The bell rang, notifying teachers and students of the change of subjects. The English teacher left the class, and Imogen was relieved.
She opened her locker and checked the timetable tapered to her desk. Checking through Tuesday’s classes, she found out she had History next. She brought out her pen and History note, waiting for the History teacher to walk in.
The class stood up to greet the teacher, including Esme, Imogen’s twin sister. They both looked alike, having the same curly, kinky hair, wide smile, and lovely dimples. The only way one could tell them apart was their height—Imogen was slightly taller.
“Morning, class,” the teacher responded and they all took their seats. “Today, we will talk about international History. I hope you all carried out your research on the topic we have today.”
They all nodded.
“Good,” the teacher replied. She looked around the class, looking for one to ask a question. Her eyes locked with Imogen who was flinging her pen in the air. “Imogen.”
Imogen jumped in awareness as her name was called. She tried to stand up against her shaky knee.
“Can you tell me what year the United States gained its independence?”
Imogen opened her mouth and closed it. She didn’t know. She didn’t research the topics assigned to them. For minutes, she was silent.
Suddenly, Esme raised her hands in the air, signifying that she knew the answer. There was a sly smile on her face, too.
The teacher looked up at Esme and nodded her head. Esme stood up.
“1776,” Esme said boldly and clearly. A big smile was replaced on her face and she turned and looked at her sister.
Imogen’s face was red with fur. She didn’t expect that from her sister—her twin.
“That’s correct, Esme. I wonder why your twin sister doesn’t follow your steps in studying. She was a good History student, but I don’t know what has come over her.”
Tears burned Imogen’s eyes and she wasn’t herself for the rest of the History class. After the bell rang for another change of subject, Imogen slipped out of class to cry in the bathroom.
En route to the bathroom, in the middle of the hallway, Imogen met Esme hands locked with her boyfriend, whispering into his ears. She burned when they looked at each other and giggled.
She marched down to both of them and yanked her boyfriend’s hand from Esme’s. He backed off and watched the two sisters. Soon, a crowd began to gather.
“What do you think you’re doing, Esme?” Imogen asked, her hands already forming into a fist.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” that sly smile came up again.
“You want to take every single thing I have, why?”
“Come on,” Esme replied. “you deserve nothing. Overtaking, too, is allowed.”
Then the punches came. One after another till Esme had a blue eye and a bloodied mouth. What stopped Imogen was when a teacher dragged her away.
“You’re coming with me to the principal office.”
The verdict ended with her being suspended for causing a fight. Two weeks, the principal said.
At home, the twins’ parents were not having it. Their results came out and Esme did excellent; Imogen’s was mediocre.
“Why don’t you do well as your sister?”
“Why aren’t you as good as her?”
“Why don’t you want to learn from her?”
“Now you’ve gotten yourself suspended?”
Those words echoed into Imogen’s ears, building her with hate and jealousy.
“Because Esme is trying to steal everything I’ve worked for.” Imogen ran to her room and banged the door. That night, not only did she shut her door, but she closed all relationships with her twin.
Fifteen years later, still filled with hate, both had separate lives, chasing their careers individually. They hadn’t even attended their weddings and when Esme had her first child, Imogen grunted a “congratulations” in her Mom’s phone when she passed the news.
Imogen was sitting in her office, going through some documents when her phone rang. She picked up the telephone and placed it in her ears.
“Hello, Imogen’s Consults speaking, how can I help?”.
Her mother’s voice rang on the phone. Bitter and hurt. “Imogen Ifechukwu”—she did that when she needed help—“something happened”.
“Mummy, go on. What’s the matter?”
“It’s your sister.”
A long hiss drew out from Imogen’s phone as she tried hanging up.
“She’s sick,” her mother continued. “Very. She was diagnosed with a kidney disease and has been undergoing dialysis for the past eight months. Now, the doctors say that she needs to find a kidney because dialysis will soon be useless.”
Imogen rolled her eyes. “So, what should I do with this piece of information? She always knows what to do, let her go sort herself out, then.”
Her mother’s sad voice pierced through the phone’s speaker. “Ah, biko, wetuo obi gi. Calm down.”
“Oh, now you people tell me to calm down and forgive? Now? Because she needs a new kidney? Wait, what did you expect me to do? Give mine? Be the sacrificial lamb of someone who always wanted to see me trampled upon. Sorry, Mummy. I can’t. I can be anything but Jesus Christ.”
“She’s your twin sister. Ọ bu nwanne gi nwanyi.”
“It appears that she also didn’t remember that, and I won’t too.” Imogen hung up on her mother, cracking her knuckles and getting back to work.
All through the night, she tousled, unable to sleep. She thought about her sister and the good memories came to her. She remembered when they both wore matching outfits and shared everything, then she saw the last fifteen years when malice and bitterness replaced their lives.
Oke, her husband, woke up to her uncomfortable movement on the bed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Imogen sighed, exasperated. “It’s Esme.”
“Your twin?” Oke sat up, surprised to hear the name on her lips.
Imogen nodded. “Mummy called today. She said that Esme has a kidney problem.”
Imogen gave him a look. “You know about it?”
Oke nodded. “You didn’t want to hear her name in this house, so I didn’t bother to tell you.”
“Anyway, the doctors are saying she needs a new kidney.”
“You want to give her yours?”
“No!” Imogen yelled in finality. “She’s caused me a whole lot of pain and anguish, why would I do something for someone who doesn’t deserve it?”
“Love doesn’t need reciprocation. You do things because you love, not minding the other party.”
Imogen adjusted her head on the pillow. “Well, I don’t love her.” Her words stung with hate.
“Close your eyes at think of your sister. Deep down, the love never left. It was only concealed by bitterness. Do you want her to die? I’m not going to decide for you, giving out your kidney is a risky thing so whatever your decision is, I’m here with you.” He kissed her hands and went back to bed.
Still, Imogen didn’t sleep.
The next morning, she drove down to the clinic where Esme was admitted. She stood at the window and watched her sister who was now like a broomstick. Even though she was far, her sister smelled of death and if she didn’t do anything, she would lose her.
She looked away and moved to the doctor’s office to be sure she was a donor. After signing the documents of agreement, a surgery date was scheduled.
“You understand that this is a fifty-fifty chance.”
The doctor’s words rang in Imogen’s head as she thought if her sister was worth it.
She walked into the theatre room that morning with fear. She may not come out alive.
A dose of anaesthetics was injected into her and she closed her eyes in sleep…
“Imogen,” the voice was quiet. Imogen opened her eyes and looked around, trying to understand what was going on. The last thing she could remember was walking into a theatre. Was she alive?
Esme held her hands with tears in her eyes. “You’re awake.”
“Esme?” Imogen asked, still not sure of where she was.
“Yes, it’s me.” Tears ran down Esme’s eyes. Her voice carried her tears. “Why did you save me after everything I did to you?”
“Because hearts are red, Esme,” Imogen said weakly, remembering everything. The surgery was successful. “And ours beat simultaneously. How could I have lived without you? I decided I would die trying because I love you.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry, too. For everything. I love you, too, Imogen.” Esme sniffled from crying, and for a long time, the two sisters embraced one another.