Dysfunctional Family Saga that escalates into Psychological Thriller
Date Published: Sept 13, 2022
Family. The people who destroyed Gavin’s self-esteem are the ones he must save.
‘Secrets In The Mirror’ is a sweeping saga of one family’s journey to rise above the toxicity of multigenerational domestic abuse and crime. Gavin struggles to salvage his identity from Dad’s bullying, and narcissistic abuse by his identical mirror twin. But when Devon gets into drugs and trouble with the Mob, people start dying. Gavin flees far away to protect himself and his new family. But he can’t escape his sociopathic brother, or the Mob. Yet inextricable bonds tie him to Devon, and Gavin vows to break the lethal chain of family dysfunction and rescue his twin from his self-destructive path. Can he save his brother before Devon destroys them both?
Gavin would always remember that weekend as the turning point, when day turned to night and the earth erupted, cleaving brothers apart. It all began innocuously enough, but forces had been building unnoticed for years, like the gradual movement of tectonic plates.
On that Friday, a ruthless July sun reflected serpentine heat waves into motionless air above a parched field, where the gothic buildings of nearby Wellesley College punctuated the horizon. Gavin’s brow glistened sweat beads as he tossed baseballs into the air and batted them into the distance. With each hit, he cast a worried look toward his twin and wished the ball’s trajectory would go higher, farther, longer.
“That’s not how you do it,” Devon said. “Remember when we were little, Dad said I was the champ?” He took the bat and positioned himself opposite Gavin to demonstrate in mirrored alignment how to swing. Devon was left-handed, his brother was right-handed. Their signature red cowlicks peaked Devon’s left crown and Gavin’s right. When one looked into a mirror, he saw an exact replica of the other.
“You’re hopeless, Baby Brother,” Devon laughed and messed Gavin’s curly mop. “You’re just a loser without me!”
Gavin cringed at the reminder of his brother’s ten-minute seniority over him, although he'd become numb to the jokes that were less than funny. “Coach says I have a great swing, and I had two base hits in our last game,” he protested, and stabbed the toe of his sneaker into a clump of crabgrass.
“Coach is just humoring you, Gav. And you got lucky.” Devon threw his arm around Gavin’s neck in a controlling headlock.
Gavin pulled away. “Hey, we have to get home and clean up before everyone comes,” he said, as he gathered balls from the field. “And Mom and I have to set up all the food.”
“Oh, yeah, our own little Julia Child,” Devon snickered.
That day was the boys’ sixteenth birthday. They would have a party with their friends the next day, but the first celebration was with their extended family.
“Race you!” Gavin called out and bounded forward, for once getting a few steps ahead of his brother. Even carrying the bat and balls, his long legs conditioned by running cross-country easily outmatched Devon, who had channeled his energy into wrestling. Whenever Gavin ran, he felt distinct and unique, not just the other half of a set of twins. He became larger, better, stronger with each stride, each breath. He wanted to run forever. Some day he would.
“Hey, wait! You cheated,” Devon yelled. “We had to start at the same time!”
Gavin arrived home first, followed by his panting brother nearly fifty yards behind. While he enjoyed a brief sense of victory, Devon disregarded the evidence of that gap and objected, “I’d have kicked your ass if you hadn’t cheated.”
Gavin had already taken the stairs two at a time to the second floor of the house and jumped into the shower. He was in the middle of shampooing when he was startled by muscled arms circling him from behind.
“You’re a real wuss, Gav,” Devon hissed into his twin’s ear, simultaneously grabbing Gavin’s genitals.
Gavin yelled and jumped away, swung his arm around but missed his target, with shampoo stinging his eyes. But Devon was gone, leaving him enraged and frozen in disbelief.
After Gavin finished his shower, still seething, he stomped down the hall to their bedroom and confronted his brother. “Why’d you do that, Dev?”
“Your sick little joke in the shower.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“You know, asshole. You grabbed my balls, pulled on my dick―”
“Wow, you’re imagining things, baby brother,” Devon laughed.
“No I’m not, cocksucker, and it isn’t funny!”
“I think you’re having some wishful fantasies, Gav.”
“Don’t ever do anything like that again,” Gavin spat, while some invisible force restrained his twitching arms from flailing at his tormentor. He stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind him. Devon’s mocking guffaw echoed down the hall in his wake.
About the Author
Leslie Kain was always writing something when she was a kid – fantasies, poems, essays, plays, secret plans; culminating in running away across country at fifteen, never looking back. But in her careers (psychology, business, Government Intelligence, nonprofits), her writing was limited to nonfiction: professional, technical, research. Finally dabbling in fiction during spare moments above the clouds, her short stories found their way into literary journals and anthologies. She developed personal relationships with her characters, who relentlessly nagged her into longer stories. Her second novel, ‘Secrets In The Mirror’ is the first to be published. She leverages her complicated background and her education, training and experience in psychology to write stories of inner conflict and emotional transformation. Kain earned degrees in psychology from Wellesley College and an MBA from Boston University. Originally from “all over” the U.S. (although a piece of her heart remains in Boston), she now resides in Mexico with her husband and 16-year-old cat Sheba.