sojourn

Martin
13 min readMay 26, 2020

Somebody told me it’s possible to telecommunicate with your twin. I tried it last night.

  1. Like any night marked with anticipation of someone important arriving, the first thing I did was make my bed.
  2. I sat exactly in the middle of the mattress, seance style.
  3. The bedsprings beneath my blue sheets and crossed legs felt firm with no give. Meanwhile, my bedroom was empty and dim, a prosaic tribute to squares.
  4. But there was a buzz in the air, because someone was about to appear.
  5. I ran through a mental list of what so-and-so told me to do, starting with step one, which was stressed as important despite not sounding so: “Take a deep, huge breath, like you’re about to dive into deep water and you need a little extra air tucked away inside of you.”
  6. (This wasn’t explicitly mentioned, but I figured I should also shut my eyes tightly, to keep the yellow light from the bedside lamp out of my thoughts. At some point I relaxed my eyelids, but I don’t recall when.)
  7. “Then, very slowly seep all that air out from your nose.” I did.
  8. For step three, they explained I had to “take my brain and pretend it was on a fishing line”. I asked for clarification, but all I got was that I had to imagine casting my brain as far out into the horizon as my shoulders could throw it.
  9. I didn’t exactly know how to do this, despite the vivid example.
  10. I pretended to put my brain on a hook.
  11. Here’s how: with my eyes still clenched and chin tucked in, I hesitantly raised both of my palms to the sides of my head.
  12. My hands floated and waited until my brain came off.
  13. Seconds later, my arms gingerly came back down to my lap with the prize: a wet, cold brain, presumably between the air of my two outstretched sets of fingertips.
  14. I pretended to plop my brain over to my left hand, then I made a down-and-up hooking motion with the right.
  15. (My body subconsciously absorbed this pretend poke of the hook, communicating to my real body to flinch. I bit my lower-lip instead.)
  16. Interestingly, I sort of knew what to do next, like some kind of telepathically communicating pro.
  17. Hands now resting motionless on my boxer-clad legs, breathing shallowed, thoughts hushed to a murmur, I allowed my whole head to fall like dead-weight to the left (my neck adding extra weight where there was none). Hanging there only for a moment, I flung my head hard, a tiny whip of my neck to the right: a mini-cast.
  18. [WOOSH!], a gale wind from who-knows-where flew up behind me, blowing up my ratty t-shirt. My brain catapulted through the air!
  19. Any physicist would tell you that my brain should have just hit the inside of my skull after that neck-whip, but instead, my mind flew out of my head, out into which I could not see, hurtling far, far away into the blackness—possibly space. Probably space.
  20. Upright again and with an added dollop of dizziness, all my thoughts were disintegrating — even, unfortunately, the much-needed instructions.
  21. From the perspective of inside my head, this looked like a low-fidelity, Tron-like shrinking square, like an old television set turning off with a hum.
  22. For added effect, my imagination quick-wittedly added a spinning reel sound between my ears. Whatever misbegotten neuron was still leftover from my corporeal self, it allowed me to feel as though an imaginary heft was dissipating from my body.
  23. Maybe I fell backward onto my bed then? Maybe I was standing up? But I was gone, so what would that even mean?
  24. [Silence]
  25. I wasn’t in my room anymore, or my body.
  26. I was somewhere but I was nowhere. All real-world sounds that persisted in my field of hearing did no longer. (For me, this started with the muffling of the nearby highway off of my third-story balcony, followed in annoyance by the relentless thumping from the neighbor’s children downstairs, also vanishing. My small case of tinnitus was calmed.)
  27. There were three or four other senses missing as well?
  28. Perception afforded me awareness enough that I was in a tank of black. I was floating, unconcerned about a beneath, an above, or a behind.
  29. There was only nothing and it was in front of me.
  30. Foretold, if I floated in this dark void long enough — in theory — I would free up the needed, excess amount of energy to telecommunicate directly with my twin, right here, in my room, but in space, or wherever, and in real-time.
  31. [Nobody prepared me for what was going to happen next, which became obvious why, after it happened.]
  32. Instead of things that should be, leaving, things that shouldn’t be, were. Changes to this blackness came at the creeping pace of a windshield fogging, and just as low-key concerning.
  33. Here was the first new thing that appeared: the intimate smell of a scarf. For some reason, I knew instantly what this smell was, because what else carries such a gentle, light flavor? It’s so weirdly intimate I was almost embarrassed, a sensation I was surprised I could still conjure.
