The English Disease

Neither of them was officially sick—

There was no disease named responsible for there odd features;

Her white hair, their gaunt faces, the scarlet circles on his cheeks

But for some reason

Whenever the two wanted to go outside

Or do really anything

Their father—or worse, butler—would say

No matter what it was,

Neither of them was well enough

Both wondered what exactly it was that stopped you

She said, "I wonder if we've been diagnosed with a disease and they never told us."

He replied, "The only thing we're suffering from is being an English!"

So they called it the English Disease

Princess and Prince

When you were young you drew pictures of princes

And sometimes princesses (you weren't picky)

Carrying you away to some enchanted kingdom

And making you pretty

Your brother scoffed at you,

And said there was no cure for ugliness

But every once in a while your drawings would disappear

So you wondered if


He just wanted the same thing


When your father was home—

Which, granted, wasn't often

He'd pay you special attention

And act like your sister never existed

You didn't think she minded

She probably hated him too

But every once in a while you'd get sort of mad

That she didn't even try to distract his attention

And never said a word to him

So you were forced to do what he said

The butler's daughter

She was a few years older then you

And looked like she was waiting to die

Mr. Scratch, your butler adopted her

(To this day, you're not sure where she came from.

China, maybe? Or perhaps Japan?)

And she never spoke, so when you first met

You didn't think she knew English—or at least,

Not well enough to speak it

Your brother didn't like her

(You had a feeling it was because she beat him at chess)

But you two hung out whenever she visited

Even though she never said a word

She drew with you

And was pretty morbid, truthfully

But she had her moments

Where she was almost just a quiet girl

Who didn't like her father

And wanted a prince of her own.

After a while, she stopped coming over

Although neither your brother or you mentioned it

You both thought she was dead

And though you hoped she ran away,

You couldn't forget

That Hannah never seemed very enthusiastic about life


You considered yourself some sort of game master

And hated it whenever someone bested you at anything—

Especially chess

So you had a certain silent loathing of the Butler's girl

You didn't really hate her though

You thought she might be secretly very clever

You just wanted to beat her at chess

And maybe convince her to play monopoly with you

And your sister, because two players is no fun


That girl was gone

Your sister asked if she was sick

Your father said that both of you should forget about her

So you assumed she died

Which was a pity

Because people who played chess

As well as her were few

And now they were even fewer


Whenever you were done with whatever schoolwork you had

You and your brother

Were allowed to go on the internet

And do whatever you wanted

You both were homeschooled so

You spent pretty much your whole day—

Aside from the required hour of fitness—

On the computer, trying to find something interesting

And then

You met friends

And found out about fandoms

And cosplaying


You were a big fan of tales that ended in death

Or, really, had anything to do with people dying

Specifically, in times long ago.

So you googled some stuff

And found the greatest website of them all

People gave themselves classes—

Princess, maids, lords, heirs, seers,

Even witches and sylphs!

You could be anything

So you called yourself Lord English

It was pretty fun

You could be rude and selfish and a bit narcissistic

(Basically, be you)

And people would just say you're acting like your title


You had never left your house in all thirteen years of your life

Not once

You lived in a mansion—

A manor, actually.

And there was nothing outside you couldn't have inside the house

Clothes were bought for you, food was provided

You knew no one but the people in your house

So you never could visit anyone else.

There was a fitness room, which had every exercise equipment available

And a greenhouse in case you wanted to see flowers


You wanted to go out

And needed an excuse

So you asked your father if you could go to a public school

After less argument then you would have thought, he agreed

You went to school two hours earlier then normal in a limo

Mainly because you didn't want anyone to form any ideas before you met

And because you wanted them to think that

You were just like them


No, that's stupid.

You didn't want to meet other people

You didn't want them to see how weird you were

You didn't want to see how 'normal' kids acted

You didn't want to know what they did after school

You didn't want to do something… perverted like hold hands

You didn't want to join some sport team

You didn't want to have a group of friends who were on that team

You didn't want to know what it was like to play chess on a team

You didn't want to know what it was like to be in a loud room with kids

You didn't want to be the new kid

You didn't want to be "her twin"

You didn't want to go to school

With your sister

uraniumUmbra opened the memo: awesuminternetbudss

UU: I'm going to school for the first time today

TG: oh yaaaah you were homestuck right?

TG: lol, homeschooled

TG: good luck UU!

