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Elspeth

Tegan’s born a twin while her father Amory, old-fashioned, paces in the hall; neither of them will ever see baby Tessa, whom the doctors quickly hide behind curtains and soft words. Elspeth’s got sweat in her eyes, so she only sees her daughter’s harlequin smile for a second. She should be glad, she thinks, that one of them lived.

Later, Elspeth and Amory reach into the incubator through plastic bags. They’ve already agreed never to tell her about the miscarriage, but Elspeth makes a silent promise when Tegan squeezes her finger.

Someday, she says. Somehow we’ll get your sister back.

Tegan

Tegan swore she’d have to be two people to keep up with Marlo, so she became two people, and shortly thereafter became the first person in history to lose custody to her clone. Which had benefits: the alternative was dropping out. Twenty with a five-year-old. Doesn’t take a math degree.

“You’re late,” says Tegan2, wreathed in kitchen smells (Tegan can’t cook a Hot Pocket).

“Sorry,” Tegan mutters.

“Get your backpack, sweetie!” Marlo comes running.

Tegan2‘s got crow’s feet and gray hair: fraying telomeres. She won’t see thirty. Tegan takes Marlo’s hand and turns away, eyes filling, hating herselves.

Rombach

Tegan cries angry grownup tears all the way to the zoo.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go, Tegan,” says Marlo quietly.

“Why,” mutters Tegan, “did I not teach you to call me Mom?”

“Because–”

“That’s enough, Marlo.” She wipes her eyes again.

Most of the animals are indoors, but Rombach the Panthera leo persica is out and pacing. He doesn’t have much of a mane; his eyes are brave. Marlo watches him until Tegan makes her leave, then slips away and comes back and gets yelled at entirely too much.

Marlo gets a stuffed lion at the gift shop with her own money.

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