Sharon and Clara always remembered that they were twins. They always thought of each other and considered each other’s decisions. They were a team but they weren’t alike. Sharon and Clara were partners even though they were different and their mother enjoyed having twins. They were The Powerpuff Girls but lacked a sister so they would take in their older brother as a substitute for Bubbles. Sharon was Blossom and Clara was Buttercup. Whenever their brother would finish his homework or was tired of playing with his video games, he would join them to play anything they liked. The twins knew that their brother loved them equally and the two loved him all the same and there was nothing that would amount to their connection.
They let The Powerpuff Girls define them. Whenever their mom would buy them candies, clothes or toys, she would always remember to buy three of them and featured three colors: red, green and blue.
At a young age and over time, their differences unfolded between them. Sharon would speak whatever was on her mind and Clara kept silent about things unless she was asked. Their relatives favored Sharon because she was always talking like she wasn’t a small child and she was always interested in their lives but they wouldn’t forget that Sharon and Clara were twins.
When Clara wasn’t with Sharon, she would tag with kuya and his friends in the house. They were five years older than Sharon and Clara, and they were nice enough to let Clara hang in the background but they wouldn’t let her play girly games that Clara’s father bought for her. Clara instantly found them interesting and so much different from girls. For instance, they hated cry babies and they liked cars with guns. By this time, their brother outgrew playing with his sisters and his Powerpuff Girl stage and spent his time liking Kathrine, the girl from church who had beautiful hair.
Kathrine had a brother in kuya’s group of friends and one day, she also came over to their house. Kathrine was awesome and all the boys liked her. She was smarter than the boys and even win in their debates about their favorite Tekken characters. She kicked the boys’ butts and also liked playing dress-up with Clara and Sharon. Clara took her interest in a special way and found Katherine’s face very pleasant to look at and she always looked beautiful even in her home clothes. She would defend Clara whenever her kuya and his friends would tease her and even tell them to let Clara play her games. After that, Clara always followed her and copied her movements. Clara would talk about Katherine with her parents a lot. She was all Clara could think about those days.
Then one night before going to sleep, Sharon asked Clara a question that would change her perception about boys and girls.
“Do you have a crush on Ate Kathrine?” Sharon whispered.
Clara was already half-asleep and faced her. “What’s a crush?”
“Do you want to kiss her?”
Clara thought for a few moments. Their mom kissed them all the time and so did their kuya so she said yes.
“You like girls?”
Sharon said it in an exaggerated manner of disgust.
“Don’t you like girls?”
“No! I like boys because they’re handsome and so should you.”
“Who told you that?”
“Ate Remy did and it was also said in the Bible, Clara.”
Clara didn’t speak for a while and stared at Sharon to see if she was telling the truth. Sharon had a habit of believing stories that she heard through their housemaid’s gossips and twisted the stories when she told them to Clara.
“It’s true, Clara. Do you remember Ate Jesa? She wanted to become a boy that’s why she left our house.”
Sharon was telling the truth now.
“No, she left us because she was going to study.”
“Clara, you should stop liking Ate Kathrine or you’ll go to hell. Remember Anna’s story?”
Anna, their classmate from school was telling the whole class about her dad who went to hell after he died. Anna’s father had left her with her mother for another woman and disappeared from their lives. Anna’s mother hadn’t regarded that her daughter was listening to her every night on her phone calls with friends.
That conversation haunted Clara everywhere. When they went to school, their Christian Living teacher decided that it was a good time to teach them about marriage. Their teacher told them that men were made for women and whoever didn’t follow it would go straight to hell. Clara and Sharon was watching a movie on the TV and their housemaid switched the channel. It was about a show that featured two men having a relationship and being ostracized by the whole town. Clara knew that boys who liked boys and girls who liked girls wasn’t allowed. She prayed to God to help her from being placed in hell and stopped hanging around with her kuya and his friends. Sharon and her didn’t talk about her crush anymore. Sharon was also as scared as Clara and helped Clara avoid Ate Kathrine. Clara stuck with Sharon and played with their neighbor Anna for a long time. Clara knew that she was different than other girls and being different was a bad thing.
