Raya usually retired to her room after classes and the afternoon prayer she kept; to read, or possibly reply to any emails she'd received since the day prior. Only today, she didn't feel so inclined to do either of those. She opened the door carefully when she arrived, bag slung over one shoulder casually. When she was assured Rachel wasn't there and no notes for her had been left anywhere, Raya moved to the bedside table on her end of the room, a small thing with a single drawer and just enough room for a lamp, and her alarm on the top.
She slid out a small framed picture from the drawer, something small and palm sized, in a simple palm sized oval frame. In it was nothing but a grainy black-and-white picture from an ultrasound machine. It clearly showed a baby, but it wasn't her. It was her twin.
There had been two of them, two children that had been conceived at once. Though they were not identical, they had moved together from the moment they had been capable of it. Almost as if a precognitive bond linked them in the womb. But it wasn't enough. The other baby had been stillborn, a beautiful boy with delicate features much like Sooraya's. He'd never got the chance to grow up with her.
She was the elder—soon to be only—by just a few minutes. In the bare seconds it took for the nurses to clamp off her cord and carry her away to be measured, weighed and cleaned up, he was breathing his last, his umbilical cord wrapped twice around his own neck. Being born had killed him.
Of course, Raya had no idea. She never knew just why she was always looked at with that strange mix of pity and curiosity by the nurses and doctors when she went to get a checkup. She'd always just dismissed it and smiled happily at them, accepting the jewel-colored lollipops they gave her as a treat for such good cooperation. All that time, and no one had ever told her what had happened to her baby brother. She knew he'd been stillborn, but nothing farther.
She held the little printout picture and sighed softly at it, bringing it up to her lips and pressing a small, chaste kiss the the head of the figure forever swimming placidly in his own glass pond. She touched her fingertips to the glass and wondered what it might have been like to know her brother. The twin that wasn't. Just like she was.