UU: thank you TG! I sUppose yoU coUld say I was homestUck, though

UU: tomorrow will be my first time oUt of my hoUse

TG: hoooply shit

TG: for reals?

UU: I sUppose that's a bit odd….?

TG: omgh, no one stays in there house there hole life!

TG: I mean when ppl are little the go out all the time and

TG: shit idk I don't even no what I did

UU: well, coUld yoU give me some pointers?

TG: okay so

TG: what kinda clothes do you wear?

UU: green sUites

TG: do they show skin

UU: not at all!

TG: say it was ur dads idea

TG: and if u dont know nything about music say ur dad didnt allow it

UU: basically, blame all my lack of knowledge on my father….?

TG: yup!

TG: sorry if your dads actually cool

UU: it's okay. he's pretty frightening, actually.

TG: good! Then u wont be lieing

UU: anything else?
TT: Oh, hey, mind if I pop in?

UU: I'm welcome to all sUggestions!

TT: Okay, well, if you haven't ever left your house, then you probably won't be used to natural lighting.

UU: I hadn't thoUght of that…

TT: It might be a bit painful. Maybe you should get some sunglasses on your way to school? You could take them off once you get in the building, but just as a precaution.

UU: that's a good idea! thank yoU! ^U^

UU: Um….

TT: You can find sunglasses in pretty much all clothing stores and some general stores, like CVS

UU: thank yoU!

TG: cvs has sunglasses?

TT: Yes they do. They're a bit lame though.

TG: guess the cant match ur coolness

TG: goodluck again, UU

TG: U can do it

UU: thank yoU!


So she went to school

And made some friends

And she keeps babbling on about them

And won't shut up

And says you should come with her

So you lock yourself in your room

And complain about it to Meenah The Theif

Who hates the world as much as you do

She suggests hitting your sister on the head

You say that won't make her shut up

She says wow, what an annoying gill

And tells you that she doesn't care about your problems

And to turn on music or something

You wondered if you needed better friends

It didn't matter though

Because these were the only ones you were going to get


It was, really, how you expected it

You were tired from getting up at about five in the morning

And everyone wanted to know everything about you

You took TG's advice

And sighed about your clothing saying

Your father never lets you out of the house

And buys everything for you

Girls sigh sympathetically

And ask if you want to borrow clothes

At one point of the day

A blond girl comes up to you and a leans forward

And whispers your chumhandle in your ear

Which scared you more then words can say

She introduces herself as Roxy.

You knew her as TG.

A boy wearing sunglasses apologizes on her behalf

His name was Dirk.

And he was amazed that someone had a weirder name then him

You knew him as TT.

They asked what you thought of "The outside world"

You said it was big.

So impossibly gigantic

You couldn't believe it took you this long to see it.

After school, it started to rain

You didn't think you'd ever stop smiling

Rain is beautiful

The world is beautiful

When you got home, you were going to tell your brother

But he didn't listen

This didn't really surprise you


You think if he had listened

He might have wanted to go outside with you

Which might have made

A world of a difference


Now that she was going to school, your sister got a yearbook

And she'd force you to go through it with her

She was surprisingly insistent about it

"Just look at them," She urged, "You've never seen anyone our age before, right?"

Well, Meenah once sent you a picture of her sticking up her middle finger

But you guess that didn't count.

So, you tried to insult everyone you saw.

"What's up with her hair? Hasn't she heard of a hairbrush?"

"Who even wears stuff like that, is she blind?"

"Wow, does she think she's Ms. Special with those pink contacts?"

"That's natural," It was the only comment she made so far.

You were really annoyed she hadn't given up.

"Well, what about him? Who wears sunglasses to take a picture?"

"He wears them everywhere," She explained, "No one knows his eye color."

"Oh, Mr. Mysterious, huh?"

"His chumhandle is timaeusTestified."

She must have thought you got a crush.

She'd be half right.

You were sort of amazed by his hair.


Despite your better judgment, you invited Dirk and Roxy over

Your brother was, surprisingly, waiting for you at the door.

When he saw you brought friends, he almost squeaked.

"Who the hell are you two?" He demanded, regaining his composure.

"Well, I'm Dirk," A smirk appeared on his face, "And this lovely lady is Roxy."

"You never said anything about a brother," Roxy gasped, "Omg, you're a cootie! Cutie."