  34. The scarf smell did not come alone. Somebody or some thing was here now. My closed eyes were no help, but even in darkness, my mind perceived a dense outline, like someone had dropped a sheet over a ghost.
  35. About here, I started to feel less like a human and more like a bat.
  36. If I had to describe echolocation to someone who had previously never used it before, this is how: it feels like the power going off while someone is standing next to you. In that snap moment after the lights go out, you know someone is still there — you can still feel their presence. And after a minute or two, you sort of start to see them.
  37. This is when I saw her.
  38. The first thing I noticed was a small bouquet of broad features. (Already, I could tell why people might think we were related.) For starters, we were nearly the same height, and our faces were angular in all manners similar. Most people jump to the conclusion of “identical” when you invoke twins, but it was obvious she was fraternal.
  39. I knew we were twins right away.
  40. Light! God damn! It pierced the darkness with two narrow beams, like dual lighthouses, creating a stinging sensation behind my eyeballs… or where I guess my eyeballs once were.
  41. After the jump scare, the light revealed itself as more of a Cheshire cat leer than a light on a swivel. Actually, it wasn’t really light, but more the absence of dark that made it seem bright. Lanes of visibility beamed out from where pupils in her face would be, newfound perspicuity in this land of black.
  42. I assure you, I was not creeped out by any of this, despite being separated from my body, then being blinded by glowy eyes from a person-shaped creature casually floating in nothingness. (The smell weirdly helped.)
  43. After light, shape and smell, I started to notice texture; the little details that made her up began to come into focus. I noticed her wavy, long hair spilling over and down her shoulders, none of which she apparently brushed before becoming an apparition. No matter how much clearer she became, her hair remained dark.
  44. Her eyebrows, too, were dark and pronounced. Skin was slowly introduced like paper from a printer, from her tipped nose to her pink-ish mouth to her non-descript legs. The revelation of color revealed a paleness, which contrasted excellently against her brownish-green blouse and tan pants, two newly perceived things that also helped me distinguish shape. Her overall complexion and thin frame complimented her dark features quite well, in fact, and the immaterial glow from her eyes was now more of a natural one exuding from all over her body.
  45. She was hot.
  46. (Was I complimenting myself?)
  47. Everything up to this point really didn’t matter compared to what came next.
  48. This is when the link hit.
  49. Nothing about what I just described would further adjust; if I had hoped to be received by a kind face or a warm hug, well, her face didn’t grow more detailed, nor did her body move one iota, despite zero-gravity. Instead, with this floating scarecrow-thing looking right through me, all manner of thought shifted from analyzing to feeling.
  50. It was as if I suddenly remembered something grotesquely obvious I had distressingly forgotten, like recalling my own name, or a simple word.
  51. A fond memory between me and this person-shape found me, like a fluttery butterfly landing on my nose, ticklish and bemusing. Hee hee, how could I have ever forgotten this? But I have never known it?
  52. This familiarity ushered in a nuzzled warming sensation, like a heating pad hitting its stride, growing and warming from wherever wasn’t behind, beneath, above, or in front of me…presumably, my center, though the concept of direction was useless to me at this point.
  53. Concerningly, the act of feeling, I could tell with complete certainty, was now shared. When I felt warm, my twin would too. And I felt her feelings. Or perhaps, I empathized so strongly with her, my floating essence believed I somehow was her?
  54. Oh. I was in love with her.
  55. No, that wasn’t quite right — my lived experience simply had no reference for connection this strong. Whatever “everything I am, is them” means in this universe, I was.
  56. I knew in that moment, everything I had already experienced in life, I had done so with her. And I also suddenly knew it was impossible for me to feel anything new without her ever again.
  57. By the way, seriously, where the hell were we that could cultivate feelings such as these? If darkness could be thought of as in motion, then the absence of everything was spinning all around us in a muted silence. (Maybe sound couldn’t exist here either?)
  58. We stared at each other without needing to look at each other.
  59. In lieu of emoting through physiology or spoken language, this newfound link reverberated a stimulus/response as tenuous as crackling electricity, no true start or endpoint to be found among the archways of sparks bounding between our bodies. Our souls rhymed with guttural familiarity.
