Eleven days between Sweet Sixteens


Kiera Kemppainen

Maya and I in a fun house mirror this summer looking much shorter than normal.

To you, my almost birthday twin, 

Eleven days. It’s just eleven days. Eleven days of the “in-between.”

The days that have haunted me for eleven years have returned for their sixteenth year. A week and a half creates the biggest void I’ve known.

It is a void of smiles and laughs. A void that should be somehow overflowing with tears and fear despite having no bottom. It’s cold, yet warm; loud, but quiet. It’s an indescribable feeling of loss and gain. It is empty and full, but not halfway. It is truly bittersweet. 

You’re now behind the wheel, and I get to live in your passenger seat—mentally and physically. The brisk autumn air tumbles gracefully through the car as we finally feel free. Our heads have been reaching the brink, overflowing with the thoughts of what we can do. We become doves being let out of their cage, but you feel it more than I do. Because in this freedom, we leave our past behind.

It’s eleven days that will make you leave my house at a reasonable time. You’ll have to figure out the timing so you’re home by curfew. We won’t be sitting in my room making iMovies while wearing sequin hats as we did all those years ago. We won’t be putting on fashion shows for our parents as if they would rather see random objects from my closet haphazardly thrown together than talk to each other. We won’t be making TikToks until 11:30 when your parents finally drag you out. 

Because in this freedom, we leave our past behind.

It’s eleven days that make me feel stuck in the past as you spring to the future. I’ll still be here, in my room, iMovie and clothes at the ready. You’ll be out there, in the real world, with more freedom than we’ve ever known.

You’ll be the adult, and I’ll be the child.

And then we’ll be the same. 

Neither adult nor child; simply Maya and Kiera. Simply the two we’ve always been—the pair meant to meet. The “cousins” turned best friends, the peas in a pod of only two. 

We’ll both sit in the parking lot until it’s empty. The normal afternoon conversations about our day will start again. It’ll feel the same as it always was, yet somehow new. The perfect combination of the past and the future. 

The void is patched up. It’s no fears or tears. It feels as though it was never there. Life is back to normal.

But for now, it’s not. I’m still stuck. I’m eleven steps away from it. It’s 11 days, 264 hours, 15,840 minutes, 950,4000 seconds—three percent of the year. 

They say good things come in threes. Although I’m not quite sure who “they” are, I can appreciate the sentiment. You and I are two, not three, but here we are, separated by three percent.

Here’s to three percent. Here’s to my twin, eleven days removed, despite no shared genetics. 

For the eleven days that feel so far apart but flash by in an instant, for the eleven days that you can forever hold above my head, I am thankful.

But most of all, I am thankful for you.

Forever younger,