Several months later Alison decided she couldn't stand not knowing what happened with her brother any longer, so she decided to confront her mother in the kitchen while she was making dinner. "Mom, I really need to know what happened with Aaron, and please don't tell me that he just up and decided one day that he couldn't stand being around us any longer. Whenever he had a problem with me or Justin he'd come talk with us about it."
"Whatever gave you that idea, dear?"
"Dad told me that's what you told him."
"Why I said no such thing. Aaron enlisted in the Air Force and he had to leave immediately because of the war in Iraq."
Alison's face fell, an expression of worry and fear battling for dominance. "Without even saying goodbye to us?"
"I can't answer to that. You'd have to ask him."
"Where is he? Do you have his address?"
"No. He hasn't written. I'm sure he's very busy with training or whatever it is that they do and will write soon."
"I hope so." With that she grabbed a couple of carrots out of the refrigerator and left.
A few days later, a similar confrontation occurred, this time between Justin and his mother.
"I don't know what to tell you, honey. Dad told me he had enlisted in the Air Force, but when I called the recruiter's office to see if I could find out where he was, they had no record of him ever enlisting."
"Weird." Justin said. "Thanks mom." He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before seeking out Alison. "Something strange is going on. We're getting two different stories."
"Well, whatever it is, it's obvious he doesn't want to have anything to do with us." Alison responded, choking back tears.
"But what did we do? We must have done something to either hurt him or piss him off. Think, Alison."
"That's all I've been doing since he left. I can't think of anything. You?"
"Nope. I guess we just have to hope and pray he'll get over whatever it is and get in touch with us. Have you tried calling his cell phone?"
"I just get a message saying that the number is no longer in service."
"Me too. Shit. I was hoping it was just a fluke. That means he's completely cut himself off from us." Tears started flowing at the last statement. He reached for Alison who jumped into arms. The two of them held onto each other crying hard, each clinging to the hope that someday Aaron would reach out to them and they would get the answers they both so desperately needed. Little did they know that Aaron was clinging to the same hope.
"Wait a minute. You two are identical twins" she started, stating the obvious. "You've always had some kind of link where you could sense each other's moods and sometimes even thoughts. Can you sense anything at all from him?"
Justin closed his eyes, slowed his breathing and tried to clear his mind. He was silent for about ten minutes before opening his eyes. "The only thing I'm getting is feelings of confusion, loneliness and devastation. Whatever's going through his head right now is doing a real number on him."
"I'm scared for him, Justin. He's always wanted to be a firefighter, which mom and dad were dead set against. Joining the military would be one way to become a firefighter and our parents wouldn't be able to say shit about it. Every military installation in the world requires firefighters. My greatest fear is they could send him to Iraq or Afghanistan."
"We just have to pray that he keeps his head down and he stays safe. I'm afraid that's all we can do until he gets in contact with us."
Reluctantly, she agreed. She had no choice. She didn't like it, though. She and her two brothers had always been close. Please be safe, Aaron. I love you and I miss you and I hope that someday you'll come back and we'll be able to find out what we did wrong and make it right. She thought hard, hoping that, somehow, Aaron would hear her thoughts like he did Justin's from time to time. She lay down on her bed and cried herself to sleep.