The Siamese Twins
Megan Kruse

My sister is in love.

"Listen up," she says, "I'm in love—can you feel it?"

"No," I say.    

"Really?" she asks. 

"Nada," I say. "Nothing."

Fabuloso has rancid breath and a missing finger. The World's Greatest Wild Animal Trainer in the Most Startling Exhibition of Daring Ever Brought Before the Eyes of Man. Seen from the side, their first kiss was nothing special.

"He dares death twice daily," my sister says. "He sees things that would turn the blood of an ordinary man cold."

I think, he sees what he wants to see.

"You're jealous," she says.

There was a game we played when we were a little girl. It was after the war, but barely. Our father came back, and his limp made him kinder to us. He sat at the edge of the municipal pool, watching as we tied bricks to our ankle with string.

Late one night she tells Fabuloso the story. He's just back from the Bengal tiger cage. He smells like sweat and sawdust. "Listen up," she says. "We could have died."

"Wild," says Fabuloso, sounding bored. I lean on my side of the pillow. Fabuloso puts one hand on our leg. Outside the tent I can hear the bird-voiced gossip of the trapeze girls; perfume slides under the door like smoke.  

I remember when we crashed to the bottom. The brick hit first. I watched while she crouched at our foot, fingers working the knot. When we broke the surface, our father would clap. It was only later I wondered: what if she could not loosen it?

I turn away from them in bed. Exactly half of me is still there. I think: This is loneliness. That is exactly what this is.

Megan Kruse has had stories in Narrative, The Sun and others. She is currently a writer in residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Elena Kalis.

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