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By Karen Walker-


You took all the strength away from him in the womb.

When she was mad—so mad the time we were swarmed by bees and I ran home, ran faster than any seven-year-old ever, leaving my twin brother Sammy far behind—she wasn't Mom. Mom combed hair and made pizza, bought goldfish after goldfish. It was Mean Maureen who said shit like that. I've never said anything so mean to a child and never will. I'm babysitting this afternoon.

Mom picked me up as I collapsed at the kitchen door screaming about Sammy and the bees. Mean Maureen stabbed me in the chest with sharp nails. You, you. Her fake red nails snapped off, fell to the floor like blood drops. took all.

all. Sammy arrives with his kids. He slurps a cola on my porch and listens to me stinging. Asks what about all those fun pizza nights when we were young, the big fish tank Mom let us have? He can put stuff away. What about the great runner I grew up to be? The college scholarship and all the titles? My medals are in boxes in the basement. Of course, he couldn't keep up with me. Someone had to outrun the bees and go get help.

the strength away. Sammy should've been tall and square. Born second, I should've been skinny. Delicate. The girl who'd sit out gym class if it was too hot or if she was nervous or had her period. I never even had cramps.

Mom found Sammy on the road. As she yanked him home, he twisted like a flimsy kite behind her. Mean Maureen made me swab his awful welts, pull a stinger out of his bony back with tweezers.

from him. The honey I buy has a harmless cartoon bee on the label. I didn't want to climb up and look in that hive. Him. It was Sammy who did because—ha, ha, snort, cough, ha: spitting cola, he laughs a wheezy little boy laugh at what happened years ago—maybe the honey was in a Winnie-the-Pooh pot with hunny written on it.

in the womb. Mom's. Mine never did work. I'm glad Sammy gave Mom grandkids, glad his two boys and two girls have his paleness and pint-size, his funny sideways trot. They're sweet. Play hard. They stick fingers in dangerous places and are unafraid of falling out of trees. A bit worrying since I'm babysitting.


Karen's work is in or forthcoming in A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Bullshit Lit,, JAKE, L'Esprit Literary Review, Moon Cola Zine, Neuro Logical, Bulb Culture Collective, SugarSugarSalt Lit, boats against the current, and others. She/her. You can find her on Twitter @MeKawalker883.

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