“But Lee-Lee! I don’t want to stay with him!” The little boy cried to his sister when she told him that he would have to spend the day with their father. “He always gets angry with me, no matter what I do!”
Lee-Lee looked at her brother, knowing that he was right; their father doted on her, always giving in to her and teaching her, but when it came to her brother, their father was strict and impatient. “I don’t want to go shopping with Mama! You know I’d rather stay here and go exploring with Dad. But Mama said I have to go with her to try on the shoes.” Lee-Lee tried not to show how much it hurt her to leave her brother
The siblings had told their mother about the way their father treated the little boy but to their eyes, she never saw that side of her husband. He always had a hard time telling them apart even though they weren’t identical and were different genders; he didn’t even remember which of them was born first, always saying his son would be his downfall because he was the oldest.
If there was ever a time their father was accepting of them both or treated them equally, the twins couldn’t remember it. They did remember the first time he came back from one of his many trips and started showing less and less affection towards the boy, muttering under his breath about his oldest child being his downfall. There was nothing they could do since their mother didn’t believe them and their father was rarely left alone with his son anymore; Lee-Lee tried to make sure she was by her brother’s side as often as possible.
Lee-Lee tried asking her mother again, “Mama, can’t we go shopping tomorrow? Day doesn’t want to be left alone. Or he could come with us!” Lee was excited at the idea, knowing her and her twin could make an adventure out of anything.
“That’s enough. We are going out only for the shoes, and if I take both of you it will take longer. Lee, you need these shoes for your school recital at the end of the month and if we don’t do it now, we won’t have time to do it later. So, your brother will spend the day with your father while you and I are out.” Sharing a look with her brother, Lee finally followed her mom out to the car.
Day watched as his twin drove away with their mother, leaving him alone with their dad. He had one or two memories of his father trying to teach him about the forest but not being able to comprehend everything his dad was trying to show him. That was the first time Day realized his dad favored his twin. She could hear or be shown something once and was able to remember what their father said while he took a little longer and a few more tries to understand. Day never blamed Lee-Lee though. She was his other half, the only one who understood him. Whenever their father taught her something new, she would, in turn, teach him; patiently explaining everything until he got it, always wanting to share each new experience with him. Unlike their father, Lee never treated him differently because it took him longer to understand things but rather enjoyed the fact that she could help him learn. She was the reckless one, always running ahead or climbing higher than him, whereas Day was the thinker, always taking his time to plan his next move or words; two halves to one whole.
Day walked back into the house, bracing himself for his father’s reaction to him being left behind rather than Lee. Entering the living room, Day was disappointed but not shocked by his father’s look of annoyance upon seeing Day and not his favored daughter. “Where’s Lee? I thought I was taking her out into the woods this morning.” Even at such a young age, Day could hear the anger and contempt in his father’s voice when he spoke to Day.
Shifting from foot to foot, the little boy meekly replied, “Mama changed plans last minute. She said Lee-Lee needed shoes for school and they had to go today. So, I have to stay here with you.”
Muttering about how worthless both Day and his mother were, his father stood, about to leave Day in the house alone. Day never said anything about what he heard his father call his mother to either his twin or mom, afraid neither would believe him, especially since Lee loved spending time with their dad and learning from him and that their mother never believed how their father treated him. Seeing his father stop halfway out of the room, Day held back his sigh of relief at being left alone and started to feel uneasy at the smug and triumphant look on his father’s face.
“Since your sister isn’t here to appreciate my lesson, you’re going to take it instead, boy. Let’s go. We’re going into the woods.”
Trying to resist, Day said, “But I don’t want to! Can’t we just stay here?”
Grabbing his son by the arm, the man angrily replied, “No. I’m going to teach you a lesson you won’t forget. Neither will your worthless mother. I’m only sorry your sister turned out to be just as worthless as the two of you; she had so much potential to be great.”