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Broken Glass

V. C. Andrews

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  My mother’s dinner date, Simon Adams, stepped out of his car right after Mother started screaming at me. She had practically leaped out of the car before he came to a stop when she saw me standing there alone. I had waited as long as I could to walk out, so that I would be one of the last to leave the theater. No matter what my twin sister, Kaylee, thought or what anyone else would think, I couldn’t be exactly sure what would happen after she had left to, as she believed, meet my Internet lover and make my excuses. I had a pretty good idea, though. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have sent her.

  The movie theater we had gone to as part of my plan was one of the few that weren’t in a mall these days. Most of the stores on the street in this neighborhood were already closed by the time the movie ended. People scattered quickly to their cars in the nearby parking lot or on the street as if they were worried that it was a dangerous area. Maybe it was. I had no idea what it was like. We had never gone to a movie or shopped here before.

  “What are you saying? What are you saying?” Mother shouted after I began to explain Kaylee’s absence. “What do you mean, she’s not back? Back from where?”

  I started to cry, always a good touch. Mother hated to see either of us cry, always expecting that the other would soon start, too.

  “Where is she?” she demanded, stamping her foot.

  “I don’t know,” I said. I kept my head down.

  Only hours ago, Mother had seen Kaylee and me go into the movie theater, and now, when they drove up, she saw only me standing there looking around frantically. I was sure that my face was full of enough concern and panic to impress her. I had planned how I should look and sound. When you think ahead to what a scene would be like, it’s like rehearsing for a play. Mother wasn’t doing or saying anything I hadn’t expected. I could have written her dialogue, too.

  I glanced behind me and saw the cashier, a woman probably in her sixties, and an usher who was probably no more than twenty, gaping at us. We were probably better drama than the movie now playing. Some other people walking in front of and near the theater paused on the sidewalk to look our way.

  “How could you not know where your sister is? Maybe she’s still in the theater. Is she in the bathroom?”

  “She’s not in the theater bathroom.”

  “You checked?”

  “I didn’t have to, Mother.” I took a deep breath. “Kaylee left to meet a man very soon after we got here, but she was supposed to return before the movie ended,” I blurted, and continued to cry.

  “What? What man?”

  “What’s going on?” Simon asked, hurrying up to us. He looked at the theater entrance. “Where’s the other one?”

  The other one? He wasn’t sure which twin I was. I nearly stopped crying and started laughing.

  Mother looked at him, annoyed, but ignored him. I couldn’t blame her. He wasn’t exactly what anyone would describe as a strong-looking, take-charge man. He had lost his wife about a year ago in a traffic accident, and either the tragedy had made him meek and helpless or he was always that way. I had called him Mother’s charity date, because she had told us she was his first date since his wife’s death and that she was going to take extra care with him. I had told Kaylee it seemed more like emotional and psychological therapy than a romantic evening. Mother had gone out with at least half a dozen men since her and our father’s divorce, but none of them was good enough for her to continue dating. I doubted Simon would be.

  “What’s the matter? What’s going on? Where is she?” Simon asked again.

  “I’m trying to find out. She says Kaylee left the theater to meet a man,” Mother told him.

  “A man? Who? What man? Did you know about this?” He grimaced, making it seem like it was her fault.

  “Of course not! That’s what Haylee was about to explain.” She grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “Stop crying and talk,” she said.

  I took a deep breath, wiped away my tears, and began with “I’m sorry, Mother. I should have told you, but Kaylee would have hated me.”

  “What are you saying? What should you have told me? Hated you for what?”

  “Kaylee was carrying on an Internet relationship with some older man. I told her she could get into big trouble, that men like that are dangerous, but she insisted he was all right. According to her, they were talking almost every night for the last month or so on her computer, and she liked him very much.”

  Mother stared at me in disbelief. She shook her head as if my words were shower water caught in her ears. Every part of her face seemed to be in motion as she reluctantly digested what I was saying.

  “She met someone on the Internet? These things can be bad,” Simon said. “So where is she?” he asked me, stepping forward, suddenly more aggressive and manly. “As you can see, your mother and I are very concerned.”

  He’s showing off for Mother, I thought, and smiled to myself. He was still pathetic.

  “Talk,” Mother ordered. “Quickly.”

  “She said she and this man finally decided to meet, but she knew you would never approve of it, so she came up with the idea to pretend we were excited about this movie,” I said, the words rushing out of my mouth like water bursting through a dam.


  “It was her plan. After you took us here, she left the theater to meet him somewhere. She promised to be back way before the movie ended. Right up to the time she left, I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn’t listen.”

  Mother looked up and down the street. “Which way did she go? What else do you know?”

  “That’s all I know. I went along with it because she said she would hate me forever if I didn’t. I couldn’t have her hate me. I couldn’t. We’re too much a part of each other. I’ve been so worried.” I started to cry again.

