Not a soul in Birdtown was surprised that she’d pull something like this. Only Daisy Lee-Landers would casually ask her twin, her only sister and only sibling, to take her place in the National Service Commitment. It would have been difficult to see Daisy in that drab uniform or in a dormitory bunk although a number of the kids in her graduating class looked forward to seeing just that. The disappointment and scorn reverberated throughout Birdtown.
The National Service Commitment was all that remained of the vast bureaucratic military apparatus assembled to fight the war on terror. With the oil gone and the current administration’s iron grip on enormous stores of water secure there was little point in flailing away in distant deserts. It was discovered, though, that sending eighteen year olds away for two years of public service was a great idea. The streets and highways got cleaned, snow was removed, signage was replaced, affordable housing built, existing housing stock repaired and trees, millions and millions of trees, got planted. An unforeseen side benefit was that responsible, level-headed, focused young people came back in place of the gossipy, overly dramatic whiners who kicked and screamed all the way to the camps.
“Here, use my ID.” Daisy felt she had all but closed the deal with Dannie.
“But what about when they come to look for me?” Dannie had never really taken to this plan but, until her back was to the wall, hadn’t been able to speak up. Daisy ran this show.
“How many times do I have to go over this?” Easy, Daisy thought, she could read her sister and backed down a little allowing her voice to go warm. “There is no you.”
The authorization notice that came was only for Daisy. Dannie wasn’t in the database; probably something to do with how much whiskey had been in Mommy’s coffee cup on the day she came home from the hospital with her bundles of joy and was required by law to register her children with the NSC board. Or maybe it hadn’t been a mistake at all; Daisy had her own theories.
“If you get over to the sign-up center tomorrow you’ll probably be assigned to the same cadre as Roger Sullivan.”
Dannie started to reach for the card and then stopped. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to do an NSC stint. In fact she really did want to go off and escape Daisy’s overlong shadow. But still she hesitated.
And watched her sister’s face.
Each of them was used to being a living, breathing mirror image of her twin but neither mistook the other as being an accurate mirror. There was a well-recognized if slightly skewed reflection that each was used to. Until today. Dannie had never defied her sister and Daisy never would have believed that was even possible. Dannie felt jolts of something very new. Daisy was going to back down. The smile that spread across Dannie’s face hit Daisy like a hammer upside her head.
Then Dannie took the card. Daisy was speechless. On her way out the door, however, Dannie paused and picked up the keys to Daisy’s Cooper Mini.
“I’ll go but you’ll do what I tell you, right?” Dannie’s smile was matched by Daisy’s.
“No more, no less.”