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The only way people could say that Will and Oliver were cut from the same cloth was if they meant it at the most basic level. Yes, the fabrics might’ve been made in the same way on the same loom by the same weavers, but from there, the patterns diverged into two distinct pieces that look like they came from completely opposite makers.

Or at least that’s what Palmer thinks. She’s never been able to wrap her head around how two beings who inhabited the same womb simultaneously could be so different. When she first met Will and Oliver on the first day of school a year and a half ago, she wouldn’t have recognized them as twins.

Even during something as banal as the classroom introduction, Will exuded confidence and has in every moment that followed.

Words flow easily from his mouth, fitting whatever the situation requires: quick or warm or funny. No matter how he speaks, it results in people wanting to be his friend.

In her next class, Oliver’s introduction was starkly different. As he unfurled his lanky legs to stand up, he bumped his knee against the tabletop, jolting the desk forward. Classmates laughed. Pink crawled up his neck. When he spoke, the first few words came out stuttered before he rushed through the rest and sat back down. She felt second-hand embarrassment for him, but in all honesty, she didn’t give him much attention then.

Instead, she went through her days, becoming quick friends with Will, and building their crowd into the school’s ruling class. It wasn’t until a month later when she was over at her house and Oliver stalked down the stairs to grab his backpack that Will grumbled about the connection.

“He’s your twin?” she said in disbelief.

Although, as she said it, she could see the resemblance. The waves of sandy brown hair, the gentle slope of the nose, the same green eyes that on Oliver are hidden behind rectangular glasses.

“Physically, yeah. Mentally?” He raised his shoulders as he frowned at his phone. “I think the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck a little too tight,” he said, and she realized his warmth only went so far, reserved for certain people he deemed worthy.

So, it’s kind of ironic that his brother’s unworthiness was why Palmer started paying more attention to Oliver—and found she liked what she saw.

He may be quiet, but unlike Will, his kindness didn’t seem to have borders.

He tried to help people when he could, and if someone made a fool of themselves, he never laughed.

When she was partnered with him for a project, yes, he was awkward. He tripped over words, overthought the ones that made it out of his mouth, raked his hand through his hair until the strands stood straight on end. Will would call it annoying, but to her, it was endearing. And adorable. And magnetic, somehow.

It made the contrasts between the brothers even more pronounced. If she were to describe the two of them as textiles, Will would be a fun and bright chevron that draws people in with its boldness, but after a while standing too close, the pattern would give you a headache. As for Oliver, he’s a tried and true flannel, understated but always there to offer comfort.

She couldn’t deny she was attracted to him.

Two nights out from their project due date, as they were half-working, half-talking about his love for Harry Potter, she found herself staring. If there’s a way to describe how she felt about him, it would be enamored; it was not only the pages he saw magic in, but the entire world, and she liked how he saw it.

A few minutes into his monologue, he noticed her focus on him, and his eyes flitted back and forth quickly between her and his book. “What? Do I have something on my face or something?”

“No. You’re—you’re.” It was weird how this nervous boy could make her feel the same way, when his steadfast brother couldn’t induce it in her, but here they were. “Cute,” she finished. As his skin went red ombre, she edged closer to him, and as he did, too, her heart did jumping jacks in her chest. When his lips touched hers, she didn’t have to question if the attraction was mutual.

Six months later, if anything, it’s grown.

From his couch, she watches him move through the doorway and into the kitchen. His hands are stuffed into the pocket of his Hufflepuff sweatshirt, and over the rims of his glasses, his eyes meet hers. The side of his mouth pulls up, and she swallows the wide grin, settling for a closed-lipped one as he vanishes behind the refrigerator door.

She knows she’s in love with him, but the people around her on the couch—his brother and their friends—don’t even know she’s given him the time of day.

Keeping their relationship secret gives them privacy they enjoy, but it’s not the only reason they do it. It’s because when it comes to Will, they both know keeping their coupledom behind closed doors is easier. If he finds out—or when he finds out, if they stay together like she hopes —he’ll come at them with non-stop mocking, and, at first, most likely the same disbelief she met Will with.

Because, if people were making matches, they wouldn’t put Palmer and Oliver together. Ever.

It’s another reason they don’t tell Will, the same one that explains why she’s still friends with him. She doesn’t want to recognize it as such, and if Oliver ever asks why their friends, she’d rather have no reason to give him than that. But deep down she knows it’s the truth, and she’s pretty sure he does, too. Being on Will’s side is also easier than being on his brother’s.

The fact makes her feel like she has no integrity, while Oliver has it all.

If he’s a flannel, she’s fraying camouflage, trying to fit where she can, ripping herself at the seams in the process.

Sarah Razner

Sarah Razner is a reporter of real-life Wisconsin by day, and a writer of fictional lives throughout the world by night.

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