There is only one place clean enough for magic to exist: children’s minds.
She was the first one to open her eyes. When she did, she saw the birth of her brother. The smell was of creation. He saw companionship right about at the same time he saw life. The clean hospital, and the fresh spring morning, an exhausted mother and two pairs of dark blue eyes with a slight hint of fearful gray in them. The first day of March was when the story of Tim and Sasha began.
When the first thunderstorm of their lives hit, about a month later, Sasha’s crib was further away from the window, but Tim lay screaming right under the incessant hammering of rain. He smelt frustration, and he smelt anger for the first time. He wanted to silence the very sound of water at every source, but he did not have the words or thoughts to form this wish. And then he smelt his sister’s skin as they both found themselves in their mother’s arms. And just like that, his un-worded wish lay hanging in space and time. Sasha could touch her brother’s arm and feel the disturbance under his surface. But just like Tim, she was powerless and not yet equipped to decipher the urges.
They did not look alike, let alone identical. Tim looked like his father while Sasha took on her grandmother’s looks. Sasha looked a little more rugged. She was not ugly, but she had the charm of someone who has adventure in her eyes. Tim on the other hand, could very well be short for “timid”. He was not easily scared, though. It was just that he preferred nothing more than being away from commotion.
As they grew up, their contact with their mundane started increasing. They became what a typical twin pair is like. The family got bigger. They had an elder brother, a younger sister. And while that never led to their parents favoring one child over another, it certainly had their attention divided. They were cared for adequately, but the large family meant they usually were left to their own devices for a most of the time. Tim was the logical fellow, Sasha let her emotions drive her. She had the rage and the ability to talk back. He, on the other hand, worked in the background. When confronted, he would almost always have Sasha coming to his rescue. They had big ideas, and so their team was constantly challenged. And the bond between them grew stronger.
Together, they drove less favorite aunts out earlier than their stay was supposed to be, they managed to accumulate larger percentages of the gift budgets by cutting deals with siblings. They even learned how to look low maintenance after everything. They smelt jealousy, greed and power of teamwork. They also smelt wins. And of course, pancakes. And shampoo. They smelt jealousy when at school, and the exasperation of their teachers. They could smell timelessness in the old man who walked by the school every day. That what they believed was the end of life like. To be timeless like that old man, or their grandparents.
But one day, one the first day of March, eight years after they first smelt creation, the smell was of departing life. Of death. It was like an old piece of cloth, like cold air on a dark night. It terrified both of them but Sasha couldn’t shake that feeling off at all. Their grandmother had died and both did not understand the presence of a corpse in their home. They could not fathom how someone can just suddenly stop being. Tim was coping with it better than Sasha, but clearly it was affecting them differently. While the rest of the family was slowly on the mend, Tim and Sasha grew more and more silent. No longer did the smell of joy, or that of summer or rains bring a spring in their steps as before.
They had felt death and everything else was clouded.
A year passed and nothing had changed. The nine-year-old twins were still pondering about death, and the power it carried. It was horror and curiosity that blended into a viscous concoction. Children’s minds, they say, bear the will to believe all impossible and the purity to make everything come true.
Sasha saw an old man outside her school every day. People avoided him altogether for he never seemed to stop garbling unintelligible rubbish to whoever would listen. Often Sasha entertained the notion that if this were one of her storybooks, the old man could just as well be sharing the only means of survival for when the world would come to an end.
One time she decided to try her luck and became an audience to him. “There have been stories of beating death in its own game”, the old man wheezed abruptly, “that when you bury a little bit of yourselves in in the ground way before you die, then Death makes a mistake in the headcount”. Sasha listened in rapt attention. In her mind, she could picture the trick older kids pulled at school to show teachers they were there when eventually they were going to sneak out. And so the almost ten year old impressionable mind of Sasha bought the theory. Nothing had made more sense to her in life. Because these were the first dots she ever connected, and so this ritual became an obsession with her.
As she ran back home to tell Tim, the old man smiled. For him, it had be ages since someone stopped and listened to him. The satisfaction of one last conversation was what he waited for perhaps, because that night he died in his sleep.
Tim listened to Sasha become excited about this ritual. They were going to defeat death and Sasha was all in. Always the calm head, Tim decided to verify the ritual and get more details. While the theory that old men are usually right was a pretty solid one, he asked his trusted classmate and friend, Samuel for his opinion. According to Samuel, who was an avid believer in Santa Claus and schools of magic, there was an substantial element of truth in this ritual. He told Tim that there is a lot of chance Death is not as smart as people think she is.
With this confirmation sufficient to convince Tim, he and Sasha skipped school one day with shovels barely packed in their school bags, and a piece of cardboard stuffed in a transparent plastic wrapper.
The words on the cardboard said, “Tim and Sasha – 2003”. They had also pulled out a few of their hairs and left them in the wrapper. Sasha had heard their mum talk about the park near their school which opened up to a small stretch of woods. She spoke of rounding up the kids and taking them birdwatching over there. But she never got around to doing it because, well, she was a mother and her next thought was always of kinds accidents that could happen on such a trip. “They can always see birds on the television”, she would conclude, quite proud of convincing herself yet again.
Sasha felt that since that was the location nobody seemed to want to go to, it could be Death’s lair. Like many stories that Tim read, he felt that best place to trick Death would be right under Her nose. And so they set out to the park. They could smell the morning sun, and the breeze that would refresh any tired soul. But they were on a mission and kept walking deeper into the tree cover till they found a clearing. As soon as they set foot into the clearing, all smell was lost. Tim could only smell her twin sister and Sasha could only smell Tim. They sensed solitude except for each other’s company. They pulled out their shovels and began digging. They wanted to bury a piece of themselves deep into the ground. “Maybe Death won’t bother digging this much and will just take our word for it”, they reasoned.
The kept digging, with the realization that they were finally able to act on their urges. The realization added more and more energy to their bodies as Tim finally struck something solid and metallic. Sasha jumped in the hole and started removing the mud that had stuck on the surface of the plate. She chiseled it away, all but the mud that was stuck inside an inscription of some kind. The inscription was in Latin, and it said:
“Tim et Sasha, in imperium of rerum – 1632”
In the hole where the plate was pulled from, there were remains of what looked like a wig, or something with a lot of hair.
@thoughtsofalifetime, you’re a wizard! ❤
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