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About the Sisters

Gillian Devereux

One day the mother announced that she had decided to stop having babies. The family applauded. Later, when the sisters continued to arrive in the usual manner, no one knew who to blame. Instead, they put each new sister into the nursery with the others, pushing aside piles of stuffed elephants and picture books to make room. All the sisters looked the same. People tried to distinguish them with adjectives – tall, small, meek, weak – but the relative nature of such labels proved problematic. The smallest sister only stayed small until a newer, smaller version of herself arrived. The sweetest sister missed her nap and turned sour. It made more sense to address the sisters as a collective, to speak to them en masse, to acknowledge their insidious sameness.

The sisters enjoyed their resemblance and used it to their advantage, often exchanging clothes or names or hairstyles. As they grew older, the sisters discovered other things they could trade. One swapped her laugh for another’s freckles. One gave away her blue eyes. The oldest sisters slept together in the same bed night after night, their arms and legs a hopeless tangle. No one could tell where one girl stopped and the next began. They spoke and moved in unison, even while asleep. They dreamed each other’s dreams.

Gillian Devereux

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