Invisible Brothers

His reality consisted of impossibilities, this was something he understood.

He was here in glorious Phoenix, on the same streets as you and I but his Phoenix also contained the Black Phoenix, the Dark Phoenix, the one that didn’t rise.

Impossibility was his reality, he was resigned to this.

No longer contender for the rock-star-caste or leading-man handsome he no longer strutted and cocked. He was a member of the poet caste. Not the poet-types seen on made-for-TV movies but the truth of the strange isolationist enfolded, entombed in his thoughts, waves of feedback circling his broken halo.

He got along fine, with a few caveats. He got along fine once you understood he had an invisible twin, always had and that’s who he was talking to and sometimes taking direction from and generally living it up with.

Okay, that was a bit of the ol’ dumbing down. Point in fact is that the twin was only invisible to other people. He could see him, hear him, touch him, plain as day, always had done. As long as we are showing our marbles, need to clarify a little further:

He had a twin. We shall just say that. And now please allow for more truth:

Depending on factors unknown to either of them at any given time only one of them was visible,  or invisible, whichever you prefer.

Which of them was visible to other humans at any given time was very difficult to determine for them and at first caused a great deal of bother, trying to keep up appearances and all. In fact this seemingly random oscillation between dimensions or phases or frequency of vibration between the two identical brothers was quite a thing to have to grapple with and maintain some presentability.

And also whichever was invisible could only also be heard by the visible brother, just to add another level.

To them they were both there all the time, just as plainly as your hand is in front of your face, or it would be if you weren’t holding this, uhm, well you get the idea. Okay, so they were twins, and to each other seemed as valid as gravity but could only be seen, heard and felt by each other and at any given moment one of them was invisible.

When still concerned they tried many tactics. Prolonged silence between the two, for days, no communication, not even hand signals. This was fairly effective camo for the outside world (that’s not the right phrase) but wreaked havoc on their relationship, they were after all, twins.

And anyway this enforced silence, this weeks-long silence like a staring contest on an epic scale, would always fail anyway as the currently invisible one couldn’t help but respond to outer stimulus, like say a loud noise or a bus coming too close or something of the kind and the invisible one would react  as anyone would in reflex to something startling, which would catch the eye of the visible brother, who would then respond to that signal, as people do with let’s say a jerk of the head or a squinty face, and whatever other people were around would see this and not understand it for what it was, simply a set of twins who alternated visibility but were still here in the same world as everyone else (not entirely true, more later) and simply didn’t want to get hit by a bus and couldn’t help but react when the other brother flinched or jumped or startled.

They tried many things. They stayed at home for 2 years, 6 months of which was entirely spent in two side-by-side identical, super-single beds. No, they did not hold hands, that would be cliché. They were social beings and needed to get out, so this time in bed was not some great meditation and didn’t reveal great hermetic visions on humanity. It chipped away at their already tenuous sanity, what with having to reconcile the reality of their situation with things like the laws of physics and the idea of being in a body in the first place so they eventually resolved to venture out again.

They tried only speaking when they were visible to others, devising a system of flowers and colorful kerchiefs in the breast-pocket to signify which one was the currently seen twin, in a kind of low-budget fashion-accessory semaphore. It was hard to determine which was visible, though mirrors worked nicely, and water was the second best to divine who was currently in view. Unfortunately neither method worked very well, because of the unpredictability of their shifts. There was an early clarion moment when the two stood before an entry way of a particularly well mirrored high-rise and set to observe and chronicle their changes. They did this for science and for sanity.

They devised a method to determine which was in the “normal” phase space, simply by holding a pocket mirror up to the other at the proper distance. The small mirror of the twin that was “on”  would create a recursion, a wave of infinity in the small and large glass, while the other would simple be blank.

The first experiment was to stand still as long as possible in front of the building with the hand mirrors as stationary as possible for a five hour sentinel. Their desire was to find a pattern, a rhythm to the oscillations, a way to better navigate the strange challenge of being partially visible twins. But the trial yielded wildly inconsistent results. There was no pattern, no formula, at least what they could determine. For one second the left twin’s mirror was blinking recursive static, the next the right. Sometimes whole hours would pass without change, and then every other 8 seconds. It was discouraging, not to mention the curious looks from people on the street when they observed a solitary figure standing stone still holding a hand mirror in front of their building.

They conducted a similar experiment later, during their two year period of isolation, one of the only worthwhile things they did in this time. They ordered large and small mirrors, restraint chairs, sophisticated time-lapse video equipment, and various implements which allowed them to feed and relieve themselves for a week without leaving the chairs.

They tried many things but none of them allowed either of them to pass as ordinary for more than short ineffective periods of time.

So they did what most sane people would do in this extraordinary situation: They gave up. They stopped caring about the usual world and its contents and carried on with what was important: brotherly love, a delicate and hard fought sanity and some understanding of the “Other Phoenix” the out-of-phase brother experienced, the other Phoenix that was just as real but seen by few, understood by almost no-one and inexplicably strange.  But they had an advantage over the other seeker of the inside-out Phoenix, they had the original, mysterious, inside-out invisible map.

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