Cyra & Indira
Cyra seethed outside, her dark eyebrows knitted together over eyes which burned with every eternal hellfire. The social worker had gone on ahead to knock on the quaint oak door, so the only one standing beside her was her sister, small and pale-cheeked, her pretty mouth downturned. Where Cyra radiated heat, Indira shivered. Her dark curls – lighter and longer than Cyra’s – were, as always, winding their way around anything and everything: the collar of her coat, her buttons, her ears, her hood. She had to hold it back from her face with her hands, fighting a losing battle against the biting wind.
She leaned over, her elbow brushing against Cyra’s coat. Indira’s coat had been a vibrant poppy-red once, but never in their lifetimes; the colours had already dulled by the time it came into her ownership. Still, it was clean and well-kept, unlike Cyra’s. Several shades of mud splattered the hem of Cyra’s dark blue coat and the elbows had been poorly patched with fraying string and unmatching fabric. The girls shared most things, but not their coats. Cyra could not imagine why anyone would want to be so seen, and Indira was perplexed by a person who handled their garments so roughly by day, then darned them so enthusiastically by night.
“Cyra,” Indira whispered, in a tone which matched her gentle, rose-quartz eyes. They made everyone look twice, those eyes; soft and magical in colour, shining and glittering in opaline texture whenever she moved. They were the kind of eyes – and Indira had the kind of air – which made you feel safe and welcomed. That air was a lie, because Indira repeated what she’d said a moment before to make Cyra’s blood boil. “You won’t - promise you won’t – you won’t mess this up, will you?”
Hunkering down into her coat, Cyra didn’t answer. She strode wordlessly forward, following the beckoning social worker and forcing Indira to scurry after her with an anxious hiss of, “I haven’t upset you, have I?”
On the threshold, Cyra stamped the snow off her boots. Indira wiped carefully. The wall of heat from a glowing fireplace hit them, making them both reach for the buttons of their coats. While Cyra popped hers open with relative ease, Indira was forced to begin the long, arduous process of trying to unwind her hair from every crevice and pull it back before she could start unbuttoning. While Indira fumbled with her coat, Cyra surveyed the woman standing beside their social worker with a long, insolent stare. It was easy to see why their social worker had said that they’d like this one. She looked like a white version of Indira.
The social worker was introducing them both. “This one’s Cyra,” she moved her hand, smiling warmly, “and this is Indira. Girls, this is Nine.”
Indira had only managed to pop one button, but she looked up at the sound of her name and brushed the invading curls back from her face.
“This is a really nice placement. You girls are lucky,” the social worker said. She eyeballed Cyra a little intensely. “Let’s make a positive new start.”
There was some hand-shaking and talking and paper-signing before the social worker finally left, wishing them luck and happy holidays. Indira had finally wrestled her coat free and she and Cyra were both stood near the fireplace, holding their bags which contained all their possessions. Indira hugged hers to her chest; Cyra’s hung from her fingers, the bottom scraping the floor. Firelight reflected in Indira’s eyes, warming them to a sunset shade of golden-pink. She was biting her lower lip a little nervously, watching her sister. Cyra tried to think of something to say which wasn’t completely coloured with resentment.
She couldn’t think of anything, so she stayed quiet too.