Ugly in Stereo
?by Stacie Adams
The woman whispered to our mother as she swung a greasy brown finger over our heads. God must hate you, she added before wandering away. My mother’s tense white face stayed that way for the remainder of our shopping excursion. In bed that night Chloe asked me what the woman whispered to our mother in the store.
“She said we were ugly in stereo,” I told her.
“What does that mean?”
“It means we’re ugly, stupid. We’re ugly times two.
“What do you mean how. Look at us.”
We had a genetic disorder called Stockton’s Syndrome, which only affected identical twins. A key feature of the illness was something called Eave’s Overhang, resulting in a chinless visage with sloping nose and forehead. Our mother sobbed when the dispassionate doctor made his diagnosis. In the bed next to me Chloe was quiet.
“I’m not ugly,” she said finally. I sat up.
“Do you think I am?” She answered yes without hesitation. “Then so are you. You look just like me.”
My mother filled Chloe’s head with all sorts of lies. She told her that it was what was inside that counted and made her believe she could appear pretty to others by simply being a nice person. She couldn’t view herself objectively, whereas I was her mirror. There was no denying what I was. She started to cry.
Another component of our condition was brittle bones. Some girls from school invited Chloe to a sleep over and she was dumb enough to accept. She showed up at a field and waited, all night and into the next morning, too ashamed to come home when the girls never arrived. The following Monday I found the girl who invited her and punched her in the nose, breaking it as well as my wrist.
My mother begged me to stop fighting, that my broken bones were forcing her into bankruptcy. She said she wished I could be more like my sister, who was quietly sobbing next to me.
“I wish you would die,” Chloe told me, sniffling, “so I wouldn’t have to look at you.”
“You’d still look the same.”
“I know. But I wouldn’t have to know that I did.”
I closed my eyes and tried to ignore her as she said it again. I wish you would die, I wish you would die. Please god, let her die.
Stacie Adams has been writing professionally for about ten years. She has been published in many different places, but most frequently on The Nervous Breakdown
Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.