfully to crawl, to struggle out of this giant’s strong grasp to each other. Our efforts are to no avail. I kick, and cry, and I can hear her, an echo far away in the dark. I can’t see my own feet let alone her, being pulled away from me like a tugboat to who knows where. I won’t give in, I’m pushing against the tide, trying to swim away. But I can’t. I’m being swallowed, engulfed by the waves, pushed down. I am making a fuss, I know. I know Momma wouldn’t have been pleased. I am being selfish. She was always very strict, but I can’t help myself. As much as I strive to make her proud, I need to be back with Chlo. To know this happens to twins all the time in other parts of our world makes my stomach clench. How can these hands be so cold, so heartless? Everyone teaches us our whole lives that we don’t matter, our feelings don’t matter; it's just part of the process. We’re all working for the better good of our human. We can sacrifice some things. It doesn’t matter. We don’t matter. But Chloe matters to me. I cry my eyes out, thump my hands, now balled into fists on the wall forming around us. I try to hear Chlo, crying out to me, ‘’Ginny! Ginny!’’ I can imagine her screaming, but can’t hear it. I am lost. I am confused. We are all workers, doing our part. We are not allowed to have feelings. No one else is so upset, they are calm, serene. It must be a genetic flaw of sorts. A disability. A mistake.
With this thought, I panic more, tremble. I will be a discard if anyone finds out. I will hinder our human’s life, make it even just a little less perfect. We don’t want mental illness, we want perfection. That’s what we live for, strive for. Our only valid goal. We are supposed to work in harmony, in peace with ourselves and the others. I have heard stories of those with genetic disabilities (what others would call mental illness, but our way of saying it is a lot more derogatory) and they certainly aren’t happy ones. I try to stifle my cries and my thoughts with my flowered handkerchief, the one that Chlo gave me for our birthday last year. And now I’m crying harder, uncontrollably, shaking, thinking of her. The leader of our new cell wanders around, checking us out, sizing us up. I can’t let them see me like this. I’ll be an outcast. Unwanted. I’ll be sent to one of the repair centres. If you’re still a mess after that, you’re sent to the death camps. I can’t end up there. I can’t! Chlo has always been so much stronger than me. She must be holding up, not such a mess. The leader of the cell stops in front of me, looking at me coldly. He snarls. I can’t stop crying. I know I’ll be whisked away to who knows where. People sometimes come back from the repair centres, some fixed, some not. But no one comes back from the death camps. No one knows what happens there, just how atrocious it is.
I am shaking, I curl up in the fetal position on the floor, thinking it will be the end. I can not control myself. I will be sent away. I will be even less than valued, considered even less of a person. I can feel someone crouch down beside me, a shadow looking over me. Hot breath on my cheek. A shiver down my spine. ‘’Will you do your job?’’ A voice tickles my ear. ‘’Will you manage? Should we call in a replacement?’’ The words seem generous, the voice kind. I want to get out of this. I am the weakling, and I suppose he knows that. He is taking advantage of me to get a stronger sister chromatid. Half of a sister chromatid. I know that now, but I fall right into his trap. He will send me away, but still, I nod. What was I to say? I obviously could not say no, he could easily see what a lie that was, and when I could not perform my duty, he would send me off anyway. It would be a lie, so terrible, so impure, damaging to our human, an unnecessary risk. I feel the ground fall out from underneath me, my whole body tensing, hurdling into the unknown. What is happening? My panicking gets worse.
Is this how you get to the repair zones? Is that where I am headed? Deep down I know it is. Maybe I was just making excuses to myself, maybe I want to be sent away. Maybe I want it all to be over. I can see only darkness, I feel only darkness. My emotions are all mixed up like us, the chromosomes before we became chromatids, back when we were just wee, innocent babies. I don’t know what I said to the cell leader, it’s all so blurry, so much emotion, confusion, saying whatever, trying in a haze to make the right decision, uncode the man’s words. Did he mean a temporary replacement? Is he actually sending me away? Am I going straight to the death camps? And now I am here, falling deeper, down, down, spiraling uncontrollably until I stop suddenly.
