The Lip Reader & The Listener

Family drawing from when I was 7: two parents, a dog, a cat, me, and two sisters. I’m sure my teachers all thought I was nuts when I handed in these family drawings, but the pages always represented what I saw. They knew I had only one older sister, but really, I have two.

I grew up knowing about the eldest sister, Stacey. I don’t remember being told, but it must have happened that way. She was born on June 9, 1981, and she died on June 9, 1981. Three and a half years before I was born. I used to draw her into family pictures, and she always looked like me. Somehow, I understood that we would have gotten along, even before I knew that Gemini and Aquarius share similar traits, that the Rooster and Rat are so compatible. I used to imagine this sister as my guardian angel of sorts, the sister I couldn’t fight with because she never talked back, the one I could always share my thoughts with. I took her out on the playground with me, took her on bike rides, on my first date, and when I moved to Calgary, she fit neatly into my suitcase, folded up against my stuffed elephant.

Gemini and Aquarius, Stacey and The Lip Reader. Both are air signs, are social and extroverted and hate boredom. Both like language, using it and getting lost in it. Gemini don’t settle down easily, they are always on the hunt for something new and exciting. They like change. Aquarians like stability with a side of excitement. We don’t embrace change to the same extent as Gemini do, but we are open to it. The sign for Aquarius is the water-bearer, which likely explains my constant quest for water, my need to be near an ocean or a lake. The Gemini sign is two lines standing next to each other, not touching: the twins. Infinitely attracted to everything at once, interested in every subject, and often trying to run in two directions at the same time. This sign embodies chaos, but in a good way. Somehow, I managed to become both an Aquarian and a Gemini, my brain reaching for two different things, my body longing for a change of scenery every five minutes, but still trying to grow roots in Windsor. The Gemini: funny, intelligent, multi-tasker, avid reader and thinker, rebellious, independent, social by every definition of the word. The Aquarian: activist, intelligent, logical, imaginative, social, eccentric, but also fairly isolated – we pull away from society when things start to spiral out of control. I am half Aquarius, half Gemini.

When I was young, I made up a story to explain to myself why Stacey died and I lived. It wasn’t her time, that much I understood, but then when would be her time? No way was she reincarnated as my living sister – there are too many oppositions, and I needed to believe in a sister who was like me, only with answers. The story goes something like this:

Once upon a time, The Lip Reader had a twin: The Listener. The Listener came first, born from the Pacific Ocean, with salt water running through her veins. When she emerged from the water and saw her twin missing, she dove back into the ocean to search for her. For three years she swam around, following the whales south and east until she reached Africa, the motherland. There she found her sister waiting for her, sitting on top of a mountain. They were useless without each other: The Listener unable to talk, The Lip Reader unable to hear. Destined for lives devoid of outside communication, they needed each other to translate. So they swam north together through the Atlantic Ocean, The Lip Reader asking directions, The Listener hearing the responses. Before they reached home, The Listener became small and frail, and her sister, unable to carry her the rest of the way, decided to swallow The Listener’s snail-sized body. The Lip Reader absorbed her sister’s ability to hear, but only wanted to talk to herself. When she was born from the Atlantic Ocean, her veins were filled with Pacific salt water, her ear drums with the sound of whale music. Her heartbeat, irregular, reflects the two souls inhabiting one body. She speaks with her own voice, but can only listen through her sister.

Today, Stacey-The-Listener would be 31. Happy birthday to my other half, wherever she is.

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