Twins, part one.

Published 2023.06.09

DECEMBER 15 2008

Res Jino, narrating

Ari Augustenburg.
Those are the words which I will say first. It would've made far more logical sense to open this chapter with the words, or rather the name, Rico Eisenberg, but no, no sense comes from the young woman who stole her false surname from a dynasty of industrialists rendered near-obsolete if not for their most famed philosopher, but that's for another time. Point is, that woman resculpted herself out of horseshit the moment she met me, whereas Ari did not. The sun was certainly oddly focused for a December day at RSA, not to the extent where you could fry eggs on the sidewalk, not by any means: it was simply a clear, piercingly cold day out. We enjoyed an early exit from class at around 1PM, having witnessed a teacher's assault by a student, watched a janitor mop up a little bit of blood, wondered when the guy would get expelled. Very usual; I remember his violent tendencies, however, no better than the Prada he would wear to class each passing day, dry-cleaning budgets off the fucking charts. Stupid. He's not relevant. I'm focusing too much on things that are not relevant here, fleeting actions I couldn't bear to remember but which I could also only bear to half-forget. This is how it turns out when you cherish the mundane. Here's how I quit cherishing the mundane.

There had been a day earlier in the year when Ari had passed herself off as twin sister Rico, Rico whom she found her feeling perpetually mixed on, Rico whom she could latch onto on account of her unimprisonment. Having swapped places, Ari sought me out based on what - little - Rico had mentioned. Shops lined each road; it was Providence through and through, the scenery, although I'm sure to Arianna it was a strange metalscape littered with haphazard concrete, no, lethally injected with it, and she must've viewed the unfamiliar Americanness of it all with a degree of contempt, but with hints of wonder strewn about her mind. Regardless, still confined to Navashino side-buildings more frequently than not, Ari had caught a glimpse of me later on and was, I presume, at least intrigued by my demeanor, and beyond just a passing interest. She has never been a woman of periodic fixations; if she expresses an interest in something, it eats itself with Ouroborosine recklessness. The day after the day I had missed, people had scowled at Rico - more than usual - as we traversed hallway after hallway, taking familiar routes to familiar rooms, and it most certainly came as a surprise when an administrator approached Rico and informed her of three infractions she had apparently committed: battery against peers, battery against staff, and wearing an inappropriately long wig - that is, Ari's long, beautiful hair, mistaken for an unshapely wig. The charges were dropped after some harsh words I do not presently wish to reproduce. It was at this point she explained what had happened to me.

"Ressie, listen. You remember me glossing all over my twin sister's bullshit, right? Yeah? We swapped places the day you were out now, and like...shit was hard, not admitting to you what I was doing. Like, I expected you to be there and all that, but it was just funnier, least to me, if you cut class down to arm veins, all bloody and shit, and you cut so hard that you realized you missed meeting Ari! I was like, wouldn't that be hilarious?" I understood the prank just fine, or so I thought. There had been a change of plans, which Rico had then decided to exploit, as I had been transiently ill. Was there anything more to it than just this? So I wondered. Ari, I knew, desired to meet me. Why had there been no meeting? "Hilarious, Rico," I began. "Can you tell me why this amused you to begin with?" "Oh yes, Allegory." We both knew 'jinotaj' was Czech for 'allegory.' "Listen: why are you so drawn to her if you've never met? Is it because you know how much money my family's got? You trying to gold-dig, huh?" I stared at her, wondering if she was about to turn around on me and explain why it wasn't in the interest of the conflicts at Red Swan - all the turf wars between students and the weapon and drug trades and all that - for me to meet someone new, if she was about to be controlling, but the only thing she said after a contemplative glance into her was "Nah, I'm joking. She's gonna come down here on Thursday. You'll see her plenty!" At least I hoped so.

Ari Augustenburg, narrating

Envy. It's a funny word. Amusing. A sin with such a bleeding heart sincerity. Jealousy reveals absences and wants. You can learn so much about the individuality of someone's self through what they sneer at. I'm not talking about Rico, if you do so desire to believe myself, if it is the object of your envy that the narration of such a tale can entirely deteriorate the emotional content, obliterate and obstruct the human element, make the self of a narrator a spiral shooting range target cut out of absences.

ARI: "I find myself attracted to Jino. I do not think it is any ordinary attraction. It is maybe a magnetism of normalcy. A villainous prowling instinct against an innocent, unmonied girl, if it is the stereotype of the lesbian that is to be believed. Or maybe to complete myself and guard myself against something technically missing. A devil found in the details."