  60. Look, I don’t know what that means either, okay? It’s just what was happening.
  61. Forgetting why I was there, I decided to let go and transfer all autonomy to my twin, whom I had known for both forever and five minutes. (Not that I could really tell how much time had just passed.)
  62. Everything about this exact moment in time— the present — was now lining up to become the future. Little parcels of thoughts and feelings marched single file on an exalted journey towards what could never be understood by my previous self, but was now the only reality I accepted: a doubling of all Earthly senses, love, laughter, and empathy in stereo.
  63. [Nobody warned me about this either…but if you come to this place and weren’t actually born with a twin, this is what happens next.]
  64. Regarding the simple matter of why I came here (which I had recently forgotten), it was important I reviewed the steps for telecommunicating with my twin, which I’ll remind you was given to me by somebody. But the steps had all vanished, along with my old brain.
  65. I had mastered the art of feeling and thinking in the void, yet this place had no spoken language to share, nor did I even have a mouth to utilize.
  66. Was the electricity crackling off my arm, and hips, and nose my sentences? She could feel me just the same, but… a glance over and I was left wondering…was I wrong?
  67. I had to tell my twin that I needed to stay here with her.
  68. (There was no alternate plan to return us to the previous world, a mislain place of beds and balconies and air. Matter-of-factly, if there was no up, or down, or a behind, then certainly there was no “before”, either. All that we had and all that should be was here and now.)
  69. And okay, this was just now coming up, but man, my twin sure was shy.
  70. I had no need to use my body up to this point, but there is no harm in touching your life’s fulfillment, right?
  71. I needed to be closer to her. But could we touch? Did we even exist? I had no true body for which to test these theories. Yet it became clear to me that we must merge, just as clearly as we had been inadvertently split by some cosmic misunderstanding.
  72. After what was probably an eternity floating here with my twin, I began to realize I did not know how to properly move in the void. I looked down at my arm and I willed it to move upward, and it eventually lifted with the grace of an amateur puppeteer. “Go forward,” I told my arm, and also to each of my five digits. I was floating with my arm outreached towards my twin, who received this action with no physiology for which to read, but with an immediate dissatisfaction that welled up in my gut — hers.
  73. Why didn’t she like that?
  74. As far as offerings go, I felt this was enough, for my foot may have been willed forward just the same, but there was nothing around for which to gain traction on.
  75. We stared at each other without needing to look at each other.
  76. Um, hello, is this thing on?
  77. Then, miraculous in the way a child’s first steps are miraculous, her arm became outstretched — not the same arm as mine but in a mirrored image. And though we were overlapping in our reach, we did not touch, which did not satisfy any laws of physics I’d ever heard of.
  78. I was happy but I wasn’t happy, because she wasn’t happy, and our feelings were one, so then I guess I wasn’t happy to begin with.
  79. I lowered my arm and she lowered hers. I raised my other arm and she mimicked that as well.
  80. A pause. For the first moment since I arrived, I began to wonder what lay behind me, despite knowing by benefit of my positioning that nothing lay behind her. (This, a rare thought, in place of a feeling.) It was not a bad thought, I thought. (A second thought.) Perhaps, by fated chance, something might exist behind me, and we might share the experience of an outward discovery together? This pondering acknowledged the existence of direction, which bothered her, I could feel. (We shared feelings, please remember.)
  81. Memories of all the times we’ve had together suddenly flooded my field of vision, sent over by her. They brought me intense comfort, despite never having gotten to experience them firsthand.
  82. But heck, we were not yet speaking, at least as marked by a manner in which statements from the self build on each other. Plus, for the first time, I began to notice the deafening silence all around us. It was distracting.
  83. I was starting to feel bad. She must have felt it, too. She really got me.
  84. One more thought instead of a feeling: maybe if I started this whole process over again, it might jump-start some kind of ventured vulnerability, or learning how to telecommunicate with my twin will become obvious on the second go-around?
  1. Like any night marked with anticipation of someone important arriving, the first thing I did was make my bed.
  2. I sat exactly in the middle of the mattress, seance style.