This must be the repair zone. There is blood, auburn red, trickling down everywhere. It is a gory mess. An unwanted job for unwanted people- repairing severed flesh. In our human it is mostly in the wrists, little slits from a sharpened razor, sometimes a knife. I am here now, among the broken, the less than unwanted. I wedge myself between a red haired woman and short brown haired young boy, pushing against the current of blood, soaking some of it up. I am only half of a sister, not strong at all. I keep getting pushed away, flushed down, but I go back to work. I’ll have to do my best here- I can’t be sent off to the death camps. I won’t let myself be. I want to give up, I do. But even though I am crying, still a mess, I have a goal, and going to the death camps will prevent me from reaching it. I need to say at least one last good-bye to Chlo. I need it with every particle in my insignificant self.
This new cell, this cell for the broken is weak. We are all weak. We try to fix but how are we supposed to fix if we aren’t? We are just as broken as this human’s flesh. We try to work together and repair, we try but even the other repair cells are doing better than we are. Even they aren’t so sensitive- even they are starting to stop feeling emotions. We are the genetically disabled. I hate that word. I- we haven’t done anything to deserve this. Genetics. That says everything, we are born this way- if they know that, why do they blame us? Probably because it’s better than blaming themselves if something goes wrong. We are the spawns, the displaced. I am weeping again, ugly crying, shaking. My tears had subsided, but now they’re back. I see the repair cell doctor, a man with a potbelly and curly white hair- older, probably about fifty years. He’s checking people, looking for sickness. The more people he threads out the more stronger ones come in to replace.
How did I happen to come right on diagnosis day? How could I have such terrible, horrid luck? There are two ways you can go back to your cell and two ways you can get sent to the death camps. First, you work really well and are claimed to be fixed and sent back to a working, normal cell. Second, the doctor examines you and finds you do not have a genetic disability, and are sent back up. Those are the good outcomes and are rare indeed. Most of the time, either you do your work wrong, you’re not strong enough, you have the most terrible genetic disabilities that are too dangerous to live in fear of hurting the human, or the doctor claims you’re unfit, you will never be fixed. With these outcomes, you are headed right for the death camps to witness the horrors first hand.
The doctor is putting people in groups of two, like twins. Like me and Chlo are- no, were. One person who’s going back to work, one who’s going to the death camp put together back to back. There’s one person before me, and then it’s my turn. I am the last, the newest member of this weakling cell. The boy on one side of me was the first, sent off to the death camps. The woman on my other side was sent back to work. My heart is beating out of my chest, my clothes bloody, drying a deeper red, as if caked with mud. The doctor is in front of me now, staring me down hard, his expression indifferent, used to having to sentence people (who he would probably just refer to as ‘disabelds’) to death. He checks inside my mouth, my heart beat, my reflexes, and does an instant-results blood test, a DNA test. Maybe we will meet again, me and Chlo, maybe. I cross my fingers in hope, but then I realize. To meet again we would both have to be sent to the death camps. My smile fades to indifference, or what looks like it on the outside. On the inside, I can feel myself well up with tears for what must be the millionth time since Chlo was pulled from me by those determined hands. It’s all rushing back to me, a wave of memories from when we were younger, when we were born to right this minute. I’m falling again, but not physically. I’m falling into the dark even if it’s light.
The doctor says something, but I can’t hear him over the ringing in my ears. All I know is that I’m put back to back with that red haired woman who was next to me earlier, and hands are pulling me apart from her, tugging the same as when I was taken from Chlo. It’s happening all over again, but in my mind, it’s the same as the first. I’m reaching out for Chlo, crying, but this time around she’s not there, and I can’t hear her cries. I am being caged in again by a wall forming around us. Us, the unwanteds, the disabled. I bang my fists on it until they hurt, I scream and cry until my throat is raw and sore. Our cell is rushing by to the deepest, darkest part of the human. Deep under layers and layers of brain cells, down to the unconscious where no one will hear our screams of horror. We stop suddenly, and hear the walls open up, and we all tumble out. Normally we’re kept inside. Usually everyone is trapped there forever until mitosis.
