We lived in a house by the sea. Nobody there had seen a family quite like ours before; we had hair the color of fire, and we were so rosy skinned, and so tall. We had to duck under the doorways of our neighbors. "Twins!" people would say. "We thought that was just a myth."
But the Colliers – a retired couple, who had never gotten around to having any children – didn't act surprised. Maybe they had originally come from somewhere else. They had a little thickness in their voices, after all. In their pale yellow kitchen, Mrs. Collier pressed pastry dough into tart shells while we eagerly watched over her shoulder. She let us pour the filling in, then we sat at the dining table until they were ready. "Won't Mr. Collier want some?" we asked as we dug our forks in, but Mrs. Collier shook her head. She said he didn't care for sweets, and besides, right now he was in the woods behind their house, harvesting firewood and hunting rabbits for dinner.
"Oh," we said.
"Hundreds of them out there," she said. "Mr. Collier could bring you along next time, if you'd like."
Our mother had taught us to accept invitations, even when we didn't want to, and so we went with him the following Saturday. We linked our arms together, my twin and I, and we followed Mr. Collier at a cautious distance. "Let's turn back," we whispered to each other, shivering, but then we came to a clearing.
"There!" Mr. Collier said. "You see?" But we didn't see any rabbits. All we saw were stones upon stones, all smooth and gray and speckled with mica. Mr. Collier picked one up, and held it against his chest. He was smiling. We brought the stone back to the house, and then we politely said that we had to be home for dinner.
They watched us go, waving from the doorway. And the next day, they were gone. No house, no trace of the winding driveway, not a crumb. This is what we remember most from our time by the sea, when we were most awake, when we were so young.