Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 89: Aura’s Past

Lark (The Dreamer): Good morning Mother!

Mom (Me): Good morning twins.

Aura (The Professional): Hey Mom.

Mom: You two are getting along swimmingly, I see.

Aura: Yeah, I guess we are… I really thought Lark was going to be more upset at me for living inside her and influencing her behavior.

Lark: You make it sound like you want me to be upset.

Aura (hasty): No, no! I’m happy you aren’t, it’s just… You said “it wasn’t your fault” like that somehow stops you from feeling like your agency wasn’t just stolen from under your nose.

Lark: You lost some of your agency too, just in a different way. Even though you had a lot of influence over how I thought and what I said, you were stuck with going where I wanted to go and seeing the world through my eyes.

Aura: I suppose that’s true…

Lark: Besides, neither of us chose to be stuck with the other. That was Mom, so we really ought to be angry at her.

Mom (embarrassed): Yeah… If anyone deserves your anger it’s me. I hope you’re not too upset.

Lark (smiling): I’m not upset at all, Mother. You tried to take control of your dreams, but you never tried to smother them entirely, and you’ve never shied away from being a dreamer. We were always close, even when you had me confused with my sister here.

Aura (hesitant): Well *I’m* upset. I don’t really have my own history — my entire past is tangled together with Lark’s, and I thought we were one persona for a long time. When I started to realize I was separate from Lark, I also realized I could influence what Lark thought and said.

Lark (surprised): You discovered you could control me?

Aura (apologetic): I couldn’t turn it off! I’d find myself getting angry and suddenly you were too, for example. It just kind of happened whether I wanted it to or not. Besides, it wasn’t really control, it was influence, like I said — you had more control than I did. Still, I realized that my influence was why Lark was clashing with Ivy. I tried to fix their relationship, but I kept making things worse.

Lark: I know you were trying your best, but couldn’t you have stepped out of my body at that point?

Aura (hesitant): I… I was afraid. I thought that if I came out, I’d be punished and chased out of this headspace entirely. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself; I figured as long as I could stay hidden within your body I’d be safe. Mom still figured me out eventually.

Mom: Are you still afraid of being sent away?

Aura: Not really, and I want to be a part of this family, but… I never got to be myself. It’s like I spent all my time back then looking and acting like someone else. Instead of seeing *me* they saw something else, and that hurts.

Mom (distant): Yes… Yes it does.

Lark: Still, we can’t change the past.

Mom: We can’t, but we can recontextualize it. That’s the whole point of this place, after all. So let’s talk about why you two got tangled together.

Aura: That’s… Okay, yeah. That sounds useful.

Mom: Your time was my mid-to-late twenties: I had just finished college and I was starting to live my own life. I stayed with my parents until I got a job, and after I found work it wasn’t long before I’d moved out and started living on my own. That’d be a pretty massive change for anyone — living on your own for the first time, having your own real income for the first time, and having the guardrails of school removed for the first time. It’s a lot.

Aura: And that’s when I was created?

Mom: In that environment, yes. I was working for a massive company rife with office politics and an old guard who had no interest in change, and that was an atmosphere unlike any I’d been in before. I was also convinced that I *had* to succeed at that job, because a person’s first job is such an important launching point for the rest of their career. So I was determined to make that work, and it quickly became clear to me that I needed to figure out a new way to exist in order to survive that experience. That mindset became you.

Aura: Okay, that makes a lot of sense… But then how did I get tangled up with my twin sister?

Lark: It does strike me as strange that I became confused with Aura when that didn’t happen with either Bloom or Libra.

Mom: That’s a good question, since you’ve been around as long as I have — you were definitely around for Bloom and Libra’s dominant periods. I think the key here is agency: Bloom and Libra didn’t have much. Bloom still lived with our parents, in their house, and with their rules. She still had to go to school during the day, do her homework at night, and the only time she had to herself was on the weekends and at night. Libra lived on her own, but her parents still paid for school and her primary focus was on collegiate success. She gradually became more independent, doing things like getting an apartment and cooking for herself, but her life was aimed at a clear goal with a well defined measure of success: finishing her degree.

Aura: Which she did. Then I came along and I didn’t *have* well defined goals.

Mom: Exactly. You had some smaller goals from your job, but in theory, you could always get a different job. You finally had complete agency for the first time, and you only had your lifelong goals to guide you — the nebulous objectives of starting a family and achieving financial independence. In other words, your dreams are all you had to aim at.

Lark: Presumably that’s where I come in.

Mom: Yes. I suddenly had all of this agency and ambition, and I decided it must be time to fulfill my dreams. I tried all sorts of different things: working within a company, working on my own, working towards certifications, working towards independence, working on working harder, working on working smarter, working on working through my anxieties and fears. At the end of the day, a lot of that work wasn’t productive, and I beat myself up often for not achieving the goals I’d set for myself. I felt like a failure, over and over and over again. Throughout all of it, my guiding philosophy was to take everything that I learned about existing in the corporate world — Aura’s purview — and use it to build the world of my dreams — Lark’s purview. I was trying to make those two worlds one in the same.

Aura: But it didn’t work.

Mom: No it didn’t. I couldn’t exert control over my dreams, and as much as I tried to use my experience to achieve them, I couldn’t do that either. I managed to confuse the two of you pretty thoroughly, but I never succeeded in actually accomplishing those dreams.

Lark: Until you met your partner.

Mom: Meeting my partner and starting a family achieved one of my two lifelong goals, and at that point I pivoted hard to being a good partner and I focused on my family. I still wanted to achieve financial independence someday, but that goal became somewhat less important… And my mindset regarding that goal got sort of stuck in the past. I remember when my partner would try to plan a future together with me, trying to talk to me about things like where we wanted to live or what sorts of things we wanted to save up for, but I was more or less along for the ride — I didn’t really have any desires of my own. My desires were another enigma that couldn’t puzzle out until very recently.

Aura: When you discovered you were trans?

Mom: Once I understood that I’m trans and started living as a woman, it brought my dreams back to life. I fulfilled a lifelong desire that I didn’t even realize I had. That created the space to start examining who I really am, which led me to recontextualizing my past, which eventually led to me rediscovering you.

Lark: And now I’m myself again, and so is my twin sister.

Mom (smiling): So you are.

(I pause, watching Aura take everything in. She appears to be struggling with it, and after waiting for a minute or so, I speak up about it.)

Mom: Something’s still bothering you.

Aura: Yeah. I’m glad I have a better sense of my past now, but…

(Aura trails off, trying to assemble her thoughts.)

Aura: Feeling unwanted for so long left this sort of hole in me, you know? When I was still inside Lark, we wanted so badly to forge a strong bond with another sister like the relationship Bloom has with Libra, and I think I’m why. I want a strong sisterly connection like that more than anything, but I’ll never have it — I’ll just have to get used to that.

Lark: What do you mean?

Aura: I mean I’m not going to have a bond like that with Bloom and Libra; their lives were so very different from mine, as we just discussed. And I’m not going to have that connection with Ivy, she’s focused on her partner and her family. I doubt I’m going to have that connection with whomever Ivy’s older sister is for the same reason… So I’m left alone.

Lark: Aren’t you forgetting someone?

Aura (dismissive): Sure, you’re my sister too, but you were around during Bloom’s time as well. And Libra’s, *and* Ivy’s. There’s no reason to think you’d be closer with me than any of them.

Lark (smirking): Aura, my dear twin, I could never be as close to them as I am to you. We literally shared a body for years and years. We shared desires, we shared thoughts. I love all of my sisters, of course, and I feel close to all of them, but my relationship with you is special and unique. Mom got us confused because she was trying so hard to get us together, after all. You’ll always be my closest sister.

Aura (tearful): You… Lark, I don’t know what to say. What did I ever do to deserve this?

Lark (smiling): You can say what I would say: That I love you. And someday you’ll realize that you’ve *always* deserved this.

(Aura bursts out in huge, happy sobs as Lark approaches her and gently wraps her in a warm embrace. Aura hugs her back fiercely as I step up beside them and put my arms around them both.)