The golden helmet gleamed upon the pedestal beneath the foyer light. It stopped the boy as he came through his mother's front door. It held his eyes. He'd searched everywhere else. Why not here?¶ Devard Darling lifted the helmet from the pedestal and peered inside. After all, if the soul resided in the mind, and the mind resided in the cranium, and the cranium resided—during his identical twin's moments of greatest hope and aliveness—inside this golden Seminoles helmet...then couldn't it be here?
It might fit inside a helmet. It wasn't a complete soul, mind you. Just half of one. Devard and his twin had gone halvers on everything their entire lives—a splendid arrangement right up to the day that Devaughn, pursuing their dream, worked himself to death. But now that Devaughn was gone....
Devard pulled the helmet over his head. He walked into the living room, then the kitchen. He looked at the newspaper. Patience. It might take awhile to lure the half-soul back.
His mother and two sisters stole glances. It was an odd sight, a boy walking around the house in street clothes and a football helmet—heartbreaking and humorous and eerie all at once. But they were wise, and they kept silent.
He returned to the foyer—and froze. There, in the flash of the mirror by the bathroom door, in the glimpse of eyes framed by the headgear, he'd almost sensed it, felt it, found it. The mirror pulled him closer...closer....
He swallowed what rose in his throat as he stared at his eyes. He removed the helmet and returned it to the pedestal.
No. His half-soul wasn't in the helmet. He'd have to keep searching.
Science can't explain it. Now and then, once in about every 250 human conceptions, the fertilized egg splits, creating two distinct embryos containing identical genetic material. There's magic in this sudden duplication, a powder keg of psychic implications for the pair of children born. This was understood long ago and over mere, where the ancestors of Devard and Devaughn Darling lived.
African tribes created rituals and totems to contain this magic—some even built fences around the homes of newborn twins. Some killed one or both twins upon birth; others rejoiced and made offerings. Some tribes buried a dead twin as swiftly as possible, or not at all, leaving the body sitting on a rock and then fleeing without looking back. The Yoruba, of Nigeria, sensed that identical twins possessed just one soul between them, and they understood the spiritual emergency when a child's double died. That's why they carved a wooden figurine for the deceased twin's half-soul to reside in, an object for the survivor to wash and clothe and feed, to reach for whenever he felt half of himself missing and needed something—God, something—to hold onto.