We are made to line up, one behind the other in a straight, single line. Men in uniforms stand around with bayonets, keeping order. We are all dirty, mangled, lost. I am sleeping as I stand, yelling, wailing, but no one can hear me over the others. We are a chorus, our voices melding into one. I am at the front of the line. I do not know how I got there. Blue and white striped pyjamas are handed over to me, a little purple triangle pinned on next to it, a yellow star. Disabled. Is written on it, sewed in, and under that, homosexual, on the other Juden. I am so confused, what do they mean? The clothes are not clean, they smell like a stew of sweat and death, but mine are no better. Someone takes ahold of my wrist, I feel something burning, but no pain. I am numb. The numbers 762840 are written, tattooed in inky letters on my pail wrist. Everyone is changing in public, there are no restrooms, I do the same. One of the men in uniform barks at me when I line up with the other women, I can’t understand what he’s saying, nothing makes any sense. He points to the other line. I look over confused. He wants me to line up with the men. Was he looking at me when I was changing? What is happening?
‘’Ginny? Ginny!’’ I hear a voice call full of relief, not anger. At first I think it’s still the officer talking, but it couldn’t be, the voice is high pitched and sweet. I recognize it suddenly, and I’m being torn apart from it, her. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I turn around to face the voice. She has the same wavy brown hair, green eyes with flecks of gold. I hug her, not wanting to let go. She is warm, she is Chlo. But she doesn’t have a purple triangle, just a golden-yellow star. I ask her why. She shakes her head, eyebrows furrowed as if I’m stupid. ‘’Ginny, Ginny? Are you okay, wake up!’’ She says, shaking my shoulders. The man in the uniform approaches, a little flag, red white and black, on his arm band. He shoves me hard, kicks me to the other line. I try to crawl back to my sister in the other line. ‘’YOU DON’T GET IT!’’ I want to shout, punch him back. He shouts slurs at me in return. Everyone is staring.
‘’Jewish swine! Judenrat!’’ He cries ‘’You are even crazier than the rest!’’ He kicks me in the ribs, I am skinny, practically just a skeleton. One of the men in the line pulls me back, trying to protect me, calm me, but I can’t stop. Adrenaline is pumping through my veins. They don’t understand, no one does! I can’t take it anymore, I’m lashing out, crying, weeping, punching, kicking, but I can’t see anything, just blurs of people crowding around. I am numb. I don’t know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, I’m just done with being misunderstood, invaluable. I am screaming at them, trying to explain, ‘’Hands, pulling us apart! Trapped! Defective! The cell leader, he...he!’’ I’m sobbing. Chloe looks frightened, for me or of me I don’t know. And then I fall to the ground, exhausted, done, finished. And then I see everything clearly again, and start sobbing. And I know exactly what happened, everything and nothing at all makes sense.
We had been on a mission with my cell of the resistance. We were caught, Josh, the cell leader had been working with the Nazis. I had been pulled from Chlo by those strong hands, into different cars both headed to the death camps, someone was killed, there was blood everywhere. We had to be inspected by the camp doctors. Two out of millions. We were both welded out, labeled sick, unable of work, only the stronger ones remained. We were being sent to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. I changed in front of people, humans, others, Nazis. I’m shaking again, ferociously. They knew, everyone knew, what was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking. What was I thinking wearing my dress, my twin sister’s dress to the mission? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. Everything’s spinning out of control. I’m lying on the ground, in fetal position, I close my eyes, I’m back to when I was young, two or so cuddled into my mother, she was holding me, whispering soothingly, ´´ Joshua, Joshua,´´ That was before the car crash when we lost Momma and before our dad’s bipolar disorder got out of control and took him from us, chained away somewhere we didn’t know in a mental hospital where he was probably treated like trash, like a slave, where instead of fixing him, they were breaking him. And now I’m here, and everything is unclear. I am just as misunderstood as he was. I am not crazy. It’s not my fault I’m like this, if anything it’s his. I just wasn’t lucky. Everything’s going black, and I let go, I let go of everything, and I’m being carried up. Snuggling against death’s chest, safe in his hands. He closes my eyes one by one. My body is thrown into the incinerator down below. But I don’t care. I have no more feelings, like everyone told me, to man up.