There was nothing there, really; unless you could call one thing something. Then again, it was a pretty big one thing. A castle, right in the middle of a field at the edge of town.
Not a castle like medieval kings lived in, all turrets and stone and moats with drawbridges and smoke-blowing dragons, but a castle nonetheless.
It did have one turret, a small, slim one, which rose above the roof of the building like a spire on a church, casting a skinny shadow over the clay shingles. There was one small window in the turret and some days, if one looked, really looked, squinting into the pale sky, one could see a very small, white face peering out.
The rest of the castle was fairly plain. Plain grey stone walls, plain square windows, one plain wooden door. So you see, it wasn't a castle like in fairy stories, but it was a castle just the same. And that's where the story begins.
20 years later
There isn't a field anymore.
There are houses, row upon row of houses. All large, with vast garages protruding from the front, sitting on postage-stamp sized lots and edged by cookie-cutter sidewalks. Trees have been planted in front of each house, and they have filled out nicely over the years, making the neighbourhood seem like it has been there forever.
The deer and coyote have moved further out, although they do venture back in the dark of night and raid garbage cans lined up against the curb on certain days of the week like clockwork. It's very organized.
The cars and SUVs are expensive ones, and most have at least two car seats in the back, mostly all attached correctly, because the people in this neighbourhood are all about their kids. The children belong to organized sports and all have iPads and cell phones because that is what they need to get along in the world these days.
Sitting in the midst of all this suburban organization is the castle with the single skinny turret, incongruously placed on a lot larger than the others and treed more elaborately. It has been empty a long time, but just recently, a skinny lady in high heels drove up in a BMW and put a sticker on the For Sale sign that reads 'Sold'.
Her heel got caught on a bramble and she cursed loudly, then looked around to make sure no one in this perfection heard her. Assuring herself she was well and truly alone, she kicked the bramble away and cursed again.
But a pale face at the turret window saw her.
20 years earlier - the beginning:
They were identical in looks, as their genes proscribed. Twin boys, now 10 years old. Always together, always in sync: in thoughts, actions, attitudes. Tyler was the frailer of the two, barely perceptible, really, just a little slimmer, a half inch shorter, and with a gentler look about the mouth, slightly softer corners of his mouth. Most mothers would call him "kissable" he was that cute.
Tanner, his sibling, equally handsome, was not kissable in some indefinable way. Women would exclaim, "Twins! adorable" and try to immediately squish and smooch Tyler, then turn to Tanner and stop short, perhaps just ruffle his head, so as not to make their about turn too obvious. They couldnt explain it, since the boys were exact replicas of each other. Just something in the set of Tanner's shoulders, maybe the tensing of his neck muscles, or maybe it was the look in his eyes: dark blue, obsidian hard, arctic cold...
The day was humid, as July can be, cicadas buzzing in the trees surrounding the castle in the field, so hot and hazy the air was fuzzy, as if looking through the bottom of a bottle. The boys were in the yard of the castle - it was their home. Here they lived with their parents, Tammy and Gerald. They had lived here all their lives, since before being born. Tammy and Gerald had purchased the unusual dwelling proclaiming it their 'dream home' despite it's unusual architecture.
The family is happy here...mostly.
In the early days, before the twins were born, Tammy would sometimes feel a deep anger, not in herself so much as around her. She could be vacuuming or doing dishes or even working in her studio, painting, and she would suddenly feel a consuming rage, red with anger, pulsing at her temples. There would have been no trigger for the anger, so with confusion nudging the edges of her thoughts, she would close her eyes and will away the feeling. She used so much energy doing this she was exhausted when it cleared, and usually had to stop and make a cup of tea to regroup.
When she mentioned it to Gerald, he said it was probably PMS. Tammy resented this easy dismissal, and she knew it wasn't PMS, but since she couldn't attribute it to anything else logically, it just became another symptom: something she had to deal with leaving Gerald blithely free from any care.
Would she ever get used to being told 'it's you, not me'?
Tammy knew many of her issues were as a result of her clinical depression, which she had suffered from all her life, but surely wasn't there a chance that some - no more than some - were as a result of outside influences perpetrated by Gerald? He refused to be accountable for anything in their lives, instead easily blaming her mental health condition, and leaving her carrying the albatross of responsibility for both their lives on her back.
Once Tyler and Tanner were born, Tammy developed a severe form of 'baby blues' and eventually suffered a breakdown. She was torn away from her 18-month-old babies and admitted to a fancy hospital to 'rest up'. Gerald hired a nanny, Evita, so he could continue working. Tammy met Evita, who often accompanied Gerald with the twins to visit her in hospital for her two month stay. It made her feel physically ill to see the woman with her family while she was so incapacitated, yet she could see she Evita was a good caregiver for her boys, and she knew she should be grateful. She heaped guilt upon herself that she was not woman or mother enough to fulfill her familial duties and instead needed to be babied herself.
Evita was Haitian, beautiful, regal, with a musical lilt to her voice when she spoke. The boys adored her, clambered over her, instead of their mother. Only Tyler held onto Tammy longer than usual when saying good byes. Tanner just looked at her with wide-open cold (was that her imagination?) eyes, snaking his hand into Evita's and saying 'Mama'.
Tammy had to admit, Gerald was especially caring of her during her convalescence, helpful and considerate, loving and sensitive, when she came home after two months. Tammy was grateful and loved him all the more. It seemed their relationship grew stronger, healthier, and Tammy was, for the first time in a long time secure in her home and with her family. She felt she was healing. Gerald had kept Evita on so she could continue to rest up.
This did not have a happy ending.