The Opposite of a Worm

1) It happened before the second trimester. At my mother’s ultrasound, the doctor said my twin had not survived. I don’t have such a moment of discovery. I just always knew.

2)  The psychic in the square in New Orleans had predicted my mother would have twin girls. She celebrated with warm beignets.

3) I told my class during Show and Tell, despite having no twin to show, and Tommy Jenkins said at lunch, “You ate your sister.”  I became that insult. I was known as The Girl Who Ate Her Sister.

4) What if I had been alone from the beginning? Would I be more selfish, or perhaps less, if I had never carried the weight of my sister?

5) I saw on the Internet that a man in Russia had his unborn twin’s teeth growing in his lung.

6) You can graft a budded branch from a tree onto another. It will grow, intertwined, two beings living as one.

7) My twin isn’t living, but she is grafted onto me, whether by cells or teeth or memory. We are fused at some fundamental point.

8) My therapist says I could make plans to make some like-minded friends. I nod, but I know it would be futile. I was born lonely.

9) Maybe I became us both. Maybe I don’t care for running and pico de gallo and U2 because she wouldn’t have.

10) If I hadn’t known, I wonder if I would felt the absence of knowing. If we didn’t have rainbows, I wonder if scientists would scratch their heads and say, “This is odd; with this sunshine and rain, there should be a huge, striped, colorful arc in the sky.”

11) You can’t unknow something. My mother doesn’t see me. She sees loss. She sees a half.

12) Tommy Jenkins said you can chop a worm in half and make two worms. But Tommy Jenkins was usually full of shit. Even so, I am the opposite of a worm.


Originally from England, Jo now lives outside New York City.  She is the creative nonfiction editor at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine.  Her short stories and creative nonfiction have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in PANK, Jellyfish Review, Pithead Chapel, JMWW Journal, and others. Jo is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee, has been a writer in residence at L’Atelier Writers for two years, and is studying for her MFA.  She can be found on twitter @jovarnish1.


image: Gabriela Knutson