  “We’d better call the police,” Simon said. Mother didn’t respond. She stood there almost frozen in place. I was afraid to look at her. Sometimes I thought she could read my thoughts. “I’ll call the police,” he said. He took out his cell phone and stepped back toward the car.

  “How could you let her do this? How could you keep it a secret from me? Didn’t we talk about how either of you should tell me about the other getting involved with someone dangerous?”

  I nodded but kept my head lowered. “She made me promise,” I said. “I couldn’t betray her.”

  “Her? What about betraying me?”

  I raised my head. “I told her that, Mother, but she said we needed to believe in each other if we were to be forever special sisters. I was afraid of breaking her heart.”

  “This is so unlike her,” Mother mumbled.

  I looked up at her quickly. “It’s unlike me, too.”

  “Yes,” she said, nodding. “Yes.”

  Simon returned. “They’re on their way,” he said. “You don’t even know which direction she took?”

  “She just told me they were meeting at a place he had decided on because it was close enough for her to go to his house and get back before the movie ended,” I replied, wiping the tears from my cheeks.

  “To his house?” Mother said, the words taking a strong grip on her worst fears. “She went to his house, to a strange man’s house?”

  “That was the plan she told me they had made.”

  “Does he live alone? How old is he? How did she meet him on the Internet?”

  “I don
’t know any of that. She wouldn’t tell me that much,” I said.

  “Men who do this sort of thing know how to find vulnerable young girls,” Simon said, nodding like some sort of expert on teenage girls.

  I looked at him with an expression that shouted, Shut up! You’re making it all worse. I guess I was effective. He backed up a step.

  “How long has this been going on?” Mother asked.

  “Maybe six weeks, maybe seven.”

  “And you both kept this a secret from me for that long?” she asked, her face now a portrait of disbelief. She looked like a little girl who had just learned that Santa Claus was not real. I had never believed in Santa Claus. Most of life was a fairy tale. Who needed to add a fat man with a beard?

  “You were . . .” I looked at Simon. “Busy with your own problems. At least, that was what Kaylee thought, and I did, too. She convinced me that you’d only start worrying so much about us that you would be unhappy again, and we were both upset at how horribly Daddy had treated you. She said that would all be my fault if I told.”

  “This is so unlike them,” Mother told Simon. “They’ve never done anything even remotely like this.”

  “Do you know his name?” Simon asked.

  “She told me a name, but I’m not sure it’s his real name.”

  “What does that mean?” Mother demanded.

  “He could have made up a name,” Simon said, “or your sister could have made one up. Right?” he asked, as if I was now the expert.

  “Maybe,” I said. I turned back to Mother. “He might be right. I don’t know if she wanted to tell me his real name, so she could have made it up just to shut me up because I kept asking her.”

  “Nevertheless, what name did she tell you?” Simon demanded.

  “Bob Brukowski,” I said. “It never sounded real to me.”

  “I can’t believe this,” Mother said, shaking her head. “This is not happening. It’s not happening.” She put her hands over her ears as if she could block out reality and return to our perfect world by closing and opening her eyes.

  “It’s a problem all over the country now,” Simon said. “Young girls being exploited through computers.”

  She pulled her hands from her ears as if they had been glued to them and made two fists.

  “It’s not a problem for me! Or it shouldn’t be,” Mother said. The veins in her neck looked like they might burst. Her eyes were bulging, and her nostrils widened.

  He pressed his thin lips together and nodded. A police patrol car pulled up to the curb, and two officers got out quickly. Simon turned and hurried to them, happy, I thought, to get away from Mother. He explained what was happening, and the officers came over to us.

  “Mrs. Fitzgerald,” the taller one said, “I’m Officer Donald, and this is Officer Monday.” He took out a small notepad. “What’s your daughter’s name and age?”

  “Her name is Kaylee Blossom Fitzgerald, and she’s sixteen. This is her sister, Haylee. They are identical twins, so you don’t need a photograph to recognize her,” Mother said. “Or you can take one of Haylee with your cell phone. There’s not an iota of difference between them, down to how many freckles they each have. They wear their hair the same way, and they are dressed in the same outfit, the same color tonight. They sound the same, too.”

  Both policemen looked at me, astounded. The shorter one almost smiled at how ridiculous Mother sounded.

  “Haylee,” Officer Donald said, “why don’t you tell us everything that went on between your sister and this man. Don’t leave out anything because you think it’s too small a detail or not important, okay?”


  “Why don’t you sit in our car?” he said, stepping to the side so I could do that.

  When I started for it, Mother began to follow, but Officer Monday asked her to wait. I knew why. They thought I wouldn’t say things in front of my mother. Simon took her hand. When I looked back at them, their roles appeared reversed. She suddenly looked like his charity date. How ironic, I thought. He’s the one using psychology on her. It brought a smile to my face that I wiped away instantly as I got into the patrol car. The two officers got in and turned to me.

  “So,” Officer Donald began, “tell us how this all started and everything you know about the man. We understand your sister told you his name?”

  “She told me a name, but as I told my mother, I don’t know if that’s his real name. It was Bob Brukowski.”

