When I was growing up, I always wished I could have been a twin. Of course, my parents couldn’t fix that problem, after the fact, so I had to just accept reality. Instead, I could hope that I would have twins of my own, when I had kids, because what would be more fun than having two children at the same time? No, really, I am fully aware of the work involved with having two kids at once, but what I was really fascinated by was the mindset. What would it be like to have a best friend that was your other self? Perhaps even identical to you but not alike in all things?
I’ve had several sets of twins for friends, though in varying degrees of friendship, since I was a child. The ones I went to school with were not identical, though some people thought they were. But after I’d known them a few years, I never had any trouble telling them apart, though I couldn’t exactly explain the differences. Then I’ve had twin friends that were anything but identical, but I rarely saw them together, so I would get their names mixed up, just like any friend that I’d been introduced to at the same time as someone else. And then there was the set of twins that I never got a good grip on who was who, until I played a game of Ultimate Frisbee with both of them, one on my team, and one on the other. You have to memorize your teammates, and I finally could see the differences, despite all our running around at top speed.
I suppose that my fascination with twins (oh, come on, you know I’m not the only one) could be thought similar to the world’s fascination with the Titanic. It’s something that you can never understand, unless you’ve “been there, done that”, but that won’t keep us trying to figure it out. The Titanic era is behind us, so we can only imagine what it was like. And if you’re not a twin, well, then you just don’t understand. Hence, if I end up having twins of my own, someday (they do say it skips a generation or two, so it should be my turn!), I won’t faint at the idea of dealing with multiples. Double the trouble AND double the fun. Also, I’ll get to observe them, firsthand, and maybe have an inkling what it’s really like.
On a side note, as I referred to when I was “growing up”, it made me think of those people who say they’ll never grow up, or someone who asks you “Are you a grownup, now?”. I’m probably taking it too literally, but I will be one of those people that tells you that I did grow up and become a mature adult, who will not live their life, never doing anything but play, or taking responsibility. There’s a tendency, in our modern-day culture, for some people to try and remain young by never taking on responsibility. But I think you can be a responsible adult, who still has a sense of humor, ability to remember what childhood was like, and be able to look on the bright side. Without becoming a complete stick-in-the-mud. Ok, rant over.
Before I get completely sidetracked, my purpose to talking about twins was to mention the book I just finished, The Truth-Teller’s Tale, by Sharon Shinn. I don’t mind saying that the cover picture caught my attention, and it won’t be the first book I read, because it was purported to be a story of twins. I wonder which authors actually have known twins, and which are making it up as they go along.
This story has the additional detail that the girls are “mirror twins”, who mirror each other exactly. When the left-handed sister faces her right-handed sister, they reflect each other. From their names to their eye colors, the twins, Adele and Eleda are mirror reflections of each other. And as for their personalities, you could say they were two halves completing a whole.
Adele is a Safe-Keeper, and Eleda is a Truth-Teller. A Safe-Keeper has secrets confided in her that she is unable to ever share. Some people come to her for advice over a terrible situations, others come to get something off their chest. A Truth-Teller is incapable of telling a lie, and can immediately recognize if someone is lying to her, so she is perfect for mediating disputes, and giving completely honest opinions.
I find it interesting how their personalities develop over the years. If you’ve ever read your Bible and wondered what it would be like to grow up with a young Jesus, who was perfect, then it would have occurred to you that He would always have told the truth. But unlike the Christ-child, young Eleda was not perfect, so though she often told tales on her classmates, and bluntly informed people that they looked terrible in that outfit, it took her many years to develop the ability to temper her honesty with kindness.
On the other hand, Adele kept secrets, and was able to be silent for long periods of time, but she was known to tell lies now and then. The people of their village would ask which twin she was, and she would possibly say “Eleda.”, and learn a secret. Of course, as a Safe-Keeper, she didn’t use this information against anyone, because she was incapable of telling a secret. But such a contrast between these two who looked so alike.
And then, their friend Roelynn helps to even things out. The daughter of a rich shipping magnate, who would like her to marry the prince, and not consort with the daughters of an innkeeper, Roelynn is a fine mixture of the twins’ personalities. She can keep a secret, but doesn’t always choose to. She can tell a lie, but would rather not. Her deviousness is usually acted on to keep her father from knowing who her boyfriend of the week is… the stableboy, the shopkeeper, or the court jester.
People are born with the gift (depending on your viewpoint) of being a Truth-Teller or Safe-Keeper. The third option is the Dream-Maker. Melinda is the local Dream-Maker, who travels around the country, mingling with people, so that they will tell her their dreams, or perhaps only bump into them, and her mere presence may cause their dreams to come true. A great friend to the family of the Leaf & Berry Inn, she also comes and goes freely from the palace.
If you’re looking for a delightful fantasy story, look this one up, and find out how “a Safe-Keeper told a secret, a Truth-Teller told a lie, and a Dream-Maker did everything in her power to make sure a wish went astray”. You won’t be disappointed.