"I," your brother said, drawing himself up to his full 5'8 height, "Am anything but cute. I am taller then all of you, most likely stronger, and when I'm an adult, I'll have enough power to have you killed brutally and no one will question a thing."

"It's true," you said, because you had to say something.

"I could probably kick your ass at sword fighting," Dirk said.

"I dare you," your brother hissed.

So they went into the gym and fought with kendo swords

The cook made you and Roxy a snack while you watched

"What's wrong with your brother?"

"Nothing. He just doesn't like people."

"He seems to like Dirk."

"He likes challenges. And beating people."

"He doesn't have your accent."

"He used to, he just lost it.

Because father lost his and that's who brother talked to.

I spent too much time with family friend.

I called her Snowman, though I can't imagine why.

Sometimes, because there are no female in this house,

She'd come over and make sure I knew everything about a female's body,

Because she didn't think my father would know."

"That's kinda smart," Roxy nodded.

If she didn't, you might start getting boobs and freak out because

What are these lumps on my chest?

You almost had, actually.

That was the reason Snowman was so insistent in you knowing.

You looked at your brother. He was losing.

You sort of expected that.

Dirk is a good swordsman.


You really didn't like to lose.

Struggling to win was okay;

You could plot up amazing schemes to win,

Have a feeling of accomplishment


Losing was no fun

So when you lost a swordfight to Dirk

You tossed the kendo sword in his face and huffed up to your room

He followed you

"You're sort of a sore loser, aren't you?"


"Jesus, you don't need to scream. I can hear you fine."

You slammed the door shut.

"Are you hiding something? Do you have some horrendous materials you don't want me to tell your sister about?"

"Maybe I do! What about it?"

"Then you have to let me in. I must see the filthiness that a boy who's never left his house has found."

Dirk manages to force the door open because

Wow, you're actually kinda weak

And you spent all of your energy fighting with him earlier.

So it really wasn't a challenge


He was speechless now, with a look on his face that made you feel so


Well, of course you weren't normal!

You were Caliborn English!

Son of a man you met on your fifth birthday

"Like what you see?"

You sneered, but really

You just wanted him to leave.

No one went into your room but you.

No maids, no staff, not your butler, not your father, and not your sister.

No one but you

And now him.

"Is that your mom?"

He's pointing to a picture you stole from your father's room

A light haired woman with eye's like your sister

And a dress of rainbows

With two tiny bundles of a child in her arms

"She was. Now she's a decomposing corpse."

"That must suck."

This surprises you.

You thought that since you were such a brat,

No one would say a word of sympathy.

But he did

"I wasn't even a month old. I don't remember it."

"That's the worse part."

