“Do you have any pets, James,” asked Ai and Mai in unison. “No, actually. I wanted one for a while, but I didn’t really have much free time What about you two?“ They replied at nearly the same time. Ai said, “I have a beautiful forest green crowntail named Fearghas,” while Mai said, “I have a beautiful violet crowntail named Fearchar.” I found how they spoke so proudly of their pets, staring one another down, to be quite adorable, but I could only guess what a crowntail was. “Are crowntails a type of fish then?” I could see them gaping at me in the rearview mirror of Emma’s pink beast before they both started rambling about some breed of fish known as “betta splendens.” After a couple minutes, they paused briefly and started speaking in unison. “Our parents didn’t want us to be moving a large fish tank with us everywhere, so we each picked a crowntail. Our poor fishies are with our cousin at the moment, hopefully avoiding her cat.”
I was somewhat surprised that the girls didn’t have matching fish, given their names. “If you two do end up moving to an area for a while, are you planning on getting a large fish tank?” They glanced at one another before replying in unison. “We’re moving here, James. We’ve decided. A large tank would be wonderful, although we’d still want to keep Fearghas and Fearchar in their own bowls. They don’t get along as well as we do. You could always get a fish for our tank if you were interested.” They looked… hopeful… to me when I looked in the mirror. I really didn’t understand girls at all. Maybe Ai and Mai truly wanted more friends, including me, but there could very well be some hidden agenda with how the girls were constantly playing games. Getting to know them well would be quite the adventure, so part of me hoped that they truly would move to the area. Another part of me wondered if I could handle the mischief these two would cause with Emma. I would have to find a way to avoid hanging out with all three at once if I could help it.
The next part of the girl’s itinerary was shopping, which seemed fishy to me, not just because the proposed location was near a fish market. Yes, I had seen enough movies to get the idea that many girls would use any excuse for shopping, but the guys always take off at that point. Shopping with girls almost seemed like a taboo, especially after my experience with Georgina. I still hadn’t gotten over the idea that she might have died when I was there. Alma was coming to mind again. She always came to mind when I thought of fires anymore, but that wasn’t surprising. How many girls can a guy meet as a fire erupts overhead? “What are you thinking about, James,” asked one of the girls. I hadn’t been paying enough attention to tell if it was Ai or Mai speaking. “Sorry. I was remembering some things.” The twins exclaimed together, “Storytime!!!” I shook my head as I responded, “This isn’t much of a story, and we’re almost to our destination.” A couple minutes passed in silence with the girls looking pouty, so I decided I should tell them something.
“A couple weeks ago I had a very strange meeting with a girl. Enough has happened since then, that I feel like I last saw her months ago.” The girls started saying different forms of protest over me thinking of another girl when with them. “Wait a minute. This isn’t that type of meeting. Alma was standing in the street, and I saved her from a bus. Then the apartment above us was engulfed in fire. The situation was just the type that really sticks out in one’s head. Let’s say that she came to mind due to odd experiences with fire of late.” Speaking as one, the girls asked, “Did you at least get her name?” I should not have started talking about this with these two. “Yes, after she was finished chewing me out for touching her, though I assure you that I did nothing inappropriate. She said her name was Alma Lucy Pendreigh V.” I caught a glance between the twins before Ai said, “My, what a mouthful!” Mai spoke afterward, saying, “Why think about a girl that was rude to her rescuer?”
If I didn’t know better, I would think these two were jealous. “As I had said, the situation was really strange. Ever meet a girl with violet eyes under an exploding building?” They were staring intensely at one another as I spoke, but turned at me simultaneously as soon as I was finished. “You were staring into this strange girls eyes?” Before I got a word out, Ai continued in an almost pouty tone, “We have nice eyes too.” At the same time, Mai exclaimed, “That’s so romantic, saving a girl only to get lost in her eyes.” Together, they finished, “Want to save us too?” I felt like panicking. What were these girls going to do to me now? I said the first thing that came to mind in hopes of keeping them from recklessness. “I wouldn’t want to let you two get away long enough to get in danger.” They sighed. “Sometimes, James, a girl likes a good chase,” stated Ai. Mai then inquired, “You wouldn’t let us come to harm, right?” This wasn’t going well.
