I am not a ballerina girl.  I soil white shirts, trip over size ten
feet.  I refuse ground pepper at restaurants to avoid wearing
jack-o-lantern smiles.

I question that Caroline and I come from the same parents.  I imagine
that our mother had an affair with a man who became tangled in his
pant legs before his bumbling sperm fell full-force into my mother's
graceful egg, dominating my genes with the inability to get through a
day without shutting my fingers in cabinets, tripping over
non-existent ruts in sidewalks, staining my arms, legs and hips with
new bruises, purple to green to neon yellow.

From the side of the ice-skating rink, I watch her pick up speed,
jump, twirl and land, arms outstretched like in the Olympics.  Some
people clap; I use my arms for balance.

Carrie likes an audience.  She requires my presence to add one more.
Our well-coordinated parents persist in their well-intentioned efforts
to include me in our family's legacy of poise.

I could be the daughter of a scientist.  My math and science are
ballerina perfect.  My equations and reasoning are clean and airtight.
Beautiful, really.  Nobody claps.

I study her movements, the distribution of limbs, torso, feet.  We
took the exact same number of ice-skating and ballet classes.  I enter
her territory, discovering yet again that logic does not produce my
sister's talent.

I negotiate internally - three times around the rink and I'm done.   I
make choppy strides, pasted to the wall with terrified kids just
learning to skate.  When I finish and move to leave the ice, Carrie
skates toward me.  Targeted, I startle and fall.

She does not help me stand.   Jesus, Angela.  Get up,  she commands,
smiling.  Her public observes; I am a liability.  I leave her ice and
collect my backpack.

My teachers call me gifted.  I use advanced college textbooks.  No
gold medals or twirly skirts or bleachers for cheering.    I have a
private skill in a family of public achievers. I wonder if my dad
shares my suspicion of my mom's infidelity.

I drink cold hot chocolate and work equations.  I move forward and
back, picking up speed, jumping, twirling, nailing my landing.  With
invisible effort and agility, I glide.

Lauren Becker lives in Oakland, California.  Her work has appeared in Pindeldyboz, Storyglossia, Wigleaf, PANK and
Word Riot. She is a fiction editor at DOGZPLOT.


Copyright 2009