When the twins turned twelve, Marco moved to their subdivision. Anna’s house was beside Marco’s and she was the one that introduced Sharon and Clara to him. Marco had a killer smile that made other girls their age to always pass by Marco’s street. He was very skinny and wore clothes that were too big for him. Marco was always wearing his step-brother’s used clothes because he found them cool and hip. Marco would go to Anna’s house everyday to play with her friends but he would go home before six in the afternoon to avoid any run-ins with his step-brother while wearing his clothes. But Marco’s arrival had changed Clara’s perception about the world once again.
The girls were his only friends by that time and the girls liked having him around. They would ask questions to Marco about boys and Marco would let the girls play with his scooter. Over the summer, Marco had developed a crush on Clara. The twelve-year old Clara looked pretty badass to Marco’s eyes. Clara was eager to learn tricks on his scooter unlike his other two friends, she was decent in video games and she always smelled nice. Clara would also introduce movies to Marco that he would eventually love and they would talk about it afterwards. Sharon didn’t like the movies that their kuya had been sharing to them and had nothing to tell Marco about them.
Clara had declared that she hated lesbians and gays, she hated reading books about them. She hated love. She didn’t want to believe in love.
One summer day, Sharon and Anna went to the mall with Anna’s maid. Clara was in her bed sleeping when Marco had knocked in their household and asked the twins’ dad if Clara was around for a bike ride. Clara had accepted and went to get her bike. Their trail was simple: to get to every street in their subdivision. On the third street, Marco had stopped to study a cat lying in the middle of the street. It was run over by a car and the two could see the guts and the cat’s eyes had burst out of their sockets.
“Clara, she’s dead.”
“How do you know it’s a ‘she’”? Clara had stopped her bike beside Marco.
“Clara, I like you.”
Clara frowned and there was silence for a while.
She began to pedal her bike. “No, you don’t.”
Marco was confused but was not surprised to Clara’s reaction. It was the best reaction he had ever hoped to have. He caught up with her.
“I do. You’re so cool, Clara.”
Clara gave him a grimace and had the urge to kick him. She raced home and didn’t bother to fix her bike on their garage which would get her a scolding from her brother.
She told Anna and Sharon to avoid Marco. With the girls avoiding her, Marco had found new friends and moved on to other hobbies. Clara didn’t want to admit it but weeks after, she was beginning to like him too. So she tried to talk to Marco but she was too scared and she resorted to studying him from afar. She remembered the cool way Marco eats his ice-pops to prevent his clothes to be soiled. She remembered his smile and how it made her smile. She missed sharing movies with him and laughing about it afterwards. Marco was a friend by all means but she knew he was different from the start.
On the other end of the neighborhood, Marco took Clara’s rejection lightly and even asked his step-brother for advice. His brother told him that things like this would happen and he should just let it go. He did.
But Clara had discovered that while he still liked Marco, she was still attracted to girls. She liked girls with their gentle faces and zinger smiles but she also found a boy’s face as flawless.
Immersed in high school years later, she discovered that she could like boys and girls. She discovered that everyone’s minds were compelling and that’s what she fell in love with. Clara and Sharon was as close as ever when she started confiding in her. Sharon wasn’t disgusted about Clara liking girls anymore. How could she be disgusted when this was her sister, her best friend? She then believed liking boys and girls were a natural occurrence.
Clara and Sharon, Sharon and Clara
Clara and Sharon were still superheroes fighting the world side by side as they turned seventeen. They were still inseparable even though they were attending different universities. They believe in each other and they made each other believe in love. Clara liked boys but she liked kissing girls. Her sexuality was like her two hands, she supposed and she also believed that love was about loving the person notwithstanding their gender or their preference. The world moved on and Sharon was still their family’s favorite because she was chatty but Clara was favored by their family who always thought of something wise to say. Clara and Sharon were twins and best friends, and even though the other was different, nothing would change between them.
illustration by Bianca Galila