The Twin Search by Irving Bronsky

A surreal existential fable by Irving Bronsky.

A long, long time ago, there was a boy who came from a good family. He was growing up nicely, he had friends, he enjoyed school, and he was a good student. He loved sports and was a good athlete. He loved his parents, his brothers and sisters. But -

Deep within him he felt he was missing something and didn’t know what it was. Maybe it was God, or something like that. This need kept pushing him to look for whatever it was. One day he decided to look for it and he searched his home and didn’t find it. He looked outside his home and in his neighborhood and didn’t find it. He went out of his area to other parts of the city and didn't find it. He went out of the city and into the country. Nothing. He traveled over meadows, into valleys, down to the sea, through deserts and plains, up and down hills. Nothing.

Finally, he came to a dark forest and went fearlessly into it. He came to a lake that was surrounded by trees, bushes and flowers. He sensed that he was getting closer to it. He stood on the sandy beach, with a clear sky above and said to himself: "This is it."

A huge storm came up so quickly, with howling winds and cloud-blackened skies. The thunder and lightning was very scary and he felt he might die before he found it. Before he knew it, he was tossed like a rag doll by the raging storm. He was helpless and hopeless, in the grip of this fury.

After what seemed like forever the storm stopped and the skies cleared. He had survived. He was in the middle of the lake - which was frozen solid. The boy looked around him and saw nothing but the blue sky and the ice; and there was the debris of the storm - broken branches, broken trees, leaves scattered all over. He was lost and he didn't know which way to go.

He turned around and around in a circle, looking for something, somewhere to turn to. At last he saw, way off on the edge of the horizon, a little bump. He went in that direction. As he got closer to it he saw a cube of transparent ice, nine feet on each of the sides.

In the middle of this clear, giant ice cube, there was a boy, frozen. The boy looked and dressed exactly like him: it was his Twin; this was what he had been looking for. It was Twin 2.

How to get Twin 2 out of his frozen stuckness? He took out his pocketknife and started to chip away at the ice. He chipped away enough ice to free one of his Twin’s fingers - it moved. Twin 2 was alive! Twin 1 worked hard for a long time and he completely freed Twin 2.

They stood facing each other, looking at each other, and finally stared into each other's eyes.

Twin 1 had never been happier, nor had he ever felt more complete. He saw in the eyes of Twin 2 much pain and suffering. He asked him what was wrong and the casual answer was: "I may look like a normal kid but I am not. I am helpless and hopeless because I do not know who I am or why I am here. I have no feelings and I don't think of anything important."

Twin 1 answered, "Not to worry, I know now why I'm here and who I am. I have lots of feelings and important things to think about. Now I feel complete. I can give you some of the best in me, then we’ll both have enough and you will be normal like me."

The second twin answered with shrug and indifference, "I don't care. I am hopeless and helpless, without feelings and without important things to think of." The first twin shook his head no, and said; "Now I am going to give you some of my own."

Something went wrong in the partial transference and all that he had within him went to Twin 2. Now Twin 1 was helpless and hopeless, with no feelings, nothing important to think about and he didn't have any idea of who he was or why he was living. Twin 2 said, "Not to worry. I will find what you are missing inside so you can be normal again."

The second twin left his life-mate standing in the middle of the frozen nowhere and went off to search for what was missing. He searched everywhere and found nothing. Finally, he came to a mountain. He climbed it and on top he found a tiny village. It consisted of special schools: a school to learn how to be a scientific genius; there was a school to learn how to be one of the best athletes in the world. And others. At the very end of the village, in a small house which sat on the edge of the mountain, there was a school for emotions, thoughts, how to answer questions about life. This is what he needed for Twin 1.

He enrolled and was the best student. He finished as the best student in the school. Just as he was about to get his diploma there was a big noise and then everything seemed to fall apart. The school broke off from the mountain and it fell down, with him in it. He landed in a huge pot of chicken soup that was the size of a two-story building - he was saved.

He looked around and saw that he was with other children like him, happy, having everything they needed, all normal. The children lived in this huge pot of chicken soup; in it were pieces of chicken that were four or five feet long. The carrots were six feet long. The soup dumplings were bigger than beach balls. Best of all, there were soup nuts, three feet square and one foot thick, that the children used as boats to get around. Resting against the side of the pot was a soup ladle the kids used as a sliding pond. Twin 2 was so happy that he forgot about Twin 1.

One day he was sitting on a soup nut, playing, when he felt the soup nut move under him: he thought that there was going to be another earthquake so he took the soup nut with him and slid down the soup ladle, escaping from the pot. The shaking stopped. Then soup nut began to move rhythmically in his hands. This scared him and he dropped it on the ground. It stopped moving. He came closer - it began to move again.

Now he was curious and not afraid. He picked it up noticing that one edge had separated. He looked inside and found - all the emotions, thoughts and answers he needed to know. Then he remembered Twin 1 whom he had left helpless and hopeless. He knew what he had to do.

He closed the edge of the soup nut, said goodbye to his friends, and he was on his way back to the frozen lake. It took him a long time because he had to cross plains, valleys, deserts; he went through villages, towns and cities. At last he was back in the heart of the forest, at the lake, that was no longer frozen: it was clear, blue and calm. He didn't see Twin 1. Something in the middle of the lake attracted his attention: some bubbles were coming up. Each time they did, they made the sound, bbrrruupp. Twin 2 knew that Twin 1 was breathing under water. "If my twin can breathe under water, so can I."

He walked into the lake, fearlessly, holding the soup nut in front of him. He went up to his knees, then up to his chest. He took a deep breath and went in over his head. Bbrrruupp. He was breathing under the water. He saw the direction of the other bbrrruupp, and walked toward it. Then he saw Twin 2 sitting on the bottom of the deepest and darkest part of lake.

Twin 2 motioned for Twin 1 to follow him out of the water. Twin 1 shrugged helplessly and hopelessly; then he decided to do as he was told. He followed his twin out of the lake. On the shore they stood facing each other with only the soup nut between them. Twin 2 said, "I have what you need to be normal."

Twin 1 said, "I don't care." Twin 2 gave the soup nut to Twin 1, who took it thoughtlessly and without emotion. Twin 2 told him to lift the cover of the soup nut; he did, casually. What was in the soup nut jumped into Twin 1.

He became normal.

They stood face to face and looked into each other's eyes. The distance between them disappeared and Twin 1 and Twin 2 became one for a moment. Then Twin 1 separated from Twin 2, or was it the other way around? It made no difference. Twin one found God but in earthly form: he found himself.


  1. i found this story fascinating, i´m sure that i need to let it percolate around my head for a while, i´m also sure i´m missing something, for the moment.
    either way, really good

    michael mccarthy

    1. Dr. Bronsky was my Dr. @ the V A in Tuscaloosa, Al.