Red Beetle

Image by Isolino via Flickr

Unlike our toes, fingers, tiny dots of cells when we started — we grew, past blastocyst and became two. Rigid bodies. Latticed differently. And soon the words “twins” made sense for the sensible — I a girl and he a boy and that’s the way the ball bounces — or should that be gender ball with those weird signs of female and male.

We live now in the States but we lived in South Africa before. I am the older; he was born two minutes later, slightly smaller and he cried more when we were younger. I am Aduor and he is Dayo. That’s our names. Our last names are Egidi which is Italian. Our parents are both workaholics. My father is a journalist and my mother is an entomologist (that’s why she likes calling us her honey bees or little butterflies). We liked seeing the bugs in jars.

Dayo once asked me if I wanted breasts I just laughed and stated I didn’t know. But he smiled and said that he knew I would grow up to be beautiful. I told him I didn’t care. But he looked surprised. I just repeated that beauty was not so important to me.

When we grew up and were in highschool he was the socialite and I the athlete. Life consisted of parties for him and for me the best place was on the soccer field — the truth was he was not much for sports and he got nervous easily while I was called the gutsy person. In fact none of the boys liked me: I was too “manly” — I liked dirt and woods; his preferred outdoors was a small courtyard sipping juice and listening to some grunge rock preferably with a girl. They two tasted the sugary-salt taste of lemonade and then the afterthought in saliva. Coddling with tongues and skin. Her blouse half-down his shirt askew and memories of watching each other’s eyes and closing them while listening to birds travelling home. I listened to the birds too. Out on a field. Dirt on knees. Sky hanging like a nice jacket. The squashed orange juice merits of a sunset. Stars picking out like mushrooms. I wiped a sweaty brow. And I can feel him wiping sweat too. But his was another sport. They had just kissed. This girl was not his girlfriend. I don’t think he had one. With my dirty soccer shoes I came home with him sitting alone. The girl gone. Eyes looking in terror as if I would judge. Casually saying: “ I made lemonade.” And : “ Do you want some?” and I nodding and drinking. But unlike me he did not look so happy; he looked too bothered. And then asking: “ Did anyone ask you out?” I would look surprised: “ Why would they?” and he was looking too apologetic and I did not understand why. I would get up and say I was going to take a shower. But he looked the same. Tensed and apologetic. But we both listened to the birds.

It was when we got older I realized it: the apology. I did not think it was pity. It was more: “ I’m sorry you’re so different and though I’m a tad bit different I’m not totally. And girls like me but guys find you weird and I’m sorry I am having such great hormonal rushes but you aren’t.”
I think it was past nineteen when I saw him with his strings of girlfriends. All of them like those cute girl cut-outs — with the polish, lip gloss, mascara, lipstick, eye shadow and stilettos. They all looked at me sans lace and frills like a freak with a soccer ball with those rugged sneakers and dirt on face. When I went to University I did study entomology and journalism like my parents. But I had no passion in those subjects as professions. I just liked them as fascinating disciplines. But my brother did not like media as a hobby and he had started hating insects. My mother found this odd: as a child he had showed more curiosity towards the specimens —he was going to the business line and dad and mom were happy with that.
People knew we were twins with our brown eyes, copper hair and freckles. But my hair was a bit shorter than his. Mine was a girlish pageboy type cut and his a masculine neck-length hair that complimented his profession — accounting and attracting the beauties. Top of his class in presentations and I the person with the soccer scholarship — running tracks and kicking heels. Dayo had no dirt on him. Shiny and pretty like those models you swoon over. Not messy like me. So colour coded and organized. I think once his study was featured in the university’s business magazine.

I wore glasses. Dayo did not. And he dressed in nice trousers, cardigans and shirts whilst I even once tried a hybrid between emo chic and prep student — the combo got me looks and some congrats to fuse Siberia and the Hamptons with some geometric precision. The sweater vest looked like some preparatory student (think of Avril Lavigne as the alter ego in her video Girlfriend); and the emo gear consisted of the fingerless gloves and loose pedal pushers and the combat boots. My brother looked at my experimentation with a smile; some other guys did too. I did not dye my hair black but I had a nose ring from before. Boys thought I was some nymphomaniac — after I had it in the first year of University I got strange calls — as if stereotypes end at highschool: actually they do only some people forget that. One girl commented in the bathroom: “ Did you see her nose ring? I bet she is a slut.” I cornered her and said: “ If you don’t want me to go bend it like beckham all over you stop saying that. I’m African and nose rings are not like that where I come from.” The girl hissed and became more obnoxious, “ You don’t look African.” I laughed, “ How silly — I bet I look Mexican to you.” Well I was not fully Caucasian anyway — I was a hybrid and I looked Spanish to many. But what got to me were the assumptions of piercings and skin. Dayo looked angry: “ What the hell does she think she is?” we are actually having tea in one of the University’s courtyard; days of yore revisited, “ I don’t care.”