RICO: "Sis, shut up, shut up, shut the heavenly fucks up. It's uncool that you can't just say, likesies, 'I want to talk to the poor, gain their trustsies, then I want to whack them with how poor and stupid they are!'"

ARI: "I wish I possessed such secondary or tertiary motives. I merely am finding myself lacking in 'grownup' interaction when Aunt Thal and the serial killer are off doing god knows what for several hours in a day, and their child poses a newly discovered impossibility, a treaty with my patience which has been torn up. I am van der Lubbe every single time their child emits a monologue. They're never quite wrong. I just find it isolating. To be discovering yourself in oppositional, begrudging coincidence with an earlier stage of self-discovery, the utter nonexistence of self-awareness, or a cosmic knowledge which only comes unburied hundreds of years later after it is shut deep inside the subconscious after the formation of memories has started taken its course."

RICO: "Just say you want girly-girl romance, dammit! Girls kissing! Girls schmoozing! Intriguesies! Gnarly lip and mouth, um, stuff. Picking the forbidden fruit... hand holding. Heavens forbid!"

ARI: "It might need to come to your information in a more defined capacity that I possess such a relationship with Eko. I suppose I see a fatefulness with Jino. A purity. A disaffiliation. A person-embodiment of sticking to the Code of our family and never receiving a diploma, even when stuck in the environment of academic entrapment. I wish to experience that transience. That pragmatic, innocent reactivity. Reaction without a hateful fervor."

RICO: "And what's with your idea of romance and burning libraries and murder-clowns?! The library of Alexandria isn't gently stroking your hair! You're weird, sis! Politics this, politics that. Throne this, throne that. If you like Ressie so much, why don't you go propose to her?"

ARI: "Good day, Claribel. Yes, Aunt Clari, I do have something to ask of you-"

Rico attempts to remove the phone from my hands. I put my own hands on it. We are now both holding it. We are now both screaming into the receiver. I could if I would. I am ordinarily not enough of an irritant to invoke a noise ordinance. No, that is a half-truth. Whispers are the greatest irritant - in a room full of bloody murder, the snake hiss of the authoritarian turns all heads and venomous eyes towards you. If I scream, I turn mute for the durations of days. It might be helpful to inform you that the balance of this confrontation is unresolvable. Whenever we attempt to play chess, we make the same moves instinctually. It is impossible for these divine twins to form a duality. For this reason, we are a team of two against one. I believe this to be a true demonstration of moral relativism. Sorry, that is a joke.

ARI: "An opal wedding ring."

RICO: "Don't listen to her! La la la la la la la la la la!"

ARI: "Titanium shell."

RICO: "You're just um, like, hearing things. This call never happenedsies. This is a dream. Wake up. Wake up. Here! There's a cock crowing! It's morning, it's morning! Wake up from your weird bad dream!"

ARI: "I find the current circumstances unfavorable, and the dream ending unfashionable, so we will resume this discussion at a later date."

Pause. Flip phone shut with all the animism of a gigantic venus flytrap entrapping a newborn primate. Call finished. Patent claimed. Invention of the lightbulb dispute envisioned and in motion. Who scratched EUREKA into Res Jino's face first?

ARI: "Concessions have been made."

RICO: "Don't go doing things like that again! Uncool! Ungnarly! You're shitsies. Who gave you free will?"

ARI: "An accident of evolution, I would suppose. I prefer to think of it that way, rather than an intentional design choice by committee, a blueprinted fate and a blueprinted love for a gentle girl. A predetermined fate. I possess quite the distaste for conceptualizing that I am at the top of some product line. That is why I am better suited to be allied with and complimentary to Res Jino."

Those are some words and disagreements exchanged between Rico and myself. I cannot lie that some of her pretensions mirror mine - I did lust for a non-atypical, a near-fictionalized, Sapphic sprite-swap of the romantic comedy, confessions obliterated by fireworks, the fall of Rome as a grand romantic gesture, third act Carthaginian victory paired with a digression into the childhood of Hannibal, and the shotgun marriage of the socially awkward walls of Constantinople and the outgoing, ravenously extroverted Ottomans. On second thought, I do not think any of those are the constituent features of heterosexual television, as I am not an avid viewer of such material, and I avidly cast significant doubts on the existence of men. So far the results of my denialism have been inconclusive. What follows is a stage more microscopic.

Upon the occurrence of the swapping, I was greeted with plebian taunts, loudmouthed war mongering, which I would suppose are the embryonic stages of emotionally sensitive connectivity and trust in the safekeeping of secrets, amoebic life. I cannot smell violence in the words that threaten to rupture my organs with a "Cheetos dust flamethrower shotgun" (not a thing or as of yet to be invented), entomb me in concrete beneath the women's toilet (structural integrity investigation pending), reveal the pattern of my underwear (an inhabitant of the Ediacaran wormworld has gained a human mind and a comicbook speech bubble) and rob "that precious little girlfriend of yours" (flat broke, utterly destitute, economically worthless). Answering "Good day" to these seems to turn one's internal ravager into a beheaded standing soldier of the Terracotta army. There seems to be something strange about a quiet Rico. Myself is of the belief that it is ideal that she stays at a volume that does not threaten the reputation of the air travel industry and the reputation of its jets. I fail to see the error. Momentarily, I fail to see the woven inkjets of Res Jino's backside as well.

DECEMBER 16 2008

Res Jino, narrating

Many beautiful instruments are seldom-used because they happen to be near-silent before an auditorium. In Europe, this applies, unfortunately, to the clavichord, the quieter cousin of the harpsichord, which came to be associated with intimate spaces - at least in my opinion - and the private activities of composers, something on which a melody could be purely played. The guqin of China plays soft enough that the room could swallow it up, yet it is a mark of sophistication, its technique written about book after book and persisting as a many-thousand-piece repertoire into the arena-rock era. I neither know nor really wish to know how to play either instrument, but I found myself, in these days, interested in someday owning such a quiet instrument for a single purpose. I wished to demonstrate to Rico Eisenberg that she was the opposite of a clavichord, that she was a mirror-world Rococo version thereof: as the size of a crowd increased, as it did when the cafeteria filled up and her antics invariably began, such would her volume increase, volume here in a zeugma meaning literal loudness and, in a figurative sense, her capacity to fill a space with her presence. Her rants were a fixture of Red Swan Academy throughout her attendance, albeit not fully daily, and she was sloppier than the primitive consumer 3D printers of the time; one could even call 2008-era Rico Eisenberg an 'emerging technology.' No one, not even yours-truly Res Jino, knew what to do with Rico Eisenberg. On the sixteenth of December in Anno Domini 2008, something felt a little off, for I knew exactly what to do with her. I knew that I needed to call her down when she started ranting about what she did, and I knew this couldn't go on as it was going, for she had exclaimed, in an eloquence as perfect as an inelegant diatribe can aspire to:

"Centralization! Centralization! Someone tell me what's the matter with the fucking terrible force of centralization! Someone put me in a centrifuge! I want out of this madness!" She paused when she had obtained the attention of about half the cafeteria; the others went on eating or studying or both. "You see, listen up! There's plenty of forces working against me. You would never see them, cuz my gang's overriding your claims, but you're all against us! There're no allies to be seen for a mile! Not even the people closest to me could ever get it. Centralization, for a human being, is inevitable! I want freedom from this mortal plane, and I want to be everywhere at the same time! Is that too much to ask? Why are you looking at me funny? I've got my own gnarly-ass ulterior motives I ain't willing to say, yet they guide me and I guide myself and- fuck you! Let me-" I pulled her down from the table with such force that she nearly toppled into the ground headfirst. Sternly, I let out, "Shut the fuck up, Rico Eisenberg. If you have something to tell me, tell it to me."

"My sister is in love with you, bitch!"

"And how does that relate to centralization?"

"She's the most centralized one that's ever lived. Only centered on herself, drags everybody else into her center. Yeah, 'cluding me. Your best friend, dragged into her weird little thing, Ressie."

"Let me meet her and I'll find out for myself. What is there that you need to save me from, huh? A good time?"

"Um, no. I'm saving your butch ass from the most fatale femme you're ever gonna encounter."

"She's going to poison me?"

"Yeah. And you wanna die on this hill so bad?" We had drifted into strained whispers, hands pressed so tight on the strings of a guqin that the pitch begins to bend out of position. She was awfully close to my face, breathing on me, oddly clean. Somehow, no one was actually watching.

"You're so worried about me for so few reasons. Make a concession. If I die, you can always bring me flowers."


"And perhaps it would be better if you quieted down sometimes, occasionally adopted aspects of her comportment. Big words, I know. What I'm saying is act more square, Rico. You blew it today."

"You have a magical disorder that's exacerbated by talking to me, you know." I didn't believe her for a minute. "It's called, erm, okhlesis. Okhlesis ozou. Look it up." Absolutely nothing came up later that day on any search engine I tried. I translated myself and the only conclusion I could come to was, well, a gnarly and annoying one, that she had made it up herself. "Piss off," I texted her when I realized that afternoon.