She gave a sideways glance to her mirror self and smiled. She smiled back and continued writing.
“Stop work! Pens down.” The sound of pens hitting the desk echoed in the classroom.
“Delphine! Didn’t you hear me say stop work?”
Delphine raised her hand. “I’m here, Ms. Graham.”
The teacher looked at her and back at the one she had just scolded.
“Daphne then. I always confuse you two.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Graham,” Daphne said innocently, putting her pen down. The twins gave each other a knowing look and giggled. They were so good at this.
“One day you’re going to get caught, you know that?” Tasha muttered to Daphne who turned to glare at her.
“And who’s going to catch us unless you open your big mouth?”
Tasha leaned back into her seat and crossed her arms.
Ms. Graham’s forehead creased into a furrow as she studied Delphine’s handwriting and compared it to that of the previous class exercise. She gave Delphine a wary look (or was it Daphne?) as she took Daphne’s book to compare. She sighed as she saw the slight differences in the handwriting as well.
“Daphne and Delphine Coleman, come here.” The girls stood and walked over to her desk. Her eyes darted from one innocent look to the other.
“Have you been swapping books?”
“No!” Delphine shaking her head more vigorously. Delphine was always the fearful one.
“Then explain this,” she said, showing them their books. They stared at it and feigned ignorance.
“Explain what, please?” Daphne asked, knowing exactly what she was referring to.
“Are you telling me you can’t recognize the different writings on these two pages?”
“Our mother bought us a book in which we can practice writing in different styles so we learnt how to write in different ways,” Daphne said. Ms. Graham glanced at Delphine.
“Is that true?” She nodded.
“I wish I could believe you but something doesn’t settle well with me. I hope you two are telling the truth or else if you ever get caught, you’ll be in serious trouble. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Ms. Graham.”
“Go back to your seats.” They thanked her and went to sit down.
Ms. Graham made a mental note to push for the twins to be put in separate classes so as to curb the mix-up.
But she failed in that attempt as the same irregularities continued to show in each girl’s work despite them being separated. Maybe they were telling the truth, she thought resignedly.
But they weren’t. They would swap places when switching lessons and apart from Tasha who was close to Daphne, no one else could tell the difference. It was their little secret.
After Ms. Graham informed their mother Doreen Coleman about her suspicions, she sat her twin daughters down. She could tell one from the other, their father couldn’t.
“Daphne, Delphine, I know you two like to swap and switch at home for fun. I can deal with that but it is totally unacceptable in school. You could go to jail for that!” She threatened.
“Jail?” Delphine asked, her voice trembling.
“Of course not, Del. She’s trying to scare us. We’re little. There’s no jail for little girls,” Daphne said.
“You try it again and you’ll see. Your dad and I won’t bail you out until you’ve spent a week behind bars and you’ll see. Delphine, I know you’re the good one. Don’t follow your sister. She’ll get you in trouble. Stay out of trouble and don’t swap places in school, okay?” Doreen said coaxingly. Delphine nodded. Doreen hugged her. Daphne looked on nonchalantly.
“Promise me you won’t do it again. Both of you.”
“We promise, mum.”
“Good.” Doreen sighed in relief. She was assured that they would keep their word.
But with an exchanged look between them, they knew they wouldn’t and they didn’t. It was a game and they enjoyed it. As long as they were careful, they could have all the fun while it lasted.
But little did they know that it would turn into a dangerous game later on as they refused to outgrow it; one that would break hearts and hurt the people they cared about. If only they knew…
(c) Josephine Amoako 2016