Those born to the sinister did not have children; it was impossible, or forbidden, depending on who you asked. Thus the daylight people were able to carefully control the number of sinister who were born, making certain it was always far lower than the number of daylight.
Ava was the only child her foster mother had, and was likely to remain so. The others were left in portals just big enough to allow an infant through, and given to sinister would-be-mothers by lottery; motherhood in the dark world was a very cherished thing.
Ella was the only child her mother had, and was likely to remain that way. She had a busy life, as mayor of the city (for some reason, those born the light side with dark twins tended to be important people, or rise to important places). She had lost her first husband to the plotting of someone else’s evil twin. She had her Ella, and did not want to lose her.
And yet Ava and Ella had other plans. They were just past their seventh birthday when they learned of each other’s existence; they were staring into a mirror, the portal that only twins could pass that existed in both their mothers’ rooms. Ava was doing her best to get her hair properly into pigtails. Ella had teased her curls into a rat’s nest. They stared at the mirror, willing themselves different, willing themselves…
“Like that. Only with better hair.”
Ella touched the mirror. It had never spoken back before. “Like that. Like the dark lady that came by yesterday.”
“Like that. Like the princess in the book. Like the proper ladies.”
“Like the ones that don’t have to go to school.” Ella stroked the mirror. She ought to be surprised, she thought, to feel it touching her back. But it was already talking to her; what was a touch in addition?
“Like the ones who get to live in the sunlight.” Ava could feel the portal. She could feel the sister on the other side of the portal. But she couldn’t get through anything but her fingers. “There has to be a way.”
“There has to be away,” Ella sighed. “There has to be. The twins do it, the evil twins.”
“The trouble-makers, the monkey-wrenchers. If they can cross…”
“Then why can’t we?”
It became their quest, dark twin and light, day twin and night. They read the forbidden books, and told their mothers’ mirrors of what they learned. They followed the twins, and took notes on where they crossed, and how.
They watched their mothers, when they played our their endless script of good twin and evil twin. “It won’t be like that.”
“Of course it won’t. We don’t need to follow the script. We were born on the wrong sides of the mirror.”
“We won’t spend all our time making easily-foiled plots.”
“Being gullible and easy to capture.”
“Leaving the keys to the city on the counter.”
“Leaving the map to the portals out where anyone could get it.”
Ava waved the map, and, with a great deal of effort, held it so Ella could see it.
“Leaving the map… no. No, we won’t do that.”
They were seventeen, then. Old enough to wander on their own. Old enough to cross through on their own, too, in the portals with the weakest gates.
Like the one in the old subway station, where the sun hit the shadows just so Old enough to cross through there, with a twin handshake and never a glance back.
But that was just the beginning of their story.
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