I found a parking lot and sighed when I read the sign. Parking was always expensive in this area, and I had told Emma that I wouldn’t empty her account. We walked down the street toward the first store with the girls holding my arms once more. A few feet from the first entrance, Ai let go of my arm and told me with a smile, “Oh James.. there seems to be a bus coming.” Desperately trying to gain control of the situation, I turned to Mai and took her hand. While looking into her eyes, I said, “Looks like your sister wants to give us time alone, Mai. Shall we go inside?” To my relief, Ai hurried to my side and said, “That’s not what I was meaning at all.” Mai had such a cute smile on her face and was obviously trying not to laugh; trying, not succeeding. “Looks like someone is getting better at telling us apart,” claimed Ai. “Oh good. I guessed right then. I would hate to be calling you by the wrong names.”
The girls brought me to a halt, leaned toward each other, each still holding an arm, and started whispering to one another loud enough for anyone to hear. “Mai, I think this guy is playing us against one another.” Mai shook her head and said, “Oh no, Ai. James is far too much of a gentleman for dirty tactics. He obviously wants to be alone with me though, so you should check the next store down.” I felt Ai’s grip on my arm tighten. “Come now, Mai. You know he just wanted me back at his side.” They were both smiling as they spoke, but I was feeling quite uncomfortable. The twins then gazed up at me and said in unison, “Tell her that you like me best, James.” This was definitely not how I wanted things to go, but I was glad they weren’t jumping in front of busses. Avoiding these two entirely if they moved here would be safer for my state of mind. “Without knowing if I truly can tell you two apart, how could you honestly believe any such exclamation I made?”
“Time to try on some clothing, Mai.” They then pulled me toward the doorway, but I wasn’t certain if heading inside was really a good idea at this point. The girls loaded my arms with clothing they each wanted to try, and I did my best to keep track of which one wanted which clothes. They explained as they picked clothing that they were planning on coming out of the dressing room wearing different outfits and making me guess who it was. When we started their little game, I was able to tell who was who by their eye color with a fair amount of ease, having been scrutinizing their eyes continually for hours now. In an attempt to throw them off, I said the opposite one’s name for the first several times and then guessing the right name occasionally. Despite this, they were often wearing different outfits than what they had picked up. The girls must have caught onto what I was doing though, since they started coming out with their eyes closed. Since I wasn’t completely certain without being able to see their eyes or having them hold my arm, I tried finding some other difference between them.
As much as I looked, I wasn’t having any luck. Excluding their eyes, the girls seemed absolutely identical in appearance. Even their posture seemed to match perfectly when standing or moving. While playing their game, I couldn’t help wondering what these two put a guy through who was legitimately interested in a date with one. At last, they walked out together in their blue dresses. “How do you know?” I wasn’t sure how to take this. “I’m not sure what you two are saying. How do I know what?” They seemed very serious when they asked again, “How do you know which is which, James?” I knew I hadn’t always said the right name at the beginning. “I admit that I was fairly certain at the beginning, but I was just guessing at the end.” The way both of their right eyebrows raised in unison was almost creepy. “You must be a brilliant guesser then, because you were fifteen for fifteen after we started coming out with our eyes closed.”
I don’t think the girls believed that I truly did get that lucky, but they nevertheless bought a few outfits and headed out with me to the next store. “Want me to carry your bags?” They were each holding an arm again and still speaking in unison. “No. You might forget whose is whose. We would just hate to get you flustered.” They said this with such sweet smiles and tone that anyone who hadn’t spent time with them would have no doubt of their earnestness. We stopped at many more clothing stores where they had me guessing their names again, but with a far less serious tone. They definitely didn’t believe that I had simply been guessing. I would gladly admit that the streak was marvelous, but I did have fifty-fifty odds with each guess. The outfits the girls tried seemed a bit too short or low-cut at times, but I managed not to embarrass myself too much with awkward staring or blushing. I intended to keep telling myself that as we left the last shop where I had begun feeling quite hot.
Noticing the time, I suggested that we get dinner soon and told them, “I’m afraid that I will have to take you to Emma’s after dinner. I have another job tonight.” The twins complained, asking me to cancel my tutoring session all the way to the car, but I told them how my dad would react if he found out I gave into such a request. I was surprised to find that Mai was the one fiddling with the phone this time when we sat down. “Why don’t you charge your phone in the car, Mai?” Ai smiled at me and responded for her sister, “We actually share a phone. Since we don’t like being apart, we never really have felt the need for a second one.” That seemed odd to me. I was definitely addicted to mine, especially now that I used it frequently to check on my business while on busses and waiting elsewhere. While I was driving, I couldn’t help smiling while thinking about how my day had been. The twins were quite frustrating at times, but they were also fun and kept me on my toes. I still didn’t think that hanging out with them and Emma at once was a good idea.