And then he leaves

And you crumple

Into a little ball

Because really

He was right


The pictures you put

On the wall

With hugging

And love

Made you seem

Just so


You really hated defeat


It was sort of

Like this


You rarely got upset anymore

Whenever you feel hopeless

Or upset

Or like everything is going wrong

You just step outside

And everything seems brighter

It was such a horrible thing that your brother didn't have this

You're not sure he would appreciate it as much


It might make him feel better

But he seems bent on destroying himself

For some reason, this makes you think of Hannah,

The Butler's daughter

You wonder if

Hannah and your brother

Were a bit the same

In one sense or another

And maybe

She was just sitting in her room

On the computer

Waiting for her life to end

Which was

You think

What your brother was doing right now

Only with a bit more enthusiasm

You decide to talk to your brother,

Even if he's going to call you ugly


That's just what you were

You're sixteen now

And you're even uglier then your sister

You call her ugly to her face

All the time

But going outside must have brought some magic that she thought a prince would


God, it hurts you to say this,

She's gotten lovely

Not just pretty


The swirls of a birthmark that once shone brightly on her cheeks

Were now a faint memory hidden in green blush

And her hair

Now had four streaks





It might have made another look punk but on her

Just looked like adorable hairclips

That happened to be the colors of her friends eyes

And her eyes

Which once were dull and upset

Were bright and shone

And weren't 'weird,' just


And then there was you

Who never went outside so

Your skin was as pale as a vampire

Which made the scarlet circles on your cheeks

Look like there was something wrong with you

And your eyes were red so

You wouldn't be surprised if someone mistook you for a spawn of Satan

Or something

Your eyes were sunken in their sockets

And your hair a dull black that you either just shaved off

Or hung limply in your face when you were too lazy to

And yet your sister never said

When you called her names and

Insulted her

All the time

That you were the ugly one

And she looked so much better

But she would never say that


She was so much better then you

In so many ways


Kids talked about their plans for college

And you

Didn't know what to say

You didn't know if your father would let you go

The place you had your eye on was far away

So far in fact

You probably wouldn't be able to see him in years

Which would probably not be okay

For him, at least

So you just listen

As your classmates talk on and on

Roxy is planning on going somewhere close to where you want to go

If you're lucky

And Dirk

Wow, what a lucky guy

Is going to the same college as Jake

Who you all met online

Along with Jane who

Doesn't really need to go to college

But will end up at some sort of culinary school

And then rule a baking empire

You tell them that your father might refuse to pay

Dirk says not even your father would leave his daughter alone

With no way of knowing what happens to her

You ask him what he means.

He asks you what would happen if you just left.

You think for a moment.

Your mind wanders to how your father would always play chess

With your brother

Who could never win

And think about how you might be able to

The Heir

You grew up thinking you were better then your sister

Because your father

Always treated you like you were

But you guess

He just had different things in store

When you were younger,

So young you didn't hate your sister,

You met your father for the first time and

He said you would be the one

To inherit the house


If you thought about it

Could just mean

That your sister already found one of her own

But of course you

You thought he would give you everything

Which he might, but

Only because your sister didn't need it

So you tried to be perfect and

You researched

Fucking researched!

What it meant to be the perfect son

And what was normal

So when your sister drew pictures of her with princesses

And princes

You took some of the princes

And colored in her hair black

Then hid it in your room because

A perfect son

Doesn't think about princes

Especially not like that

In the end

She was stronger then you ever could be

If for no other reason then

She never stopped being her

A Goodbye

The two had never expected to leave

Not the house

Not each other

Certainly not the state


Her going to a college so far away

Left both unsure how to say goodbye

They were twins

No matter how much they fought

No matter how much he had yelled

He was still going to miss her

And she was going to miss him

"I'll write," she began

"No you won't," He replied, "You're going to go away

And you won't come back because

You'll catch it again"

"Catch what?" She had to ask

"The English Disease."

A noise comes out of her throat. He doesn't know if it's a laugh

Or, more likely, a sob.

"I'll still write," She sniffed, "But

I won't come back.

You can have whatever you want from my room."

She is thinking of a gift she left him—a special chess set of certain colors

And a map to nothing

"I don't want anything," he mumbled, but he will raid her room later.

"I still can't believe this is happening."

"I can. When you told father that you were going to college

When you said he couldn't stop you because eighteen is an adult

And if he didn't pay, you'd just leave—

How Roxy and Dirk agreed to house you

So if he refused

He'd just be getting in the way of your education,"

He grinned at her, "You were always better at chess then me. And now you're better then father."

"It's not too late," She whimpered, "You can still leave."

"No I can't," He sighed, "I'm sorry I was such a bad brother, Calliope."

She opened her mouth, slightly, about to say something, but thought

How it had seemed that

No one had said her name in such a long time and

Realized, it was sort of true because

Caliborn called her Sister, Roxy called her Callie, Dirk called her English

And father called her child.

But no one said Calliope.

"You weren't always a bad brother," She bit her lip, overcome with an old memory. When everyone thought they had twin telepathy and

All they had to say

Was the other's name

And they'd be their

"What happened?" She asked.

"Father came home," He reminds her and

It was true, really

She remembers

Being young and not knowing what a haircut was

Or that certain clothes were for certain genders

And no one knew which of them was the male


They both just wore suits

And both of them had hair longer then a child,

Male or female,


Which had,


Never gotten in the way

Even though they explored the house,

Inch by inch

Searching for something

And nothing at the same time

Then he came

And asked which one of you was his son

And she remembers looking at him, not understanding


There hadn't been

Anyone to try and separate you before

And you didn't think it was going to turn out well

She was right


She didn't know how to go back

Before any of this happened

When all they needed to say was a name

And the other would be there

And she doesn't think that

Goodbye is the proper word

Because it just means you were leaving

Which wasn't what you wanted to tell him


She says


And he responded


And she walks out the door


Not a loud, slamming noise

Like he would have done

But simply a sharp




As if

Something had just ended

When really

It was beginning.