“ But shouldn’t you?”

“ No Dayo I don’t care much anymore. I am still a virgin.”

“ I’m not…” And there was a pause; he was looking most apologetic.

“ Well, ok.”

“ I have slept with many girls. I think ten. Though I am not proud of it. I feel like a slut. And I’m only twenty-five.” Dayo looked dismissed.

“ Are you supposed to feel like that?” I was partly joking and partly serious, “ You are a guy.”

“ So?” he looked angry, “ That’s the problem isn’t it — you wear a nose ring and people think you sleep around and as you are a girl you have to be a slut — I am the ‘good business boy’ who dresses in a ‘powersuit’ but its fine! They think guys gotta work so hard to get a girl — we don’t if we have screwed many because then that’s a fallacious logic that is even statistically incorrect! I don’t like sleeping around much but most girls I date turn out stupid!”

“ It’s ok Dayo. You’ll find the right someone.”

Dayo looked at me: “ How come it’s like that?”

“ Like what?”

“ When guys are a bit different girls are fascinated but guys seems to label more and like set types.”

“ I think you don’t do that. And you’re a guy.”

“ But I don’t like guys doing that.”

“ I think it’s because guys are taught to — they like classifications so they are taught to classify girls too. It’s not right all the time but they do it as I guess they fear things too.”

Dayo looked at me, “ It’s not fair.”

When I saw my tea was finished I asked if he would like another cup but he just said “no” and wanted to get out of the courtyard. I wonder what he was thinking. I just drank more tea and hoped he was alright.

I think I better not tell him I hadn’t kissed yet. Most of the nerds I met had done a lot in that department and I only received a kiss on the cheek once by a cute boy who thought I played good soccer. And then there was Dayo with a blonde in the University grounds kissing semi-passionately but looking distracted. Dayo with a brunette another time in a poetry class — she hated poems and hated literature in general but preferred to have the class for an easy “A” but got caught between Keats and Dickenson with Shakespeare’s bisexual courtship. I chuckled in good humour but stopped when I saw Dayo ready to flip at her for saying: “ Why does Dickenson act so silly? That girl is so ugly.” When that class was over a sophomore boy looked at me and said: “ Hey, do you wanna like study together? I know you got soccer…I saw you playing soccer I play soccer too.”

After a soccer practice I went to the lab to look at some beetles — my favourite entomological beasts aside butterflies —I looked at the purple beetles with their metallic sheen and the green of the same shimmer and was thinking of how adaptive they were.

“ Aduor, why are you here? Won’t you eat?”

“ Yeah soon but look at these cool ones — there is this one mom talked about. See? It’s called a Ridgid Seed Beetle.”

“ That’s a beetle.” Dayo looked more closely, “ It looks more like a rock than a seed.”

“ Yeah, but I think this one — the Frantic Tortoise Beetle looks more like a crab. In fact it reminds me of the Android’s company green robot. Look at the antennas and the face.”

“ Yeah, hey it does look like that.” Dayo looked fascinated as he used too when he was a kid, “ I always was a sore when studying biology but you helped me out and I passed.”

“ Well, you don’t like insects anymore.”

“ I do but I get sad when I see them.”

“ Why?”

“ Because they remind me of you.”

“ What…?”

“ No — the beautiful ones mom always studied — but everyone hated them because they were insects; because they were different…like you…”

“ I am sorry…” I looked sorry now and shocked.

“ No actually, I always loved your drive, your need to know and your great athletic skills but others did not. I felt angry because stereotypically people thought those attitudes should belong to boys but I always liked the way you were.”

“ Well I think you are really cool with your organized skills.”

“ I never knew that.”

“ Well, we should just be honest with ourselves I think and appreciate what we like.”

And Dayo just smiled at me.

Few weeks later I saw Dayo dating a girl from the soccer team who was less chic. The brunette from poetry class almost got a seizure to see who she got dumped for.

“ Aduor rhymes with ardour and I am gonna write a poem based on that.”

“ Are you sure sophomore?”

“ Yeah —we should play soccer together.”

“ I might beat you.”

“ Yeah you might.”

“ And that doesn’t bother you?”

“ Why should it?” the guy looked at me, I noticed he had brownish-green eyes complimentary to his rich chocolate hair, “ It was when I saw you play soccer I knew I had to try to ask you out.”


[1,995 words]

Info on beetles:\

For this contest:

The Prompt:

“Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.”
~M. Scott Peck


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