The first days of high school were easy for Jessalyn, who made friends and drew attention wherever she went. She was a striking beauty in a non-traditional way, her unique features only adding to her allure. Boys followed her down the halls, carrying the school books she never opened, drawn in by her high energy and vivacious laugh. Girls buzzed around her, clamoring for her friendship, to be part of the in-crowd.
And Jessalyn basked in the limelight. In a matter of weeks, she’d rocketed to queen bee status, idolized by her classmates and forever at the center of attention. Jessalyn was born for this – she was a burning ball of energy, and the universe seemed to orbit around her. High school was everything she dreamed.
Theodore, on the other hand, led a quieter existence.
Where his sister blew off her homework, Theodore lived in the library. When she slipped out the bedroom window out at night, begging him to come along, Theodore opted for a peaceful night alone. Jessalyn had countless friends, and Theodore had but one.
One friend was all he needed, really, outside of Jessalyn. The twins were closer than ever, despite their differences. While their personalities led them in different directions, the thread that bound them together was always present, connecting them no matter where they were or who they were with. Still, Theo was glad to have met Stanley. Jessalyn was his best friend, his confidant, his other half. She was even a bro! But in the end, she was a girl, and even a geeky guy needs a guy friend. And Stanley Lawson was just the friend Theo needed – they even had the same sense of style.
Theodore and Stanley sat in the living room, deciding what to do next. They’d finished their homework as usual, and packed their books away, but it was Friday night and the world was their oyster.
“The park?” Theodore suggested. The park was their usual haunt.
But Stanley was quiet, and didn’t respond. There was a blank, wistful look on his face, and Theodore knew his friend hadn’t heard a word he’d said.
“Earth to Stan!” he laughed, waving a hand in front of Stanley’s face, snapping him out of his trance. “The park? Yes or no?”
Stan looked at him sideways. “Maybe not today,” he said slowly. “You know, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should take up gardening….”
Theodore followed his gaze to the window, where Jessalyn was outside with her gardening club. She was already angling to take the thing over, Theo could see it in her eyes.
He looked back at Stanley, and knew exactly what he was thinking. He could see it in his eyes – that same look that all the boys got – that everyone got – when they looked at Jessalyn.
Theodore laughed and raised his eyebrows. “Oh no you don’t!” he chuckled. “Don’t even think about it, Stan. My sister isn’t the girlfriend type, you know what I mean? She’ll chew you up and spit you out! Not that I wouldn’t be thrilled to have you in the family, but Jessalyn is a tornado, man. Not saying you don’t stand a chance, but uh… you don’t stand a chance. And even if you did she’d only break your heart.”
Stanley frowned. “Somehow I don’t think I’d mind it so much if she broke my heart.”
Theodore pointed to Jessalyn outside. She was standing now with Lucas Munch, giggling and twirling her blonde hair. Even from here, Theodore could see she was covered in dirt and grime, but Lucas stared at her in awe.
“See that blonde guy?” he asked Stanley. “You don’t want to be that guy. I love my sister. She’s freaking awesome. But that guy is a goner, Stan. You don’t want to be that guy.”
“I might give my right arm to be that guy,” Stan answered wistfully.
“All right!” Theodore threw his hands up in surrender, but he was smiling. “Be my guest, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Stanley grinned and jumped to his feet. That was all he needed to hear. He winked at Theodore and squared his shoulders. “Time for me to be that guy.”
Theodore ran to the window and hid behind the curtains to watch. He had no doubt his sister would encourage Stanley’s flirtation – Jessalyn never could resist attention. The only question was how long it would last.
Secretly, Theodore hoped that maybe – just maybe – it would last. That Jessalyn would give Stanley a real chance. He was a good guy, Stan – and Theo wanted only the best for his sister.
He watched as Stanley took a deep breath to gather his courage. Stanley tapped her on the shoulder, they exchanged smiles and a few brief words, Jessalyn nodded, and offered a hug.
