“I wish it would have been different,” the girl says, pressing the barrel of her gun against the boy’s head.
“Me too,” he replies, tightening his already white-knuckle grip on the knife held against her throat.
The sounds of children playing waft in through the open living room window, but inside the air is hot and still.
“Please”—Their mother speaks in choked, single words. “Put…”
The sentence dissipates.
The distraught woman’s husband meekly comforts her.
“It’s my heart,” the boy asserts.
His blade is sharp.
His sister presses the barrel of her gun harder against his head.
“It’s mine,” she replies.
“You share a heart,” the husband says quietly. “You share a life.”
As his wife weeps once more at the sight of her beloved children willing to kill each other for a better chance of individual survival: siamese twins locked in a stand-off for the muscle beating within their single chest.
“Together we can’t survive,” the boy says.
“Not for long,” the girl says.
She knows she has the advantage. Her bullet will end her brother’s life whereas his knife will bleed them both, but that advantage seems moot if she ends up dead anyway.
Their mother lifts her head. Raw, pink eyes staring vacantly ahead—
“No,” the girl says.
“Flip the coin,” says the boy. “Heads, I die. Tails, she does.”
Their mother collapses.
Her husband flips through his wallet. Stiff, shaking fingers. “For the love of God, this can’t be the only way.”
“It is,” the boy says.
“The doctors said we can’t both survive,” the girl says, imagining how much easier this would have been if she had fired immediately. If her hand had obeyed her mind. If her brother had not grabbed the knife. “This way you don’t have to choose.”
The husband holds up a coin.
Children play outside.
Normal children. Simple lives. Happiness. Sunshine.
The woman takes the coin from her husband.
“Let me do it,” she croaks.
The boy relaxes his grip on the knife slightly. The girl feels for the first time the true weight of the gun.
The woman flips the coin.
And they all watch it rotate in the air: the spinning of fate, the revolution of—
The boy’s head explodes.
The woman screams.
The girl throws up all over herself.
The knife hits the floor—followed by the coin:
Before the man can grab her by the shoulders, the woman leaps forward, and in one impossibly fluid motion picks up the knife and drives it into her daughter’s chest.
Her husband barely manages to drag her away from the now-crumpled and one-headed, bloodied body. How beautiful their life once seemed.
“The coin,” she screams. “The coin decided!”
The girl’s eyelids flicker with a final passing of consciousness.
Outside: sudden silence.
Everyone must have heard the gunshot.
Distant sirens sound.
The woman’s voice drops to a murmur. “You killed my boy,” she says. “My beautiful baby boy…”