My fourth grade year concluded with long shadows cast over it.

The class was all elbows and knees. Among my classmates were “the twins”, Bobby and Ricky – the source of fascination. 2 people who seemed to be versions of the other was mysterious to us all.

Then, one morning in February, the principle arrived and prompted us to notice that the twins were not present. The twins, home alone, were playing with a family gun and one had accidentally shot and killed the other. He announced that children should never play with guns.

And then he left.

Our teacher started teaching. I found myself falling behind in the lesson. I was among my familiars, but started shaking. Everything started to feel less familiar. They all went on without a part of me.

The surviving twin never returned to school. Our teacher never spoke of either of the twins again.

We were young and relied on adults in our world to be guides in the darkest places of human possibility. Our guides abandoned us in the thick haze of confusion and dumbfounded fear. There were two empty desks that remained like silent stones through the remainder of the year and they cast long shadows over the room.

I could not leave the twins behind, but I had to hide it to spare the adults. I believe that this is when I fell into the fissures and fault lines of keeping thoughts and feelings a secret.

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