[Wait, no…a bed? That’s not right.]

  1. Ugh. I could not recall what it was I was supposed to do, exactly, here with my twin, whom I had always known and had also just met, and…
  2. …wait, I lost my place.

85. What was this about a bed? I couldn’t recall. (And why does my list look weird now?) I was getting confused, nervous. Tripping over a surprisingly labored breath, a breath that reminded me I still necessitated breathing, I glanced up and saw more of my twin’s shape than I had previously. But how? It seemed light was no longer singularly sourced from her eyes, as I looked beyond her body to witness white, fine fractures in the blackness. This world was breaking, light sneaking in as if from a dilapidated cathedral roof allowing in a smattering of sunrise.

86. While there was now a kaleidoscopic light pattern wallpapering our world, I couldn’t help but notice this did not help her features become more detailed. Instead, more light made her body appear washed out, like a photograph with too high a contrast. This gave her a frightening presence, or at least one that finally started to scare me.

87. I needed to tell my twin that this world was breaking. I wanted her to help me bring it back together. [Please, don’t leave me], I thought. But I had no mouth, and I could not speak, and she would not speak to me.

88. The bad feeling from where I was still presuming was my center was rumbling. Growing desperate, I remembered that reaching out my arms elicited a reaction in her. I reached towards her in hopes of colliding with her once again, but… nothing. This time, her body did not reach out for me. She stood there floating in the fracture of dark and light with a faceless, flat affect.

89. I say dark and light, but lightness was finally about to overtake the intensity of the nothingness. I reached for her harder now, until even the muscles lining my fingers were straining. Could she not feel my fear? How could this be happening? After everything we’d been through, here in the void, was life threatening to take away love, laughter and empathy expressed in stereo? I could barely remember living such a hapless existence… even though I had only just arrived here.

90. If I opened my eyes or closed them, it would not change anything, I was sure of it. (Coincidentally, this was the first-moment recalling I also had a pair of eyes, similar to her’s, since whenever it was I landed here.)

91. The light beams from her eyes began to mesh with the light from the cracking void. Her dark eyebrows and dark hair and dark clothes were no longer contrasting. There was no sound, but there should have been a cacophony of seizing earth, or whatever all organic matter was called here. The whiteness was so bright I could barely make out her body apart from my shaking, outstretched hand in front of me.

92. Suddenly — white — everything.

93. If whiteness could be thought of as in motion, then the presence of it was spinning all around me, and it was fucking loud.

93. My body… first of all, my body?

95. It was here beneath me, suggesting that both I was an I and down was down. And here was my heft, and here was my breath, and there were my crossed legs atop these firm springs. A slight headache and a dry mouth cued me back into the contract I had breached with time and space. My eyes hated even this dim, yellow light, dilating in protest.

96. I heard a distant wooshing of a highway.

97. My bedroom was empty and dim, a prosaic tribute to squares. My travels had brought back with them some sort of profound knowing, and yet, my stupid room was somehow even emptier than before I left it for the dark void.

98. I looked over and caught sight of myself in the mirror hanging by the bedroom door. I kept eye contact with myself, despondently, unflinching.

99. From across the small way, my skin appeared pale, and my hair dark and unkempt. I sat in the realization it truly was possible to telecommunicate with your twin, if only I had a twin to communicate with.

100. I laid back down and thought for a while, alone, on the bed I had made.

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