Then Stanley turned, grinning, and headed back for the house. Theodore rushed to the door to meet him.
“Well?” he asked. “Looks like it went well..”
Stan did a little happy dance before regaining his sense of composure.
“Yeah, man,” he said coolly, but his eyes were twinkling. “I’m taking her out next Saturday night.”
Jessalyn sailed through her week at school as usual. It was easy to get through the school day when homework was a non-issue. True, her mom would be less than thrilled the day her report card came, mottled with C’s and D’s. But Jessalyn lived in the moment, and at this moment, her cell phone was buzzing. She discreetly looked at the screen (phones were not allowed at school), hoping it might be Stanley about their date Saturday night. She’d always thought he was cute – Theo’s friend with the stunning blue eyes.
But it wasn’t Stanley – it was Lucas:
Jessalyn smiled to herself – blue eyes were her downfall.
And at the next opportunity, she crept out the back door of the school and boarded the train for Windenberg.
Later that night, Jessalyn fell asleep, dreaming of blue eyes. But in the morning she wondered – did they belong to Lucas or to Stanley?
On Saturday night, she had her chance to find out.
Afterward, Jessalyn returned home feeling equal parts confused and delighted. She liked Stanley, but she liked Lucas too. How could she choose between them? And why did she have to choose between them? Why were there all these rules and emotions involved? She thought she had high school all figured out, but Jessalyn never counted on this. She thought being a teenager meant having all the answers and none of the rules, but it turned out she couldn’t have been more wrong. Right now it felt like being a teenager meant having none of the answers.
When she returned home, Jessalyn found her brother waiting for her, eager to hear the details.
“So?” he asked hopefully. “How did it go? Is Stanley my brother-in-law yet?” He grinned teasingly.
Jessalyn sat down heavily. She never kept anything from her brother – there were no secrets between them. Theodore knew her better than anyone. But she couldn’t tell him about Lucas, not when Stanley was his closest friend.
“It was good!” she said truthfully. “Stanley is… Stanley is really great. But -” she looked at him sideways, unsure of how much to say. “You know me, Theo. I just want to have a good time. I think Stan might want me to be his….girlfriend.”
Theodore cringed. “I did warn him,” he told her. “I mean -he knows who you are and he took the chance anyway. You can’t change yourself or how you feel, Jessa. You’re a tornado.”
“That’s what Elsa calls me, too.”
“Sounds like she knows you pretty well, then,” Theo said quietly. He knew his sister had many friends, but he always prided himself on the fact that he knew her best. Theodore had never worried about sharing her. Not until now, anyway.
But Jessalyn seemed to read his mind.
“You know, it’s funny,” she said. “I have all these friends, but they’re not really all my friends. They’re just people I know, people I hang out with. Most of them just want to be around me because they think I’m cool or something. Elsa’s my only real friend, besides you. She listens, you know, and she doesn’t care about being cool. She’s quiet and she thinks a lot. She’s a lot like you, actually. I think that’s why I like her so much.”
Theodore heaved a sigh of relief, and Jessalyn nudged him in the side, smiling.
“You know no one could ever replace you, right?” She rested her head affectionately on his shoulder. “But now that I think about it, I did promise I’d find you a girlfriend, didn’t I?”
Theodore glanced down – Jessalyn was smiling mischievously.
“It just so happens – ” she said, grinning. “Elsa is coming by tomorrow to return my shoes. But I have to be at the Paragons meeting at noon! Would you mind terribly if I told her that you’d be here when she knocked?”
She waggled her eyebrows suggestively, and Theo couldn’t help but laugh.
He’d been swept up in her tornado again – and just like always, he liked it.
And though Jessalyn still didn’t have the answers she needed, it turned out she did have the answer for her twin, and it came in the form of a beautiful, sweet-natured blonde.
She might not be so good at this teenager thing, but Jessalyn was pretty plum good at the twin sister thing.