  “Did he send her a picture of himself over the Internet?” Officer Monday asked.

  “I guess he did, but I never saw anything on her computer. I know only what she told me about him. Maybe she thought if she showed me his picture, I’d tell her he was too old for her or something.”

  “So tonight you just know she was meeting this Bob Brukowski somewhere in this neighborhood, and the man was definitely older, and he was going to take her to his house?”

  “Yes. She made a big deal about him being an older man and not a high school student. She was bragging about how much a mature man was attracted to her. I kept warning her, but she wouldn’t listen.”

  “So what happened tonight?” Officer Monday asked. “How was this all set up?”

  “She had a plan,” I began, and started to describe it. As I spoke, the belief that Kaylee really would never be back grew stronger and stronger. I half wished that I had been there hiding in the shadows and watching, like the director of a movie, when Kaylee had met him.

  “Does your sister have a cell phone?” Officer Donald asked.

  “Yes, we both do, but we didn’t take cell phones tonight.” I shrugged. “I guess I should have made sure we did. I was just so nervous about it all that I forgot.”

  “I’ve got a teenage sister,” Officer Monday said. “Like all her friends, she won’t even go to the bathroom without her cell phone.”

  “We were too involved in my sister’s plan. We didn’t think,” I said more emphatically, and threw in a few well-placed sobs.

  I knew now that it was over, that it was happening. I should have felt more remorse, but a little voice inside me asked, If your twin sister is gone, are you still a twin? Won’t people stop mixing you up? Won’t you become your own person finally?

  I had to be careful not to let the policemen see my smile. They wouldn’t understand.

  No one who didn’t know us and how we were raised would understand.



  Even with all the warnings and the bad stories out there, whose mother wouldn’t have a hard time believing her daughter would do something like this? Everybody thinks they’re raising angels. I saw that from the way my friends’ parents talked about them. How could their daughter be doing something as terrible as carrying on a romance over the Internet with an older man? And right under their noses? This was all especially true for our mother.

  Simon Adams was right. Examples of this were constantly on the news. But our mother was always very confident that we wouldn’t do anything that was so forbidden or so stupid. In her eyes, we were such goody-goodies. I hated it when she bragged about us and people looked at us as if we were right out of a fairy tale about two identical princesses, Cinderella clones without so much as a blemish on our behavior or complexions.

  When we were little, both of us used to believe that we hadn’t been born. We had descended from a cloud of angels and just floated into the delivery room. The stork really did bring us.

  Mother had no idea how many things we had done recently that she wouldn’t approve of, mainly things I had done and that my dear abused sister would have to go along with or at least keep secret. Kaylee would have been suspected less. After all, no matter what Mother told other people or even what she told us, I knew in my heart that she favored Kaylee, despite her effort not to show any bias.

  However, I had no doubt that her favoring Kaylee gave her nightmares. What if I could tell—or anyone else could tell, for that matter—that she really did favor one of us over
the other? How horrible for her. All our lives, she had made an effort to treat us equally and to think of us as halves of the same perfect image of a daughter she had created. The smallest thing that could make one of us different from the other was vigorously avoided. She was adamant about not loving one of us more than the other.

  No one suffered more under this rule than Daddy, who sometimes accidentally and sometimes deliberately tried to treat us as individuals. I pretended to be as upset about that as Mother wanted us to be, but in my secret chest of feelings and thoughts, shut away from Mother’s eyes, I was pleased, even when he did something for Kaylee that I might envy. At least, in his thinking, there was a difference, and we weren’t simply duplicates or clones, as some of Mother’s friends occasionally referred to us. It always annoyed me that she didn’t mind when people said that. I did. Who wanted to be a clone?

  I was tired of hearing how we were monozygotic twins developed from a single egg-and-sperm combination that split a few days after conception, that our DNA originated from the same source. I didn’t even have my own DNA like most everyone else. I had to share everything with Kaylee from the moment I was conceived. Mother often told people that we even took up equal space in her womb and that everything that had come from her to nourish us was consumed in “perfectly equal amounts.” I never knew how she could know that, but she would say, “How else could they be so identical at birth?”

  According to Mother’s logic and beliefs, how could I ever even exist without Kaylee? Our hearts beat with the same rhythm. We took the same number of breaths each day. If one of us sneezed, the other soon would, and that was true for every yawn, every ache, and every shiver. We were the mirror sisters; we lived in each other’s reflected image.

  Well, maybe not now; maybe finally not now. I could walk away, and Kaylee would be stuck in the glass looking out. Come back, come help me! she would cry. Help yourself, I would say. I did. That’s why you’re trapped in the mirror.

  Another patrol car arrived on the scene, and before we went home, we all drove around, Mother in one car and me in the other, searching for any signs of Kaylee. Sometimes the officers would stop to ask a pedestrian if they had seen a girl who looked like me, and I would have to make myself more visible. On one stop, I actually stepped out of the vehicle.