Grace and Glory

Once upon a time, there were twin sisters named Grace and Glory Goodkind who did everything together, especially once they realized that they both had special powers.

Grace was the first to realize what was going on. She noticed something was up one day in Math class when the teacher gave her a D on a test, but then changed the grade to an A once Grace started to express her opinion. From that day on, she knew (after a couple of other experiments) that she ws able to convince people to do things against their will simply by exerting her own.

Naturally—because they were twin sisters and allies—she spoke to Glory about this, convinced that, if she could do something extraordinary, they both must be imbued with the same abilities.

Sadly, though, her hopes proved unfounded as it seemed Glory could not even make their mother absentmindedly put that extra teaspoon of vanilla in the cookie recipe. It was only after several months of careful observation that Glory discovered where her power truly lay.

It became apparent over time that everyone felt about Glory exactly the same way that she felt about them. Now, obviously, this effect is very subtle and as such Grace herself was, at first, reluctant to admit it (as was Glory). But the truth of it became undeniable when they remarked that the neighbor from across the street whom both sisters hated was nice to Grace but rude beyond accounting to Glory. This was exceptionally striking in that this particular neighbor had never been able to tell them apart.

By the careful application of these two Talents, Grace and Glory were able to secure themselves quite a bit of comfort generally denied to high school students.

That all changed the day that Ralph came to their school.

Ralph was, despite his name, the most singularly astoundingly shaped and proportioned boy that the two girls had ever known in person. This was a problem, of course, because the girls both felt the same way about this beautiful boy. And it’s amazing how long it took these two girls, who had always shared everything, to realize that this was a very big problem.

The problem stayed hidden, in fact, until the day that Ralph walked up to Glory as she was standing in line with her sister and completely ignored Grace.

Grace noticed and took exception, whereupon she immediately flung Ralph the singular thought: Talk to me. The reaction was, as usual, instantaneous. Ralph broke off in mid-sentence and turned on his heel, stopping shortly thereafter with a frown on his face to wonder what he had just done. And why.

Later that day, the sisters spoke to one another of the incident by way of review. “Well, obviously we can’t both have him,” argued Grace. “You went ahead and proved that.” She was annoyed because “yours” and “mine” had always been “ours” before and she was getting the feeling that that was changing now.

“Then I guess there’s just one thing to do,” said Glory. “We have to ask him which one of us he likes best.”

Any sane outside observer would have expected Ralph to be confused and unable to distinguish between these identical twins, but Ralph didn’t miss a beat. He didn’t need to say “Glory is the one I want” because it was all in his eyes as he said simply, “Grace,” then closed his eyes and shook his head with a look both dazed and confused. “I meant—Glory. Glory. Sorry.”

Glory glared at her sister.

“Well, it’s only fair,” Grace said later. “You’re obviously using your powers on him to get him to like you. It’s like this whole contest is rigged!”

But Glory couldn’t accept that rebuke. “Grace,” she said, “You can have any other guy in the world—all you have to do is think it. Just let me have this one love of my life and I won’t need any more.”

How is that fair? Thought Grace. How is it fair she gets the guy just because of her power? Well, if she’s gonna use her power, by golly, the game is on!

The next day was when Glory was expecting Ralph to ask her out, but when he came up to the two of them at lunch, though he had been looking at Glory, it was to Grace he turned, wearing that same puzzled look on his face as he flirted with her and ultimately asked her out.

Glory was not pleased at having lost. She remembered the look he had had in his eyes as he’d approached her—her, not her sister. She remembered the silky tone in his voice the one time he had spoken to her, the one time she had seen him when Grace hadn’t been there, which Grace didn’t know. It was the only thing Glory knew that Grace did not.

That was how Glory knew something was afoot and just before class, she excused herself and chased down Ralph, but once she’d caught up to him, she found herself utterly tongue-tied. And she didn’t know why. Until she turned around and saw her mirror image, smiling.

That night, Grace met up with Ralph to go out on a date while Glory stayed home, in tears, much to the amazement of her family. But out on the town, Grace started to notice that though he was out on a date and, more importantly, a date with her, Ralph wasn’t smiling. So she told him—or, rather, though at him, to smile. And he did, he smiled; yet the smile wouldn’t reach his eyes. So she taught his eyes how to smile properly, the way she wanted them to smile, and they still did, but there was something wrong behind them.

When he took her home, he dropped her at the front door and turned to leave with a wave of his hand, but she stopped him and made him come kiss her. It was her first kiss and she felt a fluttering of pride at having beaten her sister once again, and yet the kiss was not as she’d imagined. When she let him pull away from it at last, he gave an awkward smile and a bow, turned tail and she allowed him to go.

Still, she gloated her way up to her room.

Over the next couple of days, she saw Ralph constantly and made a point of making out with him every time, just to see if it got any better. But no matter how she instructed his mind, there was simply no way for her to feel the magic she was supposed to have been feeling.

Then finally she realized the problem.

“It’s you!” she told her sister. “You’re doing this to me! You can’t stand it that I’ve won and he’s with me, so you’ve decided to ruin my fun, is that it? Is that what you’ve been doing?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Glory replied innocently.

Grace screamed: “Don’t lie to me!”

Glory fell silent.

“Are you messing with my emotions?”

Grace stayed silent.

“Did you make me fall out of love with him?”

Still, Grace stayed silent.

“Answer me!” Grace commanded.

“You were never the one that he wanted and you never wanted him, you were just trying to get back at me for being the one that he wanted when you thought you had all the power!”

“I do have all the power!” Grace gloated. “He’s with me, isn’t he?”

“Is he?” said Glory. “Is he really?”

And Grace shut her up again. “The only reason that he loves you is because you’re making him love you!”

“How do you know?”

“Because it’s what you do!”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’ve seen you do it!”

“How do you know that’s not just how people think of me? As opposed to you. Could you love someone who you knew was forcing you to date them?”

Grace left the conversation angry, and yet, deep down inside, she knew that her sister was right. Even if she was forcing him to love her, he still loved Glory, not Grace, and Grace was the one keeping him from what he wanted. She didn’t love him, but she did love her sister and she was hurting both of them by using her powers for selfish ends.

So, yes, maybe it was unethical for Glory to force him to love her and to make Grace fall out of love with him, but no more so than what she was doing. And, most of all, none of what she was doing was making her happy, in the end. So she decided to let him go, to accept defeat with grace and to leave her sister all the glory.

About Polypsyches

I write, regardless of medium or genre, but mostly I manage a complex combined Science-Fiction/Fantasy Universe--in other words, I'm building Geek Heaven. With some other stuff on the side. View all posts by Polypsyches

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