Chastity Goodkind and her twin sister Charm could not have been more different. It wasn’t just their tastes in food and music, their political and religious views, it was their attitudes. Charm liked to think of herself as self-sufficient, the kind of strong young woman who didn’t need help, didn’t really even need companionship, particularly.
Chastity was different. Not only would she ask for help, but she knew how to coax it and the idea that she might be cheating or even sleeping her way into somethikng she didn’t “deserve” in the conventional sense, didn’t bother her.
The one thing they did have in common was their telekinetic ability, but that is beside the point.
“You’re such a slut,” Charm would scold her.
“Why? Because I know what I want and I know how to get it?”
“Because you’re taking the easy way, rather than earning it.”
“I earn things. I just earn them by being nice to the right people.”
“By sleeping with them.”
“I don’t sleep with anyone that I don’t want to sleep with, Charm. And if the people I sleep with want to do favors for me, they do me favors because they like me, not because I sleep with them.”
“Says me, says everybody, says all of them.”
Chastity and Charm were both ambitious—or at least, each thought of herself as ambitious. Chastity looked at her boring sister and saw someone self-centered who wanted to take all the credit for her own achievements, but wouldn’t ever actually achieve anything because she didn’t have any friends.
Charm, of course, looked at her party-girl of a sister and thought she cared only about material concerns, about pleasure, the great carnla delight. What she didn’t understand about Chastity’s strategy was that while she might fall so far behind her sister she could never catch up intellectually, she was making great strides, grand leaps, as a social butterfly.
“Please,” Chastity would beg for Charm’s notes, “If you help me study, I promise to bring you to that party at Gretchen’s—“
“I don’t want to go to any party—“
“Oh, so you just want to stay in here with your books—“
“I like my books.”
“Are your books gonna land you a job? There’s gonna be people there, Charmy, real people, see, that’s the problem with books, sure they can give you knowledge or whatever, they can give you comfort. But when it comes right down to it, books aren’t real.”
Even the few times Charm did come along to one of her sister’s affairs, she was bored out of her mind. One time, she sat herself next to a fountain just looking at it for hours on end. When a boy did approach her and hit on her, even though he was kind of nice, she brushed him off.
“You didn’t have to be rude to him,” Chastity scolded.
“I wasn’t interested,” said Charm, “and I didn’t want him thinking that I was.”
“Did you ever think about how the way you act affects me and how people see me? I’m trying to build something here and I know you don’t understand that—“
“Oh, I understand perfectly,” Charm said, not knowing it was a lie. “Then could you at least not undermine me?”
That was the last party Chastity dragged her sister to. Charm still helped Chastity with some of her more outlandish assignments, but considered it less of a favor to the less fortunate and more an opportunity to hone her teaching skills. Charm went into academia. She would have liked to have done something “real”, she told herself, but peopel didn’t interest her, and while some skill at teaching was required to stay at a university, she did not consider students as “people in the traditional sense. They did not require social interaction.
Chastity, meanwhile, went into business, soaring as an assistant and as a young junior executive, but as the assignments she was given became more and more complex, she found herself bluffing.
“Think you can handle that?” her boss would ask, tendering her a stack of papers, and she would beam at him: “Sure thing, boss!”
But then she would fall behind.
“Can I talk to you?” Charm Goodkind’s Dean said after knocking on her office door. “I just wanted to see if you were doing all right. I noticed you haven’t been coming to faculty fucntions—“
“Did I miss a meeting?”
“I’m not talking about committees, I’m talking about the party last week.”
“I’m not good at parties,” Charm explained. But it wasn’t enough. They wanted her more involved, not just active on campus as a place of work, but as a community.
“We like you,” explained the Dean, “or we want to like you. But you’ve got to give us some way to do that.”
Finally, drowning in facts and figures she just couldn’t quite wrap her head around, Chastity once more went to her sister for help.
“I see,” said Charm, “because getting other people to do the work for you is how you operate—“
“And you’re not able to work with other people at all!”
It was true. She knew it was true. “Come on,” Chastity coaxed. “You gonna tell me that shit still flies here?”
But she knew that it didn’t.
After that meeting, Chastity never had trouble turnign in her reports on time, and not only did the Dean stop having complaints, the faculty were amazed at the transformation Professor Goodkind underwent once she was out of the classroom.
Another colleague, an expressly male colleague, cornered her outside her office one Monday. “I just wanted to say,” he said, fidgeting, “what a great time I had with you at the party—“
“Oh, thank you.”
“I was just wondering if you’d like to grab coffee sometime.”
“Oh, sorry, I don’t drink coffee—“
“Hot chocolate, then?” He softened. She softened. “You know I don’t mean literal coffee—“
“No, I know, it’s just… the person that I was… at the party… that’s not really…”
But she was starting to get it. It was finally getting through to her what her dumb sister had been trying to say.
“All right,” she said. “I would like that.”
